Chapter 1 - Rantoul, Illinois
We flew to Westover AFB on 14 July on a C-97. We had to sign a waiver that we knew pfc was on board in the plane's cabin riding in a coffin. In Mass we bought a brand new 1951 Oldsmobile black model 88. We drove across the USA and spend a month with Ewald and Nettie in Orange. We returned to Chanute AFB at Rantoul, Illinois by the 19th Aug 1951. I was assigned to the ATRC 3349th Tng Sq(Wea) 3345th Tech Tng Gr with duty as Dept of Wea Inst in Wea Forc Forcg Br (dy SSN 8219K). Some of the people assigned with me were:
Lt Col Cristi was CO and General Gates was base commander Our first priority was to get housing for our family. No base housing was available and rentals were miles out of Rantoul. We rented a house south of the base in Urbana. This was the home of the University of Illinois. The back of our lot was against a lot from around the corner of our street and we became friends with the McFarlands, Bill and Dee. Bill was a salesman and also a hunter. I remember a pheasant dinner that he cooked in milk. Dee was a good cook but Bill insisted on cooking his own pheasant. It was good. The McFarlands moved to Phoenix and later to Bullhead City. We visited them in both places. I bought my first "shopsmith" and had it in our basement. After a few months we bought a small 3-bedroom tract house adjacent and just a couple of city blocks north of Chanute AFB. It was a pre-fab built with 2x2 studs (usually 2x4's) and set on a cement slab. We were the second owners. I think we paid about $9-10,000. It was on a corner and had a detached 2 car garage. I put in a patio and planted lots of bushes and trees. Also this is where I made good use of my Shopsmith wood working tool. My first project was making storm windows for our house.
As one of the ranking Captains, I was assigned as Instr-Supv Wea Frcstr Br. No C. Our team consisted for most of the time of 3 officers, 3 enlisted Sergeants and 2 civilians. The 2 civilians assigned for my whole tour were John Holland and Loren Luthi. Our classes started out with about 60 enlisted and usually 5-10 foreign students that usually had 1 officer and the rest were enlisted rank. The countries represented during my tour were Portugal, Yugoslavia, and France. We started out with mathematics and physics and this is where we usually washed out 5 to 10 students. The foreign students made it thru (no matter how they did). In the foreign student groups the officer always made or was given the best grades. A class lasted about 8 months. When I was first assigned to Chanute in Turkey I tried to get out of this assignment but no luck. But after I started the teaching, I enjoyed it. I guess the captive GI students; They have to learn or no promotions and maybe being washed out of weather forecasting school and into welding etc. schools; were easy to teach. Also I got to tell my "war stories" and could tell them "first hand" what pilots needed in a weather briefing. I still have most of my lesson plans that I used in class.
Bob Haven was one of my instructors and as he hated weather forecasting I let him teach the math and physics classes vs. the weather courses. He soon started taking courses at Univ of Illinos to get a teaching degree and to try to get out of the Weather Service. We used the Chanute AFB officers club a lot and had lots of parties at both our homes.
Mark was born at the USAF hospital December 31 1951. Bobby Haven was also born here within a year or so of Mark. We had a 30 day leave each year and we always went to California spending most of the time staying with Nettie and Ewald in Orange. We also would visit with Rhea and Ray and Pat and Maggie. Ewald and Nettie made several visits to see us. On their last trip they had a new Buick and on their first day driving back to California they were rear-ended in rainy and poor visibility weather in southern Iowa. We got a emergency telephone call and immediately drove up to the hospital. Dad was unhurt but mother has a serious fracture in her back or shoulder. In a few days when she was well enough and in a cast we had her flown in a small plane to Champaign. Later they stayed in our house at Rantoul until she was well enough to fly home. The Buick was totaled and being out of state they never got any compensation from the other driver even though it was his fault.
My tour as a Instructor was over in May 1954. Bob Haven had got his transfer out of the AWS and was assigned duty at Purdue Univ, Indiana as an instructor in their ROTC program. I was assigned to the Chanute Base weather station as Detachment Commander. I was now back in USAF Air Weather Service. Also I had been promoted to Major in May 1954. This was to be a short assignment of 2 months prior to my next assignment overseas. Base weather was a large detachment as it also had an upper air (rawinsonde) section. I got a 2 day overlap with the departing Detco. I learned a lot fast here. My first assignment in charge of WAF's; We had 3 or 4 assigned. They worked out well, in fact I made one of them our Chief Observer much to the consternation of some of the male observers. She was the best weather observer in the station and I told this detachment that was the reason she got the position. I also learned about having a headquarters, my weather squadron Headquarters "barking" down at how we (I) did things. It seemed I was always answering thru military channels what I was doing to make things better at our station.
My Squadron Commander was Lt Col Estil L. Hamill (from Orange, CA). Most or all of the time it was already corrected by the time I would get his nasty correspondence. He shows up later in my career and I had a chance to tell him how "chicken" he was.. By July 1954, I had orders to report to Camp Kilmer, NJ for shipment overseas to the North East Command for a new assignment in Newfoundland. After 30 days leave in California We found and rented a house on East Chapman about 10 blocks east of the Plaza. Jane, David and Mark stayed there while I was at Thule Greenland. We hoped that I would be assigned to the Weather Center at St Johns, Newfoundland. Dependents were allowed there. I arrived 25 August 1954 at Camp Kilmer,N.J. I met about five other weather officers that were also being assigned to the same weather Group at St Johns, Newfoundland. We were all put on a bus going to the MATS terminal at Westover AFB, Mass. From there we would fly by C-54 to Newfoundland. I still didn't know my assignment but was hoping for the weather Center at St Johns.