Monday, October 29, 2012

99125

Nope, it's not a zip code. It was the identifier to my job in the US Air Force (1969-73). It identified me as a Special Electronics Technician in the 1035th AFTAC, or Air Force Technical Applications Command with headquarters then in Alexandria, Virginia.

More specifically after basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas and training at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado, I was attached to the 1155th Technical Operations Squadron at McClellan AFB (Air Force Base) north of Sacramento, California west of North Highlands.

My job was in depot engineering and maintenance for the worldwide network of field stations for the various system used to monitor the nuclear test ban treaty. That was our mission, to watch the world for nuclear tests and assemble a complete picture about the bomb.

I spent the rest of my four-year duty there except for a few temporary duty assignments to Edwards, AFB, California, Eielson AFB, Alaska, Alexandria, Virginia, and Hamburg Germany (actually a small town outside the city I can't remember the name).

I was scheduled to go on tour to Aukland, New Zealand, Alice Spring, Australia and Chang Mai, Thailand but my boss changed the orders the week we were supposed to leave as he wanted the trip. He was reassigned when he returned from the trip for changing the orders preventing me from going.

My job was intitailly in the maintenance shop for the equipment for the H-System or magnetic and electrical systems used to detect nuclear explosions. There were 8-10 different systems with two additional airborne and one sea-based systems.

The field sites using the H-System were in Thule, Greenland, Edwards AFB, California, Alexandria, Virginia, Hamburg, Germany, Punto Arenas, Chile (closed 1970), the Shah's Wildlife Reserve, Iran (closed in mid-1970's), Alice Springs, Australia, Aukland, New Zealand, Chang Mai, Thailand, and the test facility at McClellan AFB, California.

All equipment was repaired at the depot at McClellan AFB and shipped to the field sites. Field sites were not allowed to repair equipment but to operate 24/7 and to remove and replace any equipment which failed to operate correctly. Later I was transferred to engineering where I developed, built and tested new equipment with the scientists.

Some of the equipment was used by other system, mostly the seismic system which was very similar to earthquake monitoring and detection systems used then and today. The chart Helicorders still in used for graphic display of seismic data was developed in part during the 1960's from this program and system.

[Note.--The graph is not an ink on paper recording. The paper is three layers of a base paper layer, carbon black layer and a top layer of burnable paper. The "pen" is a heat element powered by 450 volts DC to burn the trace through the top layer exposing the carbon trace. This makes the trace permanent and can't be smudged, erased or ruined in any way. The tics are 10-second intervals.]

Anyway, it was a fun job but in the end I always remembered that the mission of 1155th TOS was to identify, locate and reconstruct nuclear explosions, and in the event of a nuclear war, we were the score keepers. We could detect any nuclear explosion on the earth or moon, meaning anywhere underground, on the surface, underwater, and atmospheric.

Scary thought then but we all survived.

32 comments:

  1. I was 99125 B System (Seismic) stationed at Det 333 in Tehran, Iran from 1976 to Feb 1978. After that I returned to Lowry and was a B System Analysis instructor. Nice to hear from another 99125 guy. You are the first I have found since leaving except for my old room mate living in Maine I am still in contact with.

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  2. Another 99'er here. I also was in 'B' systems and served in Chaing Mai Thailand all of 1970. There was a cut-back in personnel and got reassigned to TV Equipment Repair. From Thailand I was shipped to Shepard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX for 5 months then went to Frankfort Germany.

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  3. Another special instruments tech here. I was at Det 333 Tehran (Turkman Deh, remember?) from May 1967 to Nov 1968. Q system. Was reassigned to the old HQ in Alexandria, VA following. Discharged in May 1970. Iran was a great tour.

    Bill

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    1. Also 333. U system March 67 to Dec 68. Our systems stood next to each other. - many stories to tell on the hill and in the desert. Henry Zelones

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  4. Yet another 99 B-Systems guy, here. I was stationed at Det. 141 in Glenrock, WY from 1967 to 1969. Then I went to Det. 423 in Mindanao in the Philippines until I separated in May 1970. I posted pictures of my time in Mindy on facebook. Search for Mindanao Memories. I loved my time in the Philippines.

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  5. I was also B-Technique. Tech school in 1973-74, Detachment 452 from74-75 (Founding member of the Dong Patrol), Depot Engineering from 75-78. I was known as SSgt Howard Graham back then.

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  6. I was in O technique stationed at Keflavik NAS in 74 and at McClellan AFB maintenance depot from 74 to my separation in late 76.

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  7. Facebook has two private AFTAC realted groups you can join. Just search for the following in the search box next to the large "F" at the top of the facebook page. These are restricted groups - so once you ask to join the group, the administrators will "vet" you and you'll be able to join.
    1. AFTAC Alumni of the world unite!
    2. 99105 99104 99106 99125 9s100

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  8. I was in Bangkok for two tours 72/73. Everyone called me beep. Most af people know what that means. New guy . Unfortunately it followed me the whole time I was there. I was a Q and B/20 tech. Most of us learned the whole det. Systems . It allowed us to catch a n during those mid shifts. Det 412 Don Muang RTAFB thailand. The best years of my life. Randy Greer randygreer31890@gmail

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    1. 99125Q. Randy, you must have left Det 412 right before I got there. Maybe I replaced you! Some names I remember from 412: Bob Ramm, Greg Moffett, Sgt Grady, Major Nichols, Tom (Henry T.) Hilton, Walter Kopek, Ben Franklin, Steve Rogers, John Glacken. Lowry instructors I remember include Tom Hart and John Cucuzza and one name that escapes me. I still have photos of Det 412 exterior & tech gear.

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  9. I was a 99125F "F Troop" at McClellan from Sept '69 thru Aug '72. I got an early out for school at the end of Summer '72 deployment to HI when F Technique transferred to Patrick AFB, FL and I didn't have enough time remaining in service for the Air Force to transfer me. It was good duty. I spent 3 summer TDYs at Hickam AFB, HI and a couple of TDYs to Kimpo AFB, Korea. Glad to see a lot of the basic mission was finally declassified and acknowledged.

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    1. Dutch, from my research, the technical side of the work was never declassified, but information about it was unclassified. The work was reduced to secret and contracted out during the 1990's, and reassumed by the USAF a few years latter.

      From what I saw and read in the news the work, and the aircraft, used to follow the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 was done by the 1035th. Nuclear fallout is the same no matter the source, a bomb or a nuclear plant.

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  10. I was a 99125 B at Det 333 from the fall of 1973 to January 1975. From Tehran I went to AFROTC at the University of Colorado, B-52s, then B-1Bs, retiring at Langley AFB as a Lt Col. So I went from monitoring to sitting alert with B-28, B-61, SRAM and ALCM nuclear weapons.

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    1. Walter, i think I remember you. Dave Congour. I came to Det 333 in summer of '74 as a "Q". I remember you as one of the "older guys", since I was 19 when I got there. I was a bit of a flunky; spent most of my off hours wandering around Tehran Bazaar snapping photos. Did some skiing, too! I remember Richard Helms coming out for a visit (Ambassador to Iran at the time). Really was a wonderful year.

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  11. Yes, I was also at Det 333 from 67 to 69. I was the shift chief for B, Q, D, B20-4 and 5, H, U and a few others. Then they got me out the night the locals took over the embassy. With the world politics that they are today, I am told to keep a closed mouth, which I do. I respect our organization and want to keep it that way. Thanks for the tip-off of this site...

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  12. I was a 99125Z, based at Lowry my whole term in the AF (1963 to 1967) except for a couple of TDYs to Hanscom AFB in Bedford MA for training on the newer ZII system. They turned me into an instructor, which I enjoyed very much. Also wrote a lot of course and testing materials. It was a fine field to be in, although I looks like its changed a very great deal now. Far as I can determine now, Z system is now an automatic system, not manned at all...

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  13. I was a 99125Z, based at Lowry my whole term in the AF (1963 to 1967) except for a couple of TDYs to Hanscom AFB in Bedford MA for training on the newer ZII system. They turned me into an instructor, which I enjoyed very much. Also wrote a lot of course and testing materials. It was a fine field to be in, although I looks like its changed a very great deal now. Far as I can determine now, Z system is now an automatic system, not manned at all...

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  14. I was a one-termer in 99125-Q. Training at Lowry in 73-74. Shipped out to Tehran in '74 for a year. Lots of adventures living in Tehran, and at Det333. Looking for some of my former co-workers. Any help would be appreciated:
    Captain Helm - Det333
    Keith Wilson - Phillipines
    "Mac" Instructor at Lowry
    John Cucuzza Instructor at Lowry
    Thanks!
    Dave Congour
    Montrose, Colorado
    970.901.8757

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    1. Sgt Cucuzza was an instructor in training at Lowry when I was there. My recollection is Sgt Tom Hart was the main instructor during Systems. Can't for the life of me remember the fundies instructor name. Was "Mac" fundamentals?

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  15. I was assigned to the 1155th from Feb. 1970-March 1974. I was a language specialist and assigned to the drafting room. I also ran the coffee concession (nice money maker!) It would be nice to reconnect with anyone who was assigned there at the same time as I.

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  16. I was a 99125 when I started out in 77 and was converted to a 99105 later. I was in Det 460 78 and 79.

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  17. I was at Lowry from Nov 1966 until Aug 1967. U system. Then to Misawa, Japan for 7 months and to Aviano, Italy (W system) for the rest of my 4 year enlistment. At Lowry I was a electronics fundamentals classmate of John Mutrux (see his post of April 29,2014 above).

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  18. 99125Q training at Lowry 1965-66. On first regular team to Fiji 1966. Can you believe it was considered a remote tour? Civilian clothes and a tourist hotel. Duty location was so bad I re-upped for another year. Good times. Constant party time 'cause Aussie and Kiwi tourists were on holiday. Then, when the 'alarm' sounded or there was an equipment failure, it was balls-to-the-walls. Came back to the States in 1968 and was stationed at McClellan in maintenance and micofilming until discharged in 1969.
    Paul Heuser

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  19. I was a 99125-L (Gas + mass spec sections) McClellan 5/72- 8/75

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    1. I was 99125-L Mas Spec Chem from '63 to '68. Training here led on to some fantastic jobs in civilian technology industries on both coasts

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  20. I was a 99125Z and L (mass Spec chem tech)troop from 1965-1979. Det333 (67-68), Lowry AFB (68-71, and 1155th at McClellan. All great jobs, sport teams, and people. Via AECP I finished last 10 years in officer ranks working on satellites, including VELA (kind of came full circle in 25 years AF career)

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    1. Hello Tom N ... Sgt. Mike here. I was in Mass Spec Chem 1966-1970/ I'm guessing who you really are. How is life in Colorado ?

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  21. Wow! Just stumbled across this post.
    Was 99125B Stationed at Det333 from Nov '71 thru Oct, '73.

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  23. I was at Det 333 from fall 1973 to Jan 1975 then ROTC at University of Colorado. Served next 20 years flying B-52 and B-1B retiring as an O5 in 1996.

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