My Career with the FAA and the Air Force DOD Civilian
1956-1986



Click here for info on Suffolk, VA
I was discharge from the Air Force on October 7, 1953 and I returned to my hometown of Suffolk, VA, home of Planters Peanuts.   I worked in the office of a peanut processing plant until I started college using the G. I. Bill at Elon University, Elon College, NC .  In my junior year, I married the love of my life, Dot Mauldin from Winston-Salem, NC, who was also a student at Elon.  In 2016, we celebrated our 61st anniversary and we have 3 children, Steve, Gary and Sandra.  
 
  
Click here for info on Elon University

After college,  the FAA was hiring people that had air traffic control or radar control experience with the starting grade as a GS-6 with a promotion to GS-8 after 6 mouths of duty and then a GS-10 after a year as a GS-8.  So I applied and was accepted and  went to the FAA Academy at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma City for 2 months of training.  My first assignment was at Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) as a assistant controller for 1 year and then was promoted to GS-10 as a controller.  In 1958, I was promoted to GS-11 with duty at the FAA Central Altitude Reservation Center (CARF) in Kansas City, MO.  This facility worked only with military aircraft - 95% were Strategic Air Command (SAC) aircraft.  Our job was to separate all military aircraft that were on an altitude reservation flight plan (ALTRV) and then provide that information to the ARTCC's.  The ARTCC then had to separate all other aircraft away from the ALTRV'S . 

In early 1961, SAC and NORAD was planning to conduct Sky Shield 2, the largest air exercise every flown.   Due to the magnitude of the exercise, the FAA and the Canadian Department of Transportation issued an order that all aircraft not participating in the exercise would not be allowed to fly in the US and Canadian airspace for 12 hours.  All mission aircraft would be flown on an ALTRV and processed through CARF, except for NORAD aircraft as they would be under NORAD radar control.  This mission would be flown under MARSA (Military Assumes Responsibility Separation of Aircraft) as the FAA ARTCC's would not be capable of providing standard FAA separation.  SAC requested FAA to provide 2 CARF controllers to help provide separation between the aircraft using SAC rules of separation.  I was asked to be one of the controllers to work on the mission.  We started planning in June 1961 at SAC Headquarters, Offutt AFB, NE where we spent 3 weeks of mission design working side by side with the SAC planners.  We then went to NORAD Headquarters at Ent AFB, CO for 2 weeks working with the NORAD planners.  The mission was laid out on charts that covered all of the US including 500 miles over the Atlantic and Pacific ocean and up to around 80 degrees north in Canada.  The charts were 12 feet in height and 8 feet wide.  We used mylar clear sheeting and each aircraft or cells of aircraft were plotted using 1/32" of Chart Pac tape that come in many different colors and designs.  We had many conflicts so we were authorized to make changes as necessary to provide the desired SAC separation.  The process took several months to complete and the mission flew on October 14, 1961.  There is a article published in the Air and Space Magazine, Feb-Mar 2002 edition, about Sky Shield called "This is Only a Test".  Click here to read the article.  Click here to view a newsreel of Sky Shield: Dial Up or DSL/Broadband

At the conclusion of this mission, SAC offered me a job with 8th Air Force, Westover AFB, MA with a promotion to GS-13.  Hard to turn that down since I was a GS-11 with the FAA.  In February, 1962, I left FAA and became a DOD Air Force civilian employee and never regretted it.   My office was in 8AF Bombers Operations where all the action is.  My primary job with 8AF was to help plan missions and coordinate airspace with the FAA and foreign ARTCC's.  Other duties that I did were: developed low level VFR routes, design air refueling tracks, oversee Base Operations at all of the bases under 8AF, design instrument approaches procedures and others items.  The Air Force developed a new standard for instrument approaches (TERPS) so everyone had to go to Kessler AFB for a 3 week school.  This was the first time that I had been back to Kessler since 1950 and I didn't recognized anything except I remembered the lighthouse on US90.

In 1967, the Air Force increased the number of SAC B-52 missions flying from Guam to Vietnam.  The B-52's had to fly across the Philippines Island airspace which created problems with the Philippines Air Traffic Control  Center and their ability to provide air traffic services in the South China Sea.  This was around a 12 hour mission which required an air refueling in the South China Sea with KC-135 tankers from Kadena AB, Okinawa.  The Philippine government was threatening to withhold over flight clearance unless changes were made to the air refueling area.  The B-52's carried bombs in the bomb bay and on pylons on each wing which resulted in a higher fuel flow and it was necessary to have the refueling completed just prior to entering Vietnam airspace.   Major General Crumm, commander of 3AD (SAC) in Guam, did not want to make any changes to the refueling track.

In June 1967, SAC headquarters ask me if I would go to the Philippines for a 2 year tour to work with the Philippine air traffic control personnel to help resolve the air traffic problems.   The new position would be a GS-14 with housing accommodations on Clark Air Force Base and because the Philippines was an isolated assignment, my salary would be increased by an additional 25%.  It didn't take long for my wife and me to make up our minds, so we packed up in July 1967 with our 3 small children and left for the Philippines.   While my boss was the Director of Operations at 3rd Air Division in Guam,  I was provided office space at HQ 13AF at Clark AB about 60 miles north of Manila.  While we were enroute to Clark, Major General Crumm, was flying in the lead aircraft of 6 B-52's (2 cells of 3 aircraft each) and they lost their radar which required the #2 aircraft to move into the #1 position and the #1 aircraft would move to the #3 position.  Somehow, they collided over open water and 2 of the B-52's went down and only 7 crew members survived.  General  Crumm body was never recovered.

We arrived in the Clark AB, Philippines and got settled into our base housing and hired a live in maid.  All of the base housing had maid quarters off of the kitchen.  It took about 2 weeks to get use to the maid waiting on us hand and foot and my wife was spoiled as she rarely had to cook or clean house.  Clark AB was known as the "Country Club of the Pacific" as life was easy there.

Shortly after I arrived at Clark, I caught a flight to Guam to get briefings on the SAC mission and to find out what I could do or couldn't do.  Since General  Crumm had perished, Major General Gilliam was sent over from the US as Commander of 3AD.  When I arrived at 3AD, the Director of Operations,  Col Colin Hamilton, who had been my boss earlier at 8AF, Westover AFB, and we had a good relationship.  After discussing the Philippines problem with him and General Gilliam, I was given some latitude to change the refueling track as long as it didn't degrade the mission and affect the onboard fuel when the B-52s enter Vietnam airspace.   So I returned to Clark and began to plot all of the SAC tracks on a chart with the airways on it and proceeded to find a solution which was not very hard to find.  All that had to be done was to move the refuel track back about 40 miles which would place the end air refueling point clear of the airways.  Since the KC-135 were from Kadena, this would reduce their flying distance by 80 miles which would allow the KC-135 to offload a  few more pounds of fuel to the B-52s which actually gave the B-52s more fuel than before.  I sent the new route to Guam for their approval and they agreed with the changes.  My next step was to meet with the Philippine air traffic people.  The American Embassy set up a meeting at Manila Airport and I briefed my recommended changes which were accepted by all.   After that day, I had very good working relation with Manila Center. 

General William Westmoreland and his wife Katherine lived on Clark AB in a home 3 doors down from the Officers Club.  They both played tennis and my wife and I were tennis players.  My wife played with Mrs. Westmoreland and I played with General Westmoreland on several occasions.  Gen. Westmoreland worked in Vietnam as the commander of all US Forces in Vietnam but flew to Clark AB every 2 or 3 weeks to spend a weekend with his wife.  Several other Generals in Vietnam had their families at Clark and they came in every so often just as Gen. Westmoreland did.  This arrangement was to keep the senior staff in Vietnam in place for continuity for the duration of the war.  

SAC  was in the process of building a new B-52 base in Thailand (U-Tapao AB) about 60 miles south of Bangkok.  Plans were also on the books for flying B-52s out of Kadena AB and KC-135 began flying out of Ching-Chuan Kang AB in Taiwan to support B-52 and other aircraft.  I spent the next 11 months traveling to those countries coordinating airspace requirements for SAC operations.   Since there was no need for me to remain in the Philippines, the DO at 3AD asked if I would move to Guam after school closed for the summer and I agreed.  In June 1968, we boarded a MAC C-141 air-evac aircraft for the 3 hours flight to Guam.  There were about 12 seats in the front of the plane for passengers - the rest of the plane had wounded soldiers on board being transported back to the States.

In Guam, I worked out of 3AD but still traveled all over the Western Pacific in support of SAC operations.  While in Guam, my wife and I took R & R trips to Hong Kong and took the whole family to Japan for a week. 
R & R travel was in a modified KC-97 tanker aircraft at no cost.  

Our home (Rota Drive) on Andersen AFB in Guam was just down from the Officer's Club and the guest house was just down the street from us.  In December 1968, Bob Hope USO tour to Vietnam stopped by Andersen AFB to give a show on the way home.  Well, Bob Hope stayed at the guest house.  The next morning, the Officers Club catered a brunch in the yard to all of USO people in the troupe.  All of the kids in the neighborhood went over and our kids got lots of autographs of Bob Hope and the other members of  the troupe.   Click on the photo to the right for a great view of Andersen AFB dual runways 24 coming in over the cliff.   Several crews taking off on runway 6 needed that 624 foot cliff for a successful takeoff.  The B-52s were usually at the maximum takeoff weight of 488,000 lbs.

 

       

 

      Click on Photo
In August of 1969, we left Guam and went back to my old position at 8AF, Westover AFB.  The first day we were there, we started looking at homes.  That night on the local news they announced that 8AF would be moving to Barksdale AFB in April of 1970.  The next day we started to look at rental homes since we would not be there more than 6 months.  In March 1970, we moved to Bossier City, LA which is home to Barksdale AFB and we have been here since.  I have been to many AF bases during my career and Barksdale is by far the best looking base of all.  It was built in 1930 and the base is lined with pin oaks trees and beautiful homes, buildings and a large parade field.   The base encompasses more than 22,000 acres. 20,000 acres are used for recreation and as a game preserve.  The land was donated in 1930 by the leaders of Bossier City and Shreveport in order to entice the Department of the Army to locate a base here. Click here for info about Barksdale AFB
 


Barksdale AFB Wing Headquarters

During the final year of the Vietnam War, I went to Guam on 3 separate 45 days TDY in support of SAC Linebacker and Bullet Shot operations. 

I retired from Barksdale in January 1986 with 34 years of federal service.

My hobbies are tennis and computers.  In 2005, I competed in numerous tennis tournaments around the country at the National and Southern level.  In 1998, my 4.0 USTA Senior League (50 and over) tennis team won the National Championships in Palm Springs, CA.  Click here for that story.

Tennis anyone!!!  gordon@ward.org

My Air Force Career 1950 - 1953