961st AEW & C SQUADRON

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From Handbook This Is The 961st

This is the 961st Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, MASSACHUSETTS

 

I N D E X

Welcome by Commander . . ... .. . ......1

Index . . . . ............ .............................2

Chain of Command..............................3

Mission the of 961st........................... 4

Emblem of the 961st ... .. .. . . .. . ........5

History of the 551st and Otis AFB . . . 6

History of the 961st . . . .. .. ................8

Commanders of the 961st . . ..............11

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THIS 15 THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL SQUADRON

 

LT. COL. ROBERT V. MITCHELL, SR.

Commander

As commander of the 961st Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron, I have the pleasure of welcoming you to the squadron.

The purpose of the ensuing pages is to acquaint you with the history and traditions of the 961 st and our parent organization, the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing.

I hope that your association with the 961st will be informative, rewarding, and enjoyable.

Again, welcome to the 961st.

_

ROBERT V. MITCHELL, SR.

Lt. Col., USAF

961st AEW & Con Sq.

Commander

 

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CHAIN OF COMMAND

President of the United States

Secretary of Defense

Secretary of the Air Force

Joint Chiefs of Staff

Chief Of Staff Of The Air Force

 

OPERATIONAL

NORAD
Commander

26th NORAD Region
Commander

ADMINISTRATIVE

Air Defense Command
Commander

26th Air Division
Commander

551st A E W & Con Wing
Commander

551st A E W & Con Wing
Deputy Commander for Operations

961st A E W & Con Squadron
Commander  

 

EC-121 D AIRCRAFT

MISSION OF THE 961ST

The mission of the 961st AEW & Con Squadron is to train, operate and administer assigned AEW&C forces as directed by Commander, 551st AEW &CON Wing ;and place these forces in a maximum state of readiness under operational control of the Commander, 26th North American Air Defense region.

a n d

Provide airborne surveillance and control capability in the air defense combat zone.

Support the operations of other commands as directed by the 551st AEW & Con Wing.

Participate in the USAF collateral mission of anti-submarine warfare, and detection of radar electronics radiation as directed.

To augment Air Weather Service reconnaissance by observing, recording, and transmitting weather information. Such assistance will be provided as a secondary mission, and on a non-interference basis with primary AEW & C functions.

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THIS IS THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY & CONTROL SQUADRON

961pat.jpb.JPG (76740 bytes)

 

961ST SQUADRON EMBLEM

The bat, peering out over the water, signifies the radar capability of the 961st. The binoculars, around his neck, and the telescope, under

his wing, represent the detection devices used by the squadron in fulfill- its mission. The lightning bolt signifies the all weather capability of the 961st. The red background honors the squadron's valor and its steadfastness to duty.

This emblem was designed for the 961st by Walt Disney, the world famous animator.

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~ THIS IS THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL SQUADRON ~

A Brief History Of The 551ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING AND CONTROL WING

and

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, MASSACHUSETTS

In January 1955, a huge plane somewhat resembling an airborne: shark flew across the United States from McClellan Air Force Base, California to Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

At the controls of the huge radar surveillance aircraft was Colonel Oliver G. Cellini, the first commander of the newly formed 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing at Otis. The plane was an RC-121D Super Constellation of the Air Defense Command and the first of many to be assigned to patrol the eastern seaboard.

Today, Otis is the largest Air Defense Command Base in the World with a year-round population of more than 7,000 officers and airmen. Its dependents increase the total to over 12,000 and in the summer months Air National Guard, reserve units and AFROTC Cadets who train at Otis add several thousand to the number.

Otis also the only Air Defense Command base with units performing three of ADC's prime missions: radar picket plane surveillance, fighter-interception, and ground-to-air missile operations.

In the early 1930s, the land comprising Otis was originally set aside as a campsite for the 26th Yankee Division or the National Guard. in 1933, an area was cleared for use as a grass runway. In February 1938, C. F. Hurley, the governor of Massachusetts, proclaimed the name of the camp as Camp Edwards in honor of Major General Clarence P. L. Edwards the first commander of the 26th Yankee Division. With the same proclamation, the airfield portion was named Otis Field in memory or Lt. Frank Jesse Otis, a Massachusetts National Guard pilot Who was killed on January 11, 1937 when the observation aircraft he was flying crashed into the Illinois River near Hannepen, Illinois. Lieutenant Otis was one of the first flight surgeons to attend the U. S. Air Corps School' of Aviation Medicine, which he completed in 1935.

During World War II, Camp Edwards and Otis Field were very active, as a training base and an anti-submarine patrol aircraft station, respectively. Only a few of the hundreds of wooden barracks buildings

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~ THIS IS THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL SQUADRON ~

still stand which once housed more than 100,000 combat ready members of he Yankee Division.

With the completion of the Distant Early Warning (DEW Line) in 1958 the northern areas of the United States and Canada were well protected but both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts were still vulnerable. Consequently, our radar warning networks were extended seaward at Otis AFB on the east coast and McClellan AFB on the west coast by using the 551st and 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Wings respectively. Today, these wings supplement our radar detection system along the entire coastal lengths of the United States.

The 551st Wing at Otis is the only Air Force organization flying the E C-121H "Warning Star" Super Constellation known as Airborne long Range Input (ALRI) aircraft.

This new integrated station on wings provides instantaneous automated relay of air defense surveillance and early warning information by data-link direct to ground based communication facilities. Then it is passed to high speed SAGE Air Defense Command and Control computers in East Coast SAGE Direction Centers and to the NORAD Combat Operations Center in Colorado Springs for air defense evaluation and action. ALRI permits more versatile airborne control of interceptor missile and aircraft weapons systems.

This new ALRI system supplants the slower voice and manual Teletype data relay system previously employed by the RC-121D model of radar aircraft based at Otis.

The 551st Wing is composed of the 960th, 961st and 962nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadrons, who fly their continuous missions over the Atlantic Ocean 24 hours a day. The Wing has flown thousands of missions totaling more than 300.000 flying hours since January 1955 without a single accident involving personal injury or a fatality.

During the last nine years, the Base has been commanded by such distinguished Air Force Officers as Colonel Oliver G. Cellini, December 1955 -- June 1957; Colonel Arthur A. McCartan, July 1957—August 1959; Colonel Ernest J. White, September 1959—July 1962; Colonel Rudolph B. Walters, July 1962—July 1964, and Colonel Raymond K. Gallagher, present commander, who assumed command of the 551st Wing in August 1964.

For those who enjoy hunting, Otis has ample small game with deer, pheasant, grouse and rabbit. In the winter season, duck and geese are plentiful. The Base also has a 10-lane bowling alley, and heated swimming pool.

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THIS IS THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL SQUADRON

 

History of the 961st

The 961st Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron was constituted on 11 October 1954 and activated at Otis Air Force Base, Falmouth, Massachusetts, on 18 December 1954. The Squadron was assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing of the Air Defense Command. Equipped with RC-121 (later EC-121) aircraft, the 961st became operational in October 1956.Since that time the 961st has received many notable awards. The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award was presented to the Squadron for the period of I July 1957 to October 1958.

The men of the 961st have performed their duties in an exemplary manner. In October 1958, l/Lt. Buddy O. Monarch, senior director on an RC-121, used his radar and radio equipment to direct a seriously disabled F-101 to a safe landing from 500 miles out to sea.

In October 1959, the Lockheed Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding tactical squadron of the 551st AEW&C Wing, was won for the third consecutive time by the 961st. This entitled the squadron to retain permanent possession of the coveted trophy. On the night of 21 December 1960, l/Lt. Joseph T. Long, Jr., while flying an RC-121 on a routine mission over 450 miles out at sea, experienced a fire and an uncontrollable propeller on number 3 engine. Being unable to maintain altitude, Lt. Long elected to ditch the aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to impact, however, the burning engine exploded and fell off the wing Lt. Long then managed to recover control of the aircraft and flew it safely to Bermuda, despite the gaping hole in the right wing. For his actions, Lt. Long was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the members of the crew received the Air Medal.

In 1961, two aircraft with crews from the 961st set up stations off

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THIS IS THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL SQUADRON

the coast of Greenland and Goose Bay, Labrador, in support of "Operation Stair Step". The RC-121's were used to provide continuous radar coverage and control for Tactical Air Command F-86's and F-102's on a flight across the North Atlantic.

In the winter of 1961, Captain Leopold Magers, a 961st aircraft commander flew the first Active Air Defense Mission out of McCoy Air Force Base, Florida. Shortly after this, the 966th AEW & Con Squadron was established at McCoy AFB.

The squadron has participated in several Air Force exercises and test missions. In 1962, the 961st was instrumental in the completion of a series of tests on the BOMARC missiles.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 961st provided crews to support the early warning mission of the Air Defense Command by flying missions off the coast of Florida.

In 1963, the 961st won the Commander's Trophy for exhibiting superior athletic ability in competition with the other units stationed at Otis Air Force Base.

During 1963, members of the squadron received Air Force awards. MSgt. Ben J. D'Alessio, a flight engineer, received his 9th Oak Leaf

Cluster to his Air Medal. Capt. Walter J. Brennan, the 961st Administrative Officer, was presented the Air Force Commendation Medal along with TSgt. Norris Davis, the squadron's chief clerk.

In the spring of 1964, the squadron operations and administrative sections were consolidated into the same building. Later during the year, the building received a major renovation. As a result of these, the 961st is now able to discharge its operational mission with greater efficiency.

Captains Elliot Powers and Stuart Mitts, and Lieutenants Randy Quinn and Edwin Lewellyn were awarded Air Medals for their meritorious duty under hazardous conditions. These men are pilots and navigators with the 961st.

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* THIS 15 THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CONTROL SQUADRON *

On 31 October 1964, the squadron adopted Detachment 370 of the University of Massachusetts ROTC Program. This adoption program is designed to provide the ROTC cadets with a person-to-person association with the operational Air Force officers, thereby, giving practical knowledge of the USAF mission, organization, and operations.

A 961st Crew Briefing

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* THIS IS THE 961ST AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING & CON SQUADRON *

COMMANDERS OF THE 961ST

Lt. Col. Robert E. Harrington December, 1954—December, 1955

Lt. Col. Alfred W. Barrett, Jr. December, 1955—April, 1958

Lt. Col. Ted H. Ostendorf April, 1958—August, 1958

Major Robert A. Bostic August, 1958—October, 1958

Lt. Col. Clarence E. Franks October, 1958—February, 1960

Lt. Col. Robert C. Kerr February, 1960—December, 1961

Lt. Col. Henry M. O'Connor December, 1961—December, 1962

Major Burkhead M. Herndon December, 1962—August, 1963

Lt. Col. Frank P. Klotz, Jr. August, 1963—June, 1964

Lt. Col. Robert V. Mitchell, Sr. June, 1964—???

Lt. Col Jack January Jr --- June 1966 ---April 1968

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This Hand Book was provided by Art Kerr Instructor Pilot With 961st

This covers from 1955 through 1965 any one with any thing to add about the 961 or Otis

feel free to contact me. Dean Boys

Lt. Col. Robert A. Bostick

55-0123 Burning on ramp

961st AACS

Personal Equipment

 A Mission Flown by My Crew With Major John Mirick as Aircraft Commander

Recollections of the 961st Airborne Early Warning & Control Squadron
October 1962 - October 1965
by Art Kerr

More about Art Kerr With Pride We Point

Recollections of the 961st and 551st from 1955 to 1959
by A.J Northrup

More about A.J. Northrup

Crew Photos

Photo from Floyd Shank

 

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