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This page was updated
19 OCTOBER 2014
UNFORTUNATELY IT DOES'T LOOKS LIKE MY HEALTH IS IMPROVING MUCH, AND THUS THESE PAGES ARE NOT GETTING UPDATED AS OFTEN AS I WOULD LIKE, I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER THESE PAGES WILL BE AVAILABLE, SORRY TO SAY.....
so news may be old news, but NEW to this site,
since I wasn't able to do the info. received in a timely manner.
Look for the RED highlights for OCTOBER 2014 information.
This is a working page and adding info as time permits, constructing a Range Rat's Page where Radio Corporation of America and Pan American Airways down range employees can share information, of where and what range rats are now doing. (Other employees who also worked on the range are also welcome).
I would like to have information on this main page about people who worked on the range, where they worked, where they are now, their email address (if they want that published), what stations/ships they worked on, and news about those who have died etc etc. So I need your input. If you were a rangerat or your relative was one who worked on the down range stations and/or ships, please contact me.
I also now have separate pages for some of the individual tracking stations and ships. Like these pages listed below for the Eleuthera, Grand Turk and Dominican Republic & Ascension AAF Bases/Stations and one just for ships, plus other specialized pages:
Eventually when enough information is received from other range rats that pertain to the specific bases/ships a seperate page will then be added.
I now have a Range Rat Sign-In book, to be used exclusively by Range Rats (and their famlies) that you can leave a comment of your experience on the range, where you worked, etc, etc. (See the other entrys for examples, if you leave a comment or message not relating to the range the entry will eventually be deleted, for instance a "Howdy" by itself does not qualify as an entry!). You can give your email address (its not required but its requested) so that other range rats can contact you.
Please do NOT use the GUEST BOOK to sign in, that book is for collectors who visit my website, and that is why I made a seperate book for use by Range Rats, called the Range Rat Sign In Book.
Perhaps you are looking for someone who you used to work with that you lost contact with, you could include it in your message in the sign-in book, or better yet send me an email and I can include it on this page.
Range Rat Sign-in Book
If you worked on the range, I would like to hear from you.
Send Email to Joe
19 OCT. 2014, THESE RANGE RAT WEB PAGES ARE GETTING UPDATED LESS AND LESS THESE DAYS....
- It seems like I now go in long spurts, feel good for a while and then bang, my health goes downhill, and I can't concentrate for any length of time and It's murder sitting too long to try and update.
Sorry folks, I just don't know how long I can maintain these pages with the info. you have been sending me. I do appreciate your passing info. to me tho, and I do save it for future reference.
19 OCT. 2014, THERE IS A NEW RANGE RAT GROUP CALLED "RANGE RATS LIE SWAPPING SOCIETY"
- When Tom McCarthy's RangeRats mailing list was discontinued July 2014 (see below), some RRs in that group decided to start a NEW E-mail group. Tom describes it as follows:
A couple of dozen of old timers have been corresponding via E-mail recently and swapping stories and facts about the range. We call ourselves the "Range Rats Lie Swapping Society" because we exchange memories from the early years on the AFETR, but Range Rats from any "range" are invited to join us.
- If you are interested in joining us, please send an E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
19 OCT. 2014, UPDATE THERE IS NOW A RANGE RAT GROUP ON FACEBOOK....
19 OCT. 2014, OTHER RANGE RAT SPINOFF'S HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED:
- Many of you belong to facebook now, if so, look for "The Range Rat" group. There are now 124 members, anyone can join. The group was started by Rick Brown in July 2011 (unfortunately I wasn't aware of it until early 2014. If you become a member of the RR / FB group spread the word around with your other RR / FB friends, as they probably don't know it exists.
- Tom McCarthy had started a RangeRats mailing list which was reported on this page in APR 2007, and was described as follows:
"The RangeRats mailing list where our goal is to assemble as many veterans of "life on the Range" (Range as in AFMTC/AFETR, AFWTR, PMTC, EGTR, AUTEC, WSMR, GEODSS, and any other that you can think of!). It's a good way to meet "old" friends".
Unfortunately as of 01 July 2014, the Topica group, where Tom has his RangeRats mailing list, decided to close. altho you can't message there anymore, the old messages are still online for all to see.
- Jack Tolman had his own Range Rat Website too. (unfortunately its no longer available),
Here is how he tells it: "In April 2007 I started a Web page for RangeRats, a place to chat and post pictures. We have started a list of RangeRats (names) which Tom McCarthy is keeping updated, if you are interested check it out, comments are appreciated, I will post pictures as I receive them".
- Larry Brunetti Started a Range Rat Website in March 2005:
(I first reported his website in Mar. 20005 but have moved it up here with these two RR webpages. Larry signed my Range Rat sign-in book, and told about General Electric's (GE) partisipation on the range at San Salvador, and that is what his website is all about. His website was called "Home of the (GE) Rangerats", he also had photos of the base and the island. There was a guest book too (however as of Feb. 2014 the guest book was discontinued). And as today, 19 OCT 2014, I tried to link to his website and found it to be discontinued also.
07 JAN. 2014, THE START OF ANOTHER NEW YEAR, SO WISHING ALL RANGE RATS & SHIP RATS A HAPPY ONE!:
- Thanx to all who have contacted me this past year with info. and news about the range stations and ships. I've been very slow to update these pages, but haven't given up hope on the updates. Am hoping 2014 will be a better year! (I say this every year, but it hasn't happened yet).
- As usual this past Dec. or this Jan. I made phone contact with some old range rats who I've been in touch with for many many years, they include, Joe Makeever; Chuck Hewett; Larry Wenger, and Karl Nehring. I imagine you have some friends that you touch base with every year too.
22 OCT. 2012, MADE A PHONE CALL TO CHUCK HEWETT YESTERDAY.
- Now that I am feeling a bit better, I'm going to start calling some of my old range rat buddies that I haven't spoken to in a good while. Hewett and I usually call each other a few times a year. You might know Chuck who worked at telemetry at Grand Turk in the early 1960s, and later was at Ascension 1964-66 (probably other stations too).
- Chuck didn't have any range news to pass on, other than he had talked to Larry Wenger in GA about 6 months ago, and Larry was doing a lot of gardening in his retirement (Larry's a Master Gardener). He and his wife do a lot of canning and gives away their surplus vegetables. I knew Larry from GTK in the early 60s, and he also went to Ascension later on.
22 OCT. 2012, TALKED TO JOE MAKEEVER A FEW DAYS AGO, TOO.
- Received a phone call from Joe, we haven't has a conversation for maybe a year now. I knew Joe from the time I was on Ascension 1971-2, altho he was there a lot longer than that, and at GBI when he first came downrange.
- Joe is still in contact with a few other RRs who you might know, Karl Nehring, Keith Collins (who lives in Conn.), Jimmy Townsend (who still is living in Spring TX) and Ron Godine (still living in Ohio). Maybe you knew some of these troops?
- After looking over my RR death page, Joe corrected 2 things I had wrong (I have been known to make misteaks!) 1. On the correct spelling of Jack Louthan (which I had mispelled as Jack Loudham.) Which I now corrected. 2. On the correct spelling of Bill Czipulis, evidently the Social Security records for some reason has his name spelled "Cipulis", and so I corrected this entry too.
- We talked for about an hour just catching up on whats been happening in our lives since the last time we talked. Plus other range news that I knew of, since I try to keep up with that for these pages.
22 OCT. 2012, SURPRISE PHONE CALL FROM A RR FROM MY ST. LUCIA DAYS.
- In July 2012, Jim Hagan surprised me with a phone call. I hadn't talked to him in 55 years when we were both stationed at Saint Lucia, working together in the Telemetry section.
- Jim originally contacted me in Oct. 2005 after he found my Range Rat webpages and emailed me this:
Hi Joe, I was with you on SLU in telemetry back in '57. Was transferred to SAL when SLU closed and was there for a year. After a 2 year leave of absence I was went to sea on the Rose Knot for Project Mercury. After that Cape TLM, Mercury/Gemini Control, Mistram at Valkaria and back to Cape at Tel 4. Laid off
in '72. Worked Harris Corp and several other companies in defense electronics and satellite communications as a design engineer. Have visited 46 countries and many US cities. Great web site that you have. (signed) Jim
- I put off answering him for 6 months, more than likely because 2005 was when my Dad passed away and it was about that time I also was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so I don't know if he got that late email or not. I did invite him to sign the Range Rat Sign-in Book. However it took him 6 years to sign in! Evidently he found my webpages again. So after he signed in July 2012 he phoned me. We had only known each other about 6 months and after all these years he still remembered me, as I did him. So we had quite a bit of catching up to do, spanning 55 years!
12 MAY 2012, ARMY RR JIM SAWYER, WHO WORKED ON GBI, SAL AND THE CAPE, SIGNS IN:
- In Feb 2012 Jim Sawyer wrote in the RR Sign-in Book that he worked downrange at GBI and San Sal in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I knew there were army folk at ASC but from what he wrote I wanted to find out more information.
- You can read what he sent me on the GBI Page, see the 12 May 2012 entry, however he also sent me some info. about working on the Cape that I feel should be on this page, Jim writes:
> "I was in the army and spent '59 to '61 on the range, mostly on GBI but also considerable time on San Salvador and on the Cape. We manned the radar sites that
monitored the inosphere in conjunction with the International Geophysical
Year (IGY), but also supported the shots by providing inospheric info to Central Control before, during, and after each shot.
> Many years after I left the range, my wife and I drove through the Cape a few years ago. Much different now. When I was there there was a main gate just after the road rounded Port Canaveral. You had to have a secret clearance to get in and badges were always checked. Our site was maybe a quarter to a half mile beyond the main gate just where the road turned North to go down towards Central Control. It was a house in a little collection of sites all in houses. They had probably been built for other purposes originally.
> After I went to work for TI, I met a quality control engineer who had been one of the three people who manned command destruct buttons at the Cape.
A missile would be exploded if, and only if, provided it didn't explode on the gantry, all three people pressed their button. This was so some out of control missile didn't go back over land. He was telling me about the time rock and roll music started playing on all the count down boxes (we called them bitch boxes - we had one at our Cape site). I told him about the time we got bored listening to the count down chatter and hooked our radio receiver to the count down box so we could listen to both. In a couple hours the count down boxes in our complex were shut down at a central telephone pole by maintenance workers. It was our radio that was playing not just in our box, but in all count down boxes in the Cape.
> They investigated all the sites in our complex to find out what happened. Of course by that time we had the receiver unhooked from the count down box and were innocently sitting there performing duties at a high rate of precision. Then they turned our count down boxes back on.
> We used to set the radar on automatic, then climb the phone pole in front of our site so we could watch the launch just over the hill. They would blow up on the pad about half the time. The bitch box would be screaming "All range personnel take cover" and we'd be there on the pole where cover wasn't available. There were instances of debris hitting our roof while we scrambled down the pole."
Thanx Jim for that info. and story, sounds like some of the antics we RCA people did downrange.
15 JAN. 2012: A DOWNRANGE MILESTONE!:
- The December 2011 issue of the CSR UPDATE Newsletter states that Graham Lonie has 46 years with the company in January 2012, evidently this includes his time when he started out with RCA in 1966, and CSR took over, and this time is ALL downrange.
- The same CSR newsletter also lists a Joseph Copp also celebrating a 46 year anniversary. I wonder if he is a downranger too. Does anybody know?
- Does anybody know what the record is for the most time downrange, either on the tracking stations or ships or a combination?
- The only person I know that had a long record of being downrange was Speedy Collier, but I dont know his total years.
05 DEC. 2011: THE YEAR 2011 MARKS THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF MY STARTING TO WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE RANGE:
- In 1961 I was living and working at the Grand Turk Tracking Station, when I first thought about writing my first article. I chose to title it: "Life on a Missile Tracking Station". Being technically on a U.S.A.F. base, I had to follow Air Force rules and regulations, especially when writing about anything to do with tracking station operations for publication. There were certain procedures to follow, as outlined in the Downrange Standard Procedure Instructions. Articles had to be submitted in 8 copies, and had to be approved by various departments of RCA, PAA, the US Air Force, and Washington "channels" (I never knew what that was, perhaps the Pentagon?).
It took 3 months to receive the final approval for public release, as amended. My mastercopy was proof-read somewhere between the time I submitted it and made its way to Washington DC, with revisions for grammatical errors and technical details.
The article was first published in June 1962, as intended, in a small space/stamp collecting publication called "Jet and Rocket Philatelic Society Newsletter". Due to the popularity of this article it was again published in a 44 page space handbook titled: "Space Stamps, Topical Handbook No. 33", published by the American Topical Association in 1962, which had a much larger circulation. My worn out and much used handbook is shown here
05 DEC. 2011: MY DOWN RANGE ANNIVERSARY DATE (Dec 5, 1956):
- How many Range Rats can remember the date of the first time they went downrange? Mine was Dec. 5, 1956, WOW, 55 years ago. I still have the "boarding schedule" that was given at PAFB before the flight. (Why do I have it? cause I am a packrat!). In those days we had to wear a parachute on the downrange flights. I was thinking maybe this flight wasn't as safe as I thought! We stopped at all the stations, and I got my first look at the islands, sure glad I wasnt getting off at Mayaguana - that was the world's worst as far as I was concerned. My final destination was the Dominican Republic tracking station. On board with me was John Facker, one of the best IMs I worked for and a very good friend. (Facker and I went down range on the same flight in Dec 1956 and we left the range on the same flight sometime in Aug. 1972). OK, hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. Just another reason to celebrate today.
This is my "packrat special": MY BOARDING SCHEDULE:
11 NOV. 2010: REMEMBERING JOSEPH SCHOEBERT, DOWN RANGE INSTRUCTOR.
Today as we honor all of our American Hero's who have worn our nation's uniform, serving our country honorably, it is fitting to remember Joe Schoebert and the remarkable story of his 31 months in the Philippine jungles, evading capture by the Japanese in 1942. Joe taught communications and other courses in MTP's Technical Training group at Patrick AFB FL. This article below appeared in the Missile Test Project publication, "MTP NEWS, June - July 1965" issue.
09 NOV. 2010: TALKED TO TWO OLDTIMER RANGE RATS IN OCTOBER: LARRY WENGER AND GEORGE TUCKER.
- I called "Larry" Wenger the latter part of Oct., he and I talk every few months on the phone. his official name is Lawrence but I dont think anyone calls him that, I am sure many of you knew Larry from GTK and ASC, he doesn't get on the computer at all, altho from time to time I do get an email from his wife Alice. Larry just went thru another operation in Sept '10, this time for his prostate. Something that many of us oldtimers have as we are all now living longer. Fortunately his was not cancerous and he is doing great with no side effects. When I called i talked to his wife who said Larry was just pulling in the driveway with a load of horse manure, to compost it for his garden next year. Larry is a master gardener in Douglasville GA where he and his wife live, and he supplies all the neighbors with fresh vegetables all summer long. When we both were at GTK Telemetry back in the early 1960s he had the best and greenest garden on the base. His gardening history goes way back to his farming days in Missouri where he grew up. It sure is nice keeping in touch as I am sure many of you do the same with old RR friends.
- Then a few weeks ago in Oct. George Tucker called me from his home in Mobile Alabama, he can talk a streak on the phone, but he also isn't much for emails although he does have a computer and once in a great while I do get a short email and some photos. Some of you might remember him from GTK and GBI Telemetry, where we both worked in the 1960's. He is still interested in electronics and until recently he used to repair radios and TVs. He said that it wasn't too long ago that his house got hit by electricity and he had to buy a new tv and a few more electronic gadgets he owned. George likes to talk about old cars and even more to visiting antique car museums. Sometime this year he visited one of them in Tallahasee FL and was taking pictures of one of his favorite cars the "Tucker" Torpedo, and the owner of the museum, who he didn't know from Adam, came over and said go sit it in and let me take your picture. I don't think that is the usual case as these cars are roped off from the visitors. I have asked George to send me that picture of him in his "Tucker" car so I could show it here. If and when he does I will publish it here.
09 NOV. 2010: UPDATED NEWS ABOUT DWIGHT "SPEEDY" COLLIER:
- In his 21 Oct '10 email to me Speedy wrote:
"All is well in Fort Payne. How about Fort Myers? My wounds have healed, I have comfortable new shoes and I just picked up a pair of really neat contact lenses.. Now all I have to do is let other folks take care of me and write books.
Of course I use my computer to help other folks here like taking pictures of them when friends or family comes to see them and, before their guests leave, give guest(s) and the resident each a color copy of the picture. I also give everyone a copy of the news and weather every morning. Then I print out all the latest research on their affliction(s) for them. I print up new recipes for the kitchen staff and nutrition information on fresh fruit and vegetables. I take pictures when I see a wild critter close by and share prints of it/them with everyone. I write notes for the weekly singing groups to thank them for coming. Then I print out a page of color prints of their favorite critters, be it butterflies, cats. dogs, horses and so on. So everyone enjoys all the things my computer can do. My nephew (who lives nearby) comes by every Thursday afternoon to play his acoustic guitar and to sing both gospel music, his own compositions (he writes gospel music), and John Denver music."
- So it looks like things have improved healthwise for Speedy and he is still enjoying himself by helping others.
- AUG. 2010: LAST UPDATE FROM DWIGHT "SPEEDY" COLLIER:
- In his Aug. 2010 email Speedy says: "I get mail up here and the facility is under new management and the name of the facility has changed from Dogwood Haven to The White House and my physical location is the same but my mailing address is P.O. Box 680707.
I still receive email from Earthlink but I don't use it to send mail. I use AT&T for my cell phone and for my 100MB Internet hookup and, as you know, my E-mail address is speedyc1(at)att.net.
- In 2009 I had reported that Speedy had gone into an assisted living facility, and published this letter from him below. In August 2010 he emailed me with a change of address and a few more pieces of info which I will add to the bottom of his letter:
I am not able at this time to write to each individual but I wanted to
write and let you all know how I am doing. I want to thank you for
writing me and reminding me of all the good times. I thank you for all
the cards as they bring me much joy.
I am now living in an assisted living facility near my niece Diana,
Dollie's daughter, and she is caring for me very well. I am doing well
and am happy here as they are taking good care of me. I had some very
serious health problems that finally took me to this point of not being
able to live by myself and needing someone to help care for me and my
I am able to talk on the phone and read letters so please keep the calls
and cards coming as they really brighten my day. I am keeping the same
phone number so everyone can call.
08 SEPT 2010: TRACKING SHIPS THAT HAVE FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS.
- Do you know that two tracking ships have accounts where you can get info about other ship rats, life aboard the ship, see photos, learn who died, etc etc. Check out the ETR Tracking Ships. page for more info.
11 APR 2010: HEARD FROM BOB BAKER TODAY WITH SOME PEOPLE NEWS:
- He writes: "Joe, First time checking in since 24 Aug 05. The only change
since then is that I now live in Crestview, FL instead of
Destin. Still in touch with a few Pan Am/RCA friends: Tom
McCarthy is now in Tampa. Benny Juhl still in WPB and must be
the oldest Range Rat still casually employed at ASC. Jim Conoly,
Pan Am Ops, who was with Russ Reed when ASC opened in 1956,
lives on Anna Maria Island, FL. Tim Eastland (BOM MGZ & SAL) and
I flew out to PHX last month to visit friend Wally Wallace (BOM
GTK, ASC, ANT; Thinker One Boss) who is seriously ailing. Tim
lives in Moose Creek, Canada.
I hope to attend the RCA Reunion
in Eau Gallie next weekend (17 April 2010) Yeah, I know it's
Melbourne now, but it still doesn't feel right. Thanks again for
keeping this site going. Bob"
02 JAN 2010: SAINT LUCIA RANGE RATS...YOUR HELP IS NEEDED !:
- Early in 2009 I was contacted by Lydia Charlemagne, who belongs to a
community heritage group in Laborie, St. Lucia, called ECHO-Lab, that's trying to establish a heritage site/museum out of the old missile tracking station in St. Lucia. She is trying to get information about what the buildings looked like, who worked there and what it was like when the tracking station was in operation.
Upon further correspondence with Lydia she told me of the remains of a rectangular concrete building on the mountain of Morne Le Blanc in Laborie, the coastal community just west of Vieux-Fort where the main station building was located. Since I worked at the St. Lucia Tracking Station and we had to drive past Laborie to get to the Telemetry building, this has to be the Telemetry site, althought everyone there now refers to it locally as 'the radar'. The old Telemetry building is still standing with no roof left on it, and the Echo group have landscaped the area and would like to raise enough money to establish a small museum within the ruins, so they are now looking for information, photos, etc. Can you help?
- I would have liked to coordinate additional information supplied by any St. Lucian Range Rats for her groups project as well as have more for these Range Rat pages, but with my health problems I have to limit my time on the computer, so I contacted Lydia this past December and she agreed to my listing her email address so that anyone who has information etc. can contact her directly, She recently wrote this further clarifying the info. I have provided above:
A community group - ECHO-Lab - in Laborie, St. Lucia seeks information, photos, anecdotes about the base at Vieux-Fort and the telemetry station at Morne Le Blanc in Laborie, St. Lucia. ECHO-Lab currently manages a nature-heritage site on the site of the telemetry station and will use the information for site interpretation. Anyone willing to share information with us can contact Lydia by clicking HERE
- Lydia has also told me that the old large building that held the living quarters, mess hall, the club and administration offices is now a St. Judes Hospital. (she sent a photo of the St. Judes Hospital and a view of Laborie from Morne Le Blac which I will soon add to this page). I told her that the Radar tracking station radar was on Moule-a-Chique mountain.
02 JAN 2010: TO RING THE OLD YEAR OUT, I TALKED TO A RANGE RAT WHO I HAVEN'T SPOKEN TO IN 48 YEARS:
- Don Akerberg, the Telemetry Manager at Antigua in the early '60s, and who I worked for while I was on Antigua for a year, called me on the phone Dec. 30th and we got caught up on whats been happening since we last saw each other. He was visiting in Naples FL for the holidays and we had planned to meet face to face on one particular day, it just never happened due to a sequence of unfortunate events on my end that occured unexpectedly.
You can see a picture of Don, on the Antigua page, at the 01 JUNE 2008 entry, where he was the best man at Woody Bozardt's wedding.
- Although Don was informed by another range rat about my Range Rat sign-in book and he did sign in April 2009, for some reason he wasn't aware of the other range rat pages I have, like this one you are reading! So if you tell another range rat about my sign-in book be sure to tell him about this introduction page too.
25 DEC 2009: RANGE RAT FRIENDS AT CHRISTMAS TIME:
- This year I sent out very few Christmas cards, and instead I thought it would be a good idea to call my RR friends instead. I talked to Jay Grimes, early in the month. Then early this week: Chuck Hewett and Dwight "Speedy" Collier. Then this Christmas eve it was Larry Wenger. Also on Christmas eve I talked to Joe Makeever who I knew from Ascension. Mostly we talked about old time, remembering old friends, some who have passed on and some that we don't know where they are, also catching up on what happened since the time we talked last.
- We talked about Ernie Winkler, Wayne Dickey, George Tucker, MO Calvert, Bert Berthelson, Ralph Cron and his son who worked on Ascension (what was the son's first name?) all of these RRs from our Grand Turk days. Larry Wenger also talked about a Grand Turk room mate he had, by the last name of Painter, who drowned in Grand Turk waters, after Larry left the island. Does anyone know his first name or the particulars of his death? I questioned Larry Wenger about Jim Lovell, who we both knew at Grand Turk and lo and behold Larry has been in contact with him for some time now, and said Jim lives in Wilmore KY. Larry thinks Jim doesn't have a computer, but I got his mailing address and will drop him a line soon. So another Range Rat found !
14 DEC 2009: MEMORIES WE ALL SHARE...:
- I received an email from Michael Savinon this month who had some good comments about the range that I'd like to share:
"I never spent any permanent assignments downrange, so I really don't think I deserve to be in the Range Rat Sign-in Book. Thanks for the offer though. The Range is shrinking every year and with the introduction of GPS and other exotic satellite wonders, the Range will eventually be nothing like it was years ago. Technology has given us wonders but it also takes away the wonders of having so many places to visit and adventures to remember like the old days. I guess nothing lasts forever except the memories we all share."
- I welcome comments from people who traveled the range but were never PCS, they have provided me with info. about other downrange people. My Range Rat Sign-in Book is open to anyone who have travelled the range islands or been on the ships, whether PCS or TDY.
28 SEPT 2009. NEWS FROM LARRY WENGER WHO WORKED AT GTK AND ASC:
Lawrence E.Wenger, better known as "Larry" to all his friends, had an operation on 04 Sept 09, and the 85-95% blockage in the left carotid artery is now gone - and he doesn't have to take any new medicine. And so the recovery period begins, I spoke to Larry last week to check up on him, he is doing well. Larry and his wife Alice live in Douglasville GA (near Atlanta) where there was all that rain and flooding recently, however there was no flooding in his area but just too much rain. Larry doesn't get on the computer at all, but I keep in touch with Alice by email.
I found out from Larry that another range rat that we both know from our Grand Turk days and keep in contact with, Chuck Hewett, recently needed a pacemaker. Looks like we all have more and more medical problems as we get older.
Larry also told me that he had recently talked to another RR by the name of Jay Grimes who was in Orlando FL (though he lives in Washington State). We both knew Jay from our Grand Turk days too. Jay has never signed the Range Rat sign-in book. Maybe if he sees this he will. I have now published an 8x10 photo that shows me, Larry, Jay and a few other RR's when we all had our picture taken with astronaut John Glenn and Vice President L.B. Johnson at Grand Turk on 23 Feb. 1962. You can read this account I wrote of Glenn's Project Mercury flight and coming to Grand Turk in Feb. 1962 and seeing this photo by by clicking HERE.
Larry is the one on the far left of the photo, next to him with the beard is Jay Grimes and I am the one kneeling down. Other RRs in the photo are Jim Lovell and Mo Calvert. The others I don't know who they are besides Vice President Johnson and Astronaut John Glenn, (can you pick them out?). I would think that there might be a few secret service men in the group too.
06 FEB 2009. A NICE PHONE CONVERSATION WITH GEORGE RHYNE THIS WEEK:
- I didn't know George until he sent me an email in Jan 09 and told me a little bit about himself. Strange as it may seem, we had worked on two stations, St. Lucia and Grand Turk, at the same time and yet didn't know each other until now. He started out at Mayaguana in 1956, and he sent me some additional info. on the donkeys there, which I had asked about on these pages. Later he sent me a CD of more notes about the stations he worked on including Fernando and scans of some pictures to go along with the information provided, which I eventually plan to add to these pages, (hopefully after I get my income tax work done, which seems to get harder each year or maybe I am just dragging my feet more). George signed the Range Rat sign-in book on 02 Feb 09 and now lives in Matthews NC. This week he called and we talked over what was on the CD that he sent and what he did after he left the range in 1958.
- I'd like to suggest to any range rat out there that has information about the range and photos that they want to share.... think about having your own webpage where you can share your info. Many of your ISP's have free websites available. Maybe yours does too. Then there are free websites where you can upload your photos. Anyone who sets up webpages or photo sites let me know and I can publicize a link to them. Unfortunately due to health reasons I am limited to how much time I can spend on expanding these range rat pages, but it would be no problem to publish your range rat photo URL. Think about it.
06 FEB 2009. LEON LACY RETIRES FROM THE RANGE:
I received this email from Leon: "Just to let folks know, I retired on 4 July 2008. That gave me 43 years on the range. Had the great luck to be assigned to the following stations: Grand Turk Tech Control - 1965-1969, Mahe Seychelles 1969-1977, Eleuthera 1977-1979, CCAFS 1979-2008. While at the Cape, I worked at TV Ops and leaving as a Chief Tech, Spent 2 years working as a Systems Maint. Engineer, finishing up with Antenna Maintenance as a Sr. Supervisor. It
was one heck of a ride and loved every bit of it."
Leon has contributed quite a bit of info and photos for these Range Rat pages. Thanx Leon!
05 JAN 2009. I TALKED TO 4 RANGE RATS ON THE PHONE AT YEARS END:
I try and keep in touch with a few RCA RRs, all about my age of 73, that I've known over the years, on 31 DEC 08 I talked to Makeever, Hewett and Tucker. It just so happened that these 3 are all active amateur radio operators. Just before Christmas I also talked to "Good Buddy" Wenger, also included below:
- Joseph C. "Joe" Makeever, W5HS of Austin TX. I first met Joe at Ascension in 1971 when I got transferred to Telemetry there, he was Chief Tech I believe. Joe also worked at GBI and maybe other places. Joe signed the RR Sign-in Book in 2005 but did't mention what stations he worked. How about it Joe, make another entry and list your down range stations. He is doing well and still much active in electronics as a hobby and goes to ham radio conventions.
- Charles W. "Chuck" Hewett, W4WSD of Albany GA. It was either in the late 1950s or early 1960s that I met Chuck at Grand Turk Telemetry, he was either a electronic technician at first and later became Telemetry Manager (that shows you how good my memory is). I do know he also worked at Ascension and later at the Cape/PAFB. Here is another shy RR who signed my RR Sign-in Book in 2005 with just a short entry saying "Retired from Lockheed" but listed none of his range history. Chuck settled in a college town of Albany and was a teacher at one of them. He still active and goes to the gym regularly.
- George L. Tucker, W4YHH of Mobile AL. I knew George from the Project Mercury days at Grand Turk in the early 1960s. I haven't talked to George in years, so I figured what the heck, let me see if he is still at his old homestead and give him a call. Sure enough he is at the same location. He used to drop in and see me in Fort Myers FL whenever he traveled this way on vacation. He now has a 19 foot RV camper van. Working on it before he can do any traveling. He is still active in ham radio, the stock market and helps at his church. George has a computer but as of yet has not signed the RR Sign-in Book (shy I guess, whatabout it George?).
- Lawrence E. "Larry" Wenger of Douglasville GA. I also know Larry from Grand Turk Telemetry back in the early 1960s Project Mercury days. He later moved on to Ascension. Larry doesn't get on the computer at all, he has no interest in it, but I am in computer contact with his wife Alice. One of his favorite expressions that he still uses is "Good Buddy" that he has used for many years now. He worked for the state of GA but has been retired now some 8 years. Alice says his garden is his "pride and joy". In 2008 he won a plaque, certificate and a $100. prize from the Farm Bureau for having the "best medium sized garden in Douglas County." I remember Larry liked gardening at Grand Turk and had the best plants and flowers growing. (His secret was the cow & donkey pattys he'd pick up and use for fertilizer). Larry and Alice are also quite active in their church as Sunday school teachers.
13 OCT. 2008. DWIGHT "SPEEDY" COLLIER PROVIDES INFO ON DOWN RANGE PREACHER, JOE KEIPER:
- In April 08, Speedy sent me the following info about Chaplain Joe Keiper : "Joe Keiper, A Methodist minister, was the Protestant "Range Chaplin". Joe was paid a dollar a year by Pan Am and they provided him with a room and meals for every day he was down range. He could select his own travel schedule and also determine how long he wanted to stay at each base. Joe was a very pleasant and learned man and was a good counselor. I knew of a few instances where he acted as a "match-maker" for two range rats. Both of these matches were solid and stable."
- A picture of Chaplain Joe Keiper is shown below in the 01 JUNE 2008 entry. Speedy didn't give a time period of when he knew him but I imagine it was in the late 1950's and 1960's. I remember Reverend Joe (as I called him) holding services, which I attended, in the old Project Mercury hospital buildings at Grand Turk and GBI in the 1960's. Many times, while I was stationed at Grand Turk, I have seen him come to the rescue of a hungry traveler flying on the range airliner who had stopped there for lunch, and did not have money to pay for the lunch. Pan Am charged some non-range travellers for their meals, and somehow Reverend Joe would find out about their need and pay for it out of his own pocket.
- If anyone knows what happened to Chaplain Joe Keiper, and when he left the range, or want to add more info about him, please send me an email so I can update this info. on him.
- ATTN: CURRENT RANGE RATS: I'm also wondering if the range still has a travelling preacher, can anyone tell me?
01 SEPT 2008. AT LONG LAST THE ARTICLE ABOUT THE RANGE IS ONLINE:
John Gladden has been working on his article for a number of years, it's titled: "Home on the Range, Recollections of a Range Rat" and it's finally available for all to read, you can access it by: clicking here (scroll down as it the 2nd article from the top). It is his non fiction memoirs of U.S. Air Force Tracking Stations on the Eastern Test Range during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo programs. It is some 77 pages long and well worth the time to read it.
11 AUG 2008 NEWS ABOUT DWIGHT "SPEEDY" COLLIER:
Speedy who worked up and down the range since 1954, on the islands and ships, was featured on an Alabama church website in 2007, titled: "50 Years of Aerospace through the Eyes of Loxley's Dwight Collier" which you can read his range observations and see a recent picture of him, by: Clicking Here.
01 JUNE 2008, DOWN RANGE BARBER TRAVELLED THE RANGE:
Can you identify who is sitting in the barber's chair?
- This photo of the barber was sent in by Don Sklar who said it was taken in the time period of 1956-58 at GBI however I am going to leave it on this page as he travelled the range. Steve Wooden remembered that Dick Langley was the travelling barber. Now who can identify the Range Rat in the chair?
- Jerry Blackerby recalls that Langley was at GBI in the mid 60's. He said: "I had my wife and kids with me, living on the beach under the big Almond tree. Langley did not have time to cut my son's hair, so taught me a little about barbering and got me a pair of clippers. I cut my son's hair then, and later after three boys all of them until they reached their teens and wanted long hair."
- in April 2008 Wally Tubell said "Langley is still around. He lives
in Melbourne and still works part time. He's still the "talker" he always was".
- 19 MAY 2009. LATEST NEWS ABOUT DICK LANGLEY:, I received an email from Bill Bailey of Crestview FL on 5 May saying: "I brought Dick Langley, an old friend of mine, to the 2009 Old Timers Reunion, and I wonder how many people recognised him sitting at the end of the bar. He was the PAN AM clipper mentioned on your range history piece, as the 1$ a year man. He cut my hair on San Sal in 1959 and as late as the day before the 2009 reunion. Dick is retired but still cuts some of his friends hair at his home in Indialantic."
- what years did Langley work downrange and how far down range did he travel?
Somewhere along the line, I also remember a female barber, did she
replace Dick or was she a temp replacement?
07 SEPT 2007,GARY SCHULTZ's BEFEC WEBSITE.
- Gary who was a Bendix employee and Range Rat who worked at the tracking stations of Tananarive, Quito & Goddard during the NASA years and Norfolk, VA, Fairbanks, AK and Camp Roberts, CA during the Military years on BFEC programs, signed the RR Sign-In book on 07 Aug 07 and mentioned his website, the BFEC HOMEPAGE, its all about the Bendix Tracking stations, which I think would be of interest to other Range Rats, and maybe other Bendix down range employees will see this and sign in. His page can be found by : Clicking Here.
- (The editor of this page-[thats me] says: Before I went to work at RCA/MTP I worked for Bendix Radio Corp. in Towsend MD, 1955-56. Bendix gave me my first job out of Edison Vocational High School, Baltimore MD.)
15 MAY 2007, THE OLD BASE AT SAN SALVADOR:
- I was visiting Larry Brunetti's GE Range Rat website (about San Salvador) sometime back and here is what he wrote "The Base was located on Bonefish Bay about 1-2 miles north of Cockburn Town, the capital of San Salvador Island. It was constructed in the early 50s and operated through the mid-60s. Today, Club Med has been built in the location of the original base. The Navy Base is now the home for The Gerace Research Center of the College of the Bahamas. The 'Motel', or what we called “Carterville' is now Riding Rock Inn. (You can find a link to Larry Brunetti's website at the 15 April 07 entry below).
The Base was adjacent to the landing strip, 4500 feet of asphalt/coral aggregate. A Welcome to San Salvador booklet was provided to all that arrived."
This is Club Med's website for the old San Sal base, now called :
To take a VIRTUAL TOUR (highly recommended) of Club Med-San Salvador (Columbus Isle) I suggest going to this website and clicking on the virtual tour link near the top of the page:
Travel by Design Website. When the virtual tour window opens click in the "Map" button first.
(You would not recognize the old base from these pictures. Would have been nice to have something like this when the range rats were stationed there!
01 MAY 2007, THE BU SCOPE OR THE PROJECT SPACE TRACK:
- Ed Ehrenspeck who lives in Edgewater FL emailed me recently for help on the above two subjects, he writes: "I was site chief of Patrick Igor across from the tech lab.. I
also worked on the BU telescope...I need to get in contact with
anyone that has any information about the BU scope or the
project Space Track... Can you help? You can contact Ed by
- 25 JAN 2008, Here is a bit of interesting info. from Ed about the BU Scope and Project Space track:
BU stood for Boston University. As the birds got bigger, the photo tracking got further from the pad and as the tracking cameras got larger they finally left the Cape.... Distance and larger focal lengths caused heat type shimmers and the frames on the film were not clear. Boston University built a 240 inch telescope and put it on a large Navy gun mount with four wheels that could be pulled to anywhere needed...The telescope was used on many tests. The biggest was flying B-36, six engine bombers over us. The bottom of the wings had various types of target boards painted on them. As the plane passed over us, we would take pictures at many different settings and altitudes and film. I was assigned to the BU as the Cape was installing my Igor Tracking site.... I was the only tech. The rest were engineers. The story goes on for quite awhile. The BU Scope was used for many things and then was taken over by a man by the name of Walt Manning. I worked with him as a tech. and also continued my main position as Site Chief of the Igor Tracking Station. Walt Manning was part of the Space Track section and as I gather information now, I am finding that Space Track was an important section of the government and the Cape. In checking with Patrick Air Force Base information, they told me that they had no information about Space Track and told me to contact there Historian...I did and it was some time until he could track anything down, and when he did, he found that all files of Space Track had been destroyed. He did find a little info and passed it on to me.
15 APRIL 2007, WELCOME TO TWO NEW RANGE RAT SPINOFF'S:
- Tom McCarthy has started a RangeRats mailing list
here is how he describes it: "You are cordially invited to join us on the RangeRats mailing list where our goal is to assemble as many veterans of "life on the Range" (Range as in AFMTC/AFETR, AFWTR, PMTC, EGTR, AUTEC, WSMR, GEODSS, and any other that you can think of!). It's a good way to meet "old" friends.
It is very easy to subscribe and just as easy to unsubscribe. There is no cost or obligation; you can set your preferences so that you receive all messages, or you can set it up so that as a subscriber, you can post messages but choose to simply read the archives occasionally. You must be a subscriber to post to the list.
When a subscriber posts to the list, that message goes to all on the list (unless they have chosen not to receive e-mail), and anyone on the list can read and answer to all on the list. It enables discussion among all on the list without having to access a chat room or other web site.
To subscribe, send an e-mail to: RangeRatsemail@example.com Note that there is no space between "Range" and "Rats", or just click HERE to send the email. Be sure to write "Subscribe" in the subject line. if you subscribe and change your mind, instructions to unsubscribe (very simple) are included at the end of every message posted on the list".
- Jack Tolman had his own Range Rat Website (unfortunetly its no longer available):Here is how he tells it: "In April 2007 I started a Web page for RangeRats, a place to chat and post pictures. We have started a list of RangeRats (names) which Tom McCarthy is keeping updated, if you are interested check it out, comments are appreciated, I will post pictures as I receive them".
- Larry Brunetti Started a Range Rat Website in March 2005:
(I first reported his website in Mar. 20005 but have moved it up here with these two new RR webpages. Larry signed the Range Rat sign-in book, and told about General Electric's (GE) partisipation on the range at San Salvador, and that is what his website is all about. You can find his website at
Home of the (GE) Rangerats, he also has photos of the base and the island. There is a guest book too (however as of Feb. 2014 the guest book cannot be viewed, what you get is a entirely diff. website in JAPANESE!).
01 MAY 2007, MAYAGUANA HAD A BEER DRINKING DONKEY TOO!
(See the Ascension beer drinking donkey on the ASC page)
- Mac Stinson wrote me in Feb 07 with two pictures and this note:
"A bit of history should be included with these photos. The critter was imported in 1956 on the northbound LST from Grand Turk as arranged by Pan Am subcable tech (that's right Pan Am had some of them in those days) Ray "Melon Belly" Smith. The donkey keeper shown in the pictures was a power house operator who's name escapes me. Alas, we have a sad ending. The donkey disappeared after a brief time at Mayaguana; it was rumored that the base manager had him executed for persistently using the catchment basin as a toilet. Sorry the picture quality is so poor. It is ektachrome and evidently doesn't survive too well! Mac"
To see the two pictures Mac sent click on these two links below
Mayaguana Range Rat with Donkey
Mac says it's the same guy in both pictures. only in this next picture he was dressed to go to a "ripsaw" in the village and decided to parade the critter around the bar first!
Mayaguana Range Rat with Donkey in the bar.
- Anyone who has more info about other Base Donkeys send me some info.....
10 NOV 06: RANGE RAT TWIN BROTHERS HAVE HISTORY IN CAPE AREA BEFORE THE RANGE STARTED:
- Rodger Fowler wrote in the RR Sign-in book (01 OCT 2006) that before the Range began, his mom and many kinfolks either lived on the Cape or surrounding area for nearly 75 years. His dad started to work on the Cape back in 1947 getting the launch site ready for the historical Bumper rocket launch of July 24, 1950.
After the twin brothers Rodger & Russell reached age 18 in 1954 they worked with Jarco Construction Company during the summer months and was fortunate to witness many winged missile launches behind sandbags. With the encouragement of Hoot and Bud Ringo in 1956 they started their employment with RCA.
UPDATED FOR 04 OCT. 2007, THE 50th ANNIVERSARY THAT OCCURED ON THIS DATE - REMINISCING ABOUT THIS DATE 04 OCT 1957 AT ST. LUCIA AAFB:
A 1957 or '58 Christmas card from the BIWI Lounge, St. Lucia AAFB,
showing "The Pitons, St. Lucia BWI" (Did you save yours?)
(22 MAY 06): INFO UPDATE MISSING PAGES NOW AVAILABLE FOR THE MTP NEWS BELOW:
Pages 20, 21, 22, 79 and 80 that were missing from the below entry can now be downloaded by clicking here: Missing Pages
- This date holds a place in most range rats memory, can you remember what happened on 04 Oct. 1957? I was stationed at the St. Lucia AAF Base outside of the village of Vieux Fort, On a Saturday morning early that day a group of us from the base set out on a hike. We were going to climb one of the Piton mountains. If I could find my packrat notes I would remember who was in our hiking party, but all I can remember is Ralph Cron, and George Fritz, but there were others. We drove to the base of the mountain and started the hike up, it was a rough climb even tho there was a sort of a path, towards the top the path petered out and it was mostly straight up, and slippery because the dirt was moist and muddy. Some of us, including me, only made it up about 3/4th of the way, just being too wet and too tired, while the others continued on to the top. We had agreed to rendezvous back at the truck at the foot of the mountain. When the troops who had made it to the top came back down we realized that someone was missing. What happened to George Fritz? No one could recall when anyone had seen him last, so back up the trail we went calling out his name, to no avail. George was nowhere to be found. After a couple of hours and still no George we headed back to the base to report him missing.
Once we got back we learned that the Russians has put the first artificial satellite into space, on the very day that we "lost" good ol' George. We were more concerned about finding him and so the Fire Security Chief rounded up a scouting party to go find him. The scouting party didnt have any luck and they returned at night and planned to start up the search at daybreak the next day. The next morning as we gathered to start our search, here comes George Fritz walking up the road. He got quite perturbed when he learned that there was a search party looking for him. His story was that as he was walking down the mountain path, he stumbled and fell into the bushes and was hidden from anyone else who came down the path. He had hit his head and passed out and when he awoke it was dark already and so he spent the night in the bush, as he was an experienced hiker and knew how to take care of himself.
And so I will always remember the launching of the first satellite with this hike and George Fritz.
In actuality, our hike was on Oct. 5th a Saturday and it was only then that we learned that the Russians had launched the first artificial satellite the previous day, Oct. 4th. I believe the russians delayed the announcement of their launching until they were certain it was a successful launch and orbit. In those days there was a lot of secrecy of what they were doing.
This special cover was issued by the FMF Local Post commemorating the 20th anniversary of the launching of the first artificial satellite by the Russians.
It is postmarked at Russia Ohio.
- NEWS FROM JAN 2006, SPECIAL EDITION OF THE MTP NEWS, 1988:
- Jack Tolman sent me (most) all of the pages of this special issue of the "MTP News, Final Edition Sept 1988", edited by Vic Craft, in PDF form. Give it a look and why not print out a copy for yourself, as there is much history of the range and plenty of pictures in the pages, (heck, you might even find yourself mentioned or a picture of yourself). I will mention some of the range people that I recognize in each group of pages. Maybe some of them will see their names here if they do a google search, like so many of us do-- seach for their own name on the world wide web-- and will sign the Range Rat sign-in book, of course a few people that I have recognized have since died). There are a few pages missing in the text below and they are noted, but you can now download them (see above 22 May 06 entry).
Here is a brief summary of what is contained in the pages:
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 1 - 5:
The RCA Missile Test Project 1953-1988: The Making of a missile Range; History of the Cape and Tracking stations involving PAA and RCA with early Pictures of uprange personnel and Range Stations.
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 6 - 15:
(continued) History of the Cape and Tracking stations involving PAA and RCA with early Pictures of uprange personnel and Range Stations. Early pictures: of all MTP Project Managers; Personnel & Accounting; Engineering and Drafting. (Faces that I recognize: Theodore G. "Ted" Dell).
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 16 - 25:
(continued) Pictures of Engineering and Drafting. Information and pictures of Data Processing; Range Ships Systems. (Faces that I recognize: Dave Frank; Jerry Simpkins). (NOTE: Pages 20, 21 and 22 are missing).
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 26 - 35:
Information and pictures of Range Ships; Communications; 35 years of Radars at the ETR. (Faces I recognize: Graham Walker; Dwight A. "Speedy" Collier; Henry Bishop; Cecil Nelin; N.C. "Norm" Tucker).
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 36 - 45:
Information and pictures of Range Radars; Telemetry; Fabrication, Repair & Maintenance on the range. (Faces I recognize: John B. McDonald; Richard "Dick" Maniag; William "Bill" Saunders; W.B. "Bill" Karnopp; Mike W. Block; Woody Bozart).
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 46 - 55:
(continuation) of Information and pictures of Fabrication, Repair & Maintenance on the range; Tech Training; Technical Analysis Evolution; Downrange with a map of the Atlantic Missile Range of 1954. (Faces I recognize: Jack H. Skeen; Gene A. Hilst; Latate Hoy; Instructor Joe Miller).
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 56 - 65:
(continuation) of Downrange information and pictures; A copy of front page of the RCA MTP News, Volume 1, #2; More pictures that were in the MTP News from 1955 - 1957. (Faces I recognize: J.G. "Gil" Hermans; L.S. "Lou" Perry; Jay Lawson; John J. Facker; Jack H. Cave; Harry Duttenhaver)
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 66 - 75:
More pictures that were in the MTP News from 1957 - 1960.
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 76 - 85:
More pictures that were in the MTP News from 1960 - 1968. (Faces I recognize: Wally Tubell; John Facker).
(NOTE: Pages 79 and 80 are missing)
MTP News, Final Edition, Pages 86 - 99:
More pictures that were in the MTP News from 1968 - 1972. The last pages has information and pictures of uprange activities from 1955 - 71. (Faces I recognize: Bernard A. "Bernie" Ryan; Norman C. "Norm" Tucker; L.A. "Len" Mashburn; L.H. "Les" Waddill; A.H. "Mac" McDowell).
NEW CONTACT (Mar 13, 2006):
- I heard from John Gladden after he signed the Range Rat Sign-in Book, with this additional information, (John's pending dissertation on range rat life and experiences sounds interesting, and which I am sure other range rats would be interested in reading also when its finished):
"Joe, I am sure I met you sometime on the range although I cannot
put a face to the name. I traveled the range TDY from 1962
until 1969 out of the Cocoa Beach office where I worked in
Provisioning for Pan Am. In 1969 I transferred to Range Bases as
a Supply Supervisor and spent my last eight years down range at
GBI, Eleuthera, Antigua, Ascension and Mahe. Bob Flowers sent
me this web address. Although I had already seen your article on
Grand Turk, I did not realize that you had this site set up. I
was looking at some of the messages from some of the people that
I do remember and am amazed that some are still living.
I have been working on a dissertation about the Range Rats as I
remember the various bases I visited or was stationed at. I am
up to about fifty pages now and don't know whether to keep going
or truncate with what I have. I'll probably play around with it
for a week or two and then decide."
NEW CONTACT (Feb. 13, 2006):
Billy Joe Volner emailed me today and gave me this information about himself: Joe: I'm working at the Kodiak Launch complex in Kodiak Alaska. Most of the time I'm working out of my home in Mims Florida.
I'm the Ops Director for Target launches at the only US commercial launch site. This is my 3rd launch since I agreed to help make this a launch range. Most of us came from Kwajalein and can work the RCO and ROS positions during launches. I have 2 email addresses but prefer the BellSouth one. We're 6 days from our launch and have been here 2 months. CUL. (Billy did not sign the Range Rat Sign-in book, but here is his email address if you want to contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
A BASHFUL RANGE RAT? (Jan 14, 2006):
- I received a short email from Ray Edester at the end of Dec. 05. He was then invited to put his two cents worth into the Range Rat Sign-In Book, but so far has not done so. I guess everyone has their reasons for not signing, as well as some not giving their email address if they do sign in, its all up to the individual. Anyway, those of you who know Ray, he is alive and kicking in Titusville FL.
UPDATED 25 MAR 2007: RANGE RAT FAMILIES WORKING ON RANGE AT THE SAME TIME:
- How many people remember old timer Ralph N. Cron, who worked in RCA/Timing at Grand Turk, and before that at St. Lucia (I knew him at both stations 1956-70's). His son also worked on the range at the same time, I dont recall the son's name but he was a Cron.
24 SEPT 2006, TWIN BROTHERS WORKED ON THE RANGE AT THE SAME TIME: Rusell and Rodger Fowler, both started with RCA in October 1956 at the Cape. Rodger later went to Eleuthera AAFB, while Russell went to Puerto Rico and San Salvador. They both had long careers on the range stations and ships.
Does anyone know of other range rat families that worked on the range at the same time, that they would like to report? Like father/son, mother/daugher, husband/wife, cousins, twins, etc. (Course in my days on the range there weren't many females working the range, like there is today, so I only know of the two Cron's personally).
NEW CONTACT (Jan 02, 2006):
- Robert Sellars wrote: First of all, let me say how pleased I am that you have set up this site! Leon Lacy turned me on to it, and I have enjoyed the connection with several old friends, some on an almost daily basis. Charlie Zoranski was BOM on GTK when I was Commissary Supvr., and we write at least 2, 3 times a week. I recently corresponded with Doug Rogers, who was curator of the Ft. Hayes museum on Ascension, when I was there in '69. My wife, Ann, who was a local hire with Bendix at the time, knows Doug, also.
Just one more quick remark, I went to GBI in 59, and bought a non-running car from an RCA guy. Well, his name showed up in your sign in book! We both were amazed to find each other, after all these years.
At Chauncy's house for New Years, beside the host and Frank, Irv Weitgriffe and wife, Kurt Jarvis and wife, and Jim Irby's ex were there. Talk about a small world the range turned out to be!
INFO UPDATE ON A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE IN MELBOURNE FLORIDA:
A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE IN MELBOURNE FLORIDA (Dec 18, 2005):
- 10 NOV 06: Rodger Fowler, range rat of Angel City FL sent some more interesting info. about Crenshaw's and his connection with that place. Its a fact that he and his twin brother Russell were born there when it was a hospital.
- 21 APR 06: Ann Flotte, a local historian in Melbourne FL has supplied postcard scans of the Crenshaw Hotel and some history of this establishment which I have added to my original paragraph below. Ann says she dated and knew several fellows who went down range, which was in the late 60s and early 70s.
- How many range rats from the mid 1950s remember the Crenshaw Hotel and Cottages? It was located south over the US1 bridge from the big Melbourne Hotel. When I got hired with RCA and flew down to Melbourne, arriving in the evening, my accomadations were already arranged by someone in the PAFB downrange office, as someone from
Crenshaw's was there to pick me up. In 1956 when I saw Melbourne, it reminded me of a boom town but with few modern conveniences. Crenshaw's was more like something out of the 1930s or 40s, quaint but run down for the 50s. I shared one of the cottages with another new hire and remember the place was set back from the main road, where they had a lush garden of tropical plants, a fountain and deer statues on the lawn.
Ann Flotte, a local historian from Melbourne FL supplied this background on the hotel: It was built as the area’s first hospital in 1928. During the depression, it barely made ends meet. By 1937, Harry Crenshaw converted it into a hotel. There used to be brick cottages in front of it on US1 with the long hotel and cottages sign next to the highway as seen in these postcard views. It was completely renovated in the 1980s and now operates as an apartment building.
Crenshaw Hotel and Cottages, Melbourne FL
Crenshaw Guest House, US1, Melbourne FL.
Extremely modern (at the time this picture was taken),
27 rooms, steam heat, overlooking beautiful Indian River.
Does anyone else remember staying at the Crenshaw Hotel or the Cottages? If you took a photograph of the Crenshaw place or the grounds, I'd appreciate hearing from you and getting a scanned image.
NEW CONTACT (Dec. 13, 2005):
- Doug Rogers signed in Dec. 13, 2005. I have been looking for him for a number of years, I didn't know him personally but a downrange friend of mine, Charlie Elgas, knew him from Ascension and always wondered what happened to him after Doug left the range. I kept up with many range rat whereabouts since I left the range and have managed to track some down, it became a lot easier too once I got a computer. Check out Doug's entry in the RR sign-in book on Dec. 13, 2005. While on ASC he was the driving force who got the Ascension Historical Society going in l966. Doug and the Island kids built it from scratch, and he was the curator of the Ft.Hayes Museum. Doug said that he visited ASC in l997 to accept an award from the AscHistSoc, on its 30th anniversary. A new museum/community center was built on ASC and the museum and now community center are sort of focal points there.
THE GUEST BOOK & THE RANGE RAT (RR) SIGN-IN BOOK (Dec 16, 2005):
- I started the RR sign-in book in Jan 2005, before that date many RRs signed the guest book since that was all that was available. So you might want to look in the guest book also to see their entrys but you have to wade through all the other collectors entrys. Any range rat who signed the Guest book after I started the RR sign-in book, have been alerted to the fact that they should put their entry in the other book. I'll give them some time but eventually these entrys will all be moved over to the RR sign-in book.
An easy way to search the whole Guest book or the RR sign-in book is to use the search box at the top of this page. In the drop down menue select "Range Rat Book" and search for the word "name" this will take you to the search page, just click on the document found. Once you get to these books by this search method you will find all entrys on ONE long page, this is a lot easier that looking at the books that have individual pages of 20 entrys each. Give it a try.
One entry in the Guest book of note is from Rhonda Scholl who signed in on Mar 09, 2005, who is currently working at the Antigua tracking station. There aren't many current RRs signed in but its good to know they are looking in. Here is what she wrote: "I came on the range in 82. worked at GBI for a year and moved on to Antigua. I've been here for 22 years. Not very many people left from the 80's. R. Newton, S. Lonie, B. Mobley and A.Yon. and a host of newbees." Unfortunately Rhonda didn't give her email address so I cant tell her about signing the RR sign-in book.
ANOTHER RANGE RAT FOUND! (Dec. 05, 2005):
- Bob Olsen and I worked together at Antigua and GBI (RCA Telemetry) in the 60's. In 2003 Bob's stepson sent me an email and said Bob was living in Dearborn MI but didnt have a computer. He gave me Bob's phone number and we had a long chat catching up on whats been happening in our lives since our range days. Recently I exchanged emails with the stepson again and here is what I found out about Bob:
"He has a computer now but doesn't use it very much! He likes doing house projects 24-7 it seems like. Bob's in great shape, (too skinny I'd say) and is having his 76th birthday this December 10th 2005. He looks 15 years younger to me and can run circles around younger guys. Bob still lives in Dearborn."
NEW CONTACT (Oct. 2005):
- Just by chance 'Bud' Creech, (see the New Contact entry below from Jack Louthan), found my website while doing a YAHOO search for his nephew with the same name, and you can read his entry in the Range Rat Sign-in Book of 16 Oct 2005.
It wasn't too long after Bud Creech contacted me that he passed away in Aug 2006. I knew Bud from my early days on the range back in 1956 when we both worked at the Dominican Republic Tracking station. After that station closed we lost contact. When I started this RR webpage, in May 2005, I listed Bud's name hoping he might do a google search and find my site, and he did. Read more about Bud at the entry below NEW CONTACT (May 2005) where I made contact with Jack Louthan who provided more info. about Bud.
- Additional information about Bud can be found on my new webpage for the DOM REP AAFB ETR Sta. #8 (see yellow box near the top of this page).
NEW CONTACT (Aug. 2005):
- Marty Gilligan (Ridgewood New Jersey) wrote:
I saw your name on the rangerats site and probably worked on Grand Turk the same time
as you. You also mention St. Lucia. I was very friendly with Billy Joe Volner who was both on St. Lucia and Grand Turk the same time as you. By any chance would have a line on him?
(I recently send Marty the email address of Volner since Billy Joe contacted me in Feb. 06").
NEW CONTACT (July 2005):
- M.M.(Manny) Noriega, from Mississauga,Ontario,Canada wrote: Hello Joe, Fred Perkins,and Wally Tubbel(My SIM on the TAGMs, Boston/Long Island). Sorry to hear about Norm Shows. I left Antigua Nov. 1969 for Ely, Nevada tracking station. Married 35 years, two daughters, house, etc. Say hi to Larry Smith for me. Where's good ole Leon Wilson Bayles(sp?). Bye for now. Next re-union?
NEW CONTACT (June 2005):
- Jimmy Townsend (email@example.com)from Spring,Texas wrote: I worked on Ascension with Scottie Lonnie, Joe Makeever, and Glen Reese from 1969 until 1972. I just found the site. My brother Jesse Townsend, who is also a Range Rat pointed me to it. I have been working in telecommunications all these years. First for Western Union, then ITT-USTS, SP Telecom/Qwest, IBM and AT&T. I am currently unemployed, so anyone that knows of a possible job in the Houston, TX area, please contact me. (This was in June, hopefully Jimmy has a job by now, anyway see his email address above if you want to contact him).
NEW CONTACT (May 2005):
- News from Jack Louthan (I contacted him after he signed the RR sign in book, and learned he knew Bud Creech who I knew from Domincan Republic tracking station in 1956 and I asked him for further info about Bud and whatever happened to him. Here is what he wrote about Bud):
"Bud Creech was my first boss at Antigua Communications. He married a girl from Barbados and eventually bought some considerable amount of property in the Dominican Republic, and went to live there. His real name was Lorne D. Creech, and his wife's name was Patricia. I don't know what the "D" stood for.
We made several trips to Florida together to take flying lessons at the Sarasota-Bradenton airport. On one of these trips we somehow ended up being joint owners of a tract of land near
Tallahassee. Bud later left Antigua; I don't remember where he was assigned, but
he was still working on the Range. Later, I also left Antigua and was sent to Ascension.
While on Ascension, I got a letter from Bud stating he wanted to sell his half-interest in the Florida property so he could buy land in the Dominican Republic. So, I bought his half-interest. Just got out the paperwork, and it's dated August, 1965. So, he would have gone to the Dominican Republic sometime after August 1965, but I don't know exactly when that happened.
I held on to the property near Monticello FL, only selling it a couple of years ago or so. They had built Interstate 10 near the place, and its value had gone up astronomically. So, partly thanks to Bud Creech, I won't have any financial problems in my old age - unless I do something dumb!"
BERNARD RYAN, 23 April 05::
- How many range rats remember Bernie Ryan? I knew him as the Instrumentation Manager at the first station I worked at: Sabana De La Mar Dominican Republic (Sta. 8). He also worked at these stations too: Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Antigua and Grand Turk. Did you know he was a World War II hero?
Military World had an online article "A Hero's Story" all about Bernie which was written by Denise Carson, and I found it on the web in April 2005, however it is no longer on line.
- Updated 24 NOV. 2007. NEW INFORMATION:
John Miele, Bernie Ryan's grandson emailed me in Oct 07 and told me that Denise Carson was writing the article for the LA Times and Military World bought the story. Bernie died just after Christmas three years ago (2004?), and his wife Vi is still alive and living in Florida. Mr. Miele said he would try and get a copy of this article for me, however I haven't heard back from him.
NEW CONTACT (22 April 2005):
- Joyce Gray Fudge wrote this message when she signed the range rat sign in book, (which I am repeating here as it contains much information on people we know):
"Hi all, It's more than 24 years since Don passed away but I still feel a connection to RangeRats. I deliver Meals on Wheels and run into Norm Tucker and Everett James there. I attended the RCA Oldtimers Shindig. Alison Leth-Steensen. Fred's widow, flew in to join me. Fred passed away several years ago. We enjoyed seeing Bill and Pam Redman, Bill Bailey and Erik
Wiggers. Alison knew more people from their time at Kwaj.
Joe, Jim Cain shared your site with me. I shared it with Alison Leth-Steensen and will share with Jean Simpkins - Jerry's widow. Thanks for opening a door for some of us who are out of
touch with one another - certainly not out of touch with reality".
New Info (21 March 05)::
- Joe Makeever says Ron Godine (Some of the older rangerats might remember him as Ron Zgodzinski before he changed his name), who once worked at Ascension Telemetry in the late 60s and early 70s now lives in Cleveland Ohio, in his old neighborhood. I have sent him and email and hope we can make a contact.
New Contacts (Feb/March 05)::
- I made my first contact with anyone who worked at the Dominican Republic Tracking Station, since I started my website, hopefully there are others out there, if so please sign in. Welcome Mike Hager.
- Jim Lane also found my website in March, when trying to
explain to his son what he did in the old days, and typed in "Atlantic Missile Range" in Google.
ADDED 10 AUGUST 2006, INFORMATION OF INTEREST:
(If I find something of interest in the RR Sign-in Book that I think will be of interest to other RRs I will add it to this page as the info.
If you've gotten this far down the page take a look at some special
Gemini Program envelopes signed by GBI Telemetry Range Rats,
click on this link:
GBI Gemini Tracking Station Covers
Do you recognize any of the names?
The left stamp issued by the USA on the day Astronaut John Glenn
successfully splashed down in Grand Turk waters.
The middle stamp issued by the Bahama Islands shows a radar antenna. Grand Bahama Island, Station No. 3, had a radar station.
the right stamp issued by the Dominican Republic shows the Mercury capsule orbiting earth. There was a tracking station (No. 8) in the Dominican Republic, at Sabana de la Mar, in 1956, however (DOM) closed in 1957 long before the Mercury flights of 1960-63.