Air Force veterans, spouses, and kids will join with folk who helped maintain the Air Force Station from Friday September 20 through Monday Sep 23, 2019.
The reunion will begin with a Commander’s Call on Friday evening September 20 at 5 PM at the Rendezvous Restaurant reminiscent of the Friday afternoon get togethers at the NCO Club where the airmen would meet informally and discuss projects they were working on, who just arrived on site and the folk they knew in common, who was scheduled to depart and what to expect at the new base.
On Saturday September 21 from 10 AM to 4 PM the men are invited to meet at Tillamook Air Museum where the Mt Hebo AFS display is housed and discuss the extreme weather conditions, how to operate the radars, how to maintain the state of the art radars, social life and recreational opportunities. They will discuss how to improve the display and better tell the story of the radar station, how radar works, the extreme wind and snow conditions, the change from looking for bomber aircraft to looking for missiles launched from submarines, the above ground corrugated metal tunnels which connected the above ground corrugated metal buildings, the snow removal equipment, and what life was like on top of Mt Hebo when only the top was above the cloud cover. Saturday September 21 is also Free Museum Day at Tillamook Air Museum.
On Saturday September 21 at 1 PM, the ladies will meet at St Alban’s Church for a Tea. Ladies will share memories of living at Skyview Terrace, the 28 unit housing area on Mt Hebo, the fire department made up of the wives. Some families lived in Tillamook, Pacific City, Netarts, Hebo and surrounding areas. Linda Watson will remember the kids she taught at Hebo Grade School. Brenna Sage will remember being a student in Watson’s second grade classroom.
On Saturday September 21 at 5 PM an informal no host get together will be held at Tillamook Elks Club located on 3rd Street.
On Saturday September 21 at 6 PM a banquet will be held at Tillamook Elks Club and will feature saluting the flag flown at Mt Hebo AFS. A delicious meal of chicken, pork or salmon, plus Tillamook Ice Cream will be served.
On Sunday September 22 starting at noon at the Elks Campground on Hwy 101 South, a picnic featuring brats, hot dogs and hamburgers will be served by Brad Reiff and crew.
On Monday September 23, the group is invited to a no host breakfast at the Fern Restaurant at 8:00 AM. Some will start their drive home from there.
A registration form and money is needed so food for the Saturday banquet and Sunday picnic can be bought and prepared. Ron Watson, 15300 Old Condor Bridge Rd., Cloverdale OR 97112 is the registrar.
Second generation Jim Reiff is our photographer. Second generation Diane (Erickson) Lyda is secretary of the reunion committee.
Mt Hebo Air Force Station was noted for its severe winds and snows. The main radome (bubble protecting the 85.5 ton rotating antenna) was blown off the hill during the October 12, 1962 Columbus Day storm and two other times. The wind speed gauge was blown off at 125 mph and the total wind speed was estimated at 175 mph. The antenna was damaged as well. Each replacement was designed to withstand the extreme winds with state of the art engineering. One time the radome panels were hexagons sandwiched around five inch thick cardboard honeycombs like found in hollow core closet doors. Another time the panels were triangles and trapezoids with every side a different length to eliminate harmonic vibrations which tore apart Galloping Gertie, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. On the final replacement the large model 24 radome was reduced in size to the smaller model 27 radome. Above ground eight foot diameter corrugated galvanized steel tunnels were constructed to protect the airmen walking between the administration building, Bachelor Officer Quarters (rounded corrugated steel building), bowling alley/snack bar, Bachelor Airmen Barracks, Gym, Dining Hall, and the Operations Buildings. The tunnels were anchored to the ground similarly to the way mobile homes are anchored to the ground these days, less the tunnels be blown away as well.
Initially, the radars were used to spot airplanes and F-106s stationed at McCord AFB near Seattle would intercept potentially unfriendly aircraft. During the years Mt Hebo AFS was operational, 1957 to 1979, Russia changed from airplanes carrying atomic bombs and flying horizontally and relatively slowly to ballistic missiles launched vertically very quickly from submarines. Our radar adapted to meet the new threat. After the missile completed its short propulsion burn, it flew ballistically like a baseball after leaving the bat. When our radar pinpointed exactly where the missile was twice, the computer would draw the rest of the parabola and tell us where it would land and when. There were no antiballistic missiles in those days. The radars could only provide warning.
While awaiting the radar’s modification, Ronald Watson was assigned Assistant Boy Scout Master of the Hebo troop and he married the local Beaver, Oregon pastor’s daughter/ public school teacher Linda King. With no wedding reception hall at the church at that time, the whole group including second graders, church people and Air Force personnel and dependents walked together along busy Hwy 101 on Friday evening down to the corner where the Shell station is, and crossed as a group to get to the Beaver Fire Hall where the trucks were rolled out and the reception took place. Traffic was stopped on Hwy 101 by Air Force officers in their white mess dress uniforms with swords held aloft while everyone crossed safely.
Mt Hebo AFS made a lasting mark on Tillamook and Lincoln Counties. Over two hundred monthly paychecks over the years of 1957 to 1979 added to the economy. Local people helped build, maintain, provide food and services to single airmen and military families. Doctors and hospitals cared for the airmen and delivered babies. Airmen married local girls and have come back to the area to live and work. Frank Jordan and Diane Lyda worked at Tillamook County Creamery Association. Vicki Reiff was office manager at Bayocean Medical for 24 years. Former Air Force and dependents are active members of Redeemer Lutheran, St Alban’s Episcopal, Calvary Chapel Lincoln City and other churches. On duty personal attended Beaver Community, Hebo Assembly, Pacific City Presbyterian and other churches. Brad Reiff retired after 40 years of service with Tillamook Fire and Rescue. Jim Reiff works for the Port of Tillamook Bay. Diane Lyda was secretary at Nestucca Valley High School. Linda Watson taught second or third grade at Nestucca Valley Elementary School for 19 years. Vicki Reiff, Linda and Ron Watson sing with Tillamook Community Choir where Vicki is treasurer. Vicki Reiff, Brenna Sage and Linda Watson are Board members of Monday Musical Club of Tillamook. Ron Watson used the GI Bill to attend seminary and then pastored a Lincoln City church for 35 years. Brad and Vicki Reiff attend Tillamook school sports events and watch their grandchildren participate. Brenna Sage is the church organist at St Albans Episcopal and Tillamook United Methodist Churches, has been in TAPA and Black Box productions, substitute teaches at Nestucca Valley High School and is the accompanist for Midway Messiah. Ron Watson was President of Lincoln City Kiwanis and North Lincoln Ministerial Association, facilitates Midway Messiah with performers from Seaside to Newport, and is a docent at Tillamook Air Museum. Skills learned in the Air Force are practiced in Tillamook and Lincoln Counties.
For more information on the upcoming Sep 20-23, 2019 Mt Hebo AFS Reunion, contact Ron Watson at 541 992-3575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.