Donald O. Ney, SMS (E8) USAF Retired
Joined in 1952 during Korean War (attended Parks AFB basic training - the only West Coast USAF basic training center during the war, which is no longer in use - and Keesler AFB technical school training)
Served in Germany 1953-1957 (Much of country still in ruins from Allied bombing during WWII). Worked as radio operator. Worked tower direction finder center, guiding pilots like then-Maj. Chuck Yeager (flying jets out of Landstuhl) and his wingman Capt. Christian.
Served in Kirtland AFB, N.M., 1957-1959 observing many hush-hush products "fly" overhead from Sandia Army post "next door"(was TDY to Tierra Amarilla AF Radar Station in the mountains along the Colorado border observing the foremost "forest primeval" of this country).
Served in King Salmon AFS, Alaska, 1960 (a remarkable place, like another planet) for one year remote ("Cold War" Dew Line). Saw the biggest King Salmon fish I have ever seen running wild in the Naknek River, along with monitoring Russian aircraft trying to penetrate our defenses, being intercepted by our fighter jets on our base.
Served again in Germany, this time in Berlin from 1960-1963. I was there the day the Wall went up - one very hectic and nerve-wracking Sunday, living through the years of observing East Germany's atrocities against their own people. I was privileged to have permission to drive across East Germany from Berlin to West Germany and return in the performance of duties. It was the most disconcerting experience I can say I ever had, considering the many checkpoints I had to traverse (both theirs and ours), and deal with all the paperwork the Russians required (Yes, the Russians ran the place, not the puppet East Germans). The land I observed on that trip (I was not allowed to stop during the drive) was mostly uninhabited, with mostly small rural villages and a few scattered farms, except for the Russian soldiers and East German Vopos (volks poletzei) deliberately hindering my trip with stops at the checkpoints, some official, some "unofficial."
In 1963 it was back to Keesler AFB in Mississippi for a one-year new training assignment (converted to a different career field).
From 1964 to 1965 I was stationed at Cape Charles AFS (Virginia Easter Shore), an East Coast radar site that was part of the Air Defense Command's Eastern network (located at the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel entrance, which opened when I was there). Performed duties in my new career field of Computer Technician. Having been born and raised in California, the lifestyle I found in the South was quite different and "enlightening" from that I was used to or had ever had the privilege of being part of.
Since the Vietnam War was in full operation, I was sent to Clark AFB, PI, from 1965 to 1967, working in the Headquarters Command Post, having direct communications with Vietnam Air Force base communications centers (sometimes even under attack). Then during my last few months there, I had the privilege of working at the base Air Wing Command Post, headed by none other than Gen. Chuck Yeager! It was there that I was awarded the Expert Marksman Medal for the M-16.
Upon return to the States in 1967, I was assigned to Beale AFB in Northern California, at that time the home of the SR-71 supersonic air reconnaissance "Black Bird." Although I was assigned to the Air Force Communications Service Group, I was also attached to the 9th Air (SR-71) Reconnaissance Wing for temporary duties if they would have to deploy overseas (they didn't at that time). That gave me the opportunity to work with them in observing their pilots prepare for their flights (The SR-71 flight data was classified, but they looked like fully dressed space pilots). The planes would take off in a roar, quickly climbing to reach altitude. Then with a boom of their afterburner, they were gone...disappeared...somewhere in the "wild blue yonder"!
In 1972 I was reassigned to March AFB in Southern California, near the city of Riverside, the home of SAC's 15th AF and one of the major bases for the B-52 bomber. Gen. LeMay, SAC Commander, had us in constant alert status, ready for any necessary response to Russian aggression (Cold War time). I was initially assigned as the supervisor of the Wing Command and Control Computer Center, moving on to become maintenance control superintendent, and finally to be assigned as section supervisor of the 15th AF Command and Control Center, responsible for one of three SAC computers that kept LeMay instantly and constantly informed of all world military air activities, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was an awesome responsibility that I took quite seriously, being rewarded with the Air Force Commendation Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters.
Retired in 1980 with 28 years of honorable service.