This Week In AFLCMC History - October 3 - 9, 2022

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
3 Oct 1983 (88 ABW/Wright-Patterson AFB/Hill AFB) 

The 2750th Air Base Wing served as Wright-Patterson AFB’s air base wing from 1949—1992, before being redesignated the 645th Air Base Wing in 1992, then the 88th Air Base Wing in 1994. From 3—7 October 1983, the wing’s 2750th Civil Engineering Squadron participated in Air Force Logistics Command’s (AFLC’s) first command-wide Prime BEEF competition at Hill AFB, Utah—and was awarded first place in the overall competition! Prime BEEF, or “Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force,” teams allow the Air Force to rapidly respond to civil engineering emergencies across the planet by swiftly deploying highly skilled engineers to the areas where they are needed most. 

4 Oct 1924 (Wright-Patterson AFB) 

Today was the final day of the 1924 International Air Races at Wilbur Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. Twelve events made up the Air Races, mostly running from 2—4 October, some of which were open to military fliers. Two of the military pilots involved in the event lost their lives in accidents related to it: 1st Lieu-tenant Alexander Pearson II died while training for the competition, and Captain Burt Skeel died on this day when his R-6 racer crashed during the Pulitzer High Speed Trophy Race (the final race of the three-day exhibition). “Pearson Avenue” and “Skeel Avenue” on Area A of Wright-Patterson AFB are named in memory of these two military aviators. 
5 Oct 1991 (Mobility & Training Aircraft Dir.) 
The first production T-1A Jayhawk training aircraft (TT-03) made its maiden flight. The T-1  today serves as the training aircraft for pilots in Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) who will be flying an airlift/tanker platform after graduation (while the T-38 Talon serves pilots going into a fighter or a bomber). All undergraduate pilots begin learning how to fly in the T-6 Texan II before tracking into one of these two training aircraft (or departing for Fort Rucker, Alabama, to learn to fly helicopters). AFLCMC has also played a key role in the development of the Air Force’s newest trainer, the T-7 Red Hawk, which is intended to replace the T-38. 

6 Oct 1992 (ISR & SOF Directorate) 

The Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS) Acquisition Program Baseline was completed and forwarded to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. ATARS was designed to be used with both Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the Navy and Air Force’s replacements for the retiring RF-4C Phantom II’s ISR mission set, the F/A-18D Hornet and F-16 Fighting Falcon respectively. AT-ARS was meant to capture and transmit low-level imagery intelligence. When the program ran over on costs and time and the design proved too big and heavy for UAVs, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Merrill A. McPeak pulled support in 1993. The U.S. Navy, however, continued with the project, and ATARS did later see use by the Marines on the F-18. 

7 Oct 1970 (Digital Directorate) 

The Electronic Systems Division (ESD) at Hanscom AFB completed work on the AN/TNQ-14 Cloud Height Set, a component of the Weather Observing and Forecasting System (Project 433L). Project 433L was launched in August of 1954, and was an enormous weather forecasting and data collection effort that was eventually expanded into a joint program for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Weather Bureau. The AN/TNQ-14 and other “Cloud Height Set” field instruments (like the one from about a decade later, pictured in the diagram) - which are more broadly called rotating beam ceilometers - help weather personnel with their jobs by measuring key metrics about cloud coverage. They do this by projecting a beam of light at the sky, which is then backscattered by the clouds or other airborne aerosols to a detector where it is then triangulated for the metrics. 

8 Oct 1976 (AFLCMC/WPAFB) 

Secretary of Defense Donald E. Rumsfeld made a brief visit to Aeronautical Systems Division officials and facilities at Wright-Patterson AFB. Rumsfeld, who died in 2021 at the age of 88, was the only person to serve as the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) on two separate occasions: Being, first, the youngest SECDEF in history under President Gerald R. Ford from 1975 (just 43 years old) to 1977, and then the oldest SECDEF in history from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush (departing the position at age 74). 

What Do You Do with Everybody After Ending a War?: 9 October 1945 

On October 9,1945, Tinker Field became a discharge center for military personnel returning home after the end of World War II. 

Established in 1941, Tinker Field (pictured below in 1945) was originally called the “Midwest Air Depot.” It was renamed “Tinker Field” in 1942 in honor of Major General Clarence L. Tinker, who lost his life on a combat mission near Midway Island. At the base, around 18,000 military and civilian workers overhauled engines, helped with logistics support by shipping supplies all around the world, and repaired and modified B-17s, B-24s, B-29s, C-47s, and C-54s during the war. A huge Douglas Aircraft Assembly Plant was established right next to the Field, as well, where an additional 20,000-plus employees worked to produce C-47 Skytrains, C-54 Skymasters, and A-26 Invaders for the war effort. 

After the war, Tinker was retained as a permanent base; but, before that, it would serve as a one of the discharge centers for thousands of service personnel departing from the military after the end of the war to return to their civilian lives. Recognizing the enormity of the task of demobilizing millions of people, the Army had begun thinking about how it would accomplish the task as early as the spring of 1943, when the Allies were starting to gain ground in North Africa. 

Having demobilized too quickly after the end of World War I, and having wound up hurting for help as a result of it, the Army wanted to ensure that this time it had enough people to support the occupation and rebuilding efforts in Germany and Japan. So in order to fairly decide who would stay and who would get to go home, they devised the Adjusted Service Rating Score system, where personnel were rated on their time in service, how much of that time was overseas, participation in major campaigns, the awarding of medals (including Purple Hearts for those wounded in action), and whether or not the soldier had children at home. 

Unfortunately, this resulted in it taking too long for eligible personnel to separate after the war instead, leading to poor morale. The Army Air Forces (AAF) recognized this problem, and sought and received permission to separate its own people—one early step towards breaking away from the Army and establishing the Air Force. To this end they set up 27 AAF separation centers in August 1945, and raised that to 43 total by the end of October, before dropping it down to only 9 locations in Jan 1946. By the end of February 1946, the Army Air Forces had separated 734,715 of its own personnel—after which those who remained would begin to turn their attention towards establishing an independent Air Force.