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This page was updated: 16 SEPTEMBER 2011
Look for the red highlights for SEPT. 2011 information, further down the page.
(PINK highlights were added in AUG 2011)
Also look further down the page for a recent entry dated 28 AUG 2011 about Volcano Radio, as I am grouping all info about VR together.
This is a working page for information about the ETR Range Tracking Station #12, Ascension AAFB (ASC 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 on Ascension AAFB please send it to me. (Other employeees who worked at the ETR Ascension base or the BFEC/NASA Ascension Tracking site 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 Ascension AAF Base, I would like to hear from you.
Send Email to Joe
28 AUG. 2011, BILL REDMAN'S PHOTO OF ASC RADAR TROOPS, 1965:
- In Nov. 2010 Bill Redman sent in the below photo, and Bill wrote: "Had this picture in my collection a long time, and thought I would pass it on. This was taken Sept. 1965 at Turtle Shell Beach at the "Rock", just before I left for South Africa. To the best of my knowledge, all of the troops shown with the exception of Q. Tallent were radar people. RCA was running four radars on Ascension at the time, so we had a pretty good size crew. My apologies for any misspelled names or any other errors in labeling. The old memory isn't as good as it once was.
I'm sure there must be shoe boxes full of old range pictures out there, that could bring back some good memories. People ought to give some consideration to sharing them. Thanks. (signed Bill Redman)"
Click on the above to see a larger picture with the names associated with the numbers, which Bill provided. I will list these individuals below just in case any of these troops google their name, then this page will show up.
- 1. Jim Green, 2. Dick Stumvoll, 3. Glenn Dieckman, 4. Bob Troop, 5. Joe Chesnut, 6. Bob Lifrage, 7. Hal Lund, 8. Jim Gillespie, 9. Henry Hice, 10. Tom Purdy, 11. Quentin Tallent, 12. ? UNKNOWN, 13. Marv Matthiesen, 14. John Thomas, 15. Bill Fusselmen, 16. Dick Palmer, 17. Scott Fetterman, 18. Chuck Rogalo, 19. Marco Terrazas, 20. Will Lawrence, 21. Rick Dawson, 22. Jim Phillips, 23. Dave Simonson, 24. ? UNKNOWN, 25. Egan Von Meegan, 26. Jack Bendick.
- NOTE #1: I found 3 names spelled incorrectly that came with the photo and have corrected them on my list above: they are 17. Fetterman, 23. Simonson, and 26. Bendick.
===> If you see any other misspelled names please send me an email.
===> Now who can provide the names of the two UNKNOWNS, #12 and #24, in the photo?
- NOTE #2: Five of the troops in the photo have signed my Range Rat Sign-In Book, they are: Bendick, Fetterman, Hice, Lund, and Simonson.
===> If you know of any Range Rats in the above big list that havent signed in, why not contact them about this photo and my RR pages. If they dont have a computer, email me with their names, for the record.
- NOTE #3: Four of the troops in the photo are listed as deceased on my RR Death page: Scott Fetterman, Tom Purdy, Quentin Tallent and John V. Thomas.
===> If you know of any Range Rats in the above big list that have also passed on, please send me info. so it can be listed here, and the info. can be added to my RR Death page. If you also know any particulars about their time/other locations down range, or details about when they died etc., send me an email. Thanx !
23 JAN. 2011: ASCENSION ISLAND TRAVEL PROGRAM ON HALOGEN TV CHANNEL:
- Last evening as I was surfing the tv channels on Comcast, I came upon a whole series of travel programs on the Halogen channel (must have been a marathon) of the "Departure" programs. Its about two dudes who are 27 years old who took time off to travel the world and see different places. I decided to see what locations they were visiting that evening. Lo and behold there was an episode (#5) on Ascension Island, which I watched and thorougly enjoyed. Unfortunately it did not show any of the U.S. base, and only briefly showed some of the tracking antennas/buildings which I think was the telemetry site. They spent a week on the island visiting some of the places we probably visited too, like Green Mountain, the Cottage, Hannays Beach, Georgetown, the Saints Club, 3 Sisters peak, and the famous LIZARD, etc. etc. This episode #5 was produced in 2008 so its fairly new, to me anyway since I haven't been on Ascension since 1972.
- I went to the Halogen TV channel on the web, the Schedule Page for Halogen TV, and searched for future episodes of the "Departure" program and did located the next one on Ascension Island. Which has already aired now, and have seen repeats months later, you might search for a later airing.
NOTE: the illustration above is a local post "stamp" that I issued showing Two Boats and the Sisters Peak on Ascension Island.
16 APRIL 2010, LATEST NEWS FROM THE ROCK:
- Jim Neiger, who was a SOI Analyst (12.17 and 12.18) and then Site Leader at
Ascension 12.18 in 1968-69, signed the Range Rat sign-in Book on 30 March '10 and noted this, which I feels needs to be repeated here:
"After leaving ETR, my work has primarily been on the Minuteman and TRIDENT SLBM... In 1989, my work on the TRIDENT missile program took me back to
Ascension, and I have made about eighty trips to the island since. For the Navy, I was the Program Manager to upgrade the old Ascension TTR (then 12.17, now 12.15 (FPQ-15)) development and installation of a 40-ft dish, coherent electronics, etc.
I was on Ascension last week when I came upon this web-site. For those who were on Ascension during the 60's, the TPQ-18 is gone, the FPS-16 is gone, the HF transmitter/receiver sites are almost gone. A few of the Saints we knew back then (Jimmy Young, Choppers, etc) are still there. The Volcano Club is still open, but a fraction of what it once was. Whereas we had about 500 Americans on the Base in the late 60's, I expect it's now about 75."
- Thanks Jim for this report. If YOU are on Ascension or visit there on occasion, a report on anything that you feel would be of interest to us ex-rats, please send me an email.
16 APR. 2010, ARIA CREWMEMBER ON ASCENSION IN 1975:
- On 24 March '10 I received the following email from Cassandra Carchetti, now living in Greensboro NC:
- I got your website address while looking at some stuff on the web about Ascension. I spent 2 weeks there in August 1975 covering the launch of the first Viking launch to Mars. I was stationed at Patrick AFB at the time and was with the ARIA aircraft (droop snoot) that covered the launch. We were supposed to be there for 3 days and the launch kept being delayed. We always considered ourselves range rats due to our support of the aircraft that covered all of the launches out of Cape Canaveral. I'll always remember the time I spent on the island and how unique it is. Look forward to hearing from you. Great website.
- I have invited Cassandra to sign the Range Rat Sign-in Book, but so far she has not. (Many times after I reply to similar emails, I don't get a response and wonder why).
- For those of you who dont remember what ARIA is, as it is now history, it stands for Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft, and a good website to learn more about this part of range history, I suggest going to this link, whose webmaster is Randy L. Losey: ARIA History Web Site & Archives.
- Did you know that Ascension Island issued a stamp depicting an ARIA? See below. (I believe it's the only country that has done so. If not, let me know).
Ascension Island issued this postage stamp depicting a Boeing EC 135N ARIA, on 15 June 1982, one of 4 stamps in a set to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Wideawake Airfield.
16 APR. 2010, TV STATION ON ASCENSION?
- in the Oct 2009 edition of the CSR newsletter, in the photo history section it mentions a CSR TV station on ASC 2006-7.
- Can anyone supply any information about this TV station? Does it still exist, and if not why was it closed? And does the ASC base receive commercial TV signals now?
16 SEPT 2011 UPDATE TO THE LIST OF ASC BASE COMMANDERS (SEE THESE NEW ENTRYS BELOW):
- In Sept. 2007, Carroll R. Michaud Maj. USAF Ret'd, now located in Shreveport, LA, added a list in the RR Sign-in book of all of the Base Cmdrs since the station opened to the time he left in 1972. (which I published on this page in March 2008)
- 16 SEPT 2011, UPDATED LIST: When I requested updates to the original list, Mike Doherty, of ASC, sent in a more complete list of all the base cmdr's from 1957 through 2007, and this list can now be viewed by clicking
- I am now listing all of their names here throught June 2007, in case any of them google their name and find it here and might want to sign in as Maj. Michaud did (beside each name is the date of their command):
Capt William E. Woodside (06/1957), Capt. Edward W. Duch (06/1958), Maj. Donald E. Stevens (05/1959), Maj. Francis J. Rohan (05/1960), Capt. Ronald Tyre (05/1961), Capt. Harry J. Thompson (05/1962), Capt. William H. Ritchie (05/1963), Capt. Roy W. Dixon (06/1964, Maj. Darrell Pilipovich (07/1965), Maj. George R. Freeman (07/1966), Maj. John R. Cureton Jr. (07/1967), Maj. Earle D. Engle Jr. (12/1967), Maj. Boyd E. Wise (07/1968), Maj. Donn A. Byrnes (12/1968), Maj. George L. Rosenhauer (07/1969), Maj. Jesse M. Couch (07/1970), Maj. Carroll Michaud (06/1971), Maj. Phillip J. Barott (08/1972), Lt. Col. Frank N. Koval (07/1973), Maj. Frank A Urbanic Jr. (07/1974), Lt. Col. Richard C. Kirk (12/1974), Maj. Robert “Bob” Pittman (02/1975), Maj. Henry “Hank” W. Spangler (06/1975), Lt. Col. Thomas “Tom” E. Morris (07/1976), Lt. Col. Eugene “Gene” L. McCormick Jr. (07/1977), Lt. Col. C. S. “Stu” McClosekey (07/1978), Lt. Col. Edwin “Ed” P. Roscoe (07/1979), Lt. Col. Richard G. Donovan (07/1980), Lt. Col. William “Bill” D. Bryden (06/1981), Lt. Col. Walter “Walt” E. White Jr. (06/1983), Lt. Col. Guy P. Childress Jr. (06/1986), Lt. Col. Kenneth “Ken” A. Mount (08/1989), Lt. Col. David “Dave” L. Mosby (08/1991), Lt. Col. Gennaro “Gino” Cuomo (07/1992), Lt. Col. David “Dave” J. Thompson (07/1994), Maj. Stephen “Steve” D. Hill (07/1995), Lt. Col. John “Mike” Lahoff (07/1997), Maj. Jeff Lowdermilk (07/1998), Maj. Larry Martin (07/1999), Maj. Philippe “Phil” D. Chechowitz (08/2000), Maj. James “Jim” D. Fisher (09/2001), Maj. Jeffrey “Jeff” E. Fason (06/2002), Maj. John A. Lansberry (06/2003), Lt. Col. Kevin D. Barker (06/2004), Maj. Eric A. Jackson (07/2005), Maj. Jason S. Edelblute (07/2006), Maj. Robert ”Rob” A. Light (06/2007).
- 16 APRIL 2010 UPDATE:
I can now add the name of Maj. Jay Block- 2009, He was listed in the Aug 2009 CSR Newsletter as the Ascension Base Commander.
- 16 SEPT 2011 UPDATE:
Today Maj. Stephen “Steve” D. Hill sent in a correction as to the date he was Base Cmdr at ASC, he wrote: "I just noticed the list of Det Commanders that has me as being there from July 95 to Aug 96 only. I was the commander until late July 97 when Lt Col Lahoff and I changed command at Patrick AFB FL. My family and I loved it there and some of our fondest memories
of 28 years in uniform are from Ascension and the wonderful people we met there."
- This new information was changed in the listing above and the word doc mentioned above.
- I am hoping that as time goes by this list can be updated for base commanders between Maj. Light's 2007 tour of duty and Maj. Block's 2009 tour of duty, and anything after that. If you can help to update the list it would be appreciated..
11 AUG 2008, BENDIX TROOP RUSSELL ESTLACK REMEMBERS:
- This is a true story because it happened to one of my friends. One late afternoon when one of my co-workers, who shall remain nameless, was returning from a party at the Exiles club in Georgetown, he had the misfortune to meet up with the Honey Dipper on the road in front of the golf course. Having had a little too much to drink, he came down the road just a mite too fast and slammed into the back of the Honey Dipper's truck. If I remember rightly, we called it the Honey Bucket.
The Honey Dipper had just finished making his rounds and his truck was filled almost to overflowing. (Many of the houses in Georgetown did not have indoor plumbing as we know it. They used something like a chamber pot or something similar.) It doesn't take much imagination to visualize what happened next. He hit that truck dead center. The door flew open and the contents flew everywhere. It took several hours for them to clean up the mess, but the aroma lingered for days.
(Russell worked on the ASC tracking radar from 1967-68).
01 SEPT 2007, PANORAMIC VIEW OF ASCENSION AAF BASE TODAY, 2007:
- This photo was sent in by Mike Doherty who works on Ascension, and said it was photographed by Leon Lacy.
Click on above image for an enlarged view
and then click it again for a much larger view.
01 AUG 2007, VOLCANO RADIO STATION PERSONNEL-EARLY 1960'S (ASCENSION) :
- This photo was sent in recently by Mike Doherty who works on Ascension and who had asked me if I wanted to see a photo from the early 60's. The picture he sent had more of the bulding and more mountain background, and a list of the names in the photo which I cropped out, and one name was spelt wrong, (which was the first one on the list: my old buddy "Charlie" Elgas). Here is the list of names which I assume the names go from left to right since Charlie's name was the first one on the list and he is the farthest to the left in the photo: Charles Elgas, Leon Strickland, Bill Morefield, Duff Green, Warren Hengst, John Blalock, Morris Gillson, Bob Ibarguen, Wayne Melton, Pete Thomas, Tom Smith, Jerry Larson and George Havermahl.
- 01 SEP 2007, Charlie Elgas identified Havermahl in the photo, (the orginal name that came with the photo had Havermahl's last name really screwed up). Are there any other misspelled names in the above list?). The end of the lists of names says the location was Bks. 5 End Room.
Charlie Elgas also provided more info about Volcano Radio and the staff, he writes:
"John Blalock had just made a major upgrade to the transmitter (made it a 30 watt transmitter from just 3 watts) when a visiting photographer took the picture. It was located inside bks 5 with the antenna strung across to the mess hall. As I mentioned before, the photo did make the cover of the RCA 'MTP News.' The station engineer, and rebuilder of the stations transmitter, was John Blalock (RCA Comm). Warren Hengst was then the station manager (PAA supply). At that time I was the station studio engineer, program director, DJ, news reader and janitor. Ha ha. For 5 years I was the manager and coordinator of AFRS Asc Island for the military programs and ZD8VR civilian programs. The base (early on) allowed us to move out of the small Q hut into a spare room on the base. I lived just down the hall from the studio in bldg 5 prior to my room in the middle of the three new bldgs. Later the studio was moved back to a single and very large Q hut.
By that time I last left Asc (and the range) we were a 24/7, AM and FM, 1kw station. The 1kw antenna and transmitter was out in an antenna field building, but abandoned by RCA to us. I always wondered what happened to it all since then. Kip Carter (tlm tech) did a lot to upgrade the studio just prior to my leaving. He got the base club to donate some money for a good, but used control room audio console. Did it stay on the air after the contract changed in the 80's?"
Maybe someone can provide more information about Volcano Radio after the range contract changed in the 80's.
- 11 AUG 2008, ANOTHER VOLCANO DJ HEARD FROM:
Russell Estlack, a Bendix employee on ASC from 1967-68 writes: In my spare time, I was a DJ on Volcano Radio. My show was called What Ever Happened to Good Music. I got in serious trouble with the Brits when I played Johny Horton's Battle of New Orleans and dedicated it to the British Army.
- 05 MARCH 2008, SHORT HISTORY OF VOLCANO RADIO BEGINNINGS: Carroll R. Michaud Maj. USAF Ret'd, ASC Base commander 1971-2 sent this piece of info: "Volcano Radio Station, (ZD8VR) 'The Golden Voice of the South Atlantic' was built by WWII U.S. Army personnel. 1st "On_Air" broadcast was 3 Sept 1944, Call Letters WXLR. The station shut down when the Army base closed after WWII. U.S. civilian contractors recommissioned the base and the radio station in 1957 to support USAF Eastern Test Range Operations.
- 05 MARCH 2008, SEE A STAMPED ENVELOPE COMMEMORATING THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF WXLR: It is signed by one of the station's Disc Jockey's who was on the island October 1945 to June 1946. (We met on the internet some years ago and met in person one year when he visited Fort Myers FL.) To see the special envelope click on this link:
WXLR Anniversary Envelope
- 02 NOV 2008, VOLCANO RADIO STATION MID 1980'S (ASCENSION) :
Ralph Jackson, Volcano Radio Station Manager.
Range Rats are not the only ones reading these pages, as in Oct. I heard from Colin Evans an RAF chap who was stationed at ASC in 1985 who sent me this email:
"I found your website with interest in particular about ZD8VR Volcano Radio. I was lucky enough to be posted out there whilst serving in the RAF in 1985. At that
time the Station Manager was a guy named Ralph Jackson. I approached Ralph and asked if he was looking for additional DJ's as I had worked on BFBS Cyprus and he said 'Yes'. In simple terms I did an audition in the studios and the rest is
history. For six months I was the only British Forces DJ and quickly established my on Saturday evening show. In those days there was no CD's it was just vinyl and reel-to-reel tapes. Those where perhaps the best 6 months of my RAF career and one I'll never forget. I'll send you a page taken out of a island magazine and on one side it talks about Volano Radio. It shows a picture of Ralph Jackson."
Ralph Jackson shown above, was a Pan Am mechanic, and he has been instrumental in keeping the station functioning around the clock for many years. You can see the article than Colin sent by clicking
Other station personnel mentioned in the article are: Ed Hurley, Bendix; Steve Rivenbach, RCA; Brian Williams, Pan Am; Reggie Turnst, RCA and Tom DeLaet.
RALPH JACKSON HEARD FROM:
In Nov 2008 I received this email from Ralph: "Hi, this is Ralph Jackson, a Range Rat for over 20 years, and ZD8VR Station Manager. I live in the Panama City area of Florida part of the year and Ohio the other part. I have kept in close touch with the MacDowell's and the Jourdans who recently attended the Range Rat Reunion in Florida. I was the radio station manager for almost all the years I was on Ascension which was over 20 years. I am married since the last year on Ascension. My wife, Debbie, worked for Fred Kenney for the years she was there from 1985 to the end of 1988 when the contract changed to CSR and they didn't bid her job." (Ralph has yet to sign the Range Rat Sign-In Book).
Does anyone know if Volcano Radio is still in operation? Perhaps it has closed since we now have satellites that can beam in TV and Radio Programs. If anybody has additional information please send me an email.
16 APRIL 2010, 1979 DX CARD FROM VOLCANO RADIO
- I found this card on the web sometime ago, which shows that Vocano Radio was still in operation in 1979. For those of us who have bad eyes, I will note what is on the card:
1602 KC, 500 Watts
VOLCANO RADIO STATION
The Voice of Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean
To: (name of person it was sent) This confirms your reception report of our transmissions on 05 May 1979 at 00:01+ GMT.
"Volcano Radio" appreciates and acknowledges all such reports. The station is owned and operated as a non-commercial, voluntary basis by the employees of Ascension Island Auxilary Air Force Base (US).
US Mailing address:
Volcano Radio Station, Ascension Island, Patrick AFB, Florida.
28 AUG. 2011: RECOLLECTIONS OF ANOTHER VOLCANO RADIO DJ:
This first appeared in the RR Sign-In Book of Sept 2007, and it's worth recording on this page. I had this in my notes to publish it here but it got buried by later stuff I wanted to publish.
- Hal Curling of Pagosa Springs CO made this entry: "I just wanted to add details about my involvement with Volcano Radio (ZD8VR). I was stationed with the USAF (Det 215) on Ascension from May 70 through May 71. While there I was heavily involved with VR as Assistant Station Manager, Program Director, Assistant Station Engineer, and a DJ as well (the part I enjoyed the most!). I worked closely with Mr JP Morgan (who worked for RCA, I believe). JP pretty much ran the station while I was there. I also worked with SSgt Ed Baum (from the Det 215 crowd as well). My on-air name was Dick Adams (and I had a "sidekick" named Tex and that was also me). I thoroughly enjoyed my work at VR. I even produced some home-made promos: one being "Your voice in the South Atlantic". The station bought a professionally done promo from PAMS of Dallas that had a group sing "Volcano Radio." Big time stuff :-D. While I was there we had AM and FM and part way through my tour the FM was changed to STEREO. Programming on AM was about half AFRTS-provided and half live during the day and all AFRTS at night. The FM was all automatic from a carousel that we loaded every day with LPs.
14 JAN. 2011, UPDATING ALL THE INFO RECEIVED ON THE ASCENSION DONKEYS:
Seems like some of the information received on the ASC donkeys are conflicting, but I just report it as comes in. Our memories are not the same, no matter what the subject is. I am trying to list the comments below according to the names of the donkeys. The latest info. was received this month, 13 Jan. 2011, where I wanted to know who the person was giving the donkey a beer and if the photo was taken on Ascension (see below).
- 14 JAN. 2011, UPDATE TO THE PHOTO AND INFO REQUESTED 06 NOV 2006 DIRECTLY BELOW:
- 06 NOV. 2006, ASCENSION BEER DRINKING DONKEY???:
- I got the photo below at GBI many years ago, I think it might have been taken by telemetry manager George Brown, and I presumed it was the famous Ascension beer drinking donkey (it looks like the donkey likes Budweiser!)
- On 13 JAN 2011, James "Jim" Boyter of Palm Harbor FL has now identified the person in the photo below. Jim said "The guy holding the beeer for Rebel was Lafar Lipscomb, the Assistant Base Operatons Manager (ABOM) at Ascension for Pan Am in 1961-62. Lafar was a retired Air Force Colonel." Jim, who was the control tower operator says he worked under Lafar and Tom King, the ABOM who replaced Lafar.
- 12 APRIL 2007, MORE INFO ON REBEL WAS SENT TO ME FEB 07. "Rebel was the first one as you have it on your web page", writes Jack Tolman. He continues: "Some Donkey hating person tried to castrate him but botched the job and they had to take him up to Green Mountain to the English Vet who lived there. Security got a call that Rebel would not eat the grass or other food they were trying to feed him and they were concerned that he would starve to death, the guys at the base put two and two together and sent him some hamburgers and beer which he ate and made a full recovery! After Rebel returned to the base he was later run over by I believe an AF type who was devastated that it happened.
I used to show the movies at the old Volcano Club and Rebel would stagger, YES STAGGER down to the movie screen and lie down to watch the movie, if it was not a western he would get up and go back to the bar to bum drinks, he was so funny he would try to walk but would get his two front legs crossed and fall down.
He would come into the club when it opened and if you were sitting by the door he would bite you on the elbow until you bought him a beer (which they sold at a cheaper price just for him) if you ignored him he would flip the light switch right by the door until someone bought him a beer, as he got drunker he would come all the way into the bar and bug people until the bar tender had to run him out the back door to the patio. Rebel used to come over to Barracks 3 Saturday mornings where my room was and bang on the door (as he knew I had a refrigerator with cold beer in it) he would not go away until I gave him a beer.
Rebel was so famous that a Brazilian TV station from Rio got permission from the State Department to come to Ascension (VIA military Aircraft) to film a story about him, which upset the British when it aired in Rio, they later came out saying that they would not allow anymore donkeys to become alcoholics on the Island. When Rebel died I think they buried him by the flag pole in front of barracks 3. After I left Ascension they did have another Donkey who hung around the base named Hardaway.
- 14 JAN. 2011, WALLY TUBELL WRITES ABOUT HARDAWAY:
This was taken from his comment in the Tropica RangeRat message board of Aug 2008. Wally said: "I was stationed at Ascension in 1959 and was well acquainted with Hardaway. His behavior was just like the descriptions we've seen of Rebel's. Hardaway was seen every day in the club and at the "theater." Maybe he was Rebel's son and inherited his Dad's alcoholic tendencies."
- REBEL DONKEY INFORMATION ADDED 02 JAN 07: Jim Ketchum wrote me 06 Oct 2006:
"Rebel was the beer drinking donkey at Ascension! He was eventually backed over by a 2 1/2 ton truck and that was the end of Rebel. I think there was a Rebel 2 but I was gone by then. Rebel and I shared a lot of beer, carrots and movie watching!.... He used to try to sneak up on me and bite my butt but it never worked out for him because the volcanic soil crunched when he was making his move!"
- < 02 AUG 2008, MORE INFO ABOUT REBEL FROM JOHN GLADDEN, FROM JAN 07:
I was told that the driver of the truck that hit Rebel was a GEEIA troop. Although I was on Ascension more than once, I never witnessed the donkeys Rebel or Raider, but more than one Range Rat has sworn the GEEIA info to be true.
- 14 JAN. 2011, BILL HADDEN COMMENTS ON HARDAWAY AND REBEL:
In May 2010, Bill emailed me, that "the FIRST drinking donkey on Ascension was named 'Hardaway', back in the early days of the base. He was run over, lying drunk under a truck at the Motor pool."
"In 1959, 'Rebel' was captured by members of the Motor Pool after he fell into a pit and they trained him to follow the footsteps of the original donkey. I am just trying to correct an obvious error.... I was THERE when Rebel was brought in...
He would come into club, and if you didnt offer him a drink, he'd bite you on the butt!! If you went to the movies, behind the club, you should be prepared, sitting on lower rows, to have a bag of Popcorn for Rebel."
- 14 JAN. 2011, ADDITIONAL INFO ON REBEL AND JJ:
In April 2009 Debba Wainwright sent me this comment: "We knew Rebel and J.J. the donkeys, J.J. turned out to be female, when she had a foal! She loved doughnuts)."
- 02 AUG 2008, JOHN GLADDEN WROTE ABOUT A 2nd ASC DONKEY, IN JAN 07:
I believe the second beer drinking donkey at Ascension was named Raider. One story I heard was that he met his demise in one of the islands official Donkey Shoots.
- 05 MARCH 2008, ANOTHER ASC DONKEY NAMED JJ:
Craig Hawk who worked at the ASC NASA Tracking Station Nov. 1967 thru March 1968 said they also had a drunk donkey named J.J. who used to meet them every morning and they would feed her fruit from the mess hall. Craig also tells something about his time on the island: "I worked in the supply section with John Kelley. George Cantrell was the station M/O at the time. I had a band called The Apollo's and we played at Two Boats club and the little beach hut and club in Georgetown a few times. I had a great time."
- 02 AUG 2008, MORE INFO ABOUT THE DONKEY NAMED JJ:
In July 08 Russell Estlack who worked at the Devil's Aspit on Ascension 1967-1968 emailed me "Concerning JJ, the beer drinking donkey, when we were on R&R in Recife, someone shot him with a spear gun. He did recover, but I was told that someone killed him when they did it a second time a few years later".
- 14 JAN. 2011, COULD REBEL BE CONFUSED WITH THE DONKEY NAMED JJ?:
Looking thru my OLD notes, I found this one that hasn't been published yet from Russell Estlack from Sept 2007 who wrote: "I am confused about the name of the donkey called Rebel. He sounds like the same one we called JJ. In addition to hanging around the theater, he used to hang around the NASA site and we would feed him brandy-soaked sweet rolls. He would get drunk and stagger down the road toward the base. When we came back from one of our R&R's from Recife, we found JJ with an arrow sticking out of his neck. Someone had shot him with a spear gun. The web page for BFEC, you will see a photo of a young South African woman standing next to JJ. Click here for the photo. You will have to scroll down the page.
01 MAY 2007, MAYAGUANA HAD A BEER DRINKING DONKEY TOO!
Mac Stinson wrote me in Feb 07 with two pictures and this note:
"A bit of history should be included with these photos. The critter was imported in 1956 on the northbound LST from Grand Turk as arranged by Pan Am subcable tech (that's right Pan Am had some of them in those days) Ray "Melon Belly" Smith. The donkey keeper shown in the pictures was a power house operator who's name escapes me. Alas, we have a sad ending. The donkey disappeared after a brief time at Mayaguana; it was rumored that the base manager had him executed for persistently using the catchment basin as a toilet. Sorry the picture quality is so poor. It is ektachrome and evidently doesn't survive too well! Mac"
To see the two pictures Mac sent click on these two links below
Mayaguana Range Rat with Donkey
Mac says it's the same guy in both pictures. only in this next picture he was dressed to go to a "ripsaw" in the village and decided to parade the critter around the bar first!
Mayaguana Range Rat with Donkey in the bar.
- Did any other islands have beer drinking donkeys? I seem to recall that there was one at the St. Lucia Base. Anyone who worked at St. Lucia let me know what you think?
- Anyone who has more info about other Base Donkeys send me some info.....
31 OCT 2006: ASCENSION AAFB & ANTIGUA AAFB MAKES HISTORY ON 31 OCT 1957:
- In October 1952, the Air Research and Development Command approved a plan to extend the Eastern Range's length to 5,000 miles to meet SNARK and NAVAHO missile testing requirements. Antigua, St. Lucia, Fernando de Noronha and Ascension were tentatively selected as host sites, and agreements were negotiated with the governments of Britain, St. Lucia, Brazil and Ascension to authorize construction.
- The St. Lucia and Ascension agreements were signed on 26 June 1956, and the Brazilian Agreement was signed on 21 January 1957. Following an exchange of notes with the State Department, Britain granted the U.S. access to Antigua on 15 January 1957.
- The Eastern Test Range supported its first 5,000-mile-long mission, a SNARK test flight, on 31 October 1957. This was when Antigua and Ascension AAFB supported their first missile launch and both stations were then declared operational.
- It has been my practice to commemorate important space events and I thought it would be appropriate to mark this important date in the history of these two stations in 1977. Being a stamp collector who also collects special covers (envelopes), I also prepared and issued special commemorative covers (envelopes) for the 20th anniversary. The covers were then mailed to the islands for postmarking on that date of 31 Oct 1977 at the Antigua and Ascension postoffices. Examples of my efforts are shown below
(In 1957 I was working in telemetry at the St. Lucia AAFB tracking station and so I too took part in tracking this particular Snark flight. In later years I also worked at both Antigua and Ascension tracking stations).
This special cover was issued by the FMF Local Post commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Ascension AAFB tracking its first missile, the Snark. This missile flight opened the 5,000 mile long Eastern Test Range.
(Note: while it may be hard to see, the Ascension postage stamp on the above cover depicts the Ascension AAFB living quarters and administration buildings, etc. at the foot of Cat Hill.)
A Snark missile launch.
- To see the special envelope prepared for the Antigua anniversary
click on this link:
ASCENSION & DOUG ROGERS :
- Doug Rogers signed in Dec. 13, 2005. I have been looking for him for a number of years, I didn't know him personally but a downrange friend of mine, Charlie Elgas, knew him from Ascension and always wondered what happened to him after Doug left the range. I kept up with many range rat whereabouts since I left the range and have managed to track some down, it became a lot easier too once I got a computer. Check out Doug's entry in the RR sign-in book on Dec. 13, 2005. While on ASC he was the driving force who got the Ascension Historical Society going in l966. Doug and the Island kids built it from scratch, and he was the curator of the Ft.Hayes Museum. Doug said that he visited ASC in l997 to accept an award from the AscHistSoc, on its 30th anniversary. A new museum/community center was built on ASC and the museum and now community center are sort of focal points there.
Postage stamps about space and the range....
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.