Administrator Note: This piece was
presented by Bob Lehman (no relation to Don Lehmann) in response to a
request for former USAFSS folks to share their experiences with others.
Sadly, Bob passed away recently--he will be missed by all,
especially by his USAFSSer comrades. His obituary follows.
Robert G. Lehman, 75, St. Augustine, passed away Feb. 18, 2009 ,at
Shands in Jacksonville. Memorial services will be held 5 to 7 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, at the VFW Post No. 239, 6184 U.S. 1 South, St.
He served in the U.S. Air Force and he was a commander of the United
Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 14-07 for two years and an active member
for many years.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy J. Lehman; daughter, Melinda Lehman
and husband, Jim Cybul; son, Rob Lehman and wife, Jeanine and their
children, Katie and Andrew.
|I was a 203, trained at Yale under Bob
Tharp and Dr. Henry Fenn, et al. Selected from my basic flight at
Sampson in the spring of '53, we completed training, I believe in late
February of March '54. Sent to Kelly by mistake, it took a month to get
orders straightened out for overseas deployment. Twenty-six new Chinese
linguists with nothing to do for a month. Finally someone decided we
should be put to work and they brought in a C-47 and loaded us all up
and flew us to Parks AFB for shipment. Those of us with new orders
for Clark arrived too late for the ship and had to wait more than a
month for the next one. So, I got my duty job as the barracks chief,
(get everyone out of the barracks before inspection, basically), and
also got a paying job at the golf driving range. My buddy and I got a
weekend pass and hitch-hiked to Hollywood and back. (Not supposed to be
over 50 miles from base, but who's counting)
Basically, after 17 days on the General Daniel Sullivan, my assignments
were 29th RSM,Clark, Flight A 29th at Kadena, back to Clark, posted to ShuLinKou on "Formosa", then by mid-55 to the first Chinese 203 group at
Yokota on ole 290,
an RB-29. (Another
photo of this historic bird can be seen at:
http://www.silent-warriors.com/rb29a290.gif) staging there with
other 203 groups. This B-29 was the prototype for airborne intercept.
As I said, we called her "two-nine nuthin" It had a small blister on
each side, aft for scanner positions to watch the engines, and a tail
gunner. No other armament except the tail. We lost engines for oil
leaks many times and landed on 2 once. One time we were AOCP, (Aircraft
Out-of-commission for Parts), for 4 months. Then we found a whole hanger
full of B-29 parts in Okinawa in a conversation with some WB-50 weather
guys. Never AOCP again. I stayed there in that assignment until Feb
57, extending so I could get discharged in time for spring semester back
I remember the very un-military mind-set, but absolutely no disrespect
for the job or it's priority. We played cards, drank, played tennis,
rented motorcycles, raised hell, but no one ever missed a flight or a
trick. We lost one plane in Sept 56, a refurbished RB-50 that was to
replace old 290, losing 16 people on a Russian mission. Reportedly, it
was the victim of a typhoon.
I got my degree in Industrial Engineering and spent about 35 years in
the foundry business with GM and others. In 1991, I took a job as the
first Director of Industrial Extension at West Virginia University,
retiring from there in 1996. My wife Kathy and I now live in St.
The following is a note I sent to Doug Quinn, regarding some of my
experiences at Clark
|Memories of Clark AFB
I was at Clark, (29th RSM) in 1954 as my first overseas deployment. We
sailed from Oakland CA to Manila in 17 days, stopping off at Kuajalien
and Guam on the way, arriving, I believe, in late June or early July.
It was an interesting experience, but not worth repeating.
After initial on-the-job training monitoring and translating, I was in a
small group reassigned to Kadena on Okinawa. After 4 months or so, a
few of us were sent back to Clark to help catch up a backlog of
translations of accumulated tapes. We translated and transmitted live
on a teletype machine. I remember I couldn't type fast enough to keep
ahead of the tape eating monster, and had to stop it periodically to get
ahead of it. We caught up the backlog on New Years Eve in time to go
into Angeles and get roaring drunk!. What a hangover!
In early Jan. '55, I posted for Taiwan, and went to ShuLinKou, from
there in 4 months, to Yokota in Japan, where I was in the first group of
Chinese Lings to be assigned to the flying platform on old RB-29, ser.
No 290, affectionately known as "Two Nine Nuthin."
At Clark, I really liked the tropical climate. I played a little golf
there, and the course had sand greens!. Very challenging! One time we
went to Bagio for a couple of days and I played golf there, also. On
the way, we went by a bay were there were landings in WWII and wrecked
LST's were off the beach where we went swimming.
The Huks were pretty active while we were there, and there were reports
of the front gate getting shot up one night, and guards shooting someone
coming over the fence. I remember seeing the smoke up on the mountain
from planes bombing or staffing Huk hideouts. We didn't seem to worry
much about them or other security matters. We just did our work and
played. It's incredible to think that the whole placed got buried in
ash from a volcano that far away!
I only have a couple of pictures from Clark. One showing Mt. Uriah in
the background and one showing the barracks. When I get a new
printer/scanner, (soon), I'll send them along.
I had two more interesting experiences at Clark. Sometime in '56, we
flew our old RB-29 to Clark to base out of there for a few missions off
the coast of Canton. When we arrived, the beer in the transient barracks
was not cold. So, we loaded up about 8 cases of beer and went back to
the flight line and put them in the bomb bay and took that 29 off and
flew around for an hour to cool the beer!.
Also, in '56, we were temporarily flying out of Kadena and I got a
message to get the plane back to Yokota asap, for a Russian mission. (I
was the senior non-com in the back. The front-end flying crew were not
briefed at out level, and were on TDY from stateside. ) So, I got
everyone back on the plane but we were one seat short, so I stayed over
to find my own way back. I asked base ops who was going to Yokota, and
they only had this C-119 coming from Yokota en route to Clark and back
I talked to the AC on the 119 and he let me hitch a ride. We were
taking Sake to Clark for the officers club on this training mission, and
taking bananas back to Yokota!
Well, those are most of my memories of Clark. I know they were 10 years
before your tour there, but I thought you might like to hear them.