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GALLERY (click here)
-- this is a slide show of just the big (zoomed) photos. It helps to
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Photographs by Ray Evans, 1962-1963 on Adak,
Ray Evans, ET3
Ground Electronics Division
US Naval Station
Oct 1962 -Nov 1963
My responsibilities were to maintain the mobile radios for the Marine patrol trucks, crash crews and fire crews. I also worked at AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service ). I maintained all the weather gathering equipment for the aerographers. This included the anamometers (wind speed), rain gauges, and transmisometers (visibility indicators) and the cloud height indicators. The low frequency homer to direct aircraft back to Adak was also my reponsibilty. Last but not least was Rawin Sonde or more commonly known as the weather balloon tracking station between Birchwood Barracks and the old hangar. In a couple of pictures of the Adak antennas that I have seen, the Rawin antenna inside a fiberglass dome, has been identified as the "airport" antenna. I worked in that dome countless times. Two balloon launchings and tracking took place every day if the winds were not too high. One balloon was tracked to a world record height of 103,000 feet where it burst.
I recently found this website and read the account of Glenn Rodgers. Glenn, I believe you were my replacement at Ground Electronics. I enjoyed your account and pictures. I have submitted pictures of my own which I hope you and others will enjoy. Please note the pictures of Static. I have many fond memories of that dog. As I recall, he ruled the dog world on Adak. Didn't take fondly to Marines either.
I was on Adak when the Navy was making the transition ftom P2V's to
the new P3 Orions. I enjoyed watching the P2's land in the strong cross
winds. Those winds would turn the planes sideways and those pilots would
somehow turn them back and land. It was amazing to watch ftom the
control tower. Years before I arrived, a Flying Tiger transport was not
so lucky and crashed at the end of the runway. Part of the tail section
can be seen in one of my pictures.
On the way to the low ftequency homer station I had to cross a wooden bridge constructed by the CB's. It was just a short bridge about 50 yards long, as I recall. As I approached the bridge one day it seemed to be moving. I stopped my Ford pickup and watched as the tide swept through that narrow gap that the bridge spanned. The log pilelings looked like they were swaying. I radioed Master Chief Noah and told him I didn't feel the bridge was safe to cross. His response was "cross the damn bridge and do your job." Well, I crossed the damn bridge and as I looked in the rear view mirror the bridge went out to sea. Chief Noah sent a motor launch to get me off the little island that the homer was on. I refused to ever go to the site again. Chief Noah understood.
I believe that the upper barracks was named Brainerd Barracks. About
half way between it and White Alice was a small concrete building we
called the "remote site" It was the heart of the communications back to
the mainland. Static (our dog) and
I went up there early one day to repair an antenna. I was driving the
four wheel drive Dodge Power Wagon with chains (see picture). A sudden snow storm
came up and even though I was only about a mile from the barracks, I
was told to stay put because it was too dangerous to attempt a return
during a storm. Three days later, after the storm had ended, I heard a
noise outside. It was the SnowCat from White Alice sent to take me back
to the barracks. Three days of"K" rations and a sleeping bag on a cold
concrete floor was enough for me. Static was a little out of sorts as
Ground Electronics had a division automobile. I believe it was a 1950 chevy four door that we paint with paint brushes. It had a red roof and fenders and the body was white. It had only second gear and no reverse. The starter didn't work so we parked it on a hill and would let it roll down hill and pop the clutch to start it. We got pretty good at that. Then we would drive up to Brainerd Barracks at the break-neck speed of 25 mph. It did beat riding the bus. The third of July 1963, our beloved car disappeared. The base was to celebrate the 4th of July at the old hanger, which was also the location of Ground Electronics. My duty section was on that day and we watched the festivities from the second floor balcony. There in the middle of the hangar floor was "OUR" car. And there were, it seemed, hundreds of sailors, marines, airmen, coast guardsmen and soldiers taking their turn wacking our beautiful car with sledge hammers. I think the charge was three wacks for a quarter. The old chevy had served us well and now it was serving the whole base by allowing them to vent the pent-up aggression and frustration that we all felt after just a few weeks of wind and rain and boredom of Adak.
Who among you can speak or even think about Adak without remembering the wind and rain? After all, Adak is the Birthplace of the Wind. And what about the rain? AFRTS would come on the air in the morning and report the possibility of 40+ mph winds at 100% and the possibility of rain also at 100%. In my thirteen months on Adak, the weather forecast was also 100% accurate. On at least six occasions I saw the wind speed indicator at the tower show 120 knots. The needle on the indicator was pegged at that maximum reading. Who knows how high the winds really were? During one of these "willi-waw" winds the needle dropped to zero and didn't move even though we could hear the howling winds outside the control tower. When the winds died down to their normal 40 mph, I went out to the anomometer. It looked like the fuselage ofan airplane and had a small propeller. The whole thing was maybe two feet long. As the wind blew, the propeller would spin and turn a small generator within the fuselage. The faster the wind the faster the propeller would spin and the generator would produce more current and that would cause the needle on the gauge to move and indicate the wind speed. This particular wind had demolished the propeller. It was bent around the fuselage. Now that was a high powerful wind.
On rare occasions, and usually only for a few minutes, there was hardly any wind. That was a fun time. Because there was always wind noise everyone would kind of block out the noise after having being on Adak for a few weeks. We would come out of the barracks, round the comer of the barracks and automatically lean at about a 45 degree angle. The wind would hit you and straighten you up and you would then proceed to the hangar while leaning against the wind. The fun came on those calm or low wind times. Everyone would lean as they turned the comer and fall flat on their face. I mean everyone looked like a drunken sailor falling down. No one, no matter what their rank was, avoided this little embarassment.
Serving on Adak turned out to be a Love / Hate affair with me. I hated most of the time there but there was also some fun times. I turned 20 years old just two months after I arrived on Adak. Later, for about five months, I was the Leading Petty Officer of Ground Electronics. I was only an ET3 and had eight seaman working with me. They were just outstanding in their work. Master Chief Noah, who was an Aviation Electronics Technician was the Division Chief. I learned more electronics and leadership skills from him than any school I attended before or since. What an outstanding Chief and person he was and I hope still is. These people and our fun times were the Love part of Adak I was just 10 days short of my 21st birthday when good old Reeves Aleutian Airlines rescued me from that rock, one of happiest days ofmy life. Now, almost 40 years later I would love to return. But, "ONLY" for a visit. I'd like to see the old and the new Adak.
If anyone reads these ramblings of mine and would like to swap old sea stories, please e-mail me at "firstname.lastname@example.org" I would especially like to hear from Ground Electronics personnel from 1962-1963. Unfortunately I only recall Chief Noah , ET2 Butin and ETSN Ortmayer. Sorry guys!
I hope you enjoy my pictures.
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Scanning notes. Scanned by Michael Gordon, 7 August