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.

67 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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    1. Hi Tom,
      Another 991er here (O system) @ Det359 in Germany for 38 months & now I LIVE in เชียงใหม่.
      Small world.

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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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    2. 99125Q, 1965-1968
      18mos Karamursel, Turkey Det 38 my shift chief was SSgt Ben Franklin
      then 12mos in Bangkok Det 412
      Would really be interested in any/all photos you might be willing to share as I've lost all I had.
      Also managed a Thai band 'The Zoniks' Thammasat University students who I met in the Rome bar.
      Have been living in Chiang Rai the last couple of decades now.
      Joe Z

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    3. Hey Joe,
      I'm a former 99er, myself (Det359) Zweibruecken, Germany for 38 months Oct '68 - Dec '72 (O System).
      Now in Chiang Mai (for 3.5 years)
      I just spent a few days in เชียงราย.
      I still have a house back in the states & will spend a month or two there in the summer.

      Rick

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    5. Hi DaveS, I think we were at the det around the same time. I was a 99125Q.

      All the names you mentioned were there.

      Nick Ishe and Bill Embach were also there until the site closed due to the end of the Vietnam conflict.

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    6. Hi Randy, like Dave S, I arrived on site with wife in early 74. Probably just missed you. But it was a great experience and amazing times.

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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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    3. I obviously know you, as I was in F Troop with you from 1970 - 72. 3 summers at Hickam, HI, Was also on the TDY to Kimpo. I believe that one or two of the mission planes that we flew on still fly today!

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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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    2. I remember John Cucuzza with very well, and wish I could find him. Super friendly. One little memory: I remember him describing capacitors as the electrical version of keeping "assholes from slamming shut!". Uncharacteristically riske for his otherwise gentle demeanor! Can't remember what Mac taught; but I believe he must have been teaching fundys, as you say. He really was a "salt of the earth" kinda guy, but with a heart of gold. I visited Lowry many years later, after it had been de-comissioned as a base, and somehow ran into someone who said he "worked at a gas station nearby", but, unfortunately, time didn't permit followup on that tidbit. Since I left Tehran, I've only kept up with one other from that time period: Larry Douglas, who was also stationed at Det 333. Note: My phone # has changed: 970-901-0008

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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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    1. I was a Q troop in Fiji in 1970 Lived at the Hibiscus Hotel. Days off went body surfing down at Natadola Beach or out to the Mamanuca Group from Lautoka. Tough duty!

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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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    2. I was in mass spec from '70 thru '74.

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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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    2. I left Sunnyvale (VELA) in 1979 to move to Australia with my homesick wife. Wish I had stayed in!!

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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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  24. I was at Det 452 from 1976 to 1980 off and on, 99125 before they morphed it over - Old Newbie by nickname, Ernie Shafer

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  25. B-troop. 79-84. 1155th, Det 460. EL244 as a contractor. Visited a few others like Yakota lab, Chang Mai, etc.
    REPierce

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  26. I was in B system 69-73, stationed Det 421 & then McClellan until early out. My nephew is now in Alice Springs, only at what we called the ‘Space Base’. He has visited site. One classmate was one of four kidnapped in Turkey.

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  27. I was in basic from Jan to Mar of 68. I remember someone coming by before the end of basic and showing us a slide of a place that looked like a stone wall around a castle. They said if you wanted to be a 99125 they would wish you away for some very very secret stuff but volunteers only. Never volunteered for anything. Ended up staying at Lackland for crypto school then to Fy Monmouth fir DSTE. Always wondered about 99125 and until now it was a mystery! Spent time in Germany and Thailand during the war and got out in 72. Thanks for your service guys!!!

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    1. That’s pretty close to how I remember it. One day during basic I was sent to some kind of recruiting presentation. Seemed to be a fairly exclusive list of invitees They said if we volunteered for this secret 99125 thing, we could be stationed at many exotic locales around the world, and some not so exotic. I thought that sounded interesting so I signed up. Ended up in Casual for a while, presumably while my initial security clearance was being done. Fundies and Systems at Lowry, then on to Det 412 as a 99125-Q in 1974. Needless to say I would have re-upped, but there were cutbacks and I was sent to Bergstrom AFB in Austin to work on general avionics stuff. I hated it, got an early out.

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  28. Qsystem Instructor at Lowry 65-69 (sgt Moe)
    1 year at lowry common Electronics basic school but then in 99125 only Electronics basics school. Only det experience was at RMA.

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    1. Sgt Moe, Any chance as an instructor you know why USAF canceled a 99 class like ours? We would have graduated summer 67. We all went on in other electronics fields and mine was highly classified.

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  29. I went active in AUG66 and was ear-marked in Basic but did not know why. After a WFO delay it was Lowry for 99125 fundamentals. Specifics class was canceled and everyone split-up. After KP at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal I moved the the east side of Lowry and trained on ADC F106 MA1 weapons control. That resulted in Duluth MN, Tyndall FL, Eielson AK, Selfridge MI, Osan S KOR, Naha Okinawa, and back to Tyndall. The N KOR capturing the Pueblo spy ship dictated most of that duty. We were on Armed Alert most of the time intercepting Communists in AK and N KOR. Tyndall was development and live fire over the Gulf. Until now I never knew what I missed, but I really liked interceptors. The smell of JP4 is still exciting.

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  30. 99125Q - 1959 - 1961
    Det 327 (Lahore Pakistan)

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    1. George Perzel
      99125Q at Det 327 in Lahore
      1962-1963
      Det 310 in Iceland
      1961-1962
      gmperzel@rochester.rr.com

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  31. I just found this site and it's interesting to get an idea of what has been de-classified. I've never talked about it much -- I remember we weren't supposed to mention the det number and the location together.

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  32. Replies
    1. Tim you may have met Larry Silhanek who was there about that time?

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    2. Yes, he was there when I was. I think he arrived a couple of months after I did.

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    3. I'm not good at names but I remember a lot of names there. Jim Pelletier, Tom Paretti, Bob Darling, Bobby O. Miller, Dave Harris, Skip Prack, Joel Somebody. It was a small det - a few Qs and a few Is.

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  33. Reading recent posts here has jogged my memory on some more names. Richard Duval, Larry Silhanek, Bill Embach.

    I still have photos of Det 412, but not sure what's ok to share. Here's a few exterior shots that can't possibly be a problem.

    https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0eGgZLKuGA0g6V

    Are pics of the Q gear etc allowed? I've never been able to find any photos online, and I don't want to be the first to try that. lol. We were always told none of the gear was classified except for the contraption that required a weekly bottle change.

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    1. Hi Dave,
      Yep, we were there at the same time. You even got a photo of the antenna array for the field test of the Q replacement system. I think it became J but others may be able to confirm deny.

      There are some photos of the Q system and others on the Facebook group "AFTAC Alumni of the world unite!"

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  35. My stepfather,Francis Klatka worked in the 1155th at McClellan.Hated when he went TDY being gone so long.Loved playing Pinochle.He taught me electronics.I have fond memories of going to the base so many times as a youngster. He was "Dad" to me.Frank died in 2003. He was one of a kind. Miss him.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your memories of your stepdad here.

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  36. Oh man I found the motherload of photos from my tour at Det 412. I added a bunch more scans of prints to the gallery link. And I have a whole bunch of Kodachrome slides I'd forgotten about, including many really good pics from Walter Kopek's wedding ceremony. I need to figure out how to get some of those scanned.

    Note the Org Chart. Let me know if you know any of the missing names and I'll update it.

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    1. Here's that link again.

      https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0eGgZLKuGA0g6V

      Click on a photo and then you can scroll through at your own speed using left-right arrow keys.

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    2. I'm really not happy with how the photos are being presented on icloud, or with the embedded captions. I'll figure out something better and share it here when I have it worked out.

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  37. This is Bob Jones, I was a 99125Q at McClellan AFB maintenance depot from 1969-1971 until going to Det 441. You may have known Gary Warren, Dave Wright. They were also there but longer than I was.

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