Many Air Force retirees enjoyed a picnic at Hunt Park in Holbrook, including these who stopped to pose under the reunion banner provided by Kevin Romo and Golden Eagle Distributors.
Lt. Col. John Kingston, Retired, (right) dedicates the plaque commemorating the service of those assigned to the radar site in Holbrook as MSgt. Ray McDonald, Retired, looks on.
The plaque honoring the service of Air Force personnel at the radar site in Holbrook was created and installed by Ray McDonald and Karl Guzzo. It now stands on the Painted Desert Campus of Northland Pioneer College, land which formerly was home to the site.
American flags flew on Navajo Blvd. and West Hopi Drive July 17, greeting the U.S. Air Force retirees in Holbrook that weekend for their reunion. They noted that it was a thrill to know the Air Force personnel stationed in Holbrook over the years were a significant part of the town’s history.
Hundreds of men and women were stationed at the radar bomb scoring (RBS) site in Holbrook over a period of 26 years. Eight acres of land were leased from the city to place equipment and buildings for training purposes. The RBS site aided pilots and crews in preparing for missions assigned to them in wartime (the Vietnam Era).
In 1968, Colonel Powell stated, “The original purpose of the radar site was to train for penetrating bombing missions and electronic countermeasures in the event of a nuclear war.” In 1979 the detachment designation was changed to “strategic training range” for the remainder of its existence.
Approximately 120 spouses and children accompanied their husbands and fathers to Holbrook. School enrollment increased, as did business, church attendance and organization rolls. There were many happy and not so happy times over the next 26 years. The radar site closed in 1993, but several families still remain in Holbrook today.
The reunion began with dinner at El Rancho for a sign-in and greet of old buddies, friends and new acquaintances. The rekindled friendships, war stories and fun times were rehashed, and laughter radiated over the room as all enjoyed a good time.
A dedication speech was given July 18 by Lt. Col. John Kingston, site commander from 1978 to 1984. He thanked Northland Pioneer College for allowing a plaque honoring the Air Force troops who served in Holbrook to be placed on the grounds of the college. Ray McDonald and Karl Guzzo created and installed the plaque. Radar sites helped air crews to accomplish their mission assigned and to return home safely. The importance of the site will never be forgotten. The training provided there helped to keep America free.
A picnic at Hunt Park followed the dedication. Those enjoying the picnic and a relaxing afternoon included John and Kathleen Kingston of Arizona, Ray and Fran McDonald of Arizona, Roy and Mary Kesting, John and Gloria Agerman of Arkansas, Joe Berry of Utah, Bill Bolduc of Arizona, Ron Cutrell of Utah, Bud and Linda Coffman of Washington, Mike and Bea Darbe of Arizona, Herb Davilia of Utah, Ron and Linda Fox of Arizona, David Gates of New Mexico, Karl and Beverly Guzzo of Arizona, Russ and Jovie Holland of Oklahoma, Norma Jacobs of Arizona, Dave and Lynn Jaejnke of New Mexico, Rob Jordan of Texas, Roy and Karlene Mallory, Ray and Tamara Martin of Georgia, Joe and Toni Napper of Arizona, Roy and Mary Phillips of Arizona, Daniel Pope of Ohio, Mike Sealander of California, Donald and Nancy Smith of Nebraska, Bryan Whitten of Arizona, Larry and Linda Wilder of Arizona, and David Wright of Arizona.
The Elks Lodge provided dinner that evening, where a slide presentation featured the site’s 26 years of existence. There were photos of the troops working hard at their jobs, gags and fun during the slow times, floats built for the town’s Christmas parades, a baseball team that won many of its games, troops going TDY and to assignments in Vietnam, and the tons of paint used to make Det. 2 Radar Site look good for the inspectors, as well as wonderful photos of the retirees as dark haired, clean shaven, slim and trim young men.
Some of the retirees took time out to pay Bob and Karen Hildebrand a visit. Due to Bob’s recent surgery, they were unable to attend the reunion.
A final flyover paid honor to the late Jim Jacobs, Bob Arnold and Spike Simmons, all of whom had made their home in Holbrook.
Those attending offered their thanks to the committee for organizing the reunion, and to the businesses and citizens of Holbrook for helping to make it a success.