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=> Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic AAFB, <=
=> ETR Tracking Station #8 <=

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    This page was updated: 05 DECEMBER 2011
    Look for the RED highlights for recent additions.

    This is a working page for information about the ETR Range Tracking Station #8, Dominican Republic AAFB (DOM REP AUXILIARY AIR FORCE BASE), and I will be adding info received as time permits. You as a former Radio Corporation of America (RCA) or Pan American Airways (PAA) down range employee (rangerats) can share information with me. If you have info. about your time at the Dom AAFB (Sabana de la Mar) please send it to me. (Other employeees who worked at this ETR base are also welcome to submit information).

    Click on the yellow box below to go back to the main page of the Range Rat Introduction page where you will find information about downrange people, where they worked, where they are now, their email address (if they wanted it published), what stations/ships they worked on, and news about those who have died etc etc.

    I now have a Range Rat Sign-in book, to be used exclusively by Range Rats (and their famlies) that you can leave a comment of your experience on the range, where you worked, etc, etc. (See the other entrys in this book for examples, if you leave a comment or message not relating to the range the entry will eventually be deleted, for instance a "Howdy" does not qualify as an entry!). You can give your email address (its not required but its requested) so that other range rats can contact you.

    Please do NOT use my "GUEST BOOK" to sign in, that book is for collectors who visit my website, and that is why I made a seperate book for use by Range Rats, called the Range Rat Sign In Book.

    Perhaps you are looking for someone who you used to work with that you lost contact with, you could include it in your message in the sign-in book, or better yet send me an email and I can include it on this page.

    Range Rat Sign-in Book

    If you worked on the Dominican AAF Base, I would like to hear from you.
    Send Email to Joe

    • Since I started these range rat pages in 2005, I have only heard from only 4 other RRs who actually worked at this small tracking station, (where I also worked).
    • John "Red" Durham signed the RR sign-in book 16 Sept 2011, and wrote this:
        "I arrived Grand Bahama for my first RangeRat assignment in Aug 1954 and worked in Jim Falkensteins office for sixteen months then left for the Dominican Republic Jan 6,1956. I worked in both Bernie Ryans office and the comm center there. Other assignments included Mayaguez, Ascension, Grand Turk, Antigua. I had gotten married to Estela and bought a farm in the Dominican Republic, so at the ripe old age of 41 I decided to retire there. After 9 years of sweat, 70 lbs lighter, and two very mean spirited hurricanes I decided to change my profession again. In 1980 I began working for the U.S. State Dept. with assignments in Nato Headquarters, Uruguay, Belize, Nicaragua and The Dominican Republic where I retired July 31, 1993. My wife Estela died in an automobile accident 13 days later. Since then I have gotten remarried to a beautiful lady from Costa Rica. I would certainly like to hear from all my old range rat buddies."


      Christmas Eve is celebrated in many ways all over the world, this being a first for me, as it was the first time i had been away from home for Christmas, so I tried to observe fully how it was in the Dominican Republic.

      Since I arrived on the island on December 5th 1956 to work at the missile tracking station near the north coast of the island I knew I would be spending my Christmas downrange at the station. Most of the fellow workers who were already stationed there had made plans to be elsewhere for the holidays.

      Our station or base, as most of us liked to call it, was located just a mile south of the small village of Sabana de la Mar. The village was on the edge of the southern shore of the Bay of Samana, and naturally most of the towns people spoke spanish on this part of the island of Hispaniola, discovered by Christopher Columbus.

      The handful of fellow workers who were left behind at the base, held a meeting on Christmas eve afternoon to decide whether to have a party at the base that evening or go into town. Because of the short notice in deciding on a party and thinking that not many local girls would attend we decided to go into town after we had supper at our mess hall.

      The results of the meeting was that we would go to to the main local drinking establishment, which was called "Fremy's Bar ", a local saloon on the village waterfront, where most fellow workers hung out when off duty. It was a wonderful place to sit out on the veranda and take in the scenery of the town, the harbor, the mountains across the bay all the while enjoying a few bottles of "El Presidente" beer, the only beer served there or sipping on a daiquiri, a rum-mantic drink soaked in crushed ice and lime juice. Fremy's Bar was a fun place for a weekend party and now it would be the location of our gala Christmas eve fiesta.

      A gang of us base workers left the base before dark and was driven down to Fremy's. It included Terry, Red, Queegle, Nuner, Brown, Suchuck and myself (some of these are first names and some are last names, as taken from my preserved notes). The evening was cool and it had started to drizzle by the time we arrived at the village bar. The security guard who had driven us into town went to see a few of the local senorita's to tell them of our plans before going back to the base. Word got around quickly in the village about our party plans. Due to the drizzling rain, and instead of sitting on the bar's veranda we moved the tables and chairs that were normally outside to the inside and arranged them along the wall so that the center of the building could still be used as a dance floor. The help at Fremy's brought us bottles of rum, soda, coke a cola, and pitchers of ice that we had ordered and the party had begun. Randy brought his girl and Hector came with his girlfriend, both of them base workers, but they sat at a seperate table across the dance floor. These two usually prefer to party by themselves.

      It had begun to rain quite heavily and I was afraid that the party would be a dud if it kept up that way. But from the few weeks I had been on the island of Hispaniola I learned that rainstorms don't last long here. The rain soon subsided to let the villagers come to the bar. They surely heard Framey's juke box with "hi-fi" loud speakers blaring out the merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic. The juke box had a few records of American songs too, mainly for the Americano's.

      Soon the bar was packed with the holiday crowd of men, women, children and dogs were mingling everywhere and new friendships were made. We still kept our tables and chairs inside the building even though the rain had stopped. It wasn't long before the young ladies that we had particularly invited, came in and joined us, including one that I had met a few weeks earlier and had my eye on. She and I drank and danced that evening, with not much talking as I could speak no spanish and she could only speak a few words of english. But somehow we managed to communicate through an interpreter, who I later found out was a chaperone to the group of girls, as most of them were related somehow. As the evening wore on I know I wanted to dance more and more which I have to attribute to the rum that I was drinking. Not being much of a dancer, and less of a merengue dancer, I somehow managed all right with the help of my lady friend.

      As the night progressed I was having such a wonderful time that I forgot the real meaning of why and what we were celebrating that nite. Around 11:30 the young lady I was with said she was going to the midnite mass service and that I was invited to go along with her. I was a little doubtful about this as I really thought it was a good excuse to get outside and do a little smootching. How wrong I was. All the young ladies at our two tables left the party together with most of us base workers following, they walked us to the Catholic church just down the street. They left us standing there while they all went home to get their head scarfs and then we all went into the well lit up and packed church that was decorated with the Christmas nativity scene. This brought me back to what Christmas was all about. We were really celebrating the birth of the Christ Child, whether it was here in this little village in the Dominican Republic, in Bethlehem, in Spain, or back home it was all the same the world over.

      After mass we walked the girls home one by one, and promised to meet them soon. We waited in the town square for the next security run of the base truck that would bring us back to the base compound. I finally did manage to get a Christmas kiss that nite, and remember it to this day.

    • In March 2008 I was corresponding with range rat Dick Kennedy who had told me that he had some pictures he took in 1978 of the old tracking station in the Dominican Republic. He related to me that during the late 70's he vacationed in the DR often to take a break from Ascension. He always had a great time there and drove all over the country. He brought back a map, (see pictures), and showed it to Tom Armstrong who drew the subcable route and repeaters on it. Tom said he liked working there in the 50's. On Dick's next trip back to DR in 1978 he drove out to the old base and saw that the locals had turned the base into a hospital. Being impressed by the way they kept everything in working order, he introduced himself and they gave him a tour of the place. The power house was still working and they had added a carport to the main building.

    • USAF Dominican Republic Base now a hospital.
    • To see the photographs that Dick sent me, they can be viewed by clicking here. One photo is of 4 pictures leading up to the base, and two are of the map he used to get to the base.

    • In Feb 2008 I received an email (in Spanish) from Vinicio Lembert, a Dominican Republic citizen who was an early worker at the Sabana de la Mar weather station, and who worked with Jerry O'Donnell there. Deloris Berry was kind enought to translate his email for me. Here is what he wrote in part:

      "Meteorologist is my first profession and I went to Puerto Rico in January 1956, where I completed a course on Radiosond, and meteorological observations, then I came to the base of Sabana de la Mar in June 1956 where Jerry O'Donnell was the head of the weather station. Every 3 hours data were send by teletype via submarine cable to the U.S. Weather Bureau.
      We closed the weather station operations and moved to Santo Domingo (the capitol city) on August 4, 1962. I have many memories and great friends from the weather station and base at Sabana de la Mar, and I hope that with this story I can be classed as a Range Rat."
    • Normally a Range Rat is someone who comes from somewhere else to work on the range (usually from the USA, but I have known others who came from Canada, so there must be others from other countries too). Since Vinicio is a local who worked on the range from the early days, I would consider him a Honorary Range Rat and also a Range Pioneer from 1956. Wouldn't you agree?

    • This picture below was sent in by Dick Heintzelman who worked at the base (he was one of 2 RCA personnel assigned there) after it closed, while the base was in caretaker status, and the station finally was closed down in Sept 1962.
    • I think this is the only Central Control building that I know of on the downrange stations that had a second floor. (If I am wrong please correct me). The top floor was the living quarters (there was also a 2nd floor dormatory/pool table room to the left of the picture which is not shown. The bottom floor had the electronics equipment; administration offices; the bar/movie/game room; the cafeteria, medics office etc. The two towers had the MOD II radar dishes (since removed when this picture was taken). Everything except the weather station was contained in the fenced compound shown here, with the only gated entrance and guard shack in the foreground.
    • Dom. Rep. AAFB Base/Guardhouse

      A watercolor painting during the time I was stationed at the Dom. Rep. Base in 1957......

    • Guard House, Dom Rep AAFB.

    • Here's another base picture below sent in by Dick Heintzelman that shows it from a different view, now you can see the end of the Central Control building with the 2nd floor dormatory and outside steps.
      Dominican Republic AAF Base Picture #2

    • I heard from Susan Hadden Ross in Aug 07 and she sent in a photo of her Dad Tom Hadden, taken at the Dom Rep base in 1956 (below). It looks like the little boy is the shoeshine boy in my painting shown above. The person to the right of the picture is unidentifed. Susan said her dad died 27 Feb. 2006.

    • Tom Hadden at the Guard House Dom Rep AAFB.
    • Susan said she is cousin's with Deloris Berry, their mothers are sisters- see the next info/photo down) and their uncle is Jerry O'Donnell who also worked at the base weather station.

    • Deloris Berry, who lives in the Dominican Republic, is the daughter of John (Bob) Berry and sent this photo (below) in Aug 07 which was taken in the late 1950's, and she identifys those in the photo below (left to right: Hutcheson, Sulema, Daisy (her mom), John Robert Berry (her dad), Doris (Randy Lundy's wife) and Skipper. John Berry died in 1987.

    • Friends at the Guard House Dom Rep AAFB.
    • Deloris also mentions "I am very good friends with Terry Lane's family and with Willie Risner. I am also good friends with John 'Red' Durham's kids and with Randy Lundy's family as well.". Deloris is also the neice of Jerry O'Donnell who worked at the base weather station.
    • All of these names that Deloris mentioned, brings back memories to me (Joe Frasketi). In Oct 2005 Bud Creech told me that "Terry Lane now lives in N. Miami Beach; John 'Red' Durham lives in Florida somewhere and that Randy Lundy died some years back". But so far Terry and 'Red' have not contacted me yet. If anyone has information on "Hutchenson" and "Skipper" who are in the above photo: like their first names and where they went after the base closed and where they are now, etc. please send me an email.

    • Just by chance 'Bud' Creech, found my website while doing a YAHOO search for his nephew with the same name, (you can read his entry in the Range Rat Sign-in Book of 16 Oct. 2005). Bud, at that time, lived on the island of Barbados.
      Bud said in part "Really glad that you have provided a website where we can begin to keep in touch. When I read about all my old bosses who had died, and my good friend Don Gray, I couldn't help but shed a tear. Len Mashburn, Woody Bozardt, Ed Lauden were people that I really looked up to. By the way, I do remember you. My assignments were, in part, Grand Turk with a TDY to relieve two RCA radio operators on SLU when they first began reopening the airfield in October 1955, then Sabana de la Mar (Dominican Republic), Mayaguez, Ascension, Antigua, Carter Cay, San Sal, Antigua, and Pretoria. I then left the Range and took my wife and our small boy to Sabana de la Mar to live, since I had bought a farm there in 1960. We lived there 6 years, then moved to Santo Domingo for the rest of 21 years. Lots of people in Sabana asked about Mike Hagar, but we haven't heard from him since the base was there. So now thru your site I will contact him.
      It's so good to talk with one of the old gang. What a marvelous experience range life was. If everyone who was there told all the stories that could be told, there would be lots of books out there. Glad you are still doing great, and hope to keep in touch.
    • It wasn't too long after Bud Creech contacted me that he passed away in Aug 2006. I knew Bud from my early days on the range back in 1956 when we both worked at the Dominican Republic Tracking station. After that station closed we lost contact. When I started this RR webpage, in May 2005, I listed Bud's name hoping he might do a google search and find my site, and he did. Read more about Bud in the RR's Introduction Page at the "NEW CONTACT (May 2005)" entry where I made contact with Jack Louthan who provided more info. about Bud.
    • After my initial contact with Bud, he sent me some DOM REP photographs which I now show two below and will be adding more pictures that he sent:

    • 1. This 1st photograph shows Fremy's Bar where all the RR's hung out,it was at the waters edge of Samana Bay, with open air porches on both sides of the the building where the most of us sat drinking our cervezas or rum and cokes, and if we were lucky we had the company of local senoritas.
      Fremy's Bar Dom Rep#1

      2. Range Rat's having a party at Fremy's Bar, 1956 or 1957. The only person I can definitely identify is Hector Trijullio who is sitting in the front right of the picture with the sun glasses on. If you can identify anyone else in the photo please let me know.
      Fremy's Bar Dom Rep#2

    • I'd like to show you one of my early watercolor paintings of some RRs who frequented the bar drinking 'el Presidente' beer......

    • Fremy's Bar painting, Dom Rep AAFB.

    • How many Range Rats remember the date of the first time they went downrange? Mine was Dec. 5, 1956, WOW, 51 years ago. I still have the "boarding schedule" that was given at PAFB before the flight. (Why do I have it? cause I am a packrat!). In those days we had to wear a parachute on the downrange flights. I was thinking maybe this flight wasnt as safe as I thought! We stopped at all the stations, and I got my first look at the islands, sure glad I wasnt getting off at Mayaguana - that was the world's worst as far as I was concerned. My final destination was the Dominican Republic tracking station. On board with me was John Facker, one of the best IMs I worked for and a very good friend. (Facker and I went down range on the same flight in Dec 1956 and we left the range on the same flight sometime in Aug. 1972). OK, hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.
      This is my "packrat special": MY BOARDING SCHEDULE:

    • Dominican Rep. flight papers

  • These are names of people who worked at the Dominican Republic Tracking Station in 1956/57, I had their names written on slides I had taken: Ray Smith; Jim Westridge; Terry Lane (see below); Jack Manass (Spelling ?); Lou Perry; 'Red' Jones; Jerry Smith; John Fought; John 'Red' Durham (see below); Randy Lundy; Paul Leofsky; Doudy; Winestein; and Jerry O' Donnell (see below) who worked at the weather station.
    Anyone having any info. on any of the Range Rats listed above please send an email to me. Thanx

  • Jerry O'Donnell
    Jerry O'Donnell
  • 18 SEPTEMBER 2007, Jerry O'Donnell FOUND! Jerry, who was the base weatherman, was listed in the above list of names and recently his neices emailed me that he lives in Savannah GA, and you can read his entry of 26 August 2007 in the Range Rat Sign-In Book.

  • 13 AUGUST 2008, Added picture of O'Donnell, from years ago.
    (picture supplied by Mike Hagar).
    Unfortunately it has been reported that Jerry just died this past week on 07 AUG 2008.

  • In Oct 2005 Bud Creech told me that "Terry Lane now lives in N. Miami Beach; John 'Red' Durham lives in Florida somewhere and that 'Red's wife Estela Durham was hit by a car in Santo Domingo Dom. Rep. and killed qute a few years ago. Also Randy Lundy died some 6 or 7 years ago". (Maybe Terry Lane and 'Red' Durham will eventually sign in, if they see this page).

    • Range Rats Friends that I have contacted by email since I started this Range Rat Information Page:
      • DOM - Dominican Republic
        • Mike Hager
        • "Bud" Creech +
        • Jerry O'Donnell+


      The left stamp issued by the USA on the day Astronaut John Glenn successfully splashed down in Grand Turk waters.
      The middle stamp issued by the Bahama Islands shows a radar antenna. Grand Bahama Island, Station No. 3, had a radar station.
      the right stamp issued by the Dominican Republic shows the Mercury capsule orbiting earth. There was a tracking station (No. 8) in the Dominican Republic, at Sabana de la Mar, in 1956, however (DOM) closed in 1957 long before the Mercury flights of 1960-63.

    • Click here to go back to the
      Range Rat Introduction Page.

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