Copyright: RECORD AMERICAN
July 13, 1965
‘WARNING STAR’ IS FLYING RADAR SHIELD FOR U.S.
By GEORGE NEARY
The downed plane out of Otis AF Base was a
segment of the Air Defense Command’s flying radar stations, a part of the
protective screen for the East Coast from Norfolk, Va., to Newfoundland. Due to
its new airborne electronics system, known as ALRI (Airborne Long Range Input),
it was a significant factor in the AF decision in 1963 to deactivate the Texas
Tower radar stations off the coast with no loss in adequate air defense radar
surveillance. Its function is to detect and attack intruders as it sweeps the
horizon in all directions at all flight altitudes, down to water level.
The ditched radar picket craft was one of 36
attached to the 551st Airborne and Early Warning Control Wing at Otis.
Approximately 5000 officers and men are assigned around the clock to support the
activities of the $2.5 million aircraft.
Powered by Wright turbo compound engines, the EC-121H is the military
counterpart to the commercial Super G Constellation.it carries six tons of
highly technical equipment, cruises up to 330-miles-an-hour and has a range of
4000 miles. The plane normally can stay aloft up to 14 hours on an average
The EC-121H is no beauty as airplane
designing goes, but what it lacks in aerodynamic good looks it makes up for in
the reach of its long-range radar potency.
‘WARNING STAR’Every few hours one of the
planes of the wing, with a normal complement of 16, takes off from Otis for its
sweep somewhere far out over the ocean. Because the plane searches out, tracks
and alerts the U.S. about approaching aircraft it has been dubbed the "Warning
The flying radar stations send
out electronic beams to pick up approaching aircraft. As soon as contact is made
ALRI goes to work immediately.The information is flashed into data processors,
then relayed to SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) Center, Continental Air
July 13, 1965
MY SWEETIE IS ALIVE
By JACK KENDALL
"All I know is that my sweetie is
alive," declared Mrs. Jane Surles, 24, of 191 Pinecrest Dr., wife of
Airman 2/c David Surles, 24, one of the survivors of the radar picket
plane crash in the Atlantic. And Mrs. Surles, in the true fashion of a
military man’s wife, said any future decision by him to keep flying "is
up to him. It’s his life," she said. "I had expected the worst when I
heard of the accident," Mrs. Surles said.
Mrs. Surles visited her husband at the Otis
Air Force Base Hospital. We didn’t say very much at that time. We were just
rejoicing at his being safe. "Then he called me Tuesday morning. Again we had
little conversation," she continued. He is in pretty good condition," Mrs.
Surles said. Airman Surles, a technician, is from Raleigh, N.C. His wife calls
the Washington, D.C. area her home although she is originally from Illinois.
SAD FOR VICTIMS
"Of course, we feel terribly about the other
men and their families," Mrs. Surles said. "Now, I am on my way to the hospital
to see him again."
Mrs. Caroline Witcher, wife of 1st Lt. Bruce
E. Witcher, another of the three survivors, was too shocked by the tragic crash
to discuss her husband’s brush with death.
July 13, 1965
MOTHER AWAITING VISIT FROM SON
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP)
Mrs. Mattie Washam said Monday she
was planning for a visit by her son and his family when she was informed
that he was one of a crew of an EC121 radar picket plane that ditched in
the Atlantic ocean about 100 miles northeast of Nantucket.
Mrs. Washam, of suburban Belvidere, said her
son, S/Sgt Raymond M. Washam, 34, radio operator on the EC121, telephoned her
about a week ago, and said he and his family were coming to visit her as soon as
he got leave "in about a week." Mrs. Washam said her son’s wife and two
children, a daughter, 4, and son, seven months, are living at Otis Air Force
July 13, 1965
SEA SURVIVAL PROBLEMATIC
Man’s survival in the water is dependent on
many variables, including his physical condition, the clothing he wears and the
temperature of the water.
These were the conditions to be considered in
the case of the 19 crewmen of the Air Force radar picket plane forced down off
Initial reports failed to list what had
caused the deaths of some crew members, whether they had been injured in the
water landing, or had died from exposure.
But water temperatures in the area of Georges
Banks were estimated at between 55 and 58 degrees.
Survival charts indicate a man dressed in a
flight suit such as the crewmen would have worn during the mission could only
live between two and four hours in such temperatures.
If he were wearing an exposure
suit--the equipment designed to protect the human body from the rigors of frigid
water--the immersed man might live more than twice that length of time.
July 13, 1965
BIRTHDAY FETE BEFORE CRASH
BAY STATE KIN WAIT WORD
By MARY X. SULLIVAN
Less than 24 hours before the ill-fated Air
Force picket plane left Otis, one of the two Massachusetts crewmen aboard shared
his 25 th birthday with his wife and baby daughter in their home in Sagamore.
Airman 1stC John N. Puopolo of Roslindale and
Sagamore and Airman Charles H. (Chickie) Williams, 21, of Worcester, were the
two local airmen aboard the plane when she soared seaward Sunday. The Puopolos -
John, his wife Nina and their 16-month old daughter, Karen, had a birthday cake
in an otherwise quiet observance. Mrs. Puopolo, from Schenectady, first learned
of the plane ditching when the base called her early Monday. "Since then I
haven’t heard a word from them about John," she said. I am hoping and praying
that he will come through all right. He’s been in the Air Force seven years. I
listened briefly to the news about the crash over television after hearing from
the base, but I haven’t turned on TV or radio since.
The parents of Airman Puopolo, Mr. and Mrs.
Rocco Puopolo of 69 Wellesmere Rd., Roslindale, stayed up all night waiting to
hear the fate of their only son. Their home was filled with relatives and
neighbors as word of the crash spread. The mother was on the verge of collapse
and the family physician administered a sedative. He matriculated at
Northeastern "but after three months came home with a paper for us to sign," the
father said. "Her wanted to join the Air Force although he was only 17. We
signed permission although we wanted him to remain in college."
Airman John served in Korea and Germany
before being shipped to Otis and his family has been living in a year-round
house on the Cape.
Airman Williams, single, is the son of Mr.
and Mrs. John Williams of 11 Nixon Ave., Worcester. He joined the AF three years
ago after graduating from South High School in Worcester. His folks were told of
the crash Sunday night and they have been depending on broadcasts for further
news. Mrs. Williams said she "thought I heard his name mentioned as one of two
boys who were rescued but we were so excited hearing his name that we weren’t
sure what went before that news. We are worried but we feel confident that he is
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