Halsted

 

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BENJAMIN DONALD HALSTED AND ALBERTINE (Waggi) KRESSIERER

OCS Class 58B, Sixth Squadron, Lima Flight 

OUR LIFE DURING AND AFTER OCS

This document is a summary of our life getting through OCS, graduating as a Second Lieutenant 20 June 1958 and our Air Force Career as an officer, and then working almost twenty years in industry, and then retirement. This story contains the following Sections:

INTRODUCTION

OFFICER CANDIDATE SCHOOL: December 1957 – June 1958

EIELSON AFB/ALASKAN AIR COMMAND: July 1958 – June 1961

OFFUTT AFB, NEBRASKA, HQ SAC: July 1961 – August 1965

THAILAND - SOUTHEAST ASIA: September 1965 – August 1966

WIESBADEN, GERMANY, HQ USAFE: September 1966 – December 1969

BROOKS AFB, TEXAS (AFSC): January 1970 – December 1970

PLANNING RESEARCH CORPORATION: January 1971 – December 1989

RETIREMENT FROM PLANNING RESEARCH CORPORATION: December 1989

 

INTRODUCTION: I was born on 7 January 1931 in Taylor County, Texas as the third child of sharecroppers early in the great depression and the beginning of the dust bowl. I graduated from high school at Claude (Armstrong County), Texas in May 1948. After working that summer and fall cutting wheat and ranching I enlisted in the U. S. Air Force on 10 December 1948. My wife and I married on 3 March 1951 in Munich, Germany and we had two children by 1955. We were offered an "early out" in 1954 as the Korean War ended, but we decided to stay in the Air Force. Since we elected to make a career of the Air Force we decided that I should apply for Officer Candidate School and become a commissioned officer. I had almost ten years service when I entered OCS.

I filed my first application for Officer Candidate School (OCS) on 23 July 1955 but failed the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT). I continued to matriculate at Sacramento State Junior College and I began taking the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) College Level GED Tests which I completed successfully by early 1956. I again applied for OCS in July 1956, passed the AFOQT, but failed my eye test. In the next 90 days I memorized the eye test chart and passed. My application for OCS was finally processed out of Travis AFB on 12 June 1957. Things were getting pretty tight for me because I would turn 27 on 7 January 1958, the age limit for entry into OCS.

OFFICER CANDIDATE SCHOOL: December 1957 – June 1958 - My application for OCS was approved and we received orders to report to Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas on 27 December 1957. In San Antonio we moved into a one-bedroom apartment at Billy Mitchell Village near Kelly AFB, where most of the OCS candidates housed their families the six months we would be in school. I became seriously ill and was running a high fever the two days before classes were to start, but I could not go on sick call because I might be hospitalized and miss my class starting date. I was too near the age limit to wait for the next class. I did report to class on schedule on 27 December 1957.

That night while undergoing indoctrination and hazing by the First Class, I almost passed out and was taken to the hospital. The diagnosis was flu and I was admitted to the hospital where I spent the first week of OCS. When I returned to duty a week later, our Squadron Tactical Officer counseled me that with my delayed start I was rated as the last man in the squadron. I could either wash back to the next class or press on and try to catch up. I decided to press on and worked my butt off trying to catch up and to maintain good grades. I had never learned how to study before, but in OCS I had to learn or flunk out. So I studied and studied. I spent many hours walking the "ramp" on weekends. Walking the ramp was the OCS way to correct errors in military appearance and marching deficiencies. I did not realize when I reported to OCS that I had so many deficiencies – poor shaves, nose and ear hair, poor posture, and wobbling when I walked or marched. OCS fixed all these problems. The main problem caused by "Ramp Time" is that it ate up hours that could have been used to study. Fortunately, however, I did catch up and graduated with OCS Class 58-B on 20 June 1958. I am sure all of us remember the large group of Airmen from the base waiting at the graduation ceremony to collect the dollar that we had to pay for the first salute. I gladly paid the dollar

Living in Billy Mitchell Village for our wives and children turned out to be very traumatic. All of the OCS students were required to live in the barracks. As Second Class we did not even get weekend time off. We got to see our family only at Chapel Service on Sundays. Our families were, in essence, on their own. Not long after moving in, night prowlers started roaming through the apartment complex and at least one rape and several attempted rapes occurred. Our complaints to the San Antonio Police Department did bring expanded police surveillance of the Billy Mitchell Apartment complex. At night our wives would take coffee and cookies to the policemen who were patrolling the area. The prowler and rapist, an Air Force Air Policeman, was apprehended. This did provide some relief for our wives but the anxiety still remained.

Upon graduation I had not received assignment orders so we had to remain at Lackland AFB, and in Billy Mitchell Village. I thought I would work in Finance but the base had other ideas. I was held at Base Headquarters and assigned permanent Officer of the Day (OD) duties, 24 hours on and 24 hours off. This was worse duty than being a student in OCS because the apartment complex was practically empty and I would be gone for 24 hours at a time. But luckily it only lasted about six weeks. Then I received PCS orders assigning me to Eielson AFB, Alaska as a Data Systems and Statistics Officer. I had expected to be assigned as an Assistant Finance Officer and even today have no idea why the Air Force decided to make a Data Processing Officer out of me. However, we were not about to argue about the assignment. We had been in Billy Mitchell Village too long.

EIELSON AFB/ALASKAN AIR COMMAND: July 1958 – June 1961 - The mission of the Alaskan Air Command was to provide Air Defense of the northwest sector of the North American Continent. They had several Air Defense Units flying diverse aircraft stationed at Elmendorf and Ladd Bases, with forward elements (two or three aircraft) operating out of remote locations such as Galena, Nome, and Kotzebue. Their job was to shoot down any Russian bombers that tried to attack targets in North America by flying over Alaskan air space. There was also Army units under the Army Command stationed in Alaska to protect against Russian paratrooper attacks or land invasions such as the Japanese accomplished in the Aleutian Islands in World War II. The 5010th Air Base Wing at Eielson AFB, at Mile 26 out of Fairbanks, had a different mission. First, we supported the Strategic Air Command REFLEX mission by pre-positioning B-47 Bombers and crews to attack Russian targets with nuclear bombs should the order ever be given. Eielson also housed and supported the U-2 reconnaissance flights over Russia that found and photographed Russian military targets such as air bases and missile sites. And Eielson supported the Cold Weather Testing of aircraft being developed and flight-tested by the Air Force Systems Command. Our job in the 5010th Air Base Wing was to provide base level logistical support to these operational missions. My job was to provide base level data processing support (called Data Systems and Statistics) to the base support functions and the operational missions. I reported in to the 5010 Air Base Wing in August 1958.

We served almost three years at Eielson. Waggi finally got her drivers license in Fairbanks, which gave her more freedom and independence. An interesting family activity at Eielson was to drive out to the base garbage dump and watch the bears foraging for food. We would normally stay in the car with the doors locked, but too many people would get out of their cars, which was very dangerous with wild bears. Finally, the base commander made the base garbage dump "Off Limits." We would also have "Bear Alerts" when bears would wander on to the base, by the mess hall, near the elementary school. We built a ski lodge on the base and sledding with our kids was fun. The base fire department would set up skating rinks in the playgrounds and ice-skating was a fun activity. Winters were very long, dark and cold – down to 60 degrees below zero. Keeping a car running in such cold weather was difficult and you always had to be careful to avoid frostbite, especially to the lungs. Summers (some would say that summer came on a nice weekend in July) were warm (up to 90 degrees) and very dusty. Fishing was a very interesting activity and you always had to have a gun because of the threat from bears. In the summer you also had to carry a lot of mosquito repellant.

One of our main recreational activities at Eielson was playing poker with our neighbors in our eight-unit apartment. We usually had from six to eight players as some people would have other plans. In the summer it was day light all night long. In the winter it was dark almost all day long. One of our favorite nighttime activities in the winter was to watch the Auroras Borealis, or Northern Lights, play across the northern sky. I joined the Toastmasters and Waggi joined the Toastmistress Clubs at Eielson; we became bowlers and participated in both regular unit leagues and mixed doubles; and for the first time ever, we had a completely new experience and became active in the Parent Teachers Association. Things went very well in Alaska and, in 1960, we borrowed $1,500 from the Bank of Alaska for Waggi, Gisela and Deborah to fly over the North Pole to Germany. They stayed most of the summer with Waggi’s family at Number 9 Reifenstuel Strasse in Munich, the place where we had met and married. While they were in Germany, I spent two weeks with the Haupts and other Eielson AFB personnel fishing for King Salmon on the Kenai Peninsula just south of Anchorage. My work went well but I did have my first episode of a bleeding peptic ulcer that would eventually cause me to be retired early from the Air Force.

OFFUTT AFB, NEBRASKA, HQ SAC: July 1961 – August 1965

I reported to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska on 23 June 1961. We bought a two bedroom house with a full basement, a single car garage (in the basement) and a fenced back yard for $15,200, located at 801 West 32nd street, fairly close to the Bellevue gate and the flight line of Offutt AFB. We were to live there for over four years until I was shipped out to South East Asia.

The temperature was about 100 degrees with a 90 percent relative humidity when our furniture was delivered. The house was not air-conditioned but heat had never bothered me before. I was working furiously putting things together in the basement when I became incapacitated and unable to breathe. Waggi took me to the base hospital where I was admitted, being felled with an allergy and an asthma attack. I had to take allergy shoots all the time we were at Offutt. What a way to start to work at a new organization.

The mission of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) was to deter war, and should war start, to win. SAC operated such a large command of strategic nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and long rang bombers capable of delivering massive megatons of nuclear bombs that Russia dared not attack the United States. SAC personnel were extremely well trained and indoctrinated that they would deliver if called upon. The 544th Technical Reconnaissance Wing, a part of the Directorate of Intelligence, processed and exploited the intelligence information necessary to support the SAC mission. That is, we interpreted the imagery intelligence (II), the electronic intelligence (ELINT), and other kinds of intelligence such a Human Intelligence (HUMINT) to select the targets and prepare the war plans to bomb these targets with minimum casualties. To do this job we used a lot of powerful computers. Running these computers was the job of the Data Systems Center.

At the Data Systems Center and was assigned as the Minicard Operations Officer. One of the jobs of the Data Systems Center was to maintain the library of intelligence documents that were required to support intelligence analysts in doing their work. Minicard was a microfiche based automated document storage and retrieval system developed by Eastman Kodak to support this library function. There were other Minicard systems, one at the Defense Intelligence Agency and one at the Central Intelligence Agency and we exchanged microfiche with each other as we automated the storage and retrieval of millions of classified intelligence documents. As the Minicard Operations Officer I was responsible for supervising the NCO’s and Airmen who operated the Minicard equipment such as cameras, film processing equipment, microfiche readers/printers, computers and paper tape cutting machines. I enjoyed this work greatly and never felt better about the job I was performing.

I attended Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama from 24 April – 3 August 1962, which was a great learning experience. Within a week of returning to Offutt my ulcer acted up again and I was hospitalized for about two weeks with several blood transfusions. The Cuban Missile Crisis started in October 1962. First, we worked around the clock to retrieve all the data from Minicard and build target lists and a war plan should SAC be tasked to bomb Cuba. Then I was pulled out of Minicard and assigned to a Special Projects Office to pick up U-2 film in Florida, fly it to Offutt for processing, and then ship copies to the national agencies providing intelligence to the President and the National Security staff. Needless to say, the Russians backed down (thank goodness) and we won – but SAC was ready to go with nuclear weapons against Russia or Cuba. As the crisis phased down I went back to Minicard and was promoted to Captain in 1962.

We had a wonderful four years living in Bellevue. Waggi became a Girl Scout Leader and Cookie Chairman for the District. Once a year a large 18 wheeler truck would back up to our one car garage and unload its load of Girl Scout cookies, literally filling the garage and overflowing into the basement. Our job was to sell all these cookies, collect, and account for all the money. I bowled on the DSC bowling team and played catcher for the Base slow pitch softball league. In Squadron Officers School I had become a "jock" and started playing handball and working out at the base gym most ever day. In 1963 I was assigned me the task of helping our IBM contractors design a new Intelligence Data Handling System, called SAC System 70. We took this briefing to the Air Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington, D. C. but were not successful in getting the funding to implement the system. By Congressional direction, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was to develop, test, and evaluate an "on-line" system called DIAOLS (DIA On Line System) as an experiment to see if "on-line systems" could improve the collection, processing, production and dissemination of intelligence data. Though we were turned down in 1963, it should be noted that we did, as contractors, implement SAC System 70 at SAC in the 1970s and 80s.

I had a short assignment as the Data System Center Executive Officer but later took over the Programming Shop for the IBM 7094 and 1401 Computer Systems. About this time we received a large group of new Second Lieutenants right out of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to work in the Data Systems Center. Many of those Second Lieutenants became lifetime friends and made life around the Center very interesting. We had many Center parties, with lots of good guitar playing and singing of current college songs as well as old favorites in houses occupied by these new assignees. We would also have large gatherings at social events and parties at the Officers Club. Most of the time we would go to lunch at the Officers Club and about once a month many of our wives would join us. I remember one of these young wives commenting that she had never realized how enjoyable Air Force life could be. We partied but we mostly did very good work defending our country at Offutt AFB. SAC was one of the major reasons that the Reagan Administration could claim victory in the Cold War. But then the war in Vietnam was another story.

THAILAND - SOUTHEAST ASIA: September 1965 – August 1966 - The Vietnam conflict had its history in President Eisenhower’s futile attempt to bail out the French when the Vietnamese beat them at Dien Bien Phu. The Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, turned more and more to the communist for support, as opposed to the United States. As a part of the "Containment Policy", and in support of the "Domino Theory," the United States, under Eisenhower, started a counter regime in Saigon to halt the spread of Communism. More and more U.S. military advisors were assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to support the South Vietnamese to try to stem the pending victory of the north over the south. President Kennedy expanded our involvement and when he was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson took over and massive numbers of U.S. military were shipped to Vietnam and committed to battle. This massive build up was started in 1965, including very large elements of the Tactical Air Force. I was part of that build-up.

In July 1965 I received orders for a permanent change of station from Offutt AFB to Takhli Air Base in Thailand as a base level Data Processing Officer. SAC protested this reassignment but the political pressure to build up the forces in South East Asia overrode SAC’s protest. Waggi decided to stay in Baird, Texas so we sold our house in Bellevue, packed our house hold goods, drove to Baird, Texas, bought a FHA repossessed house, moved our furniture in, and I left for Travis Air Force Base, California.

When I arrived at Don Muang Air Base, Bangkok, Thailand in early September, I was diverted from Takhli Air Base to the 6236th Combat Support Group at Don Muang, near Bangkok. Thailand Air Base units flew missions against North Vietnam in support of 7th Air Force requirements but were subordinate to 13th Air Force at Clark Air Base, Philippines Islands, for logistical support. The massive problems the 13th Air Force units were having in effectively absorbing the rapid deployment of troops to South East Asia was degrading the combat effectiveness of the command. Tactical Air Command Squadrons were arriving at bases in Thailand (Takhli, Korat, Ubon, Udon, and Nakhon Phanom) with no advance notice and no base facilities (billeting, personnel, finance, supply) to take care of the personnel. The 6236th Combat Support Group had the responsibility to set up support functions at all bases in Thailand. It was mass confusion and mayhem. People were arriving with no personnel or pay records, and some of their families did not even know where they were stationed. I was given the job of trying to straighten out this mess.

I went to the Personnel Officer to get a team of five personnel specialists, and then I got the Finance Officer to give me five finance personnel and $100,000 cash. The base commander gave me top priority on the use of a C-47 airplane and crew. We first flew to Takhli, stopped by the Wing Commanders office and said we are here to help take care of your people. The staff set us up in a hanger and sent the word to all units to report there on a pre-selected schedule for processing. We were mobbed, and I thought we were going to be lynched. I found the most senior operational officer I could (a Lieutenant Colonel F-105 Squadron Commander) and got him to agree that he would call off his mob and let us process the enlisted personnel first. He got his First Sergeant and told him to organize his troops and bring them in incrementally. Our personnel section would do their work and then the person would proceed to the finance guys for processing. No one had pay records because in those days the Air Force policy was that pay records had to be mailed, not hand carried. Most all personnel needed money to send to their families so we would use their ID Card to type their name on a payroll form, get a copy of their orders, and I would pay them in cash. Then I would send a telegram (TWX) to their last organization; to Headquarters 13th Air Force; Headquarters Pacific Air Force in Hawaii; and to the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center in Denver, Colorado. It took us about three days to process the personnel at Takhli. We returned to Don Muang to replenish our supplies and money and then, on a weekly schedule, we went to Korat, Udorn, Ubon, and Nakon Phanom. And we set up satellite personnel offices at each base. After that first big swing to all the bases we would deploy our strike force to a base only when a new squadron arrived. It did not take long before the Air Force changed their policy and had pay records and personnel records hand carried. But it took a long time to straighten out the original mess. I continued this work for six months until the deployment of tactical squadrons slacked off. During that period we also opened up branch offices for Finance and Personnel at each of the Thailand bases.

I did get two breaks while in Thailand. I flew to Headquarters 13th Air Force, Clark Air Base, Philippines to brief and coordinate our base support activities and to take a physical examination for the regular Air Force. I again failed the physical because of my medical history of a peptic ulcer. On another break we took a C-47 from Ubon and flew to Chang Mai in northern Thailand for a "three day pass."

The next effort was to open the Data Systems and Statistics Office at each base. For this effort I was sent on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Thai Air Base at Ubon, a provincial capital. This base was operating in the remote boondocks of Thailand. Senior Master Sergeant Jackson arrived at Ubon about the same time I did. Together we designed and had built a plywood hooch – our data processing building. We had one of the few buildings on the base with air conditioning. The work in Thailand was very challenging and rewarding, and except for the separation from my family, I enjoyed being there.

We did start a fast pitch softball league on base and a bowling league in a Thai Bowling Alley in Ubon. We had a base theater for movies, which served, as the Base Chapel on Sundays. I was able to stay on base for about three weeks before I had to find off base housing – there were just not enough plywood hoochs to accommodate all personnel. New arrivals had priority for on base hooch space. I bought a 50cc motorcycle for transportation and often the flight surgeons and I would ride off base around Ubon and to remote villages where they would examine and treat children while I handed out candy.

I would have completed my tour in September 1966 but was able to leave early when a C-141 Transport came in with a plane load of missiles and was returning to Travis AFB, California the next day with five F-4 engines. I made sure I was on that flight, which got me home about two weeks early. Waggi and I had made reservations in San Francisco for a few days honeymoon upon my return, but this early return messed up these plans. I hitched a ride to the San Francisco airport, got the only available seat (first class at that) on the next American Airlines flight to Dallas, and in Dallas caught the next plane to Abilene. When the plane landed and taxied to the gate I could see Waggi and the children walking out of the terminal onto the tarmac. What a thrill this was. We had been separated about eleven months and fifteen days.

Our stay in Baird was short because I had already received a port call about mid-September for departure from McGuire AFB, New Jersey to Rhine Main Air Base, Frankfurt, Germany.

WIESBADEN, GERMANY, HQ USAFE: September 1966 – December 1969

In Wiesbaden we lived in the American Arms Military Hotel for about six weeks until we were assigned quarters, close to the American run Department of Defense (DOD) Schools, the commissary, and walking distance to the Base Exchange shopping area. We had a great view of the Rhine River from our balcony.

I went to work in the Data Processing Shop of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, where I was given the job of setting up a new staff organization, the Systems Management Division. Running this Division I would be in charge of developing Intelligence Requirements for Data Processing Support along with the appropriate budget to provide that support. I would then process these requirements through Headquarters, United States Forces, European Command (USEUCOM) at Camp DeLogue, Paris, France (later to be moved to Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany); Headquarters, United States Air Force and the Defense Intelligence Agency, both in Washington, D.C. This was staff work at the highest level and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This work also included the production of the Directorate Annex to the Five Year Intelligence Plan; the Automation Data Processing Plan; The Consolidated Intelligence Program; the Contractor Statement of Work; the Directorate Mission and Organizational Operating Instructions, and Manpower Requirements. These System Management Documents set the base line plan and budget for operating the Directorate of Intelligence Data Processing for the next five years. We had a cadre of six IBM Contractors under a general, worldwide Intelligence Data Handling Systems (IDHS) contract. These were exceptionally high quality programmers but they lacked a sense of direction insofar as USAFE requirements. By reworking the Contractor Statement of Work we brought the IBM programmer’s efforts in sync with our needs. We integrated them in with our military staff and the IBM people were much happier with their work.

In December 1966 we received the best news we had ever had in regards to my Air Force Career – I was promoted to Major two years "below the Zone". Along with this "below the zone" promotion was an automatic selection for appointment to the Regular Air Force and nomination to attend the Air Force Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. But again, I failed the physical for regular because of my history of peptic ulcer. This was the fourth time I had been selected for regular and the fourth time I had failed the physical. Here, in less than a year, I had my biggest high and then my lowest low in my Air Force career. But I kept working just as hard as ever.

Because of security requirements, we had to build a new "shielded and secure" Computer Facility by refurbishing an existing building at the 497th Reconnaissance Technical Group Compound located at Schierstein on the Rhine River. I took over duties as Chief of the Computer Operations Division, plus continuing my work as Chief of the Systems Management Division. When the computer facility was completed we then had to physically relocating the IBM 7010 Computer from the fourth floor of Building A-17 at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden to the new computer facility at Scherstein Compound. We also installed the IBM 360-20 AUTODIN System in the facility.

Then we got the worst news ever concerning my Air Force career. Because I had failed the physical examination for regular (which means I was a "reserve" officer), I was given a mandatory retirement date of 31 December 1970. This was a devastating blow to our plans that I would remain in the Air Force for at least 30 years and longer if possible. This also meant that my career progression plan, laid out by the Military Personnel Center with my bosses and me, was completely negated – unless I could get a waiver to stay on active duty. We had only three options: 1) we could complete my tour in September 1970 and then return to the States for retirement processing, probably at McGuire AFB, New Jersey; 2) I could try to find a position as a civil servant in Europe or back in the States and transition to the new status when I retired in December 1970, or sooner; and 3) I could curtail our assignment in Germany, return to the States as soon as possible, and fight this mandatory retirement date. Based on the advice and concurrence of the Air Staff and with the approval of the Military Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, San Antonio, Texas we opted for this third choice. The Military Personnel Center decided that I would be assigned to the School of Aerospace Medicine of the Air Force Systems Command at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas. Their reasoning was that the School of Aerospace Medicine would be the best assignment to get a waiver approved so that I could stay on active duty. Also, being at Brooks AFB, I would be very close to the Military Personnel Center to assist and coordinate this waiver effort. Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case.

In the meantime, in early 1969, I finished the work I had started in late 1966 of identifying and documenting all USAFE Intelligence Requirements for Data Processing work at Wiesbaden. In the documentation we identified the Computer Systems Requirements to satisfy these functional requirements and requested approval for the procurement of an IBM 360-50 Computer System, to be developed as an on-line, interactive computer system with terminals at the Intelligence Analysts work locations. I personally staffed this document through the USAFE and USEUCOM Headquarters. I then hand carried the document back to Washington, D.C. and walked it through the Air Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency. In about two weeks we had all the signatures and approvals completed and the up grade of the USAFE Intelligence Data Handling System was assured. In the summer of 1969 I was selected to attend the Department of Defense Computer Institute course in Washington, D.C. for Specifications for Selection Course in preparation for procuring the IBM 360-50 Computer for Headquarters USAFE.

BROOKS AFB, TEXAS (AFSC): January 1970 – December 1970: In December 1969 we departed Wiesbaden, Germany and traveled to Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas. My assignment was to be the Comptroller for the 6570th Air Base Group. But the Base Commander had other ideas. He needed an officer to take over as Commander of the Headquarter Squadron, a consolidated unit that contained the nearly 1,000 enlisted personnel assigned to Brooks AFB. As an inducement to accept this assignment the Base Commander offered me immediate assignment to Senior Officers Quarters in base housing. That way we did not have to buy or rent a house the year we would be at Brooks AFB. Waggi and I accepted.

Our tour at Brooks AFB was a "Country Club Assignment," but I did work very hard at preparing my appeal of being retired at the end of 1970 and in getting the personnel of the Squadron shaped up. I called the Senior Non-Commissioned Officers together for a Commander’s Beer Call. These senior sergeants were mostly Non- Commissioned Officers in charge of the various mission divisions on the base. I explained that it was their personnel and their Squadron and they were personally responsible to their Division Chiefs (usually full Colonels) and to me as the Commander for the moral, welfare and performance of their troops. If they had a problem with one or several of their personnel, they would bring the problem to the First Sergeant, a Chief Master Sergeant, and to me. We would take whatever action they wanted - from a "chewing out," assignment to additional training, issuance of a formal reprimand, to an Article 15, to a courts martial. We also wanted the "troops" to be publicly commended for good work, which we would do at monthly Commander’s Call. I continued these Senior NCO/ Beer Call meetings monthly. The results were that the NCO’s took charge, assumed their responsibilities and authority and the morale and performance of the troops could be visibly observed.

I prepared my appeal requesting that I be allowed to stay on active duty as a reserve office and had it all coordinated through the Air Staff and Military Personnel Center for processing. Unfortunately, back in Wiesbaden we made one major mistake. The Air Force Systems Command was historically obstinate about the approval of anything that they could not find specific authority for in Air Force Regulations. Although the Military Personnel Center told Systems Command they wanted my "waiver package" we could not get the command to forward the package even with or without their approval. I should have been reassigned to Strategic Air Command or to the Air Staff in Washington – anywhere but Systems Command. My inclination was to keep fighting the system but time was getting short. So I gave up on finding any way to stay in the service and started looking for a job with industry.

In September 1970 I was hired by Planning Research Corporation to start work at SAC Headquarters in Nebraska on 4 January 1971, after my retirement on 31 December 1970. We had a retirement ceremony on 17 December 1970 and then we moved into the Base Guesthouse. That day, as we returned to the Guesthouse about 10:00 PM, I received a call from my sister-in-law that my father had suddenly died from a heart attack in Claude, Texas. After we finalized my Father’s burial and estate we departed for Omaha, Nebraska from Claude, Texas on Christmas day, 25 December 1970.

PLANNING RESEARCH CORPORATION: January 1971 – December 1989 - We bought a house at 712 Donegal Drive in Papillion, Nebraska and our furniture was delivered on 31 December 70. That night we had one of the infamous Nebraska blizzards and were snowed in for three days. But we dug out and on Monday 4 January 1971 I reported to work at the PRC office in Bellevue, Nebraska. That same day I was re-indoctrinated for access to special intelligence and went to work as a Systems Analyst. There were five of us employees assigned as Systems Analysts designing capabilities for the Program Assisted Console Evaluation and Review (PACER) System. PACER was developed by PRC for SAC (as an experiment) under contract to Rome Air Development Center, located at Rome, New York. The experiment had proved successful and PACER had just gone "operational." My first job was to design and develop the "Air Order of Battle" capability. Other analysts were designing other order of battle capabilities. The System was called the "Strategic Estimates System (SES) and was right down my alley as I had specified the same capability for Headquarters USAFE Intelligence in Wiesbaden. As we implemented the Strategic Estimates System I was appointed the Section Leader of a new task to design and develop the SAC Warning Data Estimates System (SACWARDENS). When our Site Manager was transferred to Company Headquarters I was promoted to be the PRC Manager at SAC. Major General Jim Brown, the SAC Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, had me, as a contractor, begin attending the weekly DCS/I Staff Meetings to facilitate the automation of intelligence functions. I freely and willingly gave my advice on what should be done. This may have been the apex of my Air Force career. We stayed at SAC four years and six months until the Company finally convinced us to move to Company Headquarters in McLean, Virginia to become a Department Manager. Also, while at SAC, I attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha under the Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Program for disabled veterans and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974.

In July 1975 we relocated from Papillion, Nebraska to the Company Headquarters at McLean, Virginia. We bought a house in Vienna, Virginia maybe twenty miles from down town Washington, D.C. I ran a department that included the Advanced Imagery Requirements and Exploitation System (AIRES), being developed for the Defense Intelligence Agency under contract with Rome Air Development Center (RADC), and two other projects.

In the fall of 1977 a member of the Air Staff and the Chief of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Division of Rome Air Development Center, Rome, New York, came to my office at PRC. They had an urgent need to support the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), at Hickam AFB, Hawaii in developing and automated operations and intelligence system in Korea under the "Constant Watch" Program. From Hawaii we were to go on to the Air Division at Osan Air Base, Korea to do the data collection and analysis to develop this system for the U.S. Air Force Component in Korea. I gladly accepted the challenge.

In Korea we worked with Lieutenant Colonel Sang Kil Kim, Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) Director of Intelligence for the Korean Air Force Combat Air Command. He was our sponsor, escort officer and interpreter. In about 45 days we covered every Air Base and functional area in Korea and we then took the data back to Headquarters PACAF for analysis and design. I placed a team of contractor personnel in Hawaii to do the work The results of this effort was that PRC was selected to build, implement and sustain the best and most extensive Automated Operations and Intelligence Support Computer System that had ever been developed. We even transferred this system technology to a USAFE function in Germany.

At one time I had to resign from PRC because the boss I worked for was just too mean and malicious to his subordinates. I could not put up with his meanness and derogatory way of treating people, so I had no choice but to resign. I worked in Washington D. C. and Hawaii for Calspan Corporation, in Buffalo, New York, (at a 33% increase in salary) to lead their effort to get into the Department of Defense Command, Control and Intelligence Data Processing Business. Then in May 1979 the President of PRC’s Government Information Systems (GIS) Group talked me into rejoining PRC as a Vice President. There were also some financial inducements. I had no problems with Calspan but I still felt a deep loyalty for PRC.

During the fourteen years we lived in Vienna, Virginia many of Waggi’s family in Germany came to visit us and we toured them through Washington D. C. and Virginia. Also during this time there were several deaths in Waggi’s family that caused us to make emergency trips to Munich. Her stepfather (one of her favorite people in the whole world) died of cancer in 1976; her sister died from brain surgery in 1978 at age 46; her father died in 1983 at age 81; and her mother died in 1986 at age 77. It is difficult to live so far away from your family.

When I returned to PRC in 1978 I had our work in Hawaii and Korea; our work in Europe at SHAPE Headquarters, Mons, Belgium, Allied Forces Central Command at Brunsum, Holland, Tactical Systems Technology Transfer at Spangdalham Air Base, Germany, Communications System Processor (CSP) support at Headquarters USAFE, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the USAREUR CCIS Project at Headquarters USAREUR, Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg, Germany, and the Headquarters, USEUCOM WWMCCS and EUCOM AIDES projects at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany; our work at the Air Force Security Command, Kelly AFB, San Antonio, Texas; our work at the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) soon to become the Central Command, MacDill AFB, Florida; work at The Atlantic Command ( a NATO Command), Norfolk, Virginia; Scientific and Technical Intelligence work at the Foreign Technology Division, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio and at the Army Scientific and Technical Facility, Charlottesville, Virginia; the work at the Naval Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the JINTACCS work at the Air Force Electronics Systems Division, Hanscom AFB, Bedford, Massachusetts, and the Army Communications work at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. I had three Departments set up to do this work – The Pacific Systems Department, the Tactical Systems Department, and the European Systems Department.

One of our great joys in the job I now had were the frequent trips that Waggi and I got to take to Europe. Either before or after the business part of a trip we would stop in Munich and visit with Waggi’s family. One of my main activities on these stopovers was to go mountain hiking in the lower Alps in Bavaria and Austria with Waggi’s brother-in-law. We would even hike from Germany into Austria and return.

My main function as the Division Vice President was to insure the generation of the budgeted revenue, profit and overhead; superior technical and management performance of contracts; and company growth by capturing follow on contracts and new business. I did this job by building business plans and then conducting frequent staff visits to Departments, projects and client managers to evaluate how we were doing and to find and solve problems. For example, about every three or four months I would start at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, then on to Headquarters, SHAPE at Mons, Belgium, and then cover the several projects, ending at USEUCOM at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. I would also visit the projects in Hawaii on about the same schedule and the projects in the States on about a six-month schedule. I would also bring all the Department Managers together in McLean for a thorough Division Review about every six months. Starting about 1983 Waggi would join me on many of these trips (at company expense) and she was a great help. It was especially beneficial when she would meet with the wives of our employees at these "remote" places and discuss things from a woman’s perspective. Also, back about 1976, we started a business relation with a Washington, D. C. Tax Lawyer and Real Estate Agent that proved very successful. We still maintain that relationship today.

RETIREMENT FROM PLANNING RESEARCH CORPORATION: December 1989 -

In September of 1988 I had my first Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), which is a "small" stroke. It took me three days to recover my senses. These strokes cause dementia (similar to Alzheimer’s Disease). I had two other TIAs in rapid succession. The medical prognosis was that there was no cure and I would continue to be afflicted by this condition. This prognosis has proven to be correct and my mental condition has continued to deteriorate. Waggi and I discussed just what we should do. I was not ready to retire, but really did not want to continue working in this demented mental state. Over a period of several months we reviewed our financial condition and considered our options. We had a good profitable business of buying and selling town houses in Virginia. I had built up a very good PRC Pension Fund, a solid Employee Savings and Stock Ownership Plan account (ESSOP) and an ever growing Independent Retirement Account (IRA). We owned many shares of PRC stock and had accrued many more shares from stock options and bonuses, and I had my lifetime Air Force retirement pay. The sale of PRC to Emhart at $20.00 per share and then the sale of Emhart to Black and Decker at $40.00 a share significantly improved our financial condition to where it appeared that we could retire comfortably. And we both had Social Security entitlements that would start paying off as early as 1993. The problem then became one of if we should retire, where should we retire.

We considered Germany, but it was too expensive, too crowded, and too cold in the winter, and neither of us really wanted to leave the United States. We loved living in Virginia, so Vienna or other Virginia locations were distinct possibilities. Probably ninety percent of our good friends lived there (that was before we re-discovered our OCS classmates). But Virginia taxes were excessive, cost of living was too expensive and the area was too crowded. Fourteen years living in the vicinity of Washington, D. C. was enough. Florida was a possibility, but it was too hot, too humid, and filled with too many tourists and snowbirds. Arizona was a possible good choice. Of course, there was Texas – especially, San Antonio or Austin. In December 1988 we visited Texas and after Christmas we drove to Abilene, looking at the housing market. Texas was in the throes of a big "Oil Bust" and the price of houses was very depressed. Many had been repossessed and were sitting empty. Dyess AFB, with a Wing of B-1 Bombers, a squadron of KC 135 Tankers, and a Wing of C-130 Transports, looked very solid and fairly safe from base closures. Bergstrom AFB at Austin, on the other hand, did not look too solid from a base closure standpoint. San Antonio, as always, looked very good to us, but like Washington, D.C. it was just too big and crowded. It was also too hot and humid in the summer. What really tipped the scale to Abilene was that we found a house for sale that Waggi just loved. It was a 3,800 square foot, five bedrooms, three car garage, and brick house on a large triangular lot that would provide the privacy that Waggi liked.

We made a cash offer for the house which was immediately accepted. Waggi returned to Abilene near the first of June 1989 and took possession of the house. She stayed for two weeks and had the house thoroughly cleaned, painted inside and out and renovated as needed. She returned to Virginia just in time to ship our furniture to Texas and clean the house in Tamarack.

We sold or house in May 1989 about the same time we took possession of a town house we had bought as an investment. We decided to keep the town house as rental property. In June 1989 we moved our furniture to Abilene, loaded both cars to the maximum and drove to Texas as a caravan, Waggi driving one car and me the other. We had CB radios so we could stay in contact. I could only stay in Abilene about ten days and returned to Virginia over the Fourth of July holiday. Our Grandson came to live with "Grossmama" for a while to help as Waggi settled in and got the house in order. In Virginia I rented some furniture and moved into our new town house. Waggi flew back to Virginia for a few weeks and than back to Texas. The end of August 1989 I was through with my work and renters were signed up for the town house. I arrived in Abilene there on Labor Day, 1989. I had not really retired or terminated from PRC just yet because I had enough accrued vacation to carry me on full salary for some time. After I did retire near the end of 1989 I received almost my full annual bonus from PRC. I thought that was especially considerate of my ex bosses. PRC also gave me a consulting agreement to return to McLean to help whenever they should call.

My first six weeks were spent on my hands and knees in the year digging weeds and getting grass to grow. The prior owners had let the yard deteriorate over the past three years. I also put up shelves and other odd jobs that Waggi needed to have done. Then I seriously began to learn to play golf at Dyess AFB. I joined in with the "early bird" golfers who liked to start very early in the morning. We would play golf Monday through Friday all year long, even when it got down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Golf became my retirement passion and at my peak in1996 I finally shot a 77 as my best ever score. For several years I carried a fifteen handicap. Unfortunately, things went down hill for us in the summer of 1996 when I had two fairly severe TIAs. Sorry to say, this large group of about thirty "early bird" golfers has dwindled down to only three other AF retirees and me. We play about once a week.

Waggi became very active in the Officers Wives Club Bowling League and carried a very good average for a long time. She was the only "retired officer’s" wife bowling in the league and was really admired and respected by the younger wives. Later she developed an agonizing case of fibromyalgia, which causes debilitating pain and fatigue in the muscles, and she finally had to quit bowling. Waggi also became active in the Garden Gate Garden Club, which is more a social club than a garden activity. They do study plants and travel to many nice places in Texas like Dallas, Granbury and Fredericksburg. Waggi had started learning oil painting in Virginia and in Texas oil painting became her main avocation. She attends painting classes every Tuesday with a real fun group and she produces her best oil paintings ever.

Both Waggi and I got deeply involved in reconstituting our local homeowners association in our Fairway Oaks Subdivision. During the oil bust so many homeowners went under that the homeowners association became inactive. Not long after we moved in one of our neighbors and a few others of us initiated action to reactivate the association – a function so necessary in any such community. We had had several house burglaries and we also wanted to start up a Neighborhood Watch program. Waggi and I became the principal helpers and workers. We worked many long hours building a Neighborhood Directory and establishing a Neighborhood Watch Program with Block Captains with surveillance and reporting procedures. In a couple of years the Abilene Police Department reported that Fairway Oaks had the best Neighborhood Watch Program in Abilene. And the Homeowners Association is back active and leading in community affairs.

One activity we started when we arrived in Abilene was traveling the state especially during the annual spring wildflower season that occurs during April and May. We would hit the road and just roam through the hill country and other areas of Texas, including places I had lived as a kid. These have been very nostalgic travels. Sometimes Waggi and I would often just take off on our own, visiting places like Big Bend Park on the Rio Grande, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Padre and South Padre Islands. We toured the Texas/Mexico border from Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, Eagle Pass, Del Rio and Langtry, where Judge Roy Bean held court as the "law west of the Pecos" River. We took a weeklong trip to tour and explore East Texas, which we extended, into a trip to Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana. We also started visiting with my old high school buddies in Texas. We spent a week on a resort at Lake Travis and covered that part of the hill country like a glove. We also visited Halsted, Texas, a disappearing small Texas community near LaGrange in Fayette County. This was real Texas historical country. On our anniversary one year, we took our daughter and grandson to the Texas Independence Day celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Park, the first capital of Texas. We then went on to Brooks AFB and San Antonio. Of course, we went to Fredericksburg many times and also climbed Enchanted Rock, the largest piece of granite ever found and a strenuous climb with a great view. Naturally, we toured Galveston, Houston, the NASA Space Center, the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto Battlefield where Sam Houston won Texas independence by beating Santa Anna, the President of Mexico. In Amarillo we visited the Palo Dura Canyon and my parent’s graves in Claude; and took a day trip out to Alibates National Monument, on to Adobe Walls, where buffalo hunters had beaten a large army of Comanche, Kiowa and Cheyenne Indians in the summer of 1874. We swung back by the Bivins 7X Ranch at Channing, Texas where my brother and I had been cowboys when we joined the Air Force in 1948. We attended my Claude High School Seniors 48 reunion in 1988, 1993 and again 1998. It was great to see the large percentage of classmates that attended. We had a senior class of twelve.

We went back to Virginia several times to take care of our rental business and to visit old friends. In 1990 we took a long trip to California to visit some cousins that I had not seen since the early 1940’s. On the way we stopped in Tucson, Arizona and renewed our friendship with fellow Air Force retirees. From Los Angeles we went through Sequoia National Park and then met family members at Brownsville and Rackerby on the western edge of the Tahoe National Forrest. Then we spent a week at a resort on Lake Tahoe. On our return trip, we drove through the Nevada desert to Las Vegas and then on to Albuquerque, New Mexico where we visited with Air Force friends from our tour Alaska. In May of 1994, while Waggi’s cousin was visiting with us in Abilene, we took another long trip to Sand Point, Idaho (and Canada) though Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Yellow Stone National Park, Utah, New Mexico and back to Abilene. On this trip we visited with other Air Force friends from Alaska days. Then in 1995 we took a trip through Chicago (visited Halstead Street) to Wisconsin where we visited with a friend from Travis AFB, California. And then met other Air Force friends at Green Bay for a weeks stay in a nice golfing resort on Lake Michigan. Then Waggi and I drove on around the Great Lakes and came back through Dayton, Ohio to visit our son. We have also taken several trips back to Europe, especially Germany and Austria. One year we visited London for a week with our daughter and her husband. Another year they traveled to Germany and Austria with us. Later, we took a bus tour through New England with our good friends from Abilene. In August 1998 we took our grandson in August 1998 to Germany, Austria and Northern Italy. Of coarse, we attended the OCS 58B meeting in Kerrville in October 1998 and then the 41st Reunion in San Antonio in April/May 1999. In August 1999 we took our first cruise from London through the Baltic Sea to see the capitols of Scandinavia, Berlin, Germany and St. Petersburg, Russia. Waggi and our two daughters, Gisela, Deborah, and a friend, all took a seven-day trip to Paris and Biarritz, on the coast of France in May 1999.

My main work now is genealogy, which I started back about 1970. I have researched my mother’s Ohlhausen family back to the 1400s in Germany, their immigration to the United States in 1817 and their trek westward to Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and then to Mason County, Texas in 1874. I have published one book, "The Ohlhausens of Mason County, Texas" in the fall of 1996. This book is still in draft form because of the "fire of March 1997." I am now researching and about to publish a book on my Halsted family. I did lose a lot of my genealogy research data when our house burned down on 7 March 1997. The house burned to the ground and we lost practically everything, but we were able to rebuild and now have a larger and more comfortable house than we started with. We just don’t have as many family pictures or mementos from our travels around the world and we also lost about thirty of Waggi’s oil paintings. Luckily, however, she is rapidly replacing the lost paintings with new and better productions.

Retirement has been great. If it was any better we could not stand it. The only problem I have found with retirement is that you get no days off, no weekends, no holidays, no sick time, and no vacation. Retirement is twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It is a full time job. My principal endeavors are conducting genealogical research on the Halsted and Ohlhausen families, participating in the activities of The Retired Officers Association (TROA) and the Fairway Oaks Homeowners Association. Waggi’s avocation is socializing with her many friends in and around Abilene, participating in the activities of the Garden Gate Garden Club, and oil painting. Together we both love to travel, visit old friends, see new places and make new friends.

We do hope that you have enjoyed our family story and we are looking forward to the next OCS Class 58 B reunion in 2003.

Current address: 20 Muirfield, Abilene, Texas. 79606-5120. Tel: (915) 695-7722. E-Mail address: benwaggi@aol.com

 

 


Subject: Billy Mitchell Village

Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 14:57:28 EST

From: Benwaggi@aol.com

Here is a story about Billy Mitchell Village and the trauma that our wives went through, especially when we were second class.

NAME: Halsted, Benjamin Donald and Spouse: Albertine Kressierer

Date/Place of Birth: 7 January 1931 at Guion (Taylor County) Texas

Spouse: 25 May 1935, Munich, Germany

Enlisted USAF 10 December 1948; Commissioned 2nd Lt., OCS, 20 June 58

Career in USAF: Accounting & Finance; Data Processing Officer

Input for OCS Class 58B Web Page:

One of our main memories of OCS 58-B was the incident in Billy Mitchell Village where most of our wives and children were living. There were several incidents of prowlers among the apartment buildings, and we and our spouses complained to the San Antonio Police and Lackland Air Force Base authorities. One woman was raped and there were at least two other incidents of attempted rape. Our wives were living in terror and we Officer Candidates were confined to the base and could not protect our families. When we were home for a few hours on weekends a few of us would act like we returned to the base but would then hide out in the bushes around Billy Mitchell Village, just hoping to catch a prowler. The situation became so bad that the San Antonio Police finally stationed a patrol car at the village during the night. The wives protected themselves by banding together and setting watches and patrols among the apartment houses. On night, we were told to call our wives and have them remove the OCS decals from our automobile windshields. Naturally, this caused a stir at the various apartment houses and wives rushed out to comply. Suddenly, a spotlight came on and a car started shining headlights into these wives dashing out of their apartments. It was the San Antonio Police patrol car and two officers that were standing watch. It about scared our wives to death. Eventually, the prowler was caught and arrested. He was an Air Policeman at Kelly Air Force Base who lived in Billy Mitchell Village with his wife and children. We never did learn what happened to him.

We moved into Billy Mitchell Village a few days before I was to report to OCS on 29 December 1957, and we did have a chance to meet a few other fellow NCO's moving into adjacent apartments. My wife could not drive at that time so we made arrangements for other wives to provide my wife transportation and I would provide transportation for the other OC's to and from Lackland AFB, whenever we got time off. Usually I would have five other OC's riding with me to and from Billy Mitchell Village - John Hays, Don Bjornson, Vern Roddahl, Jim Marx and one I do not remember. We also used my car for on base transportation.

Ben Halsted, Lima Flight, 6th Sq.