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Friday, January 18, 2019

The President 's trips to Walkers Cay and Grand Cay in the Bahamas (1972-1973)


Walkers Cay and Grand Cay, Bahamas

Walkers Cay Club, Bahamas (note radio antenna), WHCA maintained UHF system 

Type of Activity
 Communications Support Trips  
Location
Location 
 Bahama Islands
Date of Activity
 Various
Coordinates
  27°15′27.8″N 78°23′40.7″W

4 May 1973 to Walkers Cay to support the President’s visit on Grand Cay

Robert Abplanalp the owner and President of PVC Corporation was a close friend of President Nixon. Mr. Abplanalp owned two islands in the Bahamas’, Walkers Cay and Grand Cay.

The Walkers Cay Club and Marina was a very popular fishing resort.  It was a very exclusive resort as the only way to reach the island was by boat or by air.  The resort had regularly scheduled flights from Ft Lauderdale, Fl. by seaplane. Travel by WHCA to the island was generally by helicopter.  A relatively small hotel was on the island as well as the resorts bar and restaurant and two swimming pools. There were several villas available besides the Hotel for guests to stay while visiting the island.  The marina was fully equipped with bait, tackle, and snack shops. 

The island had its own power plant and desalination station for all drinking water.  There were several buildings where the staff lived while on the island. The radios were in a building adjacent to the 125 ft. tower, and a separate building near to the radio room housed a small switchboard and communications center.

Walkers Cay Club air strip and Marina
Walkers Cay Island in the Bahamas
Walkers Cay Club after 2004 hurricane 
Walkers Cay Club after 2004 hurricane season 
Note:  Walkers Cay Club was severely damaged in 2004, was closed and is now for sale.

Grand Cay Bahamas

President Nixon stayed on Grand Cay, Mr. Abplanalp's private 125-acre island in the Bahamas, complete with a house that Mr. Abplanalp had refurbished for presidential use, and for relaxation a 55-foot yacht was always available. There were also two villas located on the island for other guests.  Grand Cay was about a 15min. boat ride south east of Walkers Cay.  The island did have a usable helicopter pad for Marine One and Army One.

Main Residence where President Nixon would always Stay
The Main House Boat Dock and USSS on Grand Cay
There was a small house by the boat dock for the caretaker and a small bunk house for necessary support personnel during the trip.  The Secret Service CP and WHCA radio room was in the same building near the front entrance of the main residence.  The bunk house was two small to house everyone, so the Secret Service would stay on Grand Bahama Island (GBI) near Freeport and they would  be choppered in to change shifts. Golf carts were the normal mode of transportation.

Big Grand Cay Island (Guest Villa behind Main Residence on other side of the island)
Guest Villa for VIP's traveling with the President
26 May 73 to Grand Cay Bahamas to support President Nixon during Visit

The President was visiting his close friend Bob Abplanalp on Grand Cay.  I remember the night from hell on Grand Cay very well, I was there when the Mayday call came in. When the midnight shift came in for a landing the blades hooked the water and 16 agents plus the chopper crew hit the water.  I was asleep when the Mayday call came in.    I grabbed a radio and headed for the chopper pad without a flashlight God was it dark, but I could hear the agents yelling. The 15 survivors, agents and crew, were all on the underside of the chopper which had flipped over when it crashed.  About the time that I got to the pad Bob Abplanalp arrived on a golf cart which had headlights so we could see the chopper.  I called the CP to let them know where the chopper was located and that everyone was still on the chopper and that it was partially submerged. . Maybe five min. after that the boat arrived with the divers and started evacuating the agents.  Luckily there were divers on the trip and they finally got to the chopper to start evacuating everyone.

Looking toward the Main Residence from the chopper pad
Others arrived and I then went back to the radio room to make sure all the radios were working.  I called Walkers Cay to let someone know over there what had happened, I then went to the bunk house where they were bringing everyone any necessary medical treatment, this is when I found out that an agent was trapped inside the chopper and drowned.  Agent J. Clifford Dietrich - May 26, 1973: was killed in this helicopter crash near Grand Cay Island in the Bahamas while on assignment with the Presidential Protective Division.  I was asked to help place Agent Dietrich’s body on a Chinook to transport everyone back to GBI and then back to Homestead.  They placed him under the jump seats of the chopper and none of the agents that flew back ever knew they were sitting over him.  This was one night that I will never forget. That was the last time I ever saw the Army One crew and I think that they were deactivated in 1976, in part because of this crash.  In LTC Boyer’s book “Inside the Presidential Helicopter” he disclosed that the altimeter was not properly calibrated and was off by 300 ft. this along with inadequate lighting contributed to the crash.

UHF Radio System to the Bahamas

UHF Radio shot from GBI to Walkers Cay to Grand Cay
The GRC-104 UHF Radio system used from GBI to Walkers Cay and Grand Cay Islands
Prior to 1969 there was little or no communications on Walkers Cay or Grand Cay. There was a low power radio at the Walkers Cay Club that they used to communicate to their office in Ft. Lauderdale, and for emergencies. There was nothing on Grand Cay!

The UHF System was designed to provide 8 channels of voice grade circuits from the Key Biscayne White House switchboard to a mini-switchboard at Walkers Cay.  The Walkers Cay switchboard would also terminate 24 voice grade circuits from Grand Cay. 
               
AT&T provided the voice circuits from Key Biscayne to a NASA submarine cable that terminated at a down range missile tracking station on Grand Bahama Island (GBI).  Using an existing radio tower WHCA installed a Farinon UHF radio system on the Air Force facility.  GBI shot directly to Walkers Cay where the circuits terminated.  On Walkers Cay there were telephones installed in the Walkers Cay Club’s office and several of the hotel rooms where supporting staff would stay during all Presidential trips to Grand Cay.  Voice circuits were also installed in the communication center for any Dex-1(facimile) and TTY traffic.  FM base stations were also installed for any necessary communications for WHCA, Secret Service, or the White House Stall staying on the island.  The final leg was a GRC 103 UHF radio system, with a TD 660 multiplexer providing 24 voice circuits between Walkers Cay and terminating on Grand Cay.  Telephones were installed in the Main residence and both villas, as well as the bunkhouse on the island.  The Secret Service CP also had phones installed and FM Radio Consoles on Baker and Charlie frequencies.  All equipment, tools, and personnel had to be sent in on helicopters from Homestead AFB.

The monthly maintenance trips to Walkers Cay were like paid vacations, we would be choppered over from Homestead, spent two or three days doing PM's on Walkers and traveling over to Grand Cay by boat.  During this time we ate, drank and slept all complementary.  Plus we would of course have to man all locations during any official trips.  We also had a UHF system between Freeport on GBI to Walkers Cay which meant side trips to the Casino in Freeport.  We honestly did do some work during some of these trips.  I never had any problem finding volunteers to help me on maintenance trips.

Unfortunately the Walkers Cay Club was heavily damaged by hurricane Andrew and was closed down, the island and all of the facilities are presently for sale.

Nixon visited Key Biscayne more than 50 times this also included several visits to Grand Cay between 1969 and 1974 when he resigned from office.



Sunday, January 6, 2019

WHCA Transforms Presidential Communications


WHCA Transforms Presidential Communications

Type of Activity
Modernizing Communications
Location
Location
Washington DC and Others
Date of Activity
 1992 through Present
Coordinates
38°53'51.2"N 77°02'20.9"W

From the time that I left the White house Communications Agency in 1974 to the present day the challenge for WHCA is to ensure the Agency consistently provides leading-edge technologies that enable the President and his staff to lead the nation effectively. In its role as the premier service provider for presidential communications, WHCA not only showcases Defense Department capabilities during all presidential events, but also the capabilities of the most technologically advanced country in the world as WHCA travels globally supporting the President in his role as head of state. 

WHCA’s challenge was to provide reliable, redundant, robust secure and non-secure voice, data and video to the president anywhere, anytime and by any means. The terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, coupled with emerging requirements from a tech-savvy administration, highlighted the need for reliable, real-time, secure information flow to the President and his staff. 

Col. Michael D. McDonald, USAF (Ret.), saw a lot of changes in presidential communications systems during his three-year tenure as the commander of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA)—changes that went into high gear after the terrorist attacks. Although a lot has been accomplished, the colonel says continued improvements will help the President and his staff take full advantage of the benefits of technology. WHCA's commander, captures the essence of this aggressive modernization plan thus: With the right technological solutions, we intend to transform WHCA — all components — into a fully integrated, network-centric organization. With a rapidly deployable command, control, communications, computers and intelligence packages that allow us to put together a secure presidential communications support team anywhere in the world within 72 hours once we receive an execute mission.

WHCA, which is in Washington, D.C., is truly a joint agency staffed by members of all the armed forces. Its responsibilities include providing the President and his staff with information systems both at the White House and on the road, so he can communicate with the military forces at every level.

WHCA is organized into six operational units. Three of these units are the presidential communications commands that travel to a location before the president arrives and set up the communications hub. All the capabilities that the President has at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue literally need to move with the president. The President must have these capabilities at his disposal whether he’s at a location stateside, on Air Force One, HMX-1 [Marine Helicopter Squadron-1] or anywhere he goes in the world. This includes both classified and unclassified capabilities.

The remainder of the units supports specific missions. The Washington Area Communications Command provides the fixed infrastructure that facilitates all White House communications. Audio and video capabilities at locations outside of Washington, D.C., are the responsibility of the Visual Information Command. For example, this unit established the two-way videoconferencing systems. 

Today WHCA’s technologies mirror those found throughout industry and the civilian world. Previously, the communications setup was designed as a single system that met the needs of the President. Now, it is a system of systems, and WHCA is in the process of incorporating an Internet protocol [IP] supported network.

Specifics of this information technology transformation plan include a realignment of core functions and missions in WHCA, coupled with a myriad of technological upgrades. Many of the improvements to systems began prior to September 11. At the end of 2000, the U.S. Defense Department assessed the state of the president’s communications capabilities. This was DOD looking at DOD support to the commander in chief.

WHCA started looking at each one of the stovepipe systems the Agency had and looking at their capacities and capabilities, what Internet technology could provide, and began moving down that path. WHCA hit everything from the office phones to the mobile systems that travel with the president on the road to the aircraft and have been moving down that road, evaluating all applications.

Figure 1 . White House Communications Agency current support for daily operations.

Figure 1 above depicts how WHCA supported daily operations prior to September 11 for the President and his staff. As this illustration indicates, there were separate infrastructures to support multiple voice, data, video and radio systems. Each of these systems requires an extensive amount of labor to install, operate and maintain. WHCA didn't have the personnel on hand to operate and maintain all these disparate systems. Couple this issue with support of the travel mission using scenarios, required a substantial financial investment in IT equipment and services was required. 

A light bulb went on, and a lot of the equipment—while it still worked and could still provide service—probably would not meet the information needs that would be coming along in 2000 and onward. What September 11 did was underscore everything that the DOD had noted. WHCA had already begun a massive effort, and by September 11 it had a good idea of what was needed to do. Then the terrorist attacks happened, which created an even greater sense of urgency.

The assessment that WHCA completed revealed approximately 41 projects that required work. WHCA singled out 11 of the largest and most complex to hit first. Known as the Pioneer Project, this work included upgrading all the IP networks supporting WHCA’s portion of the White House operation. It converged data, voice and video on those networks. It brought a new mobile band to the table that was IP capable. It brought new technologies to the Red Switch, the secure voice environment. It also expanded the use of various military communications satellites. 

Those things are now coming to fruition. It’s a long-term plan that will continuously upgrade the President’s communications and keep them upgraded. Col MacDonald claimed that the changes that have taken place have improved communications tenfold over the past three years. 

What the country needed that day was a homeland security equivalent of the military’s Global Command and Control System, and nothing like that exists in the civilian world. The lack of connectivity at that point in time made life interesting.

The Federal Aviation Administration had the right type of systems in place and that is why it could assess the situation and direct aircraft to land safely, but the White House needs the same kind of situational awareness, the colonel states.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security must determine how to link all the people in different areas of homeland defense and security, such as local fire departments and emergency personnel, by applying the right technology. 

Col. McDonald emphasizes that the events of September 11 resulted in more than just upgrades in technology. The WHCA now works very closely with other agencies like the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of Naval Research and is teaming with industry. Teaming arrangements have been put into place, and new teams continue to be formed.

This would have happened eventually, but it would have been much slower. Many companies have been working with WHCA, and companies, on their own dime, did a lot of integration and experimentation in order to help WHCA provide robust services.

A huge amount of innovation has emerged from the events of September 11, For example, videoconferencing onboard Air Force One, made possible by IP networking, will allow personnel to send and receive e-mail as well as to take advantage of voice over IP communications. “The challenge we now face is that we have to move faster and not just in the military but in the White House as well. Now, whenever the president goes somewhere, 20 to 25 people must deploy to the destination five to seven days in advance of the president’s arrival. 

We need to expand the use of IP so that only 10 people are needed, and they can deploy only 72 hours in advance of the President anywhere in the World.

Force transformation 

Recognizing the need to create a more streamlined, fully modernized communications-support agency in response to the events of September 11, 2001 — and the unprecedented levels new presidential communication commands were created. Camp David, the agency's remote detachment at Thurmont, Md., was also re-flagged as a subordinate command, providing telecommunications support for the presidential retreat. 

September 11 also exposed challenges in providing secure, redundant communications support for the President and his staff. After the initial attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the White House lines had an immediate impact involving WHCA was a sudden surge in secure voice traffic and the White House staff was literally waiting in line to use secure data communications.

Mobilized by the September 2001 events, WHCA quickly assessed critical communications-support systems for the President and his staff. WHCA realized that it must provide an infrastructure that assures communications for the President and his staff under all threats providing reliable and redundant communications support.

Systems supporting these missions must be redundant, secure and reliable in a global environment faced with significant information-assurance challenges, from day-to- day operations through crisis management and national-security emergencies. Therefore, the primary goal of providing the President and his staff with capabilities consistent with "corporate executives in the corporate environment" requires a major paradigm shift in the way WHCA currently does business. In order to meet these requirements and the growing expectations from the President and his staff for instantaneous, global, secure, redundant and reliable communications support.

What WHCA has done

Overhauling the agency's aged and failing legacy computer systems has been an ongoing project. Our most recent achievement in this endeavor was successfully fielding encryption cards and computer systems to WHCA and WHMO staff members for sending secure email transmissions. Upgrades to our special-mission circuit program include digitizing key communication links using secure terminal equipment and installing voice-over-Internet-protocol voice/ data equipment, upgrading both secure and unsecure video conferences with his senior staff and advisers. Technical upgrades to Air Force One include installing live DirecTV, providing real-time information concerning world events to the President and his staff.

Specifically, a converged network will enable WHCA to integrate its five divergent networks into a single architecture supporting all voice/ data/ video requirements, while simultaneously expanding and improving service to the president and his staff regardless of location.

                       Figure 2. The illustration shows converging and streamlining network architectures into one seamless converged data and voice system. 

Also, events of 9-11 highlighted the criticality of our secure voice system and its vulnerabilities. A massive effort is currently ongoing to modernize our secure voice systems supporting the president and his staff. This includes new equipment and software upgrades, coupled with the installation of Real Time monitoring technologies.

To enable real-time monitoring of deployed systems and assets, WHCA network engineers designed a state-of-the-art operations center, modeled after the Defense Information Systems Agency's Global Network Operations and Security Center. This operations center stood up Sept. 1, 2002, providing 24 hours a day, seven days a week support for our travel and fixed communication sites. Embedded in this new command-and-control facility are network monitoring tools and firmware systems, enabling us communications managers to make informed decisions in reallocating resources to meet priority needs.

In 2002 the Special Missions Command was established and handles communications for unique missions in fixed locations such as Camp David or the President’s personal estate, this mission has remained largely unchanged through present day. When the Government updated their contingency operations orders and plans in 2003, WHCA was tasked with creating and maintaining a Continuity of Operations facility that would ensure all services being provided by WHCA would be available should a major issue affecting Washington DC cause services to be limited. In late 2003 WHCA opened the Signal Support Element which established a facility outside of Washington, DC designed to ensure communication reliability for the President and all White House staff and supporting various Government Agencies.

In 2015 as the Agency and Special Missions Command began supporting All White House computer and network requirements it was discovered that a more robust call center was required to supporting the increase of over 3,000 White House customers. The Command was again called upon to solve a major issue facing the Agency. In late 2015 the Special Missions Command stood up the White House Information Technology Service Call Center at Camp David and began providing unprecedented support to the newly converted White House staff. As the travel and customer service requirements began to pick up it was determined that with the changing technology and pace required a change in how the Command trained and equipment it provided its members. 

At the beginning of 2016 the Special Missions Command conducted a major personnel and mission capability shift which established a team of well-rounded and highly cross-trained members. Out of this needed change was born the Special Missions Command, a Cross Functional Team which assumed the enormous task of providing all travel and Emergency Action support for the President while at Camp David, the President and Vice President while at their private residence and routine travel support for the President and Vice President around the world.

Next steps

Through its government-industry partnership outreach program, WHCA is developing strategic partnerships with key government organizations and industry officials to fulfill these critical communications requirements for the president and his staff. These relationships bring the WHCA modernization team together with the strength and expertise of government agencies and industry to solve complex telecommunication problems. Cooperation through this initiative has yielded a variety of partnership opportunities including DISA, USSS, Navy Research Lab, National Security Agency, National Security Council, U.S. State Department, Cisco, Dell, Compaq, Avaya, and SAIC — to name a few. WHCA’s goal in this endeavor was to reduce support costs and improve the readiness of WHCA's telecommunication systems through innovative government/ industry partnerships. 

Results of current teaming efforts with our industry partners include testing a myriad of wireless devices. Specifically, we're testing a new generation of high-speed mobile services including data-enabled wireless phones, virtual private- network systems, pagers, computers, printers and personal digital assistants using 802.11, infrared and Bluetooth technologies. As mobile computing and telephony converge, the challenge is to overcome the lack of robust authentication solutions to support these smart mobile devices. WHCA is currently working with NRL, NSA and leading industry counterparts to remove those obstacles.

The goal is developing and fielding an NSA-approved, secure encryption standard that provides end-to-end integrated security in wireless and wired environments for the president and his staff. A new mobile communications van placed in service in 2018 replaced WHCA’s aging Roadrunner fleet used to support presidential-motorcade movements. These state-of-the-art replacement vehicles were developed with NRL's assistance. These new vehicles will provide highly capable, robust, mobile communications platform providing secure streaming video, data and secure communications to the presidential limousine and support vehicles.

The way ahead

As WHCA expands the boundaries of its enterprise network to the President and his staff, a highly mobile, scalable, IP based, secure communications infrastructure will meet those demands. This new infrastructure will enable WHCA to reduce their operational footprint and rapidly disperse a critical workforce (and other) resources to meet multiple mission requirements while simultaneously providing significantly enhanced telecommunications support to the President and his staff. Riding on a single-converged-network platform, these communication packages will provide increased bandwidth to our fixed and travel locations, secure commercial wireless-communications support and seamless network connectivity between fixed and travel locations.

Also, maximizing the use of commercial-off-the-shelf telecommunication products and collaborating with industry/ agency counterparts ensures that WHCA remains on the leading edge of proven, reliable and new technologies supporting the President and his staff.

Motorola FM VHF Radio Training


Motorola Radio Training

Motorola’s Manufacturing Plant Schaumburg IL
Type Of Activity
Technical Training
Location
Location
Schaumburg IL
Date of Activity
 Sep 19 1971 to Sep 25 1971
Coordinates
42° 4'5.20"N  88° 2'44.47"W

19 Sep 71 to Chicago IL-Motorola Radio  

I had been working on Motorola FM equipment for a number of years, all of my training had been on the job until 1971 when I was sent to Schaumburg IL to Motorola’s manufacturing plant to be trained on hand held FM radios and radio pagers.

Motorola’s Headquarters Schaumburg IL
WHCA used the Motorola brand exclusively for communications between the Secret Service, the White House Staff and WHCA our frequency spectrum was in the VHF range for these units.

We would use the P-33’s in all motorcade setups and all vehicles used by advance and staff. If the vehicle was assigned to the Secret Service they would receive a unit with Baker/Charlie frequency. The Staff would receive a P-33 radio on Sierra frequency.  

Motorola P-33 5w FM transceiver
The Secret Service Agents were all issued HT-220's on Baker/Charlie Frequency and certain Staff members would be issued HT-220's on Sierra. 

HT-220 1.5w FM Transceiver
The Staff frequency would also be set up with a Radio Paging system.  The Paging encoder would be set up at the switchboard at all trip locations or permanent installations. Any of the Staff and WHCA personnel authorized would receive a voice pager.

Paging system Encoder
Motorola  Pageboy radio paging unit
The San Clemente Detachment and CCT had hundreds of units that were used during Presidential visits or support on side trips for the Secret Service and the White House Staff.  This training would help us tremendously in our efforts to maintain our assigned equipment.

Since I had met and married my wife (Joanne)  while I was stationed in Chicago, I was pretty familiar with the area.  I was sent to this training with Bill Eadie who was also a CCT member.  We arrived at O’Hare and departed to check into our hotel.

The Motorola Plant was only two miles away from our hotel, so the next morning we started the week long class. We wrapped up training on Friday morning and was given a tour of the manufacturing plant after which we were released to return home. 

Bill and I departed O’Hare on Saturday to return to San Clemente





Civil Defense CBR, and WHCA HF Training


 Civil Defense CBR, and WHCA HF Training
Civil Defence CBR Training at Howard University
Type Of Activity
 Training in CBR and HF Radio
Location
Location
 Howard University and Cartwheel
Date of Activity
 Jan 1967 and Feb 1967 
Coordinates

16 Jan 67 to Washington DC -Howard University CBR Training

I was getting ready to relocate to Le Masters PA and take over Cannonball when I was sent to Silver Springs MD to a training class that was at Howard University. This class was being conducted by the Civil Defense Department to instruct us on the detection, prevention or treatment of Chemical, Biological, or Radioactive (CBR) substances. This training was imperative as I would be responsible for all activities at Cannonball Tower. I did learn how to properly use and maintain Geiger counters, gas masks and the proper ways to decontaminate equipment and personal should we were ever exposed to any of these substances. 

The Decon Shower at Cannonball
Cannonball did have Decon a station at the entrance of the tower, where contaminated equipment and clothing could be disposed of and showers for personnel to decontaminate prior to entering.

 Radiation Detection Package
The class also spent a day at the Washington DC Civil Defense Emergency Operations Center operated by the D.C. Office of Emergency Management located at the Lorton VA Youth Correctional Facility. We received a detailed overview of how the WHCA microwave network could accommodate any emergency Presidential address into the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) using Mt Weather as the interface. While I was in class I was notified that I would be assigned to support President Johnson on an upcoming trip to a Conference of American States in Punta Del Este Uruguay in March of 1967.



Entrance to CD Emergency Ops. Center

26 Feb 67 to Washington DC-HF Radio Training

In preparation of the upcoming trip to Punta Del Este I was sent to Cartwheel for a week of operational training the TMC-750 single sideband (SSB) transmitter, and the R-390/CV-157 single sideband (SSB) receiver and converter. This included ancillary TTY and Voice equipment necessary to communicate with Air Force One (AF-1) and other WHCA locations working on this particular trip.

SSB Radio Console with TTY interface

SSB TMC 750 Transmitter
The Single Sideband (SSB) console was equipped with two R390-A receivers, two CV-157 SSB converters with audio patch panel for all upper sideband (USB) voice traffic with phone patch capabilities and lower sideband (LSB) TTY traffic. All TTY circuits had associated frequency shift keying (FSK) equipment with a DC patch panel and would easily connect to the Cryptographic equip in the Commcenter.

The TMC-GPT-750 was a 1KW transmitter and was installed in all of the towers and used primarily for support on overseas trips.

When I returned home from Punta Del Este in March of 1967 we relocated to PA where I would be assigned to a microwave relay facility  known as Cannonball as the NCOIC.

In March of 1967 when I returned from Uruguay we moved to Lemasters Pa where I would be assigned to a microwave relay Facility as the NCOIC.





Thursday, January 3, 2019

The CCT's Organizational Readiness Evaluation (ORE



Organizational Readiness Evaluation (ORE)
     Camp Pendleton’s main entrance 
Type of Activity
Organizational Readiness Evaluation (ORE) 
Location
Location
 Camp Pendleton San Diego County
Date of Activity
 May 11 1971
Coordinates
 +33°20′N 117°25′W       

11 May 71 to Camp Pendleton CA-ORE

Since the CCT was meant to be a fast response team that could respond quickly, DCSU HQ decided to surprise us with an Organizational Readiness Evaluation (ORE). I received a call from Mr. Douglas at about 7:30 in the evening to assemble the team ASAP at our El Toro shop.

I started calling or paging everyone to immediately call me for instructions it only took about 15 min. to inform everyone to pack a bag and report to our shop. When we arrived, we were instructed to prepare to leave first thing in the morning with all our radio, switchboard, and Commcenter equipment for an unknown location in southern CA. We all went to the EL Toro MCAS, officers BOQ to spend the night.

Abandoned Quonset Huts


Our instructions were to depart and proceed to Camp Pendleton to set up our equipment in a building on base. The building turned out to be an old WW II Quonset hut in an isolated area of Camp Pendleton. We were glad to find that the building did have electricity to power our equipment. It only took us about an hour to set up all our equipment and run the necessary radio keying lines and interconnecting audio circuits between the two URT-23 HF SSB radios with the mini board and the Commcenter. Operational tests were conducted for both TTY and voice traffic including HF Phone Patches with Cactus and FM Radio patches with various places through San Clemente switch board. 

This exercise continued until early evening when we were advised to terminate our activities, pack up our equipment and return to El Toro.