Recce Rag September 2009

The Recce Rag 548th RTG Association Newsletter
Edition 1, 3rd Quarter 2009
Reunion survey results as of 1 September 2009:

 Reunion locations and number of votes for each site (Numbers in red are members who voted for more than one location on the survey):

    Honolulu Hawaii:  4/2

    Memphis Tennessee:  4/1

    San Antonio Texas:  3/0

    Orlando Florida:  2/1

    Anywhere, no Preference, or no
response:  12/0

Other suggested locations (You may email me if you want to change
your vote to one of these locations):

     D.C. Area:  1/0

     Nashville Tennessee:  0/1

     Central U.S.:  1/0

Date of the reunion:

     May:   6

     July:  8

     Either date,, no preference, or no
response:   15

Other suggested dates:

     4th of July:  1

     3 July:  1

     June or Early July:  1

     November or December 2010:  1

     Early August:  1

     Winter:  1

Number of members who will not attend a reunion if held at:

     Hawaii:  4

     Texas:  1

Name for the Hospitality Room:

     10th Puka:  1

     Recce-roll Hall of Fame:  1

     Recce Pit:  3

     Behind the 548th Green Door:  1

Other suggestions/comments:

–   Hope you can pull this off! We’d be good-to-go for Florida or Oahu venues

–   I cant afford to go to Hawaii, I live in FL. so any where close
would be great

–   I vote for something in the summer so that school is out
and it is easier for people to plan around

–   If we have a reunion, I’ll be there. It would be great to
catch up with the great group of folks!

–   Love to go to Hickam but the money is just not there

–   I visited Bill, Sherry, and Shelly Janssen last week
in Holly Springs, MS (less than an hour from Memphis), and they have
plenty of room to host a reunion.

–   Great idea to have a 548 Association–long time in
coming!  Remember many names and interesting stories. Will be great
to meet old friends again.

–   I plan to visit Hawaii in
late 2009, so it is unlikely I would be able to attend a reunion in Honolulu in 2010.
Other locations are a possibility, but I’m not retired yet and would depend on
other plans I may have in 2010.

–   If San Antonio turns out to be the winner for reunion
location, I’m happy to help out in reunion planning as much as I can since I’m
only 1.5 hrs away!,

–   This has been a great idea – if help is needed, let me

–   San Antonio,
Flexible, but HI would not work for us in this timeframe.

As you can see Hawaii has a
slight edge over Memphis, but there are
also several people who can not travel to Hawaii, we will have to see how the voting
goes the next few months.  Thanks for all the good comments and

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 one month old and we are now at 29 members, hoping to reach 100 by December, please help to get the word out.  After more than a few glitches, the site is up and running smoothly, it has been crawled by the major search engines and is showing up at the top of most search results.  As I get the membership applications, I am entering them in a member database.  There have been a few glitches in the database, like half the people being MSgt for a few days, including Lt Flap (Cecil Brown), but I have that fixed now.  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, when we get enough ID’s, we will add them to the photo, right now, between myself and Garnett Howard, we have a few ID’ed, but not enough to publish, too many dead brain cells I suspect.

This Issue’s Significant Event in the History of the 548th, The Holoholo: 

In December 1978, the 548th Photo Lab processed a number of missions flown by a U-2 aircraft deployed from California to Hickam AFB to support the search for the University of Hawaii Research Ship Holoholo, missing south of the Big Island with 10 People onboard.  The Exploitation Center reviewed this imagery, mile after mile of empty sea and non-descript blobs.  The PI’s (Imagery Interpreters were Photo Interpreters back then, the digital age had not yet arrived) located one vessel, which appeared to be dead-in-the-water, that generally matched the profile of the Holoholo, but back then there were no GPS’s or coordinates on the imagery to give a location, and you could not just move your cursor over the point and the coordinate displayed.  Only the general location of the vessel could be determined, using the planned mission track, intervalometer setting and frame number in the run.  The vessel was never found.

                      Honolulu Star Bulletin Story January 25, 2005   

 Garden honors 3
UH scientists lost at sea
it takes the place of an older
one dedicated to the 1978 loss
of those aboard the Holoholo

By Helen Altonn

A new memorial garden honoring three University of Hawaii scientists lost with the vessel Holoholo in December 1978 was rededicated during a poignant ceremony Friday. Chief Scientist Gary Niemeyer, Michael Allen and Robert Harvey were among 10 people on the ship when it left Snug Harbor on Dec. 9 and failed to rendezvous at Kawaihae Harbor on Dec. 11 to exchange scientists.  Joyce Miller, with the Joint Institute for Marine & Atmospheric Research; Ted Murphy, scientific technician at the Pacific Biomedical Research Center; and Bob Rocheleau, engineer with SEA Engineering Inc., presented emotional remembrances of their friends and colleagues lost at sea.

Niemeyer, 31; Harvey, 39; and Allen, 29, were described as enthusiastic and dedicated to the university, their research and the sea.  Meteorology Department Chairman Tom Schroeder read a letter from Niemeyer’s wife, Susan, who said her husband felt so lucky because he loved his job and was part of a team doing research “to solve real problems.”  UH marine scientists placed three gold trees and a plaque next to the Institute of Geophysics building at UH-Manoa shortly after the tragedy to commemorate the scientists.  But after one tree died and the others weren’t doing well, concerned scientists petitioned the university’s landscape committee for a new memorial design and restored plaque.  Schroeder and oceanography professors Dave Karl and Roger Lukas worked with the committee and building and grounds management staff on the project.

The new memorial, designed by Janet Gilmar and funded by donations, was dedicated by a small group last Dec. 18 on the 25th anniversary of the Holoholo’s disappearance.   

The intriguing mystery of the ill-fated Holoholo, which received wide local, national and international news coverage, was recalled during the ceremony.  In rededication remarks Friday to an overflowing audience in the marine sciences auditorium, Karl said the Holoholo was conducting “very important research for Hawaii and the nation” when it disappeared.   It was chartered to the UH Research Corporation for survey work related to the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion project at Keahole on the Big Island. The Holoholo wasn’t designed as a research vessel but was a diesel-powered pleasure craft, Karl said, noting its name means “Let’s go out and have some fun.”.  Aboard were the owner, John Laney; skipper Michael Trens; one crewmember, John Rusekas; and seven scientists. Besides those from UH were Robert Charnell and Norman Laird from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and James Sandusky and Stephen Shannon from the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.  Karl described serious safety problems with the Holoholo, pointing out it was a flat-bottom vessel –“not the kind of vessel you want to go into an open ocean with.”.  The weather deteriorated after the Holoholo left Honolulu, with gale-force winds and high seas in the Molokai Channel where the vessel was headed, Karl said.  About six days after the Holoholo failed to arrive at Kawaihae, a fisherman found a current meter off the Big Island’s southwestern coast that was to have been deployed at the OTEC site, Karl said.

A high altitude U-2 aircraft reconnaissance flight Dec. 18 showed a hull adrift about 75 miles south-southeast of the OTEC site believed by some to match the Holoholo.

Many issues were raised and controversies triggered during a U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board inquiry.  Rumors flurried that the Holoholo mission was “classified” with secret government involvement, that Harvey may have been the target of a kidnapping plot because he had been on a Russian research vessel, that Russian spy satellites were observing the Holoholo and that a submarine collided with the Holoholo.  The inquiry concluded that high seas and flooding could have caused the Holoholo to sink and that the accident could have been prevented if the university and the vessel’s owner had followed standard safety procedures.

Those who were close to the lost men “are still haunted by the fact that there is still no explanation for this tragedy,” Karl said. He cited this line from a poem written by Harvey’s sister, Ann Day, for a 1979 commemorative service for those lost aboard the Holoholo: “They were adversaries, and the sea won — that’s all.”

The Many Changes at Hickam: 

      Those of you who lived on base at Hickam would probably not recognize it now.  The housing in Ohana Nui has all been torn down and replaced with new housing, mostly the same location of the old houses, but much nicer homes.  Capehart houses were gutted and rebuilt, but look basically the same.  The flightline housing nearest to Base Ops was torn down to the ground and new units were built, the first increment is nearly complete.   The Officer, Senior NCO, and enlisted houses from 1937 are also being renovated, along with the newer Officer quarters.   The old NCO Club and Tiki club closed and a new all ranks club, JR Rockers, was built down the street from the 10th Puka, which is unchanged, except Jay’s BBQ is now an L & L dinner; the Officer’s Club remains relatively unchanged.  After 9/11, Hangar Avenue in front of the 548th was closed off and security barriers were placed around the Headquarters Building.   Traffic now flows in a circle around the flag pole, much improved over the days when we were there.

     For those of us who were there in during the Vietnam War, there have been even more changes; the old wooden “MAC” Terminal, where we greeted our returning POW’s during Operation Home Coming and waited for Space A flights, is now the base gas station, the flight line fronting the terminal was torn up and turned into housing, which is already being replaced.  A new AMC terminal has been built further out on the flight line.  The old main gas station is long gone, and up the street the Commissary, where the lines for gas in 1973 wound passed in the early morning, has been torn down and a new Commissary has been built near the greatly expanded BX.  The theater across from the HQ building is now the PACAF Conference Center and the old wooden barracks area past area 61 is now the Airport interisland ramp.  Hangar Three now houses offices of the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific (JICPAC).

Newsletter Featured 548th Success Story: 


 Chief Master Sergeant Lisa A. Sirois is the Command Chief Master Sergeant, 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. She is the principal enlisted advisor to the Commander, 55th Wing and is responsible for assessing factors influencing the mission readiness, utilization, morale, and quality of life of 5,100 enlisted airmen assigned to the largest and most diverse wing in Air Combat Command, which consist of six groups and 30 squadrons executing worldwide reconnaissance, electronic attack, command and control, presidential support, and treaty verification directed by the President of the United States,  Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, theater commands, major commands and national intelligence agencies. Other responsibilities include coordinating with 90 associate units, including United States Strategic Command, Air Force Weather Agency and more than 57,000 active duty members, civilians, dependents, and retirees on matters of administration and implementation of wing policies. 

Previous to this assignment, she was the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Manas Air Base, Kyrgyz Republic, supporting approximately 1,200 personnel deployed to the base in support of operations in Afghanistan. Her background is in information management, and she has worked in all functional areas of the career field. She has held positions at wing and major command levels and also served in a special duty assignment as a career assistance advisor. Her assignments include bases in Ohio, South Dakota, Hawaii and Massachusetts, and she previously deployed to Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch.   


1980 Administrative Specialist Course, Keesler AFB, Miss.

1985 Pacific Air Forces Noncommissioned Officer Leadership School, Hickam AFB, Hawaii

1989 Pacific Air Forces Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Hickam AFB, Hawaii

1991 Associate degree in information resources management, Community College of the Air Force

1997 Distinguished Graduate, U.S. Air Force Senior NCO Officer Academy, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

2003 Bachelor of Arts degree in human resource development, Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii

2004  Chiefs Leadership Course, Maxwell-Gunter AFB, Ala.

2005 USAF Senior Leadership Course, Center for Creative Leadership, LaJolla, Calif.

2006 USAF Senior Leadership Course, Gettysburg, Penn.


1. December 1980 – Student, Administrative Specialist Technical Training School, Keesler AFB, Miss.

2. January 1981 – July 1985, Administrative Assistant, Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

3. July 1985 – June1989, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Administration, Photographic Processing Lab, 548th Reconnaissance Technical Group, Hickam AFB, Hawaii

4. July 1989 – July 1991, Chief, Information Management, 548th Reconnaissance Technical Group, Hickam AFB, Hawaii

5. August 1991 – July 1993, NCOIC, Publications Distribution Office, 28th Mission Support Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, S.D. (deployed May – September 1992, NCOIC, Executive Support, 4404th Composite Wing (Provisional), Prince Sultan AB, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia)

6. August 1993 – March 1995, Chief, Administrative Communications Branch, 28th Mission Support Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

7. April 1995 – May 1997, Superintendent, Information Management, 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

8. June 1997 – July 1999, Superintendent, Executive Support, Directorate of Logistics, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam AFB, Hawaii

9. August 1999 – August 2000, Superintendent, Information Systems Branch, 28th Communications Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

10. September 2000 – October 2003, Career Assistance Advisor, 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

11. November 2003 – March 2004, Superintendent, 28th Operations Group, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

12. April 2004 – October 2005, Superintendent, 66th Mission Support Group, 66th Air Base Wing, Hanscom AFB, Mass.

13. October 2005 – October 2007, Command Chief Master Sergeant, Electronic Systems Center and 66th Air Base Wing, Hanscom AFB, Mass.

14. November 2007 – October 2008, Command Chief Master Sergeant, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Manas AB, Kyrgyz Republic

15. October 2008 – Present, Command Chief Master Sergeant, 55th Wing, Offutt AFB, Neb. 


Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters

Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters

Bronze Star Medal


1982 Senior Airman Below the Zone

1997 Distinguished Graduate, Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy


Airman March 10, 1981

Airman First Class September 10, 1981

Senior Airman September 10, 1982

Sergeant September 10, 1983

Staff Sergeant March 1, 1984

Technical Sergeant June 1, 1989

Master Sergeant May 1, 1993

Senior Master Sergeant November 1, 1998

Chief Master Sergeant August 1, 2002

(Current as of January 2009)

Newsletter Life At and After The 548th

The Webmaster, SMSgt (ret) Bill Forsyth

A “few” pounds heavier than my days at the 548th.  Investigating the 1966 loss of a F-105D pilot on the Plain of Jars in Northern Laos during a March 2007 Joint Field Activity.  That is a Toledo Mud Hen hat, not Texas, I wear on every mission; one of my cases was an Air America civilian (The 2007 movie ‘Rescue Dawn” was based on this incident) whose brother lives in Toledo and provides the hats to our team.  Our Lao MI-17 is in the background, we also fly smaller Lao Westcoast Helicopter AS-350 Squirrel Helicopters with New Zealand pilots.

         My 17 years plus at the 548th is the record for time with the unit.  During those years, I first worked as a Photo Interpreter in Exploitation, and then moved to the newly formed Special Projects Section, with MSgt Jimmy Rogers. This eventually evolved into the Research and Analysis Division, where I was the Senior Analyst for Korea, a job I really loved.  Those years at the 548th were the best years of my 27 years in the Air Force. 

     When the 548th flag was cased on 3 July 1991, it was also my last day of work as an Imagery Interpreter before retiring on 1 September 1991.  I initially planned on getting a job in the DC area as an Imagery Interpreter, but peace had broken out, and jobs were hard to find, which turned out as a blessing for me.  After working several months as a Child Support Investigator for the State of Hawaii, a job retired CMSgt Ray Scroogins gave me, I was hired in 1992 as the Senior POW/MIA Analyst for Laos and Cambodia at what was then the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting.  It turned into a dream job for me.  Although I was not hired as an I.I., I had a light table and Zoom 240 optics in my office (Hand receipted from JICPAC in 1992) and made multiple trips to DIA to review Vietnam era film, making dupe positives of the good imagery I found and accumulating an extensive film library of my own.  Over the years I found quite a few crash sites on the imagery.

 Giant Scale imagery of an F-4D crash site with two unaccounted-for Americans we had searched unsuccessfully for until we found it on the wartime imagery which was initially processed and exploitated at the 548th.  

     I also was able to go on field missions in both Laos and Cambodia; these were some of the best times of my career, although towards the end, the hills were getting steeper and the jungle thicker, and the flights on the C-17 to SEA longer.  During my 17 years at JTF-FA and JPAC, I attended many veteran reunions, both to brief them on the JPAC mission and to troll for witnesses to my loss incidents; this is now helping in planning for our reunion.  On 31 December 2008, I retired from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, most of my work was finished in both Laos and Cambodia, and I was down to one mission a year and was becoming the Maytag Repairman of JPAC,    My wife, Sue-me, and I are living in Kapolei Hawaii, all of our kids, Linda, Ann, Sue, and Billy, are gone from home and we now have six grandchildren; Ann and Sue live within five miles of us, so we have four of the grandkids close, but not too close.  Luckily, my daughter Ann works for United Airlines, so I can fly for almost free in my retirement.  I still like to hunt and fish and Billy lives in Idaho, which works out great for these activities.  I have also become a Chili Cook, every year for the past five years, I have taken a team of military members from JPAC to the Hawaii State Chili Cook Off, and last June Billy and I cooked in the Idaho State Chili Cook Off, great fun.  I now have a new hobby, this website and our reunion.

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’, articles, photos, or other ideas for publication in future Recce Rags.