We have a new look for the Recce Rag, a big thanks to Ben Oakes for his graphics help with this and the website. Updates on our reunion in July and other news can be found in the monthly update on the website. When we get new information on the reunion, it will be immediately posted on the reunion page and I will send it out by email to our members. Thanks to all of you who are spreading the word about the association, I am getting a lot of comments that people are hearing about it from others.
Life at and After the 548th
By Ben Oakes
My start to the Adventures of the 548th RTG in Hawaii, began in December 1985. Coming from my first base assignment at OFFUTT AFB, NE. I arrived with my newly married wife, June! also in the Air Force, But! Waiting the follow-on orders to Hickam AFB in about 6 months. Arriving at the airport, the first thing I remember was the smell of the island flowers, rain, and ocean, that hits your senses as you walk out of the airport. After checking in at Bellows Beach for a short lived 7 day honeymoon, my wife left back for Nebraska.
Gradation of Leadership School 1988 Dinner.
Reporting at the 548th RTG, I began my first job in the Photo Lab, on Special Projects, working 12 hour shifts, 3 days ON, 3 days OFF, 1800hrs to 0600hrs. I lived in the dorms 1815 for 6 months, WOW! Those hours lead to some crazy times, dorm was hopping, eating 4 times a day at the chow hall, going to the beaches, going downtown to bars, and playing on the football, basketball, and softball teams.
When my wife finally arrived at Hickam, to work at Base Photo Lab, we moved off base, to Pearl City. I began working on Days, Select Print in the Photo Lab, then moved back on base into housing 6 months later. I also started working in the Color Lab section the rest of my time at the 548th.
My wife fit right in, with everyone at the squadron, and became a regular with all the activities, parties, and the Great! THURSDAY NIGHT! Golf at the par-3 course, then finishing at the 10th Puka for drinks, I as awarded the GOONIE Ball!! (I think that was what it was called), for my outstanding (BAD) golf skills. At the end of the 15 week season, a 3-CLUB TOURNAMENT, with Golf, Steak, and BEER! was the finale. I also was awarded a trophy for my stellar (BAD) play. See picture (Below) of the Men’s High Net Trophy, also 1 free 2 hour golf lesson from the course pro.
In Jan 1988, one of my greatest days happened, my daughter Nicole was born, at the Big Pink Hospital on the mountain, Tripler. The next year went fast, and on 12 December 1989, I left Hawaii, with orders back to Offutt AFB, Nebraska, where I started. This time, my second greatest day happened, my son was born, Cody in 1991.
In Sep 1992, after the Desert Storm War, My career field and rank (SSgt) were being downsized and eliminated. I decided to take some money and get out, after just shy of 9 years. I was hired and began my new career at C&GS KODAK, in Rochester, NY. My Air Force background provided me with the photographic skills needed for this new career, also some of my Air Force friends were hired at the same time frame. Our division at KODAK was sold to ITT Industries, in 2004 to Present, now called ITT Geospatial Systems. My job title is Image Science Technician and I’m still in Rochester, New York.
I met and began friendships that still are going strong today, and can’t wait to reconnect with some that I had in the past; the 548th RTG was a big part of my life!
Thanks! The Oakes’
Ben, June (wife), Nicole 21 (daughter), Cody 19 (son).
This Issue’s Significant Event in the History of the 548th, Desert Storm:
Desert Storm was the last war for the 548th RTG. It was also the last war for most of the Vietnam era personnel who served at the 548th and the first of several conflicts for the younger troops. The first Gulf War was a much different war than Vietnam and Korea, with use of smart bombs, stealth fighters and digital imagery of the Persian Gulf area, which was delivered to the 548th in a matter of minutes, rather than the days it took to get the SR-71 and U-2 imagery from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Utaphao Air Base, Thailand.
On August 2nd, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and Operation Desert Shield began on August 7th, 1990 when U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia in response to a request from the Saudi Monarch, King Fahd, who called for U.S. military assistance. This “wholly defensive” doctrine was quickly abandoned, as on August 8th, Iraq declared Kuwait to be the 19th province of Iraq and Saddam Hussein named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid as its military-governor. Over the next six months, air, ground, and naval forces, including personnel deployed from the 548th, poured into the Gulf area and the exploitation and briefing priorities of the 548th shifted more to the Middle East.
The United Nations passed Resolution 678 on November 29th 1990, which gave Iraq until January 15th to withdraw from Kuwait or face military action. On January 12th, 1991, Congress approved the use of force against Iraq. On January 16th, 1991, the day after UN Resolution 678 expired, the coalition launched a massive air campaign against Iraq and Kuwait, which began the general offensive, Operation Desert Storm. The first priority for Coalition forces was to destroy surface-to-air missile sites, Iraq’s Air Force, and Command, Communication and Control Facilities.
At the 548th, a Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) Cell had been formed to provide BDA reports on specific target sets, the Exploitation Division readout high priority targets, while the lab processed the ever increasing imagery.
One Bomb, One Kill
Five hours after the Air Campaign started, Iraq launched the first Scud at Israel and the hunt for Scud missiles was on in the Exploitation Division, several possible sightings of Scuds on the imagery caused quite a bit of excitement.
On February 23rd, 1991, the Coalition launched the ground battle, with U.S., British, and French forces making a “left hook”, “Hail Mary”, advance through eastern Iraq, while the Marines and Coalition forces advanced through Kuwait. The battles were one sided and on 28 February, one hundred hours after the ground campaign started, President Bush declared a cease-fire and he also declared that Kuwait had been liberated.
The final Air Force Outstanding Unit Award presented to the 548th included the period of Operation Desert Storm. Five months later the unit was deactivated, with most of the personnel transferring over the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific.
This Issue’s 548th Success Story, Mr. Nate Copeland:
Nate Copeland, in executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, has 25 years of professional experience in the geospatial intelligence field serving in functional, management, and leadership positions. His duties and responsibilities have included leading assignments in imagery exploitation, imagery science, intelligence training, advanced technology application, workforce development, leadership development, and diversity training.
Before joining Booz Allen in May 1992, Nate served as an Air Force Intelligence Officer in assignments to include serving as an Air Force Departmental Requirements Officer (DRO) at the multi-agency requirements tasking center for national-level imagery collection systems, as Chief, Imagery Division at Headquarters, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) during Operation Desert Storm, as a special analyst to Headquarters Air Force, and as an imagery analyst and exploitation manager at the 548th Reconnaissance Technical Group on Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii, where he was recognized as “Officer of the Year”.
LtCol Boasso presenting 1Lt Nate Copeland, Company Grade Officer of the Year
Nate leads the firm’s Geospatial Intelligence Analytic Services within the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). He developed a partnership with NGA in providing world-class support across 16 client locations. His 120+ person staff supports NGA on multiple contracts and provided support in 5 major lines of business; Multi and Advanced Geospatial Intelligence, Imagery Analysis, Commercial Remote Sensing, Analytic Tradecraft Support, and Strategic Services. Nate was quoted in Money Magazine’s Nov 09 Issue which featured the “Top 50 Best Jobs in America”. Intelligence Analysis ranked 9th on that list.
Nate maintains a passion for the geospatial intelligence business as well as the care and development of all those under his employ. In addition to business leadership, Nate serves as a mentor to staff across the firm and in NGA and is a champion of all aspects of diversity. He was nominated for two Booz Allen Diversity Awards in 2003 (Individual Contributor and Manager), and was Booz Allen’s 2004 Individual Contributor Diversity Award winner. His passion around Diversity has been recognized in the New York Times Magazine and in varying media across the firm.
Nate’s people passion and drive for increasing a leadership connection with both the business and those who execute it was integral in his appointment as a Director in Booz Allen’s People Services Team. In March 2007- Sep 2008, took a temporary “tour of duty” in a corporate assignment where he led a firm-wide campaign on Frontline Leadership to rejuvenate the leadership culture of the firm. His efforts are now melded into the fabric of Booz Allen.
Now back in the intelligence business, Nate leads the firm’s efforts in the ever growing motion imagery/full motion video (FMV) market space, supporting clients across defense and the intelligence community.
Nate, his wife Sherri, and two daughters reside in Manassas, Virginia.
The 548th coin is now on sale at the 548th RTG Association online store, the cost of the coin is $5.00, with the shipping and handling, it comes out to $6.86, stop by the store and order yours today.
548th RTG on Facebook:
If you have not already done so, check out the link to 548th Facebook page and see how much everyone has changed with the years.
Please send your stories of ‘Life At and After The 548th’ (For this issue Ben was the second “volunteered” for his story, you may be next), articles, photos, or other ideas for publication in future Recce Rags.