Monday, June 25, 2012

The Presidential visit to Punta del Este (1967)

Punta del Este Ur.

Punta Del Este UR site of 1967 Summit Conference of American States

Coordinates:                                     34°58′16″S 54°57′07″W
 43 m (141 ft.)
Population    (2009) 
 7,298 approximant permanent residents 

Punta Del Este is an upscale resort on the southern tip of Uruguay, southeast of Maldonado and about 140 km east of Montevideo. Although the town has a year-round population of about 7,300, the summer tourist boom often boosts the population by an extra 500,000. The Tourist season usually lasts until the end of March, but in 1967 all of the businesses remained open for an additional month because President Johnson was to meet with Latin American leaders at a summit hosted by Uruguay, in Punta del Este, 

President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk arrived on April 11, 1967 to attend a summit conference with other American Chiefs of State.

On April 13, 1967 President Lyndon Johnson addressed the conference of The Organization of American States (OAS).

Metropolitian Punta Del Este
Looking Toward the Point
April 14, 1967, was the last day of the Latin American summit meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay. President Johnson met privately with the President of Uruguay for bilateral talks. Later in the morning Johnson and other Presidents met to sign the Declaration of the Presidents of America.

 Meeting of the American Chiefs of State in Punta Del Este 
In the declaration, the Presidents agreed to create and support a Latin American Common Market; to bind the nations of the hemisphere in transportation, power, and river development; to expand Latin American trade; to intensify the battle against illiteracy and disease; to modernize agriculture and education; and to avoid unnecessary military expenditures. Eighteen of the Presidents signed the proclamation. The President of Ecuador refused to sign it. Bolivia, who boycotted the conference, also did not sign. 

After lunch, the President left Uruguay; he stopped briefly in Surinam and met with Surinam officials before returning to the LBJ Ranch late in the evening

Presidents Travel Itinerary April 1967

WHCA’s Role in the President’s Visit

The WHCA communications team assembled at Andrews AFB on March 15, 1967 to support the Presidential visit to Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Approximately 30 tons of equipment and 25 personnel were loaded on a C-141 to support the four day trip starting on April 11, 1967. A similar team would be sent to Montevideo, Uruguay to also support this visit.

C-141 carrying 60 tons of equipment and 30 people
Ready for Departure to Punta Del Este

The team departed Andrews AFB in the afternoon headed for a refueling stop in Suriname. We departed Suriname arriving in Montevideo early in the morning on March 16, 1967.
After unloading the equipment we loaded onto a bus for the two hour trip to Punta Del Este. When the equipment arrived we started to prepare for the upcoming Summit.

First priority was to perform a radio survey of the island to determine the best locations for the FM and HF transmitters so all of the upcoming events would have coverage. The locations for the switchboard and Communications Center were also chosen. Because there was also a WHCA team in Montevideo, we did not have to provide the communications support for the Presidents arrival in Montevideo and the motorcade to the conference site in Punta Del Este.

The two systems of the TMC SBT-1KW transmitters were installed on the 12th floor of an office building on the southern edge of the city. Three FM base stations (Baker, Charlie and Sierra) were also install giving us line of site to almost any point in the city. A private residence was used as the HF receiving site in an area away from any heavy radio activity to minimize interference. Two R-390 A’s and CV-157’receivers and single sideband converters were located at this location. The transmitters and receivers were tied together with voice circuits for phone patch and TTY traffic. 
HF Transmitter, Receiver and SSB converter
The installation of all of our equipment was complete by March 30th 1967. With the exception of finishing pulling a few circuits and terminating them on the switchboard, we were ready for the conference. All locations were manned and operated on a 7 by 24 hr. basis until the conference was over and the President departed Montevideo.

President Johnson arrived on April 11th and the conference took place as scheduled. On April 14, 1967 the President departed Punta Del Este and left Montevideo headed for Paramaribo Suriname to meet with the President of Suriname and then returned to the LBJ Ranch.

It was time to tear everything down and pack everything back on a truck to go to Montevideo for loading and departure from Uruguay. On April 15th 1967 we departed for Suriname stopping at Lackland AFB to drop off passengers headed to Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch. after refueling we headed to Andrews AFB and home.

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