March 6, 2011
Matador, Me and More By Cornelius E. Wood
I have enclosed three folders of pictures and information regarding the 1st. Tactical Missile Squadron and the TM-61. Some background information on me follows. I joined the USAF in NYC in January of 1955 and underwent Basic Training at Sampson AFB in upstate NY. It closed in 1956. Tech School was at Chanute AFB IL for Jet Engine Mechanic. Upon completion I was assigned to 23rd. Fighter Day Squadron at Bitburg. Rank A/3C. They were flying F-86’s. The 1st TMS had T/Sgt that was not too happy with the engine work associated with the Matador. I and two other A/3C were traded to the 1st TMS. And thus began my work with the Matador in “A” Flight. The Squadron had recently moved to Bitburg from Florida. In Florida it was the 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron. 1st TMS was the designation when I joined it in October 1955. As far as I can recall it was still the 1st TMS when I was reassigned in February of 1958. The main Folder, Matador contains photos and information regarding the Launch Training program at Wheelus Field, Libya in 1957. Card scans and picture names help identify the content. It also includes a sojourn into Libya dessert.
The Collier Folder contains an article published in Collier’s Magazine in August 1955 about the deployment of the Matador to Germany.
The Bitburg Folder contains events and personnel from the 1st TMS. The 1st PB card was completed by me and I have carried it with me these many years. Life in the 1st was a combination of: Infantry, we had a full complement of field gear that included Gas Mask, Rifle and Back Pack. We used it all and routinely dined on C Rations. Jet Engine mechanic, Electronic test conductor and Equipment operator. Everyone drove or operated something. The Collier’s covers the mobile aspect of the operation. Many names come to mind, some are in the pictures and identified. The Contrail Club picture is as follows: Left Front: ? Harrison Next: Chuck Upmier Next: Ed Gower Rt. Fwd: ? Haga Plaid Shirt: Neil Wood (Me) With Boot: Bob Blocker Dark Glasses: Donald D. Daugherty Next: Bill? Rt. Rear: Ken? Sad to say Don Dougherty was killed while serving with the US Army at Than Son Nuit, Viet Nam on April 13, 1966. He is on the wall. I ran into Ron Stellfox while working with Hound Dogs – GAM77 at Shaw AFB. Dean Heal went to OCS and our paths crossed at Tinker AFB OK. We were undergoing training for the C-141, I as a Flight Engineer him as a Pilot. Encountered Bill Sedlak, a “B” Flight A&E at Yokota AB Japan doing C-5 turnarounds in the early 70’s. A random recollection of others: Pat Patton, Bill Jauch, Joe Poole, Dennis Garret, Larry Lucas, Bob Casto, Gerald Bird, Roger Perrault, ? McCormack, Robert Forrest, Jim Hill, John Lawrence, Bill Biden, Sam Jocko, Larry Zentner, George Bubnar, Chuck Atkins, John Clynes, ? Bagdon, ? Jester and there were many more.
On your Honor Roll, Elmer Sutarick was 1st TMS and probably 1st PBS, Clive Chapin was 1st TMS. On the web site offering of memorabilia the 1st TMS patch is not there. Perhaps not enough customers left. In February of 1958 the powers to be decided that the Engine work could be accomplished by the A&E troops. Several of the Engine troops were transferred to Phalsburg, France. RF-84F and RF-101. In September of 58 I rotated to McCoy AFB (Pinecastle) Florida and B-47’s. Spring of 60 saw a move to Dow AFB, Bangor, Maine. As an Engine Mechanic on GAM-77’s (AGM-28A). Several months into the program once again the powers to be decided the specialist mode of operation was not a proper fit. We were all declared Missile Maintenance Mechanics. Cross train each other. Fall of 65 I applied for Flight Engineer School and completed it in February 1966. March saw a transfer to Travis AFB, California and an assignment to the 75th Mil. Airlift Sq. flying C-141’s until mid 70 then C-5’s until I retired on August 31, 1975. July 1976 I took a position with the National Park Service at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. (GGNRA) Equipment Operator and then System Analyst both skills courtesy of the USAF. I retired on December 31, 1998. The 1st TMS was the beginning but I have been fortunate to have participated in several others, GAM-77, C-141 & C-5. GGNRA was the first urban National Park. Since 2004 I have volunteered at the Travis AFB Museum three days a week. Restoration of a GAM-77 has been the main focus. AMMS Alumnus and Travis Air Museum WEB sites have some photos of it. Drop by and visit some time!