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Loring Notes (Steve Baker's stories)



Loring Notes (09 Feb 2010)

Don't mess with the mast....

 
 

I arrived at Loring AFB fresh out of basic training in October of 1965. I was assigned to the 42nd Supply Squadron. It was not too bad of a job mostly unloading trucks, driving a forklift and opening lots of boxes and checking in numerous items from nuts and bolts to 45 caliber pistols to 55 gallon drums of antifreeze. 

I was quartered in the supply barracks across the road from Whispering Pines and the movie theatre. It was there I met a guy (Tony is all I can remember) that was working part time as a bartender at the NCO club. He talked me into giving it a try. I filled out the application and lied about my age (I was 18) and got hired. It was a fun job and that’s where I learned my bartending skills which have come in handy from time to time. I remember serving lots of Johnny Walker and milk. I can’t say I have ever encountered anyone drinking scotch and milk since I left Loring.  

I was always interested in electronics and radio communications and before I joined the Air Force I had played with CB radios and enjoyed the challenging communication aspects it offered. Since I worked in base supply I found it fairly easy to requisition just about anything a guy might need. I made arrangements for two 22’ sections of pipe and some parachute cord to be delivered outside my barracks window. With the help of some of the guys we erected a mast pipe to support a CB antenna. The parachute cord worked great for guy wires and it was non-metallic so it caused no interference with the radiation pattern of my antenna. 

I operated a CB radio station from my room in the supply barracks for a year or so. I made lots of friends as there were a few guys on the base with CB’s and many folks around Caribou, Limestone, Madawaska Lake, Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield, Mars Hill, etc.

I could communicate about 50 – 60 miles on a regular basis. During skip conditions (radio signals bouncing off the ionosphere and back to earth) I could talk long distances. I talked to another GI in Germany one time and would often talk back home to Indiana to my Dad and friends from around Vincennes. I had a friend on the base that was a Major and B-52 pilot. He was in to CB radio also and he planned to call me on a CB frequency when he was returning from a mission. He dialed the radio in the B-52 down to my channel and gave me a call. His handle was Bumble Bee. We talked for a couple minutes while he was over Bangor. That was pretty cool. 

I was getting some complaints from some of the guys about my CB radio interfering with their TV’s, Stereo’s, and one guy’s Electric Organ. (Nothing like listening to my voice coming over their speakers…………LOL) I remember the Supply barracks connected to a mess hall and then the other side of the mess hall was the FMS barracks (I think it was FMS).  Anyway I was tipped off by some of my friends that some of the guys from FMS were fed up and were going to do something to my antenna.  

Remember my interest in electronics and my supply connection? Well, I surveyed the most likely approach for the FMS guys to get to the roof and found there was a trap door going to the roof just outside the mess hall on the FMS barracks side. From there they could go across the mess hall roof and get on the Supply Squadron roof which is where my antenna was located. I decided I would alarm that trap door and then I would know when it was opened. I connected a push button switch to the door so when it was closed the switch would be depressed (open circuit) and when the door opened the switch button would pop out (closed circuit). I ran a couple wires across the mess hall roof and into my room where I connected it to a box containing a power supply, buzzer, and a light on top.

Seems like a lot of effort I guess, but certainly less lethal than a Claymore Mine. 

So…………. one night I was talking on my radio and, you guessed it, the alarm goes off. I quickly signed off to the person I was talking to and grabbed a flashlight. I ran through the mess hall and looked up at the trap door and it was open. I climbed the ladder and started across the roof and met a guy coming back. I shined the light in his face and asked him what he was doing up here. He said he had just cut the wires going to that antenna, pointing across the roof and waving around a pair of wire cutters. I told him that was my antenna, as I grabbed the wire cutters, and guess what you are going to do? I made him repair the cut wires as I held the flashlight for him. Fortunately he had only cut the 4 wire rotor cable and not the coaxial feed line. I still have those wire cutters today in my tool box. Every time I see them I think about that time at Loring. 


A few missing parts

It was the spring of 1967, while working at Base Supply, I had some weird medical symptoms. I had cold chills, my finger nail beds were purplish, and I had some abdominal discomfort. I just kind of shrugged it off, but one of the civilian employees had called for an ambulance. I was in the back of the warehouse and came out to see what all the noise was about. Turns out they were looking for me. I told the medical personnel I was OK, but they insisted I go to the hospital to get checked out. I rode in the front seat of the ambulance to the hospital. It was pretty cool with the siren going and all.  

To make a long story short, my symptoms got worse and after 4 weeks in the Loring hospital they performed exploratory surgery. This was June 1, 1967 and I believe the doctor was a Captain Mahan. They found an abscessive growth about the size of a lemon which was attached to my colon, spleen, and pancreas. Not knowing if it was malignant they removed the abscess, 25% of my colon, my spleen, and the tail end of the pancreas. It turned out the growth was non-malignant so I am still kicking, just minus a few parts. After 2 more weeks in the hospital I was sent home on convalescent leave for 30 days. At the end of those 30 days I came down with serum hepatitis from the blood transfusions I received during surgery. I was sent to Grissom AFB, Indiana for 2 weeks in isolation at the base hospital and then back home for another 30 day convalescent leave. 

MMS and my girl

I finally got back to Loring in Sept. 1967 and it was decided no more heavy lifting so I was transferred to the 23rd MMS and was sent to tech school at Chanute AFB, Illinois to cross train into the AFSC 43330. I spent 2 months at Chanute and then returned to Loring and the 23rd MMS late 1967. I worked at the Command Center inside the Weapons Storage Area (WSA) in Production Control. I worked there until my discharge date of Jan. 13, 1969. 

After Chanute Tech School I got married to a girl from my hometown. She later joined me at Loring. We lived on base at 317 Meehan Drive. We had a daughter born at the Loring Hospital July 21, 1968. 

Sometime during my last couple years at Loring I had my drums shipped up. I had played drums since I was 12 years old. I played with a country band headed up by Gary Ferguson (from Montana) who was stationed at Loring also. We played at the VFW in Presque Isle and the Hotel at Portage Lake. I also joined a band with some guys from the 23rd MMS. I can’t remember what we called ourselves, but we played rock music at the Officer’s Club. 

Other remembrances: 

___Tobogganing down the ski slope 

___Hunting Partridge and Rabbit on the base 

___Snipe hunt out by the dump 

___Qualifying as marksman at the range 

___ Hunting in the Allagash 

___Driving to the top of Mars Hill Mountain 

___Weekend trips to Mad Town 

___Lasting only one night at a job in the freezer at a potato factory 

___Raiding a potato field late one night 

___Drinking coffee late at night at Fredericks in Caribou 

___The USO in Caribou 

___Fox and Hound Hunt in Caribou (CB radios) 

___The awesome Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) 

___Trip to Philly in a packed Corvair Monza to be best man at my roommate’s wedding 

___Dick Curless song about the Haynesville Woods   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aFzfDv2hz0 
 
 
 
 
 

I learned a lot about life while at Loring and Loring changed my life for the better. After I left Loring I used the GI bill to get a BS Degree from Purdue University School of Engineering and Technology. I am now retired after 31 and a half years in Management and Engineering with Navistar, formally International Harvester. My daughter that was born at Loring is now a Registered Nurse and held the rank of Captain while in the Air Force Reserve. 
 

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