Recce Rag November 2009

The Recce Rag

548th RTG Association Newsletter
Edition 2, 4th Quarter 2009
1 November 2009

Reunion survey results as of 1 November 2009:

Reunion locations and number of votes for each site

(2=Voted for more than one location):

HawaiiHawaii 2MemphisMemphis 2San AntonioSan Antonio 2
OrlandoOrlando 2Central USOffuttDayton OHDayton 2
D.C. AreaNashville TNCONUSKoreaNo Preference/ AnywhereBlank

Number of members who would not attend a reunion held at these locations:

No HawaiiNo MemphisNo D.C.No TexasNo Alaska

When should the reunion be held:

JulyMayNo PreferenceBlank

Other Dates:

WinterSeptember/  October/Fall

Name of Hospitality Room:

10th PukaRecce PitBehind The 548th Green DoorRecce RendezvousRecce Roll Hall of FameRecce Social ClubHangar Three

Demographics of the 548th Members:

Eastern USCentral USWest/RockiesHawaiiAPO PacificAPO Europe/ Middle-EastNot Provided

By State:

MarylandNew YorkNew HampshireOhioOregonPennsylvaniaTexas
VirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaKoreaGermanyAbu Dhabi UAEAfghanistan

Maryland recently lost one member, Fred Wiles who deployed to Afghanistan.  God be with you Fred.

Comments since last Rag:

– (Ed Nelson)  A bit older, a bit grayer, and a bit heftier. Still working for SAIC testing new and upgraded Army ISR systems (Aerial Common Sensor, Guardrail CS, ARL, ARMS, MARSS, Constant Hawk, Highlighter, and some of their UAVs.) I would have retired this year, except the 401 has turned into a 200.5.  Not too close to your 17+ years, but 11 years and 4 months is not too bad. Enjoyed every minute too! Thanks for pulling this together .
– Great to see this site, Bill I have lots of pics that I will send soon
– Any of these work for me. Hawaii will require at least 6 months heads up for scheduling.
– I’m a civilian in USAFE (Ramstein). It’s a long way for me no matter where it’s held. Can’t guarantee I could attend until weeks before.
– Look forward to seeing the old 548RTG gang along with some of the 67RTS people who moved from Japan.
– Thanks Bill!!!!!
– Having a Web Site and planning a reunion is a GREAT idea!

Anytime anywhere!!!!, Looking forward to it!

Reunion Planning:  Hawaii is presently the leader for the reunion location, which is good news/bad news for me.  The good news is it will make coordinating and hosting the reunion easier for me, the bad news is a lot of people can not afford to travel to Hawaii, so we will have a small turn-out; I was kind of looking forward to Memphis BBQ.  I have incorporated the organization in Hawaii, obtained an EIN number (Even though we don’t have any employee’s), filed for tax-exempt status with the IRS and will open a bank account once it is approved.  After 15 December 2009, we will compile the final votes and select a potential site and date for the reunion.  In January 2010, either myself or someone living in the area, will survey possible hotels/sites for the reunion, dinner, banquet, and golf tournament and select the locations for each.  The dates may change based on getting the best rates at the hotel and room availability.  The reunion will be held on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with the golf, informal dinner, and other activities on Friday, the membership meeting Saturday morning (late morning) and the banquet Saturday night.  Once a site and dates have been selected, we will then determine the costs of the reunion and send out a reservation form for the reunion, asking for a check to cover the banquet, dinner, golf, and costs for the hospitality room.  At the reunion membership meeting, we will elect officers (I only wish to be webmaster!!), adopt bylaws (I will use the 67th RTS Association bylaws as a template for a draft), and vote on dues and our next reunion site.   Any suggestions about how to go about all of this will be gladly accepted!

Website Update:  The 548th RTG website is now four month old and we are now at 57 members, membership has significantly slowed in the last few weeks and I doubt I will reach the goal of 100 by December, please help to get the word out.  Still no members for the Offutt area, maybe they are out shucking corn or something; if you know someone out there, invite them to the website and organization.  I added a ‘What’s New’ Page, so you can check if there is anything new on the site without going through all the pages.  I also added a page for the ‘Tools We Used’ to record the history of how we went about our job; being a PI, I was able to cover that base, but would also like to see some material from the lab (Versamat, Fultron, Beacon, Chem Mix and other equipment) and other sections, so please send me what you can.  If you would like to see other information in the website or find errors, email me.

Pictures:  If anyone has any pictures of our days at the 548th, please send them by email.  Also, if you can identify any of the individuals in the group pictures already posted, send them to the same email address.  Thank you Garnett Howard, Bill Germer, TJ Jackson, Steve Pagel, Brian Soletti, Kevin Kirtley, and Ben Oakes for providing photos (Some “borrowed” from Facebook).

This Issue’s Significant Event in the History of the 548th, The Fall of Saigon:  The fall of Saigon on April 30th, 1975, marked a major turning point in the mission of the 548th RTG.  When Saigon fell, it was the last day for all “air breather” aerial reconnaissance missions in Southeast Asia (with the exception tactical reconnaissance of the Mayaguez incident off the coast of Cambodia, May 12-15, 1975) and turned the focus of the SR-71 and U-2 missions to the Korean DMZ.  With the war over, the unit could now concentrate more resources on reporting and analyzing the other potential threats within the PACOM Theater, primarily North Korea, Soviet Union, and China.

During the last days of Republic of Vietnam, the 548th followed the movement of the North Vietnamese forces begining on 10 March as they first overran the Central Highlands, with endless lines of trucks holding refugees sighted on the roads leading to the coast.  The North Vietnamese then poured down the coast through Hue, Danang, Cam Ranh Bay, Xuan Loc, and finally reached their goal of Saigon.  During the push south, the 548th was the first to detect and report on the forward deployment of SA-2 surface-to-air missile sites which had previously been deployed in North Vietnam and around the old Marine base at Khe Sanh, the missiles were first found around the Northern City of Danang, and in the end near Bien Hoa, just outside of Saigon.

Four position SA-2 site field deployed near Danang, Republic of Vietnam

When the outcome of the war appeared certain, the 548th produced prints of potential landing zones to support the Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, and weeks earlier, Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh. 

On the day the day Saigon fell, a lone Buffalo Hunter Drone flew low over the city and Tan Son Nhut Air Base, giving these photos of the Vietnamese making their final push.

    North Vietnamese forces pour south on the road from Bien Hoa to Saigon.

North Vietnamese tanks and vehicles move down a street just off of Plantation Road

                     Battle at the gate of Tan Son Nhut Air Base

   C-130’s destroyed by probable artillery fire on the flightline of Tan Son Nhut

Newsletter Featured 548th Success Story: 


Brig. Gen. Larry K. Grundhauser is Director of Intelligence, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. As Air Combat Command’s senior intelligence officer, he advocates intelligence policy and weapons system requirements. He also guides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tactics, techniques and procedures applicable to ACC forces worldwide. 

General Grundhauser was commissioned through Officer Training School and began his career as an imagery intelligence officer with the SR-71 and U-2 reconnaissance programs. He has served as a Minuteman ICBM combat crew commander, a policy adviser to the Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and adviser to the Ambassador to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty implementation bodies in Geneva. He has commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels. General Grundhauser commanded U-2 high altitude reconnaissance and Predator unmanned aerial vehicle operations during the war in Kosovo, and he was the Director of Intelligence for Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, enforcing no-fly zones in Iraq. The general has also served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

Prior to his current assignment, General Grundhauser was the Pentagon’s Vice Director for Intelligence on the Joint Staff, providing substantive intelligence to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense.

1979 Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, Rochester Institute of Technology, N.Y.
1983 Distinguished graduate, Imagery Intelligence Officer Course and Precision Photographic Officer Course, Lowry AFB, Colo.
1984 Distinguished graduate, Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1985 Distinguished graduate, Minuteman ICBM Initial Qualification Training, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
1988 Master of Science degree in systems management, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
1993 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1993 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
1995 Defense and Technology Policy, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.
1998 National Defense Fellow, Mershon Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus
2005 Senior Executive Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
2007 U.S.-Russia Security Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
2008 Capstone General and Flag Officer Course, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
2009 Executive Course on National and International Security, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. 

1. June 1982 – April 1983, student, Imagery Intelligence Officer Course and Precision Photographic
Officer Course, Armed Forces Air Intelligence Training Center, Lowry AFB, Colo.
2. May 1983 – June 1985, Chief, Precision Processing Laboratory, 9th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron, Beale AFB, Calif.
3. June 1985 – October 1985, student, Minuteman ICBM Initial Qualification Course, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
4. October 1985 – December 1989, senior instructor missile combat crew commander, 341st Strategic Missile Wing, and missile combat crew commander, 12th Strategic Missile Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont.
5. December 1989 – July 1991, Director, Imagery Exploitation Division, 548th Reconnaissance Technical Group, Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
6. July 1991 – August 1992, Chief, Imagery Control Division, Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
7. August 1992 – July 1993, student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
8. July 1993 – July 1996, arms control policy adviser, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Department of State, Washington, D.C.
9. July 1996 – January 1997, Chief, Collection Systems Branch, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
10. January 1997 – August 1997, Chief, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Integration Team, Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
11. August 1997 – July 1998, National Defense Fellow, International Security and Military Affairs Program, Mershon Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus
12. August 1998 – June 2000, Commander, 13th Intelligence Squadron, Beale AFB, Calif.
13. June 2000 – June 2001, Director of Intelligence, Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
14. July 2001 – July 2002, Chief, National Systems Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
15. July 2002 – May 2003, Commander, 692nd Information Operations Group, Hickam AFB, Hawaii
16. May 2003 – December 2003, Commander, 480th Intelligence Group, Langley AFB, Va.
17. December 2003 – May 2005, Commander, 480th Intelligence Wing, Langley AFB, Va.
18. June 2005 – November 2006, Deputy Chief of Staff, Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, Peterson AFB, Colo.
19. November 2006 – May 2009, Vice Director for Intelligence (J2), Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 
20. June 2009 – present,  Director of Intelligence, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, Va.

Defense Superior Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal
Combat Readiness Medal with oak leaf cluster 

1983 Award for Military Scholarship, National Military Intelligence Association
1983 Outstanding Intelligence Officer of the Year, Strategic Air Command
1987 Missile Crew Member Excellence Award, 15th Air Force
1990 Outstanding Intelligence Officer of the Year, Pacific Air Forces
1990 Outstanding Intelligence Officer of the Year, U.S. Air Force
1993 Top Contributor and Top Researcher, Air Command and Staff College
1993 Top Researcher, Armed Forces Staff College
1996 Meritorious Honor Award, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency 
2008 Alumni Hall of Distinction, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities 

“Sentinels Rising: Commercial High-Resolution Satellite Imagery and Its Implications for U.S. National Security,” Airpower Journal, Winter 1998 

Second Lieutenant June 17, 1982
First Lieutenant June 17, 1984
Captain June 17, 1986
Major May 1, 1993
Lieutenant Colonel Jan. 1, 1997
Colonel April 1, 2001
Brigadier General Nov. 2, 2007

(Current as of September 2009)

The Way it Was:  By 1967, the number of Air Force and Navy recce missions flown daily over North Vietnam and sent on to the 548th for analysis was getting out of hand. They arrived in film cans of various sizes–seven or eight cans per mission–and we were running out of room for them all. Something had to be done.

After stripping hundreds of the older missions from their bulky reels, we tried hauling a truckload of the stuff in burlap bags from Building 206 (The original 548th RTS/RTG building on Keehi Lagoon) to a barren spot off the flightline, dousing it all with JP-4 under the watchful eye of Hickam firefighters, and tossing in a match.


Bad idea. Besides the heat and danger of this procedure, readable pieces of partially burned recce film began hitting the warm updrafts and floating out over the runways! Finally, instead of reducing the film to ashes, we ended up with large clumps of melted, and still highly classified…Gunk! 

Next up, stuffing 100 or so of those oversize burlap bags with mega rolls of spliced film, forklifting them on a flatbed, and loading them on the spacious fantail of a Navy subchaser docked at end of Hangar Avenue. She then steamed several miles out to sea where we tossed the lot overboard. 

Mission accomplished! That became a fairly regular procedure, and made for some very fine days out on the ocean.   (Submitted by Bill Willard, Clearwater, Florida)

Webmaster Note:  History repeats itself.  When the 67th RTS closed in the Spring of 1971, we hauled a duce and half of film we did not have time to put through the silver recovery unit out the base dump next to the runway and de-spooled it.  When we lit off the 30’ x 50’ pile, which was about 10 feet deep, the smoke blew across Yokota’s runway, causing quite a commotion.  The film was still burning the next morning, should have taken the boat.

Newsletter Life At and After the 548th:  Chris Biskup

Chris’s Family (Less the mouse)

Chris Today

Wild Chris in 1986

When Bill asked me to write a short essay on “Life at the 548th” early this month I had to let him know it would be delayed until the end of November due to work, travel, and a crazy family schedule. Bill understood. I knew I could not let him down and also that he would not let me forget! It is Thanksgiving morning, Bill hasn’t had to send me a reminder so I think I am off to a good start. Forgive the punctuation and grammar – I usually write in powerpoint. I arrived in Hawaii in early November of 1985 right out of tech school. My first time away from home, anxious to learn and have as much fun as possible. That Thanksgiving was my first real holiday away from my family back home in New York. Being assigned to the 548th meant there was zero chance of having to eat chow hall turkey and spending the holiday in the dorms. I don’t ever remember having a holiday come or go when the we didn’t get together as a family. It’s funny that what were my fondest memories of Friday nights (and many Saturdays and Wednesdays) in Waikiki  have now been replaced by the holidays, camping, and picnics. Either way, the reason for the fond memories always follows a common thread, the people. Life at the 548th was having a mentor who tried his hardest to teach you all he knew about the job and folks who would never allow a new airman spend a holiday alone. It was a Commander and first-shirt who genuinely cared for their troops. It was a group of individuals who almost always went out of the way to look out for each other. It was 548th 4th of July picnics at Bellows Beach. It was intramural unit sports with bleachers full of friends, golfing at the Puka, Pro-bowls and more. It was working a mission we all took seriously and being part of a unit that we were proud of.  I learned a lot, I made friends who I care about like family and as a group we always knew how to have too much fun.

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 Chris was “volunteered” for his story, you may be next), articles, photos, or other ideas for publication in future Recce Rags.