Chapter 5 - Zaragoza, Spain

Before transferring to Spain, we spent most of a month with Nettie and Ewald at Cambridge street in Orange. We drove across the USA and left the Ford at New York to be shipped to Spain. We left McGuire AFB, New Jersey early March in a MAT's plane to the Azores and on to Torrejon AB, Madrid Spain. We arrived in Zaragosa and was meet by our sponsor Captain Thomas M. Slee and his wife. We moved into a Hotel in Downtown Zaragoza. After about one week we rented a furnished apartment. I put in for "off-base" Air Force housing which we received in about a month. About this time the Ford had arrived at Barcelona. I arranged a flight with Base Operations to get a flight to Barcelona to pick up my car. The pilot of the plane (a single engine) was a Lt Col Theon "Ed" Markham. En route the weather worsened and we could not make it VFR so we returned to Zaragoza AB. I think I went the next day by train or maybe I got another Air Force flight. I picked up one dirty Ford station Wagon and drove the four hours back to Zaragoza.

Weather Station

I checked out again in C-47's and most of my flying was piloting the courier that made a circuit from Zaragoza to Torrajon, to Moron AB at Sevilla in southern Spain and return via Torrajon to Zaragoza all in the same day. On 23 May 1960 I attended a Detachment Commanders conference at 21st Weather Squadron at Torrajon and got to meet the other detachment commanders in our squadron. Lt Lawrence D Connolly was the 21st Squadron Commander. While living in off-base housing we meet Peggy and Ed Markham. Ed was the Commander of the AF radar control base located about 30 miles southwest of Zaragoza AB and close to the Spanish village of Calatayud. (Ask Ed about the time that the mayor of this town set Ed up to do a bull fight at one of their Fiestas with a real "Toro". He backed down for safety reasons because the bull grew too big by the time the fiesta was to be held) His base was a air defense unit that radar vectored the F-102's that were based at Zaragoza AB. In times of bad storms our weather station at Zaragoza would get radar weather reports from their radars. Some of the other people at Zaragoza were:

  • Capt Thomas Slee Chief forecaster at Zaragoza
  • Capt George Jepson AACS commander
  • Maj Warren Shipp Base Supply
  • Col George McGee Base Commander
  • Lt. Col Joe McLachlan Dep Base Commdr
  • T/Sgt Bobbie G Wells Chief Observer
  • T/Sgt George Snead Chief Maintenance
  • T/Sgt O'Connell Maintenance
  • Lt George Hammond Forecaster (wife Roxanne)
  • S/Sgt Sekita Supply
  • Lt Arnulfo Villarreal Forecaster
  • Capt Murtaugh Base Operations W/O
  • Robert Doverspike Forecaster
  • Lt Berner F. Wilson jr Forecaster

Ed and Peggy Markham

By 1961 the new On-base housing had been completed and we were assigned a house on the base. Our next door neighbors were Maj Jimmy and Edith Armstrong. He was assigned to Base armament as a nuclear bomb officer. Ed and Peggy Markham lived across the street from us. Our base had a rotating flight of four Reflex B-47's stationed as a atomic strike force. The crews would rotate from east coast SAC bases on a weekly period. The base weather station provided morning briefing for their target areas. I gave most of these myself as they required "special treatment". We had trouble with some of our forecasters not being "up to snuff" or to SAC's liking. They (SAC) were really a pampered group. For example on their third week of duty at Zaragoza they were flown to any place they wanted and picked up after 3 -4 days vacation. I got flights flying them in our base C-47's to Gibralter, Majorca, Barcelona, and other exotic places near or in Spain. David was enjoying the small base school and military kids, especially his girl friend Pam Armstrong. Also he was doing great in the local scout troop and even got a special trip with Jane and Edith Armstrong to NATO Hdq at Paris to meet with General Norstadt.

Weather Station

David's strong suit in school was his science fair projects. He always got an "A" on them. Mark was doing good in Little League ball. Jane was active in the officers Wife's club. We took family trips. The first was to Barcelona were we boarded an ocean liner from Brazil. Our first stop was Genoa then to Naples. We then traveled by train to Rome, the Vatican, Florence, and Venice.(my favorite city in Europe) From Venice we up graded our train pass to a high- speed train (120 mph) to Milano. Then took the regular train back to Barcelona to get our car and then on home to Zaragoza.

Weather Station

We had many 2 to 5 day trips to Madrid and to Barcelona and the beach and camping at Sites near the towns of Salou and Sietes(?). We also went camping just north of San Sebastian into France at Saint-Jean -de-Luz and Biarritz. Next year we drove north thru France to Calais and left the car to ride the ferry and train to London for a few days. When we came back to Calais we drove to Utrecht, Netherlands to visit some Dutch people we had met at Salow at the camp grounds. From there we drove across Belgium and to Paris. I drove around the Arc-of-Triumph at 4PM in the 7 or more lanes of traffic around this monument. We stayed overnight just south of Paris. Next day we drove south to the US air base at Chateauroux, then to Limoges, and back across the border at Irun and on to Zaragoza.

David and General Norstad

Also we took a train trip to Switzerland and spent a few days at Lausanne in a hotel on a beautiful lake. Another trip by car was thru Madrid and South to Cordoba, Sevilla, Rota and stopped at Algeciras. The next day we drove across the border and stayed in Gibralter. From there we drove to Malaga, Granada, Valencia and back to Zaragoza. We spent a couple of days at a ski resort at Jaca, Spain, in the Pyrenees mountains. During the "Running of the Bulls" at Pampalona I think May 1962 John Hota, Jimmy Armstrong and I rented a room on the second floor of apartment that over-hung the street that the Bulls ran down. I have movies of this. A Spanish sergeant that was attached to our Zaragoza weather station had a sister that lived in Pampalona. He arranged for us to rent a room for a few days during this fiesta. We wore the white shirts and red neckerchiefs (the required dress) while we were there.

Outstanding Weather Detachment Award

On Feb 1 1962, I had 20 years in the Air Force received a waiver from flying. I still received flying pay and could fly on the Air Force planes as a weather observer crew member. The base form 5 flying records section use to get upset if I put any flying time for the flight as my flight records were suppose to be closed. 1 Jul 1993 I was re-assigned to Hdq Air Weather Service in the Inspector General Office at Scott Field. I was supposed to be assigned as Operations Officer at March Field, California but it fell thru. A Lt Col (?)replaced me at Zaragoza and we were on our way to Westover AFB.

Vol. 5