42bmwv3.png (263×278)Loring Remembers – the 1950s

The 1950’s were a critical period in the history of the young Strategic Air Command, and Loring Air Force Base.  The Cold War was rapidly gearing up, and evidence of that fact is that Loring was the first Air Force Base to store nuclear weapons (prior to this, Atomic Energy sites stored and controlled the weapons).  We thought it would be good to gather a small group of our fellow veterans who were stationed at Loring in the 1950’s to share some of their memories of that historic time.  The following members participated in this interview (interviews were conducted during 2010):  


Note: You can click on each participant's name to view their profile in a new window

Norman Warren (1953-1954)Norman was assigned to the 42nd A&E Squadron, working the Bomb Navigations system on the B-36.

Robert Zellner (1953-1954) – Robert was assigned also to the 42nd A&E Squadron, working the B-36 aircraft.

Tom Salvadore (1954-1959) – Tom was assigned to the 75th Bomb Squadron, crew chief’d both the B-36 and B-52 aircraft.  He retired from the Air Force as a Chief Master Sergeant.

Robert Beauregard (1955-1958) – Robert was assigned to the 42d FMS Engine Shop.

Jerry Forman (1956-1959) – Jerry was assigned to the 4034th USAF Hospital, as well as the 42nd Air Base Group.

We performed this interview in a rather unique way.  Each person participating was emailed a question at a time, and they replied with their response as they were able to.  Though this is not an “official” history of Loring from the 1950’s, there is plenty of history revealed.  The participants have recounted the time as they remember it.  I have to thank everyone for their willing participation in creating a work of posterity for the Loring Remembers website.  We hope you enjoy the result of our project…

Raymond Ingham

Loring Remembers Webmaster                

 


Tell us where you are from, and a little about that area:

 <Norman Warren> - I am from Middle Tennessee, I lived in Decherd, a small town of 500 people, 60 miles from Nashville and 45 miles from Chattanooga.  The area is rolling hills except to the south where the Cumberland Mountains lie between Tennessee and Alabama.  The area was mostly farm land; the land is red clay and the crops in the '40s were hay, corn, potatoes and clover.   Beef and dairy cattle were raised extensively.

Actually, I was born in Estill Springs, TN and moved to East Texas in 1932. I went to several schools in the Kilgore, Gladewater, & Gilmer area.   My brothers, sisters and I spent the summers on the farm with my Grandfather.  We moved back to Decherd, TN in January of 1942.  I spent the summers on the farm working with my uncle through the summers of 1942-1947.  We raised about 1000 acres of potatoes each summer.

During the war, we used German prisoners to do the work on the farms.  My uncle would go to Camp Forrest, 12 miles away, and pick up about 30 Germans in a cattle truck and return them after a day’s work (Just thought I would throw that in).

I graduated from Franklin County High School in Decherd in May 1948.  I immediately went to Peoria, Illinois and worked at Caterpillar Tractor Co until November 1948.  The job entailed low entry level machine work (Deburring).  The wage was $1.28 per hour.  In November 1948, I moved to Chicago, IL and worked at Wyman-Gordon, a company that 'hammered' automotive crank shafts from blocks of steel.  I worked in the finish department.  Lay-offs came in April and I was off to the Illinois Central Railroad, where I worked in the water dept.  This covered all yards of Cook County. This still was an entry level job.

<Tom Salvadore> - I  was born in a little town (Shamokin, PA) in eastern central part (in the Appalachian mountains)  called the coal country (Hard Coal) small town of about 15,000.  In the late 40's & 50's there weren't any jobs, so to speak,  after school most of the boys/men enlisted in the services - Army, Navy Marines, Air Force, or any other they could get into.  I went in the army in 1949 & spent 3 years, 16 months of that was in Korea.  Discharged in June 1952. 

<Robert Beauregard> - I moved to Lincoln R.I. in 1949 but continued to go to high school in Central Falls as Lincoln had no high school at that time.  After graduating in 1953, I knew that going to college was out of the question.  So I got a job in a metals shop, making .65 an hour (Dead end job).  

<Jerry Forman> - Both my brother and I were born and raised in Oakland, Alameda County, California.  Growing up in the Temescal District often referred to as 'Little Italy' was very interesting and I gained a great respect for the Italian people.  I still have contact with several friends who I grew up with in the old Italian district.  My family is from a Czech/English origin which is a far departure, for sure, from Italian but in those days we all assimilated.  At the time I was growing up, Oakland and Alameda County in general was a very conservative area where I unknowingly established my political roots.  I still live in Alameda County and am totally shocked with what diversity has done to this once lovely community.  Our metropolitan and once conservative newspaper where I worked for 23 years is now a flaming left wing rag that totally disgusts my sensibilities.  Barbara Lee is my U.S. Representative and I watched in the 1960's as she protested as a representative of the Black Panther Party as Huey Newton's right hand person.  After she was anointed as the chosen replaced for the far leftist, Ron Dellums (Oakland's current Mayor) the City of Oakland went downhill rapidly and has never recovered.  She now is the president of the Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. and it looks as if we'll never get rid of her.

<Robert Zellner> - My full name is Robert O. Zellner, but I'm called Bob by those who know me. I was born in 1932 in Madison, New Jersey which is located about 25 miles outside of New York City.  It was a small town of about 10,000 and many of the locals commuted to NYC, including my father.  We were very fortunate that he had steady employment all through the depression.  The main industry in Madison was rose growing.  There were four or five very large greenhouses that each employed 50 to 100 men.  Roses were cut every morning and shipped to the wholesale market in NYC.  I spent one summer as a teenager working at one for $35 for a 50 hour week, which sounds low now but back then was a very good summer job.    When I was 16 we moved to a tiny town in north central Pennsylvania called Mansfield.  My father, who was raised on a farm, wanted to get away from the dense population of NJ so he bought a gas station with a snack bar and some tourist cabins.  Life in a small town like Mansfield was much different than North Jersey.  The high school was quite small, 61 students in my class, and basketball was the big sport.  It was too small to have a football team.  Mansfield was largely a farming community, and the only other industry was a small state college with about 3000 students.  I spent the next year and a half there until the Korean War started and I joined the Air Force.

What circumstances led to you entering the Air Force?

<Norman Warren> - The Korean War began in the summer of 1950 and I never liked to wade the mud around the barns on the farm.  I decided that the draft had me in its sight, so I had to decide between the Navy and the Air Force.  I really didn't like lakes and I was certain I would not like the Oceans.  I thought the Air Force would have their bed and meals each day; so I went from Chicago to Chattanooga, TN in hopes of going with classmates from school.  I met a couple and it was off to Lackland AFB on January 2, 1951.

<Tom Salvadore> - Returned home after my stint in the Army, still no jobs, so I kicked around for a few months and tried different jobs, but couldn't find anything I liked.   So, I re-enlisted in the AF Sept.  1953 and made it my career for the next 27 years, retiring from the Air Force in 1977.

<Robert Beauregard> - I had 2 buddies that were a little older than I and they were in the Air Force.  So they talked four of us into joining.  It's now Nov. 1954; the 4 of us go to the recruiting office and got talked into joining.  He said we were going in the buddy system and that we would all stay together.  That was a scam as we call it today.  On Jan. 21 we were sent to Sampson AFB in upstate N.Y. never to be seen together again.

<Jerry Forman> After high school graduation, I immediately enrolled in college since that had been my goal from the beginning.  After one full semester in college, I decided I needed a break so enlisted in the Air Force.  In retrospect, it was one of the better decisions I've made in life.  Getting away from the 'home environment' enabled me to grow up as an individual.  It has been 55 years since this occurred and I don't recall if I was required to serve in the military or not at that time, which may have been the underlying reason I decided to enlist.

<Robert  Zellner> - I think that just about every kid who was too young to serve in WW2 was sorry he missed it.  From the time I was about nine years old we played war all the time.  We put together makeshift uniforms and weapons, and elected officers and sergeants.  This all came to an end in 1945 when Japan surrendered.  I was 13 years old at the time.  In 1949 my father moved us to Mansfield, PA when I was a sophomore in high school.  I went to school through my junior year and then worked for my father in the gas station when all of a sudden in June the Korean War started.  I had just turned 18 in April and I couldn't wait to get in it.  I went to the recruiting office and told them I was ready to join up.  The Sgt. asked me, "Army or Air Force?" (the Army was still doing AF recruiting then).  I hadn't given it much thought, but Air Force sounded good, so I said, "Air Force".  He got me all signed up and then told me I couldn't go until the middle of August, which really disappointed me.  I wanted to go right away.  I went home and told my father, and his reaction was, "why didn't you talk to me about it first?".  I told him I knew he'd try to talk me out of it.  Since I was 18 he had to accept it.

 On August 14, 1950 I took a bus to Harrisburg, PA to the New Cumberland Army Depot and the next day was processed and sworn in.  They gave us train tickets to St. Louis, and when we got there they put us on a troop train to San Antonio.  We got to Lackland late in the evening, but they ran us through receiving anyway and took us to our barracks and the next day Basic Training started.  It was supposed to last 13 weeks, but Lackland became so crowded with recruits they cut it to six.  So in early October we boarded another troop train for Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS for electronics training.

Do you remember how you ended up getting assigned to Loring?  Was it your choice or was it a total surprise?

<Norman Warren> - After arriving at Lackland AFB on January 5, 1951, I was assigned to Flt 201 (don't remember this Squadron) and assigned to a tent in "Tent City" with no Air Force clothing.  After 3 or 4 days, we received a terrible ice storm.  All the tents were covered with ice as well as the streets.  Seven days after arriving at Lackland, I went on sick call for swollen tonsils and was placed in the Hospital.  10 days later, I returned to the Squadron and was assigned to Flt 804.  I remained at Lackland until April 1, 1951 and was shipped to Keesler AFB for electronics school.  16 weeks of 'fundamentals' and 12 weeks of 'sets'.  I arrived at Walker AFB, Roswell, NM on January 2, 1952 and was assigned to the 4013th A&E supporting the 509th Bomb Wing with B-50 aircraft, (Q-24 System).  I spent June 5-September 12 TDY to Lakenheath RAF Station, UK.  In October I was transferred to Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, Texas for transition school (MTD) for the B-36 Bomb-Nav System working with the 7th Bomb Wing.  Our class was to activate the 95th Bomb Wing at Biggs AFB, El Paso, TX.  Limestone AFB had been accepted by the Air Force and Senator Margaret Chase Smith put pressure on the Air Force to place men and aircraft on the base.  We were transferred to Limestone AFB for 90 day TDY.  When the 90 days expired, we were rotated back to Carswell for PCS to Limestone.  Surprise! Limestone AFB was changed to Loring AFB on October1, 1954 (My date of discharge).  As a side note, a news reporter, (Gabriel Heater) in his radio news cast said; "mothers, if your son is in Korea, WRITE TO HIM; if your son is at Lackland AFB, PRAY FOR HIM"

<Robert Beauregard> - Well, It never occurred to me that I had a choice.  I was at Sheppard from April until August for Jet Engine Course and when my new assignment was posted it was for Loring.  It could have been anywhere and it would have been ok with me.  The only bases that I knew about were Sampson and Sheppard.  But it was all for the good.

<Tom Salvadore> - Quite a surprise, I was to go for school @ Sheppard AFB for administrative type aircraft and be assigned to Bolling Field, in DC.  As per the AF, they came up with the excuse the class I was to be in was canceled, so I ended up in Heavy Bomber class.  From there I went directly to Limestone AFB, Maine.  Then spent 26 years in SAC.

<Jerry Forman> - Based on my entry test scores and added to the needs of the Air Force at the time (1956) I was assigned to corps school with the U.S. Navy at Balboa Hospital in San Diego.  After six months of intense medical training at Balboa, we were assigned duty at various sites.  My closest buddy was assigned to Homestead AFB, Florida while I was sent to Loring.   We commiserated for several years about our odd respective assignments.  To answer your question, it was a total surprise.

<Robert Zellner> - In 1952 I was stationed at Rapid City AFB (now Ellsworth AFB. - Col. Ellsworth was the wing CO at the time).  I was an A1C with a 32150E AFSC, working on the RB-36.   The 28th Bomb Wing was selected to train the first element of a new wing to be stationed at Ramey AFB.  It was known as Wing X.   A large number of personnel were brought in from other SAC bases to train on the RB-36, and some of the 28th were mixed in with them to provide a base of experience.  I was one of the chosen B/N (Bomb Navigation) troops.  We proceeded with the training, both FTD and OJT for about three months and then prepared to ship out to Ramey.  Then they announced that one third of the Wing X personnel would be replaced by personnel from Rapid City and they would transfer into the 28th.  Strangely, I was selected to stay at Rapid City.  I thought it was pretty peculiar, and so did my First Sgt., so he promised me I'd get the next transfer opportunity.  So, I went back to work at my old job for a couple of months until September, 1952 when I got orders to transfer to Carswell AFB, Texas.  I had heard a lot of good things about Carswell so I thought it was a pretty good deal.

 My buddy and I drove down to Ft. Worth and reported in and got settled in the barracks (they were the old two story open bay type, but rooms for four had been built in each bay).  The next day we found out we were assigned to a new wing being formed to go to Limestone AFB, Maine.  We attended FTD classes in the morning and had OJT with the 7th and 11th Bomb Wing shops in the afternoon.  This went on until February, 1953, when they announced that we were going to Limestone TDY for 90 days.  They flew us all up to Maine on C-124s, then flew us back again in May,  gave us PCS orders with a 10 day delay on route.  When I first arrived at Limestone there were very limited amenities.  Most of us, perhaps all of us, were housed in a very large brick building which held dormitories, dining facilities, offices and the base library.  All I can remember other than that was a base theater and the BX.  There was no base housing for married personnel.  There was a hospital about a mile or so from the main complex, and of course there were shops for the various squadrons.  I was in the 42nd A&E.  No one was allowed off the base for about the first 30 days, and when they finally let us out I found out we were pretty isolated.  We first explored around Limestone and Caribou and Grand Falls, then looked over Van Bueren and finally made our way up to Madawaska and Edmundston.  We had very few private autos so most of our travels were by hitch hiking.

 In May, 1953 they flew us all back to Carswell, processed us and gave us PCS orders to Limestone.  I got a ride as far as Harrisburg, PA and then hitch hiked to my home in Mansfield, PA for a ten day leave.  After my leave I started hitch hiking to Maine.  I was in uniform of course, so I easily got a ride to Montgomery, NY, which is just outside West Point.  They let me off as it was just getting dark so I went in to the nearest bar for a beer and something to eat.  To my surprise, the bar was filled with soldiers in fatigues.  They were from the garrison based at the camp on West Point where the cadets trained during the summer.  I hung out with these guys until late and they invited me to spend the night at the camp.  We all piled in to their jeeps and drove to their barracks and they pointed me to an empty bunk.  The next morning I went to the mess hall with them, no questions asked.  I was the only blue uniform there, but no one seemed to care.  One of the guys got a jeep and drove me to the Bear Mountain bridge over the Hudson and I was on my way again.  When I got to Bangor I decided to take the coastal route since it was summer and I figured there would be more traffic.  Big mistake.  I got a lot of short rides, but as soon as it turned dark it stopped.  I had to walk all night before I got another ride.  I made it to Limestone late that afternoon and reported in.

Norm and Robert, as a follow-on, when you went TDY to Loring (Limestone), what was the level of on-going construction?  Did it seem like a fully-operational base, or some type of bare-bones base?

 <Norman Warren> - On arriving at Limestone AFB March 27, 1953, the base was what I would call a bare bones operation.  We had no aircraft and the squadron had to be made from scratch.  The A&E Squadron orderly room and barracks were in Building 6000 using 2 wings.  Other Squadrons, the chow hall, and other operational offices occupied the remainder of the building.  The bomb squadrons occupied the barracks across the parking lot.

We arrived without any aircraft; the 7th Bomb Wing transferred 12 B-36D to the 42nd Bomb Wing.  The first 8 arrived in May and 4 more in June.  I do not recall when we received aircraft from the 11th Bomb Wing, but we surely did receive some.  The word was that the 42nd received the castoffs and misfits of the 7th and the 11th.  It seems we had aircraft during April but I don't remember.

The only buildings on the flight line was the Arch Hanger, old fire station, the operation building containing the control tower and the new fire hall under construction.  The remainder of the base contained the support and wing command buildings.  There was probably Officers’ and some NCO housing, a 'pink’ hospital, (my 2nd home), motor pool, power plant, and other parts of the base I never frequented.  The East gate was our only entrance with the Guard Shack (I really mean 'shack'), located where you turn to the weapons storage.  We worked out of the Arch Hanger until the new fire hall was completed and after that we occupied the old fire hall building for A&E flight line maintenance until our building was completed.

Comparing the "tar paper barracks' at Walker AFB, NM, the standard 2 story open bay barracks of Keesler AFB, MS and Carswell AFB, TX; the open bay barracks in Building 6000 at Limestone AFB, ME was a real upgrade.  The latrine was still a large unit shared by many airmen, but still an improvement.  Building 6000 was a brick building that was self-sufficient; the only reason you had to leave the building was to go to work.  By the end of our TDY we were operating at about 50%.

The group of airmen I was with seldom 'attempted' to leave the base.  Some Sundays, there would be a bus trip to different towns, but most things were closed.  A trip from the base to Limestone, through Customs, to Grand Falls, to St. Leonard’s, to Madawaska, and Fort Kent then back; Van Buren, Caribou and then back to the base.  It was all riding and no time to do anything else. The speed limit north of Bangor was only 35mph.   Occasionally, we would walk out to the highway and hitchhike to Caribou, but you had to get back the same way.  Actually we were very isolated.

<Robert Zellner> - When we arrived at Loring about the end of February, 1953 the first thing that struck me was all the snow.  There was a big pile just off the runway that was about thirty feet high where they dumped the snow that was cleared from the runway.  The pile was still there in the middle of summer.  Most of us were wearing fatigues and a field jacket, but thankfully we didn't have to remain in the open very long.
  My impression of the base was that it was fully operational.  Base support personnel such as APs, cooks, medics etc. had been there for quite a while, and construction of flight line buildings was pretty much complete.  There were no nose docks, but there was one quite large hanger that was used mostly for periodic inspections.  That was where I was assigned so I can't comment too much about flight line operations. There was one big brick building which contained dormitories, a mess hall, squadron orderly rooms and a library.  I think all the TDY people were housed there.  There were a number of other buildings under construction that were barracks, orderly rooms, day rooms and mess halls, but none were occupied until summer, 1953.  Also, unknown to me, base housing was under construction.  The BX and the theatre were there as was wing headquarters.  Operationally, it seemed like it was pretty well organized and running, but there was a lot of construction going on.

Give us an idea of what the base facilities were like back in the 1950's.  People of other decades might assume that the base facilities were "like new", as the 42d Bomb Wing became activated in 1953.  Is that the right assumption?  Did it seem like you had a "modern" facility? (dorms, hospital, support facilities, etc)  

<Norman Warren>At the time we arrived at Limestone AFB, there may have been a gym and pool but if there was I did not use them.  I was on a detail to prepare the Long Lake Recreation area for use.  There was undergrowth to cut, docks to build, rocks to pick-up and place in neat rows.  There was a building with 2 rooms filled with double deck bunks for probably 12 guys in each room.  We stayed for 1 week; we worked probably 4-6 hours a day, and played till dark.  We had canoes, boats (small outboard engines) and fishing tackle furnished by the Air Force.

We played fast pitch softball in the spring of '53.  It was more or less a pickup game from the A & E Squadron against anyone, but we did play one game at the P.I. Airbase.

There was a small PX and a barber shop two or three blocks from Building 6000, and a beer garden in the basement of Building 6000.

The issued clothing that I disliked most was the 'cover-alls'.  They were for someone that was 250 pounds, where I was140 pounds.  When you went to the latrine, you had to take them off all the way to your legs.  I didn't like the dress blouse either, but liked the "Ike" jacket.  As I recall, we were never issued the 2 piece fatigues but was allowed to wear them.  I didn't like the work shoes with the leather 'inside out'.  I wore high top 'jump' boots with a zipper in the side.  I could unzip them when inflight but could zip them up quickly if necessary.

<Tom Salvadore> - The hardstands for the aircraft were still being built, also the Nose Docks.  Each squadron only had two built when I got there. We only had about 3-4 barracks built, One looked like a big “H” design and housed most of the enlisted, the others were mostly for officer and support people.  Base housing was still being built when I got there.  It was called Wherry Housing, which was for all the married people.  I guess you can say yes it was all new for that time and era in the 50’s.  After that I got married and moved into Base housing for the rest of my tour there.  We only had one big hanger which we called the Arch Hanger, this is where we did all the major aircraft inspections.   We could put two aircraft in Nose to Nose, then they started to build the large Flat hanger that could hold, I think, 6 aircraft, with  3 on each side.  I’m not too sure of that cause I was getting to leave and on the way to Griffiss.  We also had some smaller nose docks that were temporary type that we used until they got the other hardstands and larger nose docks in the B-36 and B-52 ramps done for the 3 squadrons.  Base flight was located in the arch hanger.  There were another 4 or 5 smaller nose docks on the parking ramp where the KC’s were parked.  They were called nosed docks because you couldn’t put the complete aircraft inside, the tail was outside in the weather.  The compass rose where we had to take the aircraft to swing the compass was way down at the end of the the taxiway and runway.  The fighter squadron was just getting to be transferred from CA, think it was the 27th with F-106’s in the late 50’s.  The new alert clover leaf was being built about the same time.

<Robert Beauregard>-The dorms (they were called bays, don't ask me why) were ok, we didn't have rooms per say.  One side had six beds, 4 of which were bunks.  The other side had 2 beds only.  They were for A1C through SSgt.   FMS dorms were in Bldg. 6000, as was the orderly room.  At that time Bldg. 6000 had almost everything you needed - Airman chow hall and NCO chow hall, etc.

<Jerry Forman> - I arrived at Loring three years plus after the base was activated.  Obviously, everything was relatively 'new' but I'd hardly categorize it as 'modern'.  The Base Gymnasium & Pool situated across the street and down the road from the 811th enlisted Hospital Barracks was about the only building with a 'modern look' in my opinion.  Aside from that edifice, everything else I'd categorize as 'early cheap'!  Even the Base Hospital (pink in color while I was there) was adequate but hardly an architect's dream design.  As I recall (54 years later), the NCO Club wasn't bad looking from the outside and the Officer's Club was average as well.  All the enlisted and officer barracks were dismal to look at and to live in at that time.  When I returned on my nostalgic visit in 1987 I was blown away with the new living accommodations that had replaced the barracks we had lived in.

From what I have read, the base was critical to several high-level operations (i.e., Operation Reflex, where B-47’s were loaded up at Loring from other U.S. bases, on their way to overseas TDY locations) during the 1950’s.  This would mean that there must’ve been a high operations tempo and tension for most people on the base.  Can you give us any insight to that?

<Norman Warren> - I vaguely remember the B-47 wing from the base at Tampa coming through Limestone.  They furnished their own men for in transit maintenance.  As I remember, we had a big snow and ice storm that delayed some aircraft 10-15 days. The planes had to be placed in the arch hanger in order to get them airworthy again.   It seems the out rigger on the wing was a problem in the heavy snow and ice. This would be a good question for Bob Zellner as he worked in the arch hanger.

<Robert  Beauregard> - Being single and living in the barracks, it seems that I was always on standby.  One night about 1 to 2 am I was awakened by the CQ and told that there was a B-47 that had just landed and needed someone to look at one of the engines.   First time seeing a B-47 so opened the cowling and there was oil everywhere.  So the pilot comes over with the maintenance log and wants me to sign saying everything is good (He wanted to get home that night).  I refused and he proceeded to chew me out, but I stood my ground.   Next day they shipped a new engine from somewhere and it was replaced. The pilot finally took off, but was not a happy camper.

<Tom Salvadore> - We always had all different aircraft in various different status during all the time I was there, anytime something came up we went to Alert status.  I can recall at one time we had approximately 95 Aircraft on alert during the Middle East crises (B-36's, 15ea),( B-52's, 45ea)(KC-135's,25ea)(B-47's, unk?)( KC-97's, 15ea).  That's a lot at one time, I think that was during the Cuban crises also.   Most of the aircraft that came thru Limestone at these times were on their way to overseas Reflex and classified missions.  I'm sure some are still classified, so there isn't too much to say.  Let me put it this way - everyone knew we were on the top of the top hit list.  We did our job and we were ready for anything that would come down the pike, regardless of cost.  That's about all there is about Reflex.

<Jerry Forman> - At my low level stature, I wasn't really in the loop of 'high stress and tension'.  As a hospital unit, we were always 'combat ready' to do 'our thing' but that was the extent of my participation.  I do recall a heightened alert status when the Hungarian Revolt took place shortly after I arrived in '56 and into '57 if memory serves.  Discussions began among us about 'what if we were to be called to Europe to defend whatever'.  Outside of that scenario, life at the hospital and dispensary was fairly mundane.  Our main concentration and focus was on medically treating and immunizing 5000 G.I.'s and their families.  I would guess the Hospital's Flight Surgeon Office and Hospital Commander would probably have been much more involved with the scenario you describe than I had knowledge about.  They were a separate and special entity of the hospital staff.

In 1958 there was a Loring B-52 crash in Minnesota.   I have published this story under our Multimedia/Reading Room.  Do you have any recollections of this as far as rehabilitation of the lone survivor?

<Jerry Forman> - Yes, I read that story you published about the B-52 crashing in Minnesota, but honestly don't remember much about that occurrence.  However, at Loring in about the same time frame, we also had a B-52 go down in the potato fields of either Limestone or Fort Fairfield with no survivors.   I knew one of the officers on board that flight.  The medics that went out to pick up the pieces described the gory details of what they found (kind of like the World Trade Center aftermath in NYC) - bits and pieces.

Having toured the inside of a B-52 while at Loring, I can't imagine flying in that giant for multiple hours on end. Those guys sure earned their flight pay.

Now that you've jogged my memory, I do recall an officer from a plane crash being brought onto the hospital wards and having pulling special duty on him (part of our job as corpsman).  However, for the life of me, I don't remember much else about the details except the officer did recover and I was always amazed seeing him at a later date.

When I visited the Loring Hospital in 1987 one of the civilian staff who still worked there also remembered the B-52 going down locally and she asked me if I remembered it (who wouldn't!).  We also had a B-52 catch on fire on the flight line ('57 or 58') and we could see it quite clearly from the Base Dispensary which was located in front of the Base Theater (bldg 5200 on Georgia Road).  Quite a spectacle.

According to the official 42d Air Base Wing site, Loring was home to B-36 aircraft from 1953-1956.  Do any of you have memories of the aircraft you can share with us?  For instance, the sound of the aircraft had to be incredible…

<Norman Warren> - As a Bomb-Nav Specialist doing both ground and in flight maintenance, I can recall many sounds and experiences that was unique to the B-36.  The sound of the six engines and four jets at takeoff power, the vibration of the entire aircraft and the tension you feel as you sit with your back to the bulkhead in the radio compartment sometimes with crew-members 2 deep waiting for takeoff.  As a non-crewmember, I was one of the first to bail out in case of trouble whether I was in the front or the rear. I was always nervous about bailout so I kept my parachute close by.  The tension on the bomb run, is my system going to malfunction?  Are all those vacuum tube, servos, amplifiers, going to work properly?  Did I get the radar tuned and aligned properly?  Oh so many things that could malfunction.  The entire result of this mission depends on what I did prior to the mission and now.  Will I be able to repair any problem that occurs prior to and during this bomb run?  So much tension!  After the bomb run is over and no malfunctions in my Bomb-Nav System, I can find my favorite spot to sleep (wrapped around the stab unit for heat) and either just rest or go to sleep and hope the Radar Observer doesn't need to wake me.  If the rear is not crowded with a bunk empty and I decide to go to the rear after the bomb run, I go through the tunnel on the trolley and crawl into one of the bunks.  This is entirely different environment to the front, lots of space.  The sound of the engines is different in the rear, a continual roar or hum.  The tail is continuously shaking, a much rougher ride than the front.  The landing is like the take off, everyone not required to man their station is required to be on the aft side of the bulkhead, you hear the noise of the flaps and landing gear extending and the engines going to full power; then you hear the rubber hit the runway. Then relief after 20-33 hours!

<Robert Beauregard> - Signed in at Loring on Labor Day weekend in 1955.  Took about 2 weeks to get our badges to enter the flight area.  At that time the jet engine shop was located in a metal building right next to the tracks that held the giant snow plow.  All we had to do was cross the tracks and thru the guard shack.  First day on the line and I was picked to man the fire bottle as they proceeded to start the engines on a B-36.  I was never so scared in all my life.  That was the first and last time that ever happened.

<Tom Salvadore> - The B-36 had six 4360 radial engines on the back of the wing (Pusher Type) with reversible props and two Jet Engines on the wing tips.  When they were all running at top RPM you couldn't hear anything and you were only wearing a soft headset to stay in contact with the cockpit.  I don't know what the decibels were but when you left the area your ears were ringing for quite awhile.

     The B-52 had 8 J-57 engines.  When they were running they were worse than the B-36 due to the hi-pitch sound, you had to wear ear plugs and ear muffs to deaden the sound.  Being the Crew Chief I had to wear a helmet during ground run up prior to take off.  If you were around when a few were getting ready for launch and during taxing to get ready for takeoff, it was quite loud.  When  you see them take off with all working as they should, with water injection and the black smoke from the engines, it give you a great feeling of accomplishment.  After the mission and the aircraft landed you refueled the plane with JP4, anywhere from 100,000 200,000 lbs of fuel; sometimes more, depending on the mission.  Then the post flight inspection, do all the repairs and started to get ready for the next mission.  I hope this gives you a little in-site what they sounded like and a typical day or days on the flight line and keeping the aircraft ready for any mission it was called for.  As you can remember the cold war was at its peak during this period.   Limestone AFB was at the ready all the time.

<Jerry Forman> - I arrived in June 1956 just as the B-52's were arriving.  They made plenty of noise when the winds were just right but we became used to it.  However, I would imagine the guys who worked on the flight line had a different story.

<Robert Zellner> - The B-36 was a very unique aircraft, six big reciprocal engines mounted on the rear of the wing as pushers, and four jets, two on each wing mounted outboard of the props.  It was big.  The wing root was about seven feet thick and contained the main landing gear.  I've heard stories about people going out in the wing during flight for some kind of in-flight maintenance, but I don't believe it.  The aircraft really wasn't much bigger than a B-52, but it looked bigger because the wings stuck straight out and didn't droop, and the massive landing gear was right out in the open, four wheels on each truck. The engines were the old reliable RJ-4360's that were also used on the C-124 and other cargo planes during the 50s.  However, they weren't so reliable on the B-36 because there wasn't enough cooling air coming in the vents on the leading edge of the wing.  They were prone to running hot and at least one engine would be feathered during most flights.  There went through a lot of cylinder changes.  As I remember, they used the jets and the props for takeoff and at high altitudes and shut down the jets at intermediate altitudes (I don't know the numbers).  The noise at takeoff was quite loud, but I don't think they were any louder than the B-52, just different.  You could hear the takeoff from any place on the base, and you could also hear the engines when the maintenance guys ran them up on the flight line, especially at night.

I was on flying status while at Loring as an in-flight Bomb Navigation (B/N) technician.  Most of the time in flight was spent sitting around watching the crew, but occasionally there would be a malfunction that could be fixed during flight.  My strongest recollection about flying was a TDY to Washington.  One aircraft was assigned to Larson AFB for one week and I was picked to go with them.  When we assembled for crew briefing I was surprised to see that there was no Radar Navigator going along.  That left his seat open for me, so I flew the mission as the RN.  It was a lot of fun to operate the radar in flight, usually I only got to see the display on the ground.  As we got to the Chicago area we encountered a weather front that had an intense line of thunderstorms.  The AC asked me to give him headings to get through the line, which I did and didn't think much about it until later when it struck me that I, a 20 year old three striper, was giving heading instructions to the Aircraft Commander, and he was following them.  Anyway, we landed at Larson and stayed for a week and the aircraft sat on the ground until time to go home. I have no idea why we were there.

Periodically on all aircraft the compass must be realigned.  At Carswell they had a special turntable out at the far end of the ramp. One landing gear was put on the turntable so the aircraft could easily be towed in a circle and a tower a couple of miles off base was used as a reference point.  At Limestone there was no such facility, so some bright young 2nd Lt. with an engineering degree came up with a solution.  He had a surveyor mark a spot on the ramp and paint a line for North.  Then they marked off every 15 degrees and painted lines out from the center so it looked like an asterisk.  To perform a compass swing a plumb bob was suspended from the center hub of each main landing gear and the aircraft was towed into alignment with one of the  lines as close as they could get it.  The distance from the plumb bobs and the line was measured and the numbers were entered into a formula to determine the exact heading of the aircraft.  The N1 compass and the B/N compass was then set to indicate the proper heading.  Then they moved the aircraft to the next line and repeated the procedure.  I was selected to head up the team to perform this makeshift operation which was fine while it was still warm, but when Winter came it wasn't so nice. The procedure was always done at night and to make the adjustments required adjusting the flux valves in each wing tip. Walking around on the top of a B-36 at 10 below with a brisk breeze blowing was not only uncomfortable but somewhat hazardous, and the flux valve adjustment couldn't be done with gloves on.  I did this about twice a week all through that winter and was very glad to see Spring arrive.

Also according to the 42d Air Base Wing site, Loring received its first B-52 aircraft (“C” models) in 1956.  What can you tell us about the experience of seeing a B-52 for the first time at Loring?

<Robert Beauregard> - In May of 1956 I was TDY to Castle AFB CA. for the purpose of learning how to change engines and other maintenance on the B-52C.  So by the time I got back they had already arrived.  When I got back I was transferred from assembly to flight line duty which was ok with me.

<Tom Salvadore> - We got the first B-52's around the middle of 1956, they were "C" models, built in 1955 direct from the factory. Limestone was the first to get the aircraft in 8th Air Force.  Castle AFB, CA was  the only other base to have B-52's,  and they had "B" models and a couple of "C"'s for training.  By the time we got all the aircraft, they totaled out to be 45 - 15 to each Bomb Squadrons (69th, 70th, 75th).  I ended up getting the third aircraft in the squadron and turned the B-36 over to my assistant crew chief.  I saw B-52's earlier when I went to Castle for training, but all the other people were in "Awe", they couldn't believe it.  After a month or two we had on open house for the base people, including dependents, to give everyone an idea of what we had.  One thing we had at limestone during those days was "PRIDE".  We had those signs all over the base.  I believe the saying for "SAC" was "PRIDE" and we all had it.  Another was "PEACE IS OUR PROFESSION", you don't have that today.

<Jerry Forman> - Mighty awesome to see in person and totally amazing to watch take off and land.

During the 1970's when I was at Loring, we had a good relationship with the locals.  How did the community show it's support (or lack of it) during the 1950's, and were the base personnel leery of the local community?

<Robert Beauregard> - Actually, I don't remember interacting with the locals too much.  We more or less stayed on base the first winter.  Home was only 500 miles away so I went there a lot on weekends.  That was until 1957 when I started going to Madawaska, never had any problems there.  My girlfriend (now my wife ) had a brother who just hated what they called airmen. He had a fight with one almost every weekend.  Lucky for me he moved away to Montreal never to be seen again.

<Norman Warren> - I am sure that the local towns were happy to see the influx of all the dollars from the Base, its Officers and Airmen.  On the few occasions we left the base while on the 90-day TDY, we received lots of stares from the local people.  It reminded me of the trips into villages in England the summer before (except I didn't hear shouts and jeers of "YANK, GO HOME").  That too was a 90 day TDY.  One reason for the stares, even though we were in civilian clothes, was we talked different and walked the streets in groups of 4-6 men and the clothes we wore was different to the dress of the local people.  Even today, the local people, regardless of what state or country they are located, still are apprehensive when a group of 4-6 men, with a different language and dressed different to the locals, are walking or travelling together. 

After returning from Ft. Worth with my car, I saw a different side of the local people.  I toured the different towns and villages on both sides of the border.  I began dating a girl in Fort Fairfield, (She is my wife of 57 years), and was accepted into the family reasonably quick.  We moved on the base immediately after being married and lived in the apartment at 699 Sherman Court.  We were the first ones to live in this apartment and were pleased with the 2 bedrooms and bath upstairs and foyer, living room, dinette, and kitchen downstairs.  Our association off base was mostly her family and friends so I didn't meet a lot of other local people.  My wife would go visit her parents when I was on a mission.

<Jerry Forman> - A great question Ray and one I'm more than enthusiastic to respond to.   While I can't begin to speak for any of the military personnel on base in the 1950's, I can certainly tell you that I was admirably impressed with the local community's response to me as one individual.  I'm of the opinion that if you are a person willing to freely give of your feelings and be friendly to those around you, you will, in turn, be greatly rewarded by others.  It is the way I was raised and thank my parents for this characteristic trait today.

I made enumerable friends within the local community who, in turn, showed a most gracious and reciprocal response in return.  Of course, I must admit, I was dating some of their daughters simultaneously.  However, a number of the civilians working at the hospital (who I was not involved with) also extended kind invitations to me to their homes for dinner, luncheons, etc. on holidays as well as other special occasions.

Never was I disappointed with any of the locals I came in contact with and always tried to treat them with utmost respect and thankfulness for which they deserved.   I'm sure most of the locals weren't thrilled about putting up with so many people from many walks of life once the U.S. Air Force invaded their quiet county.  But, considering Loring was one of the most important strategic SAC bases in the U.S., plus the money pouring into their economy, I'm sure they were able to make amends as necessary.

In the final analysis, I do believe the local community would say, overall, they appreciated the military being there.  I certainly would had I been in their shoes (editorializing)!

<Tom Salvadore> - The people around there were very nice.  In fact they were happy to see you.  We shopped at the local stores in and around the base, places like Limestone (a very Small town), Caribou, Ft Kent, Madawaska, Presque Isle & a few others, I don't remember all.  Over all we had a good relationship.  We even went and helped them get there potato crop in when the weather threatened the crop.  Let me tell you that was back breaking work, those potato farmers were hard working people. Mostly all were of French decent, and spoke broken English.  Last but not least, it (the base) helped their economy and increased the money supply in the area.

<Robert Zellner> - When I arrived at Limestone in Feb 1953 there was one thing we noticed immediately. There were more girls than men.  This is believed to be because much of the population was of French Canadian descent and traditionally young women lived with their parents until they got married.  On the other hand, the young men were free to do what they wanted and many of them left northern Maine for school and better jobs.  Of course, we didn't think this was a bad deal at all.  The USO held weekly dances on the base and provided bus transportation for the girls, so we got acquainted pretty fast.  By the time they let us go off the base in early March, all of us had multiple phone numbers.  By the time I got back after the 90 day TDY it had changed some because there were many more men on the base and the young ladies learned that they were in demand.
 
As for relations with the rest of the community, it was very good. We seemed to be welcome wherever we went, maybe because we were spending money but I'm not that cynical.  We were also treated very well over in Canada, and a pretty good number of men married girls from Grand Falls.  One weekend during the summer of 1954 two other guys and I made a trip to Campbellton, NB, which is about 100 miles northeast of Van Buren.  Looking for something to do Saturday evening, we decided to see if the Canadian Legion club would let some visiting American GIs come in.  To our surprise, they not only let us in, they welcomed us as brothers and we didn't have to pay for a drink all night.

What kind of recreational activities were available for the base?  Did the gymnasium exist then?  How about the heated swimming pool and steam sauna?  Did the BX and Commissary exist then? 

<Jerry Forman> - There were a number of recreational activities available when I was there but I can't claim to know them all. The GYM did exist as well as the heated swimming pool; don't recall a steam sauna.  We had a ski slope and rope tow (the ski chalet never existed in the'50's).  There was a make-shift outdoor ice skating facility where a large area was flooded with water but never smoothed by machine.  I believe hockey was practiced there as well as figure skating.  A number of individual recreational disciplines were available such as photography, etc.  There was a BX and Commissary albeit moderate compared with what replaced it when I visited in '87.  I believe there were baseball teams in play at the time.

<Tom Salvadore> - We didn't have a gym, it was being built like all the other part of the base.  We had a small NCO club, small BX/Commissary.  Swimming pool and steam sauna (are you kidding) we didn't even know what they were at that time. Most of the time was work, hunting, fishing, snow sports, skiing, snow shoeing, etc.   When you got the chance, off to the NCO Club for a drink or two (or more), then to the house/barracks.  When the weather was nice in the couple days during the summer we had cook outs, but whatever we did the Mission came "First".

<Norman Warren> - I don't recall the gym or swimming pool; it was probably there but it wasn't of any interest to me.  There was a small BX and a Barber shop.

<Robert Beauregard> - First the gym, I believe that there was one but not being a gym person at the time, I don't think I ever went there.  As far as a pool and sauna, I have no recollection of either one.  The BX and Commissary were great, had everything one needed at the time.  I spent a lot of time in the record room looking at 33 and 45 records for my collection.  Elvis had come on the scene at that time frame.  Don't know what happened to my collection after moving back home, they must have gotten lost in the moves.

<Robert Zellner> - Recreational activities on base were rather limited.  The BX was there, and I think the Commissary.  The swimming pool and sauna must have come after I left.  Base housing was under construction and opened up over the next year. When BG Harrison issued the order that all personnel who were off duty must wear class A uniform while on the base, the worst effect was on those who lived in base housing.  They had to wear a uniform if they were just visiting their neighbor.  I remember the guys who lived off base, who ordinarily wore fatigues to work, had to wear a uniform and change clothes after they arrived.  I don't remember if the gym was there or not, but the theatre was open and there was a library.  There was a baseball league, but I don't know where they played.  There was also a group that put on plays and musicals, but not very often. Most of my recreational activities took place off base at the local hotels, which were the only place you could buy anything harder than beer. 

How about the winter issue you were given for the cold weather?  In the 1970’s we were issued parka pants and mitts, muckalucks, “Eskimo hats”, and those bunny boots that you could pump air into.  What type of clothing were you given and did it work?

<Jerry Forman> - Interesting question, Ray, on a subject I hadn't thought about in a long time.  The only article of cold weather clothing I remember being issued was the parka (and possibly gloves).  Other than that, we were on our own!  The parka was very effective on those unbelievably cold mornings when the hairs in your nostrils practically froze together.

<Tom Salvadore> - We had all the same equipment you had; during that time we were testing some of the arctic gear.  Most of the stuff you got issued we tested.  Not only did we test clothing/equipment, we tested a couple of aircraft for RADC (Rome Air Development Center in New York), testing for cold weather testing.  Next to Alaska, Loring was the next best thing going at that time, besides Goose Bay Labrador.

<Norman Warren> - We were issued parka, pants, muckalucks and gloves. This was issued at Carswell prior to departure from Ft. Worth, TX.

<Robert Beauregard> - The first piece was just a parka, as it got colder we were given parka pants and muckalucks and that's it. The only thing that I wore was the parka, everything else was too bulky. I don't recall ever wearing the muckalucks. The only time that I was outside was to change an engine, so no need for all that clothing.

<Robert Zellner> - The only winter clothing I can remember was a hooded parka, which worked quite well. I think we got some gloves too, but I'm not sure.  Fortunately, as a Bomb Nav tech all our work was done inside the aircraft and usually it was heated by a ground hot air blower.  Compass swinging at night was a different story.  Adjustments had to be made on the flux valves in the wing tips, and they couldn't use the heaters because the aircraft was moved every few minutes. 

In the early part of the 1950’s, B-47’s staged through Loring on their way TDY for ground alert in Europe.  They were loaded with nuclear weapons from the 3080th Aviation Group.  Do you remember these aircraft, and can you give us your impressions of what some have called “The most beautiful bomber ever built”?

 <Tom Salvadore> - I recall 47's coming thru Loring in the 1950's, they were set up in a special area with their own support troops.  They only stayed a few days (TDY), then went back to their bases.  I couldn't tell you if they picked up weapons from us (42 BMW) or not, never talked about them or our deployed.  We'll leave it at that aircraft.

<Norman Warren> - As I recall, there was a Bomb Wing from MacDill (Tampa) that came through in the winter of '53-'54 that had the B-47's.  As I remember it, some of the B-47s got iced in for several days.  I have no knowledge about the type of bombs loaded on them.  The aircraft was very streamlined with droopy wings with outriggers that did not handle well in the snow and ice.  As for being the most beautiful bomber, it may have been the second most beautiful Bomber.  At least the B-36 had the most beautiful sound of any bombers.

<Robert Zellner> - To the best of my knowledge, all of the operations involving the 3080th Aviation Group occurred in 1954, but I don't remember seeing any B-47s on the base.

From the very beginning, Loring was also the site of the 3080th Aviation Depot Group, which was also called site “Easy” and “North River Depot”.  This was the first Air Force site to have custody of nuclear weapons.  Do any of you have any memories of the site and were you ever able to go out to it?

<Tom Salvadore> - We knew it was there, however there were a lot of civies working there and the area was classified.  Only people who had special badges were authorized access to the area.  When we were loaded (editor’s note: bombers loaded with nuclear weapons), they did most of the supervising.  We didn't have anything to do with them except during loadings. That's one of the Army Nike Sites located near and around the base.  That's enough on that subject.

<Norman Warren> - I knew that there was an area that was highly classified on the east side of the base and that only people with the need to know and the proper security clearance were authorized to go on that area.  Later the common knowledge that leaked out was that the nuclear weapons were stored there.  As I recalled, it was called "Caswell".  When we arrived the 'East Gate' was located where you turned left for LAFB and continued straight ahead to go to "Caswell".

<Robert Beauregard> - I was only a youngster at the time and believe it or not I had no idea where they the nuclear weapons were stored.  I used to see them being loaded on a B-52 but didn't have a clue where they came from, and I guess didn't care.  I Found out about the Weapons Storage Area (WSA) on the Loring site a few years back. 

<Jerry Forman> - Sorry Ray, I really don't have any specific memory of the 3080th Aviation Depot Group (Caribou AF Station).  I know I never physically went to the site.  However, since we held daily sick call at the Base Dispensary, I remember  G.I.'s from many satellite sites, and this would have fallen under that category, would show up for treatment from physicians as needed.  On a base of 5000 military, we were never lacking for the need of medical attention and facilities.  Sorry not to have more input on the subject.

 

In 1958, an historic exercise titled Operation Head Start took place at Loring, which tested the feasibility of airborne alert.  B-52’s were launched every 6 hours with nuclear weapons loaded, over a prolonged period.  As a direct result of this test, Strategic Air Command gave the go-ahead for what would be known as “Chrome Dome” (SAC nuclear airborne alert).  Do any of you have any memories of the exercise, and the high tempo of operations it took to pull it off?

 <Robert Beauregard> - I got married that year and I guess that took all of my time.  I remember getting ready to go somewhere because of the Lebanon situation, but other than that I'm drawing a big blank.  I Left Loring Dec 1,1958.

<Jerry Forman> - I certainly remember a reference to 'Operation Head Start'  since it seems to be a buzz word in the Government.  I vaguely remember this operation while at Loring but I wasn't personally involved.  This operation, no doubt, would have had the attention of the Flight Surgeon's Office at the hospital as well as the hospital commander Colonel Marchbanks.  In fact, I believe Marchbank's may have even taken part in the operation in his capacity as a medical physician. Sounds to me as if the higher echelon of Air Force personnel would have more knowledge about this issue

<Tom Salvadore> - As I said before, we started Head start in the middle 50'S.  We slept in the hangers next to the aircraft on the hardstand, loaded ready to go when the phone rang (we didn't have the horn at that time yet).  Anyway, we would get the aircraft ready for launch, the crew arrived, we started engines, taxied to the runway.  Sometimes we would launch or return and an aircraft from either the 69th BS or the 75th BS would launch.  Anyway, at least one would launch during the exercise.  That's all I can say about that.  Yes, that did lead in to what later on became Chrome Dome and fly for 24 hrs.  I recall that lasted until the 60's, all SAC Wings did Chrome Dome sorties.  It gave the Soviets something to think about during those days.  All the time during this time everything about Head start was and is still classified.  That’s all I can say about the subject.

What was the most memorable thing that happened to you on the job while at Loring?  For me, it would have to be when we dismantled the remaining Hound Dog missiles…

<Norman Warren> - The most memorable thing that happened to me while at Limestone AFB that was not during my personal time off would have been in the month of October 1953.  The 42nd Bomb Wing flew over 1000 hours in the B-36 aircraft assigned to us in October 1953.  This accomplishment was a real milestone for the 42nd and Colonel Bertram Harrison (Wing CC).  In that month, I personally was in-flight 123 hours of those 1000 hours.  This involved 5 flights; the last being 33 hours in duration.  The others were averaging 20 to 25 hours.  This was on several different aircraft and different crews.  The wages weren't very good as I received $50.00 a month for hazardous duty pay, not flight pay.

<Robert Beauregard> - I'm guessing that the most memorial event that occurred and that stayed with me to this day is when we all gathered on the grass outside of bldg. 6000 and an Airman was stripped of everything military.  We then were told to do an about face, and he was marched away to the gate in front of an AP jeep.  That happened 2 times.  We could never find out what they did to deserve this.  I remember it all as if it was yesterday.

<Tom Salvadore> - There were so many, just one is really hard to pick out.  I guess the most memorable would be when I, as the youngest NCO (SSgt) to be selected to crew the third B-52C in the 75th Bomb Squadron.   All the other crew chief’s were TSgt and above.  That was an honor at the time.

<Jerry Forman> - I would have to say that, in my case,  being awarded the Strategic Air Command Outstanding Airman for a six month period from the hospital group was close to being one of the everlasting great memories of my stay at Loring.  Secondarily, as I've stated before, meeting, making friends, and learning from the professional medical staff certainly has to rank up there among my all time favorite memories.  Also highlighting my memories at Loring, I was awarded several commendations, one of which was for taking the initiative in my capacity as NCOIC of the Base Dispensary in compiling several groups of statistics for Base Dispensary records to be utilized by the Preventative Medicine  Officer/Physician in his decisions regarding the efficiency and absolute correctness of the medical records section.  Keeping in mind this was, for all intents and purposes, prior to computers.

<Robert Zellner> -  I think the most memorable thing that happened was one morning when the runway was closed because of fog and a B-36 was circling over the base with not enough fuel to divert to an alternate.  We had a radio in the shop tuned to the tower frequency and were listening to the pilot and the tower discussing what they should do.  It got very tense as the aircraft got lower and lower on fuel. They had decided that they would bail out over the base and let the plane crash in the ocean, but the fog lifted just in time for them to land.  It ended up being a non-incident, but it got pretty close.
     One other thing that comes to mind involved the guard in the A&E shop.  It had been decided that an armed guard would stand at the entrance to the shop and check everyone's pass.  That became a detail that the lower grades would pull.  One day over the lunch period when most of the personnel were gone the guard started playing with his .45 and accidentally fired a round through the ceiling.  He escaped any consequences, other that a royal chewing out, because he had never one of the cards that verified he had taken a familiarity class on the .45.  They shut down the guard duty shortly after.
     The third memorable event I've told about in my stories is when the first B-36 to arrive at Loring landed with the parking brakes on.

Have any of you returned to Loring for a personal visit since you left? 

<Norman Warren> - I married a Fort Fairfield girl so I have returned to Northern Maine probably 50 times or more.  I visited the base on most occasions with my brother-in-law Urban (Jack) O'Connor.  Jack was a barber on the base for 30+ years; he had his own shop probably 20 years in Building 6000.  It was discouraging to see the base deteriorate to the condition it was the last time I was there.  That was in 2005.  Actually instead of using the word 'deteriorated', I should use the term 'unkempt'.  The building that I last worked in that housed the A&E Squadron inside the flight line fence was a concrete block building. The paint had peeled off in a lot of places, some windows were broken, and the door was in bad shape.  I have seen pictures of the inside and it looked trashed.  Most of the buildings with asbestos siding have been demolished; this includes the Wherry Housing, which was new when I moved in to 699 Sherman Court in April 1954.  The hangers looked rundown, even though partially used at times I was visiting.  The steam pipes are not as they were when I was based there.  The grass had grown  and landscaping was unkempt.  Most of the buildings could use a coat of paint and windows needed to be repaired.  There was a lot of trash left from the 'Phish Concert' one time when I was there.  You tend to expect things to be as they were but time changes everything.  The base could use a summer of refurbishing to bring it up to our memories. 

<Robert Beauregard> - I have driven by there every year since 1959.  On the way to Edmunston N.B., stopped in the fall of 2005 just to look around.  Came in from the East gate so I could see the power plant and that sort of guided me around.
First went to the engine shop which was between the Arch hanger and whatever they called the other one.  From there we went back down to the main drag and showed my wife bldg.6000, that's where the FMS barracks were at the time.  Drove around but mostly everything was demolished, had trouble finding the road to the West gate as I wanted to go to Caribou.  Finally made it out, that was the first and last time I ever visited Loring.  It was a fast visit because my wife was in a hurry to get up to Edmundston to see her sisters.
  

<Tom Salvadore> - No I never went back.  Thought of it several times, but other priorities took over.  Maybe one of these days I might just make a trip.  Who knows? 

<Jerry Forman> - Yes, back in 1987 I had a scheduled business trip to Washington, D.C. (keeping in mind I live and worked in Oakland, California).  At the time, it had been thirty years since leaving Loring and I decided to take the opportunity and fly up to Limestone for a nostalgic 'look back in time'.  The Base hadn't closed yet and was quite operational; however, many changes had taken place.  Most notable change was the earthquake that hit the Base Hospital and rendered part of it off limits.  Still, I met with officials at the hospital and exchanged niceties and surprisingly even found current staffs that were at Loring in the '50's when I was there.  Was given a tour thru the almost completed new hospital.  The Base Dispensary where I had worked was still operational but had been taken over by Base Security.  Subsequently, I’ve since found out that the building (5200 on Georgia Road) had been razed sometime in the early 1990's.  The barracks were all gone where the hospital staff had been housed and in its place was an enormous chow hall.  I was given a tour of the new hospital staff barracks and was pleasantly surprised - wish we had had such luxury living quarters when I was there - outstanding!  Great nostalgic trip.

<Robert Zellner> - No, the farthest north I've been in Maine was Portsmouth a couple of years ago.

What, if any, impact has Loring had on you in the time since you were assigned there?

<Norman Warren> - The only impact Loring has had on me since I was stationed there is in my memories other than my brother-in law, (Jack---the barber), working there.  When there was talk of closing the base, I talked to Bart Gordon, TN Representive, US Congress, about the base.  He had never visited the base, did not know the mission of the base, did not know the history of the base, and apparently did not care about the base; but yet he was going to vote to close the base.  Thank goodness, he will not return to congress this year after about 28 years.

<Robert Beauregard> - The only impact that I can think of, is that if I would not have been assigned to Loring, I would not have been married to a girl from Edmundston N.B.  I would not have had 3 sons, or 11 grand-children and 1 great-grand son.

<Tom Salvadore> -  I guess you can say it made me grow up fast.  The camaraderie, dedication to the job, knowing we helped keep the peace during that time.  Belonging to SAC was like being "once a Marine always a Marine" - once in SAC always remember being in SAC, with the old saying you were SACumcised.  I know that may sound corny but that's the way it was in that time during the 50's & 60's.

<Jerry Forman> - Interesting question for sure.  From the beginning, being part of the military was a great opportunity starting at the young age of 19 years.   Being stationed at Loring for 3 1/2 years certainly helped me develop valuable skills that would help and assist me throughout my entire adult professional working life and beyond.   Developing into a responsible person definitely had a huge impact as a result of my assignment at Loring,  with all due respect to my parents raising me well.  I do believe lessons taken away from being assigned at Loring have assisted me throughout the past 50 years to become a responsible contributing member of society.

<Robert Zellner> - I've been thinking about this, and while my time at Loring had some impact, my four years in the AF had more overall impact.  I went in as an eighteen year old kid and got out as a fairly mature (I think) adult.  I learned about responsibility, respect for authority and personal integrity from my experiences at all the bases where I was stationed.  The main impact I got from Loring was learning how to take charge of a effort and direct other people to get a job done.  I was put in charge of the compass swing team and, with my team's help, we developed the procedures and proceeded to do the job, mostly at night and often in adverse weather.  All in all, my whole AF experience was positive.  I'm sure if I had gone directly to college out of high school, I would have been kicked out, or at least flunked.  At age 22 I was much more ready for life thant I was at 18.

Gentlemen, in closing, I would like to thank each of you for participating in this heritage interview.  Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?

 <Norman Warren> - In retrospect, I often think of the amazing job the Air Force did (and still does) in taking country boys, like me, and in a short period of time train us to the point we could maintain such complex equipment. I entered the Air Force with very little electrical and electronic knowledge and after 12-months I could maintain the bomb-nav on a B-50 bomber.  Another six months of cross training, I was maintaining the K-System (bomb-nav) on the more complex B-36.  When you look at the many jobs that guys were trained for that parallel my job, it was amazing that the aircraft flew flawlessly for the most part.  It is similar to the production line in modern factories: each person does one small job and put them together and the big job is successful.

 Raymond, thanks for the great job on the website and thanks for allowing me to participate in this project.

<Robert Beauregard> - I think that's all from my end.  Some of the questions brought back memories that I had forgotten but now remember very clearly.  Good job!

<Tom Salvadore> - I wish everyone that was at Limestone (Loring) AFB Maine, best wishes and to let them know the time they were there they all made history.  They should all be proud of that.  Good luck to all and if you write a book about Loring be sure to let all of us know so we can we can read about what we did to serve our country. Good Luck to all.

<Jerry Forman> - Ray, it has truly been an honor taking part in this historic and nostalgic heritage interview and I'm sorry to see it end.  We all owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for your professionalism and stick-to-itiveness in the hours spent recording the many thoughts and memories of our 'early days' at Loring.  Because of your project, I really feel a sense of kinship  with my fellow Loringites who served during the 1950's and beyond. 

I still feel saddened by the tremendous loss of all my personal photos taken during three years spent at Loring (all lost when my home was totally destroyed in a 1991 firestorm that also wiped out 3000 other homes).  Sharing those photos, and there were many, would have been a highlight for me to add to what already has been submitted by others.  C'est la vie!

<Robert Zellner> - I was just remembering the other day, my attitude while at Loring and the other bases was mainly how much fun it was working on airplanes and occasionally getting to fly on one.  I really had very little sense of what our mission was except to keep them flying.  The Korean War was the only conflict I was aware of and was a long way away.  I'm not sure I even knew there was a cold war going on.  In later years I became aware of the Cold War and what could happen, and I realized how important our role was in SAC.  Now I'm quite proud to be one of many who kept our country safe for many years.

 

Interview conducted Feb – July 2010.  Interviewer was Raymond Ingham (1977-1980), Webmaster Loring Remembers.

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