Monday, June 25, 2012

The White House Communications Agency (1965-1970)

The White House Communications Agency
Presidential Service Badge
Type Of Activity Communications support for the White House
Washington DC
Date of Activity
 Nov 1965 to Dec 1973
  38°53′52″N 77°02′11″W

WHCA’s Role in Providing Communications Support to the President, and The Early Presidential Emergency Facilities (PEF)

The White House Communications Agency (WHCA), originally known as the White House Signal Detachment (WHSD), was officially formed by the United States Department of War on 25 March 1942 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The WHSD was created to provide normal and emergency communications requirements in support of the President. The WHSD provided mobile radio, teletype, telephone and cryptographic aides in the White House and at Shangri-La, now known as Camp David. The mission of the WHSD was to provide a premier communication system that would enable the President to lead the nation effectively regardless of his location worldwide, and in any emergency situation. In 1954 WHSD was reorganized and renamed the White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA).

In 1962 WHASA was discontinued and its duties were transferred to the auspices of the Defense Communications Agency under the operational control of the White House Military Office, and reestablished as the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). WHCA was divided into three units:

The Defense Communications Operations Unit (DCOU) was located on M St. in Washington DC and was responsible to maintain the communications equipment used to support the White House when the President Traveled outside of Washington DC either in the USA or worldwide. All trip equipment was staged at this location. The equipment included all FM hand held radios and base stations, switchboard, all communications center equipment with secure voice and TTY, as well as all AV equipment necessary for all media events.

Entrance to Checkmate (The Shop) from Wisconsin Ave NW in Washington D.C. (1973)
Entrance to Checkmate (2011)
The Defense Communications Administrative Unit (DCAU) was also located on M St. in Washington DC. This unit was responsible for all Personnel functions including recruitment, formulating travel rosters and arranging WHCA transportation necessary for all domestic and worldwide Presidential trips.

The Defense Communication Support Unit (DCSU) was headquartered at Camp David, and was responsible for the operation of the seven Presidential Emergency Facilities (PEF) locations as well as the Eisenhower farm in Gettysburg Pa. and the communications equipment on the Presidential Train “CRATE” in Harrisburg, Pa.

The USSS CP at the Eisenhower farm in Gettysburg PA
DCSU would also be responsible for communications at the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City TX, as well as President Nixon’s homes in San Clemente Ca. and Key Biscayne Fl.

WHCA was commissioned to provide reliable communications support to the President, Vice President, Executive Office of the President senior staff, National Security Council, Secret Service and others as directed by the White House Military Office. WHCA ‘s primary duty would be call communications in the White House starting with the President’s desk phone in the Oval Office This support includes FM mobile and HF radio communications, non-secure voice, secure voice, record communications, audio-visual services, automated data processing support and photographic and drafting services both in Washington, D.C. , anywhere in the USA and worldwide. In the ten years that I worked with WHCA we used state of the art communications equipment but it took many people and thousands of pounds of equipment at each stop to provide quality communications. Advances in technology not only reduced the size and weight of the equipment but also dramatically reduced the number people required to provide the same quality of service.

Changes in the WHCA Trip Requirements

The trip packages had not change much by 1987, other than they were traveling with Dimension PBX electronic switchboards instead of the mini boards; otherwise you would not have noticed a difference in the trip environment. The Motorola radios got smaller and then added Data Encryption Standard (DES) which was a headache because sometimes the key change for the network would change while in route to a trip location. Each radio needed to be keyed with a device called a "squirt gun" and at a designated time the new key would take effect. Later a reserve key was loaded at the same time in the event that you needed to remotely update because of a lost radio. The WH Staff just couldn't understand that some of the safe guards about tampering with a "lost" radio would cause it to dump the key codes and only be available in clear mode. 

Now the switchboard and FM radio sections just called AT&T and Motorola and tell them to package the latest and greatest and it is done. All of radio nets have been encrypted with DES and it was an issue when someone dumped the memory and needed to re-key the code at a trip site. The AV section has progressed to some more modern modular PA systems, and is now WHCA’s primary function.

The only thing different in the Commenter in 1987 to the Model 28 TTY paper tape 100 baud noisy machines, was the owner of the finger prints on the boxes. The crypto element is now reduced to a controlled "credit card" sized module similar to Direct TV. No more guarding the boxes and don't they don't have to go through the load the plane routine. 
The USSS still has all the same frequencies, but about 1986 they had an encrypted cellular site in the EOB. The Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) would route all calls from Electronic Serial Number (ESN's) assigned to the White House to that cellular hub and they were actually drawing WH Centrex dial tone, plus it was capable of encryption over the non-copper segments. I am sure that over another 20 years and it has continued to improve. 

WHCA Communications Van (Roadrunner)
The first WHCA mobile Communications Van (Roadrunner) was a plywood pallet that was slipped into a Ford Econoline Van with a Model 28 TTY, and a 19" rack of base stations. WHCA used the old "ALPHA" FM frequency and transmitted TTY back to CROWN, when Roadrunner stopped, the operators team would hop out and start a small Honda Generator for power.   While in route there was a power inverter, but the RPM's of the engine needed to be in a  roar  to maintain voltages and lots of blown fuses and plenty of burned up power supplies in the beginning.  The newer Roadrunners are were electronic platforms built into GMC Suburban with a satellite dome, lots of auxiliary power from multiple inverters, full complement of base stations, and a trunking satellite mini-cellular so the event site could link back to Camp and draw dial tone.  Lower ranking WH Staff would use their own cell phones over the public network; but rest assured that cell saturation around a POTUS event is highly possible.  They have worked out an agreement with the all of the common carriers a priority way to block normal traffic on a certain percentage of trunks that is all behind the scenes negotiations, a normal person just gets a no service indication.

Now that we have the Internet and cellular network, the role of WHCA is somewhat limited to Command and Control circuits. Camp David is the satellite downlink point and all trip sites carry small suitcase multiplexers and pull in mini-cells in the hotel and they have the WH Centrex available on their permanently assigned smart phones. All staff members carry encrypted personal digital assistant (PDA's) so the comm. center is basically out of business on the road other than to assemble the news summary and the program database (PDB) so I have been told. AV is the biggest job for WHCA now. They shrink wrap a trip load and put it on a common carrier freight truck 2-3 days before a visit and it arrives on the hotel loading dock. No more deck loading cargo planes, which are now C-17's except for overseas trips. 

The south lawn of the White House
At the end of the trip, all the equipment is returned to a Rental Truck and delivered to a common carrier freight company and returned to Anacostia. Only short notice trips get airlifted from Andrews, with anything planned, the trucks roll down the Interstate. WHCA has a couple of semi-trailers and their own drivers for big swings and will try to save money and drive multiple stops and drop them off and recover them at end of trip in a few days. Most of it is commercial carriers. Remember LBJ, he would be airborne before WHCA was ever notified, I can remember Trucks loaded and waiting at Checkmate.

I always said that it the American taxpayers knew what it cost for our President to travel anywhere that they would demand that he never left Washington!

Experiences and Comments

I re-enlisted in the Army in Dec. 1964 for Microwave Repair School at Ft Monmouth in Eatontown, NJ. We rented an efficiency apartment in North Branch, NJ for about a month while we waited to be assigned to Gov’t Quarters. 

Don at Ft Monmouth, NJ Gov’t Housing (1965)
Joanne and Don in April 1965 Long Branch NJ
Don was a little over a year old when we moved to NJ but had already lived in Chicago and Seattle while I was assigned to Nike Missile bases in those cities. We would relocate four times while working in WHCA.

Microwave school was twenty six weeks long, and I learned that upon completion of the course that most of the graduates went on to advanced training on Troposcatter Radio, and then on to Viet Nam. This was indeed true but in July of 1965, I was interviewed by a recruiting team from WHCA and this interview would change everything!

I was pulled from class and was told to report to a conference room where I was asked about my background by four individuals dressed in civilian clothes. They talked about the Agency, what they did and what would take place if I were selected. One requirement was for them to complete an intensive background investigation to receive a Top Secret Clearance. Since I already had a Secret clearance I didn’t see a problem. Little did I know that they would visit all of my references and talk to them about me and my family? I also was required to pass a polygraph examination prior to actual assignment to in WHCA. The polygraph examination took place about a month after the interview. I have to say that I was really nervous while they asked me a series of questions to insure that I was not concealing anything that might have been used against me and that I would be handling very sensitive information. I answered all of the questions without a problem until the last one, “Have you answered truthfully to all of the previous questions?” all of a sudden the needles went crazy. I Had to do it again with the same result. I was given a short recess and after a third try, I PASSED! Now all I had to do was to finish school and wait for the security clearance to be completed.

Finally on November 16, 1965 I received orders transferring me to WHCA and to report to Washington DC. We packed up and headed south. Since we were not heading to a Military Base all my orders contained was a street address in Washington, DC. Unfortunately for us this address was incorrect and we circled for an hour never finding this location. Luckily I had been given a phone number to call if I had any questions while I was waiting for my Top Secret security clearance to be approved. So I called the number and found out that the address was an old location and the Agency had moved. The facility was located in an unmarked building on M St. in Georgetown.

It was then that I found out that I would be going to be assigned to Camp David as part of the Detachment maintaining the microwave network providing communications to the Presidential Emergency Facilities (PEF) in and around the Washington DC area.

The Presidential Retreat at Camp David (1965- 1967)

Camp David Catoctin Mountain,  Md.

Camp David Insignia
 1,900 ft. (579.1 m)
 Frederick County, Maryland, USA
 Appalachian Mountains
 +39.648333N  -77.466667 W

November of 1965 to Camp David

Camp David was originally built as a camp for federal government agencies and their families, by the WPA, starting in 1935, opening in 1938. About Camp David

On July 5 1942 the President inspected the retreat, which he had named "Shangri-La" in April. Among the names Roosevelt applied to individual buildings were "The Bear's Den" (the main lodge), "The Soap Dish" (the laundry), "The Baker Street Urchins" (Secret Service building), and "Little Luzon" (Philippine stewards' cabin).

Entrance to the Presidential Retreat (1942)
In April 1942 President Roosevelt visited the camp and chose as its nucleus and his personal residence an existing cabin, a one-room frame structure with a huge stone fireplace, an open porch, and an outside kitchen. Rebuilt by local laborers and the crew of the U.S.S. Potomac, which was transferred to the retreat in June, the completed structure, or lodge, contained a living-dining room, probably the original room; an enlarged, screened-in porch; a bedroom wing to the south; and a kitchen wing to the north. The exterior was constructed of local stone and hardwood; the interior, mainly of commercially obtained materials.

Laborers also assembled a communications building out of three existing cabins; combined two others to form a guest lodge; altered another structure for use as servants' sleeping quarters; and constructed a log gatehouse to guard the access road. Landscaping included selective removal of trees and shrubbery to accommodate the eastward view; additional planting in the vicinity of the main lodge; some clearing to aid in construction; and the obliteration of old service roads. Labor in the swimming pool area involved landscaping, road improvement, and the erection of a frame platform and tent for use as a dressing room. Utility work included the installation of water, power, and telephone lines and an underground intercommunication system.

Main Entrance to Camp David 
Roosevelt's successor, Harry S Truman, used the retreat only a few times. President Eisenhower, however, was a frequent visitor and renamed it Camp David in honor of his grandson. He also re-designated the main lodge as "Aspen." The Eisenhower’s not only repaired, repainted, and refurnished most of the cabins, but they also added a large flagstone terrace and picnic and outdoor cooking facility in the area of the main lodge and also installed a single golf green and several tees. President Eisenhower also had an Underground Bomb Shelter constructed behind Aspen Lodge.

Marine Guard Post at the Entrance to Camp David
Aspen Lodge (1965)
Aspen Lodge after renovations (1970)
Presidents Kennedy and Johnson rarely utilized Camp David.  It was President Nixon's favorite retreat when he was in Washington, not only for relaxing and meeting with foreign dignitaries, but also for working.  Nixon approved extensive modernization of the facilities at the camp, including major renovation to Aspen Lodge, installation of a helicopter pad, new figure-eight swimming pool, bowling alley, and skeet shooting range. There are now 11 residence cabins, including the main guest cabin, which is presently called "Laurel." The President utilizes a three-room cottage, named "Birch," as an office.   

Aspen Lodge Bedroom
Aspen Lodge Living Room           
                   Aspen Lodge (1970)                                 President Nixon with Russian Premier Brezhnev
Camp David Mess Hall (1965)
Originally a barracks and mess hall Hickory was renovated in the early 60’s, it is now the center of activities while staying at Camp David. Hickory now contains a lounge and bar, a movie theater, as well as a two lane bowling alley and a game room with two pool tables.Originally a barracks and mess hall Hickory was renovated in the early 60’s, it is now the center of activities while staying at Camp David. Hickory now contains a lounge and bar, a movie theater, as well as a two lane bowling alley and a game room with two pool tables.

Hickory Lodge (1956)
 The lounge in Hickory Lodge with dance floor
Fully equipped bar in Hickory Lodge

As one of the permanent staff assigned to Camp David, we were allowed to use any of the recreational facilities as long as the President or any VIPs would be visiting.

The most popular facility used by the staff and their families was the swimming pool and bath house which was located near the Mess old mess hall and barracks. The pool also had a built in trampoline where the kids loved to play.
Camp David swimming pool (1966)
The pool bath house (1965) 
Staff Swimming Pool (2014)
LBJ was the last President to use this pool, because when President Nixon took office he made numerous improvements to Camp David including a new pool behind Aspen lodge. The old pool remained for the use by the staff.

Aspen Lodge with new swimming pool (1969)
Navy Operations

Camp David is a U.S. Navy installation, commanded by a Naval Commander. Sailors are mostly Seabees and most officers are in the civil engineering field. The Navy Seabee Detachment performs maintenance and beautification. Some of the sailors include: grounds and maintenance personnel, electricians, carpenters, corpsmen, and the President's cooks (culinary specialists). The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) provided all of the necessary voice and data communications and maintains the electronic fence surrounding the facility. The Marine Guard provided all of the physical security

Marine One landing at Camp David
Army One (1967)

Camp David Communications Detachment (Cactus 1965- 1967)

 Camp David Communications Detachment
Gov’t housing at Camp David (2009)
Type Of Activity
 Experiences while at Camp David
 Thurmont MD
Date of Activity
 Nov 1965 to Jun 1970
 33°49′26″N 116°31′49″W
November 1965 to March 1967 the Camp David Communications Detachment (Cactus)

It was November of 1965 when my experiences with WHCA began, I was assigned to Cactus which was the code name for the microwave installation at Camp David, and I would also work at another microwave location near Mercersburg Pa.  This site was known as Cannonball and was a microwave relay station.  I would travel to Cannonball for a week at a time and spent a total of eleven weeks there over a year’s period of time.  This worked out very well because in March of 1967 I was transferred permanently to Cannonball.

We rented an apartment in Blue Ridge Summit Pa for a short Period of time until Government Housing became available.

The Homestead Apartments Blue Ridge Summit PA.
Don at the kids Christmas party at Camp David 
I remember back in 1966, when the permanent assignment in WHCA was rescinded and most of the old timers were either transferred or retired, Col Albright the new WHCA CO tried to make it a military organization again. Someone decided that everyone needed to qualify with the M-14.  Now some of these guys had not been on a true military base for years, and I am sure that some were issued brown boots and Eisenhower jackets.  Anyway we were scheduled to qualify at the Fort Meade rifle range.  I have never seen any group of people look so funny in uniform. If you ever wanted to have a good laugh, you should have seen some of the old timers qualifying with the M-14.  Jim Hammond from Copper/Cowpuncher (a great guy) couldn't find all of his uniform, so he wore what he could find.  They wore whatever they could find of their uniforms, if they couldn't find a web belt they wore a leather civilian belt, no chevrons, name tags or proper hat, no problem they wore what they could find! 

This was the only time we were ever taken to an army post to qualify with any type of fire arm.  It was the only time that I had the privilege to salute Mr. Fontaine because he was in uniform.  Two things I can remember happening, first we never qualified with a rifle again, and WHCA returned to a permanent assignment for those who chose to stay.

There was a pistol range at the back of Camp David; we qualified with 38 cal. pistols at that range.  When I took over at Cannonball I became the Site Crypto Custodian, which meant that I had to qualify with the 38.   Over the years we had loads of fun with the air transport crews and sky marshals all because we were carrying concealed weapons against air travel regulations.  With every other flight being hijacked to Cuba, I can understand why they were so touchy.

Shortly after we moved into housing at Camp David, our son Robert was born in Waynesboro, PA on April 28, 1966.  

We lived in the off-site Quarters at Camp David for over a year in 66/67.  We referred to these quarters as the wagon wheel, WHCA personnel consisted of four enlisted guys living there, as well as the CO of DCSU who was Maj. DuGay the rest were all U.S. Navy personnel.  They were pretty nice for Government Quarters and fairly new at the time, we lived in unit 6A and at the time there were ten units built in a circle.  Only E-5 and above were eligible and you waited for openings based on rank.  Foxville Gardens is only about 2 miles from the front gate at Camp David.  Just up Manhattan Rd. from the Wagon Wheel used to be a trailer park that was also maintained by the Navy and available to anyone on a space available basis.

Christmas (1966) Joanne and Don
 Don and Bob, Christmas (1966)
While we were living at Foxville Gardens we had legendary poker games with the single guy's on just about every Saturday night that there were no visitors up at the Camp David. Joanne was the only female that was allowed to play, as she supplied all the eats, and I think she adopted Chuck Duval and Dale Anderson, but the guys would bring the beer and we would play into the wee hours of the morning. Funny thing the more we drank the more Joanne (a Pepsi drinker) would win, Go figure! I am sure that everyone thought we were alcoholics by the cases of empty beer cans that were in the trash on Monday morning. The games tailed off when we moved to Le Masters and the guys either got married or were discharged, but the poker games continued in San Clemente and Key Biscayne with the guys and pinochle when we socialized with the families. Cards passed a lot of time for us and it was a very enjoyable way to get to know people that you worked with. They did like to party.

The Presidential Communication Railroad Car "Crate" (1966)

Presidential Rail Car, U.S. Number 1 
Ferdinand Magellan
a National Historic Landmark

The Great Seal of the President of the United States as displayed in bronze on the rear gate of the FERDINAND MAGELLAN


A Brief history of the Ferdinand Magellan 
(Or Life before "Air Force One")

The newly rebuilt Ferdinand Magellan was presented to President Roosevelt on December 18, 1942, exactly 14 years from the day it rolled out of the Pullman Company shops as a new unit.  During World War II, for security reason, only the word "Pullman" appeared on the outside of the car so that from a distance, the rolling fortress looked like any other private rail car.  Whenever it was part of a train, however, the train moved under the commodity code "POTUS" (the first letters of President of the United States.) Every railroad official knew that "POTUS" had the right of way over all other rail traffic. To lessen the chance of sabotage during the war, the car did not have a permanent storage location in Washington, D.C. It was moved around when not in use and stored on various sidings at Washington's Union Station, the Potomac Railroad yards, the Naval Gun Factory at the Navy Yard and in the sub-basement of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.
Hitched to the end of a private train that included baggage cars, sleeping cars for staff and a communications car that at some point was replaced by a hospital car, the Magellan could function as a veritable White House on wheels—a reverberating fortress. And as “Presidential Rail Car U.S. Number 1,” it took precedence over all other rail traffic.

The Dining Room
The Presidents State Room
The last trip for the Ferdinand Magellan in government service was in 1954 when Mrs. Eisenhower traveled in it from Washington, D.C. to Groton, Connecticut to christen the world's first nuclear powered submarine, the U.S.S. Nautilus. After this trip, the car stood idle for four years. It was declared government surplus in 1958 and was offered to the Smithsonian Institution.

20 July 1966 to Harrisburg PA for Operational Test Ride for Crate

The Presidential Train Ferdinand Magellan - White House communications via, 3WTE on wheels. We feature the U.S. Army Signal Corps., General Albert J. Myer, and Radio Railcar installation. 

One fall day in October 1956 12 noon EDT will long be remembered by hundreds of 14 MHZ SSB State side amateurs. It was the day W3WTE was, of all places, 60 feet below the Cleveland, Ohio, Railway Terminal Tower Station working the bands. The detail was called “Operation Earthworm” We have a QSL courtesy of W3WTE.

“POTUS” an acronym, stands for President of the United States! The special railroad car of the White House was used when the President was away from home, equipped with a luxury living rolling home, a lecture platform, communications, safety and hospital car, press corps and energy car. This amazing city on wheels was at times a nightmare for the Secret Service, Railroad and logistics involved in the Presidents safety. There was an advanced two car train and each crossing was inspected by the Secret Service and rail authorities.

HF Radio Console
Above radio control console occupies part interior of presidential communications General Myers Car.  Multiple control panels, a maze of gadgets for radio broadcasts, radio photo transmission, tape recordings of presidential speeches and incoming and outgoing teletype printer copy.

The generator room
The WHCA communications car (Crate)
Two diesel AC generators are on the right side of car, can supply enough power to operate the train in any capacity. Mr. Charles Clemens K6QD spoke of his duties much earlier when first assigned to Presidential Communications in 1942. He was chosen to be the first CW operator between the Presidential Train and the White House via HF radio in railroad Car 1401, “The White House on Wheels.”

Clemens explained some front seats had been removed and an operating table installed full of radio devices in their place. Telegraph lines alongside the tracks provided a lot of clicks that made it difficult to copy poor signals, mainly in the southwest part of the U.S.A. The clearance requirements for railroad cars prohibited using a real antenna. The radio operators used a wire inside an insulating tube mounted on standoffs about six inches above the metal roof of the car. This was later changed to a copper tube, the same size as the insulating tube, with much better results. Continued the frequency complement ran from 3 MHZ to 17 MHZ. (Car 1401 built in 1914 would be replaced in the 50s by the modern General Albert Myer car) Myer was the first Signal Corps Commander. Clemens K6QD Signal Corps operator said “I was supposed to contact a number of Army stations along our shakedown trip in 1942 riding the rails, none of them more than a couple of hundred miles from our route. As might be expected, results were poor and it was decided to contact WAR in the Pentagon at Washington direct. Successful contacts were made from New Orleans and on the way home. 

The only real difficulty came when we were close to Washington DC.” Clemens added “Overall, our results were encouraging and we were assigned the task of accompanying President Roosevelt on his swing stumping around the country visiting military bases and aircraft plants. 

Equipment and facilities were improved over the years and when Clemens left in 1948, the car had a small operating room, a code center, a small bunk room with four bunks, a lounge room and the baggage half of the car packed with equipment.

Clemens continued “To make a long story quite short, I worked six years on the Presidential Train, traveling with Presidents Roosevelt and Truman in the United States, Canada and Mexico. We logged well over a hundred thousand miles.” Today, the train is no more, Old 1401 is gone, only known by gild of 1401 above the entry door, Gen. Myer car has been retired and the Ferdinand Magellan is restored and on display in Florida.

The small detachment that Clemens knew had evolved into the White House Army Signal Agency and finally White House Communications Agency. They wouldn’t believe how much equipment they could eliminate by satellite communications today.   

Copy of the POTUS QSL W3WTE
Partially scripted from March, 1975 Ham Radio Magazine article, “Brass Pounding on Wheels”, by K6QD CC Jr., and Railroad Magazine February 1953. Thanks to Glenn Laser W3WTE for a copy of the POTUS QSL. Glenn advised the card was found at a yard sale or Ham fest in WV and presented to him. - It would be a pleasure to sit and talk with Mr. Clemens today, but I believe he is a silent key because the call has been reissued several times. I can’t come up with anything on the two communications coaches whether they avoided he cutters torch.

When the Ferdinand Magellan was taken out of service in 1958, The two communication railcars were moved and during the 1960’s and 70’s and stored at the New Cumberland Army Depot just outside of Harrisburg, Pa. The communications car was to be maintained by WHASA/WHCA out of Camp David. Their mission was to provide communications for the President, while on trips, whether campaigning for office, or traveling via rail. 

President Kennedy used Crate on one of the last official trips when he went to the Army Navy football game in Philadelphia in 1961.

President Kennedy departing Philadelphia
President Kennedy departing Philadelphia
The official call sign of the Presidential Train was City Hall this was used when the train was actually in use, but Crate was used as the un-official call sign by the Camp David (Cactus) personnel that maintained the communications equipment on board. Crate consisted of two old WWII train cars. They were 85' in length, painted Olive Drab, with three axle trucks. One was a converted Hospital Car. This car was converted into living quarters for SS and WHASA / WHCA personnel. It had a small kitchen, some bunks for sleeping, a small bathroom with a shower and a living area. An old Hallicrafters SX-63 was installed for entertainment.

The Presidential Rail Car “Crate” is shown at the Thirteenth Street Station in Philadelphia (1961)
The Presidential Rail Car “Crate” is shown at the Thirteenth Street Station in Philadelphia (1961)
The Radio car was a converted something and appeared to have been gutted and then built as required.  There was a window installed so the operation could be viewed from the hallway that passed between the rail cars. As you were sitting at the console behind you, there was a large glass window which was by the walkway in the left side of the car. Looking out that glass window past the walkway was another large glass window which was on the car body. If anyone on the platform were to look into the car window, they would see the whole console and operators.

 Lounge Area (1961)
Ron Danielson in the Radio Room (1961)
The Radio Car had to be placed on the tracks, so it faced the Hospital car because of the coax connectors on the front end. The train had to be configured with the Hospital car toward the train engine and the Radio or Communications Car following. The coax connectors on the Hospital car were connected by coax jumpers to the coax connectors on the Communications Car. This was also because on the opposite end, (from the coax connector end) were connectors which carried audio to the end of the train.

The last car would be an Observation Car where the President would ride, stand and speak to the crowds, who would come to see him while on campaign trips.

Switchboard Room
View of the Comm. Center
The Radio Car had a console installed which handled all the HF Comm. equipment, the audio amps and VU Meters for the audio PA function and two patch panels for audio routing. It also had rooms for the AC power generators, radio equipment, switchboard and a small Comm. Center.

The radio console consisted of two HF Receivers (R-390A), two SSB/ISB Converters (CV-157) and a TTY converter (CV-116). Two TMC (GPT-750) 1KW transmitters were used for phone patch audio and TTY traffic.

The radio Console in (1961)
On the top of this car was two HF antennas designed by Collins Radio. Hard to explain, but in the center of the roof of the car the antennas were grounded to the roof using three 90 degree elbows. A total of six, three for each antenna about 6 to 8 inches in diameter which fed three pipes in each direction to the end of the cars. About 3' from the end of antennas, the three pipes were bonded together and fed at that point, with 50 ohm coax, to connectors on the trailing side of the car. The pipes were supported by insulators from the center ground, out to the ends.

The Communications Car on the siding in VA. (1961)
 Radio Antennas on Radio Car
The two cars were stored at Indian Town Gap Army Depot near Harrisburg, Pa. primarily because President Eisenhower used it several times and it was close to Gettysburg and his farm.  In early 1967 I actually took a trip on the Presidential Train (Crate) from Harrisburg to Union Station in DC, and back.  All of the guys from M Street came down for a tour we spent the night and went back the next day.  It was a total farce, I think the officers wanted to get away for a couple of days and have a party.  There was some story about LBJ taking a train ride to Philadelphia for the Army - Navy game, but of course it never happened.  I have always wondered if LBJ ever knew that he had something other AF-1 at his disposal. 

In the late 1960’s the TMC (GPT-750) 1KW transmitters, R-390's and CV-157's were replaced with a Collins Radio state of the art transmitter/receiver, with automatic antenna tuners. The control units were mounted in the console, with the main TX / RX equipment mounted in two 6' 19" racks.

There is no confirmation as to when “Crate” was removed from service or the disposition of the railcars.

UPDATE: WHASA/WHCA Communications Railcar 
General Albert J Myer USA 87325 with Morn Car USA 89426.


After the Presidential Railcar Ferdinand Magellan was retired and acquired by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in 1958, Crate and the Staff Car (Morn) were sent to storage at the New Cumberland Army Depot Just across the river from Harrisburg PA.

Built out of an old hospital car in 1951, the General Albert J. Myer (labeled POTUS 1), USA 87325 the communications car, this car replaced the older ‘Car 1401′ which always accompanied the presidential train the Ferdinand Magellan. Following the Myer was the Morn (labeled POTUS 2), USA 89426 which was also built from a hospital car and was the living quarters for the personnel of the Myer. It included a small kitchen, bunk beds, a small bathroom with a shower and a living area.

Crate in St Louis in 1961   
There is a series of photos on the Kennedy Library website, dated November 1961 taken at Union Station St. Louis MO showing WHASA personnel preparing Crate for a trip by President Kennedy to the Army Navy Football game in Philadelphia, in December 1961. (No explanation as to why Crate was in MO although it was probably a training/test run prior to the actual trip.) There are also Photos of Crate at the 13th Street Station in Philadelphia dated December 2nd 1961.

WHASA/WHCA personnel from Camp David continued to maintain the communications equipment, through the late 60’s. The last time that I saw Crate was on July 27, 1966 when we returned from an overnight trip to Union Station in Washington D.C. Shortly after I was assigned to Cannonball just outside Mercersburg Pa.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago when I started communicating with people that I had served with in WHCA that we tried to find out what had happened to Crate.  One person remembers going up to the Depot in PA from Camp David to work on Crate in the fall of 1967. Another person says that during the “Fuel Crises” of 1973, they went up to the Depot to look at the cars for a possible rail trip by President Nixon to Key Biscayne FL. The trip was eventually made by commercial Airline. No one that we talked to seemed remember or know when Crate was decommissioned or where it was today!

Recently I received a comment on my blog from an anonymous contributor identifying the whereabouts of Crate today along with several pictures. Several people were involved with supplying information relative with the suggested time line that follows. This is what we believe what happened To Crate!

Crate remained in service and functional until it was stripped of all of the Communications equipment and retired from Presidential Service sometime in 1974. It is believed that the Communications Car (Myer) USA 87325 went to Ft. Belvoir VA and of the Staff Car (Morn) USA 89426 was sent to Ft. Eustis TX.  It is not known why Crate was split up or what if any was the Army’s intended use of these cars.

In 1978 Crate the Communications Car USA 87325 (POTUS 1) was purchased by NASA Kennedy Space Center Railroad System

As part of the effort, in 1978, KSC purchased an old Army Signal Corps communications car (U.S. Army 87325) for use as an office/tool room.  This car was constructed during World War II as a hospital car and remodeled in 1950 as the “Presidential Communications Car” and accompanied the “Ferdinand Magellan” armored Presidential Pullman whenever the U.S. President traveled by train. (POTUS 1) U.S. Army 87325, which became NLAX 150 upon its purchase by NASA, the car was retrofitted for duty by the newly hired railroad crew, which became part of the new Transportation Operations team within KSC. “KSC to Start Rail Operations,” Spaceport News, March 17, 1978: 1-3.

NASA disposed of General Albert J Myer USA 87325 in 1987, and it was acquired by the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. The museum was also informed about several other hospital style cars that were in Ft Eustis VA and they were also available. While the museum was at Ft Eustis they discovered that the Staff Car (Morn) USA 87325 was found!  The Gold Coast Railroad Museum acquired both the Myer and Morn cars and Crete was re-united in FL at the GCRM! The paperwork relative to the acquisition of Crate was completed by the Florida Division of Surplus Property.

Work was progressing on these cars when Andrew hit in 1992. Andrew caused extensive damage to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum and to the cars that they were restoring. FEMA claimed that they would put all non-profits back to their pre-Andrew condition. Myer, Morn, the Jim Crow combine, and Hospital car 89436 were selected to go to Steamtown for repairs.

Rather than give the museum funds to restore the Myer and Morn, they along with a Hospital Car #89436 and a Combination “Jim Crow Car” were sent to the National Park Service Steam Town Park in Scranton PA for restoration. Patrick McKnight, Historian/Archivist for Steam Town Park said that the Hospital Car and Jim Crow car were restored and returned to the GCRM. The Myer and Morn were not restored, due to a lack of funds and documentation of what the interiors of the Myer and Morn looked like. The communications equipment would have been removed when the cars were taken out of service, and NASA modified the interior when they purchased the Myer in 1978. The cars were placed in storage for several years until there was an Executive order issued to either donate or sell the Myer and Morn to the Hollywood Railroad Station Museum Inc.

Meyer Comm Car at GCRM just prior to Andrew  (1992)
Morn Staff Carat GCRM just prior to Andrew  (1992)
In 2001 The Hollywood Railroad Station Museum Inc. stepped in and got the Myer and Moen donated to them through an Executive order for a train to commemorate Dorothy Walker Bush (The mother and grandmother of the two Bush Presidents, and FL Governor Jeb Bush) dubbed the “Dorothy Walker Bush Great Floridian 2000.” The train was to consist of the Myer, Morn and 3 other cars. Grants were received from the State of Florida for the project, but little to no restoration was ever done.  Presidential train gets on track - South Florida Business Journal Published Aug 15, 2005, 12:00 am EDT UPDATED: Aug 11, 2005, 4:28 pm EDT

In 2005, Tony Campos, project director at the Hollywood Railroad Station Museum, was tasked with creating a train to commemorate Dorothy Walker Bush dubbed the “Dorothy Walker Bush Great Floridian 2000.” The train was to include the 1924 FEC Engine 253, the Myer and Morn, a mail car used in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, a “Jim Crow” segregation-era car, and the Direct Orient Express ice cream parlor. He was granted $375,000 by the Florida Division of Historical Resources and was expected to have the cars ready for display by June 2006.

In 2006, Campos acknowledged the restoration wasn't going to be completed on-time and cited hurricanes, a break-in, sketchy historical documents, lack of grant money, and a PBS documentary crew’s delay in filming the project. In October 2006, the Florida Division of Historical Resources sent a letter to Campos asking about the expenditures of the grant money. Campos then disappeared; he never responded, he didn't answer phone calls and is was hardly ever at his office at the station. It was requested he return the money or face legal action. The project director was eventually arrested for misappropriation of funds. He’s since been arrested and is thought to be out on parole as of this writing.

The Cars remain on a rail siding in Miami. Technically they are still owned by the Hollywood Railroad Station Museum, however; neither the museum nor the Florida East Coast Railroad has any interest in restoring them.  Dorothy Walker Bush Great Floridian 2000 – Florida's Forgotten Past  Published on August 19, 2013 by Bullet

What’s left of the failed project now sits rotting away behind a South Florida warehouse. Among them are two train cars thought to be presidential trains cars, with the names (POTUS 1) and (POTUS 2) stenciled on the sides of cars, sit on wood blocks at the front of the tracks.

Myer Communications Car USA 87325 POTUS 1 (2005)
Staff Car (Morn) USA 89426 POTUS 2 (2005)
According to this article Crate which consists of (POTUS 1) the Albert J Myer communications car and (POTUS 2) is the Morn Staff car sits on a railroad siding in Miami. No one that I have talked that actually was aboard Crate can remember if the cars that we maintained were actually labeled POTUS 1 or POTUS 2); however, a closer look at all of the photographs from this article and others that have been published leads me to conclude that the cars identified as POTUS 1 and POUTS 2 are likely to be Crate. Update: POTUS Train Cars Identified  Published on November 7, 2013.  By Bullet 

Myer Communications Car USA 87325 POTUS I (1961)
Myer Communications Car USA 87325 POTUS I  (2013)
By comparing the window pattern of the car identified as POTUS I, it is probably the communications car USA 87325. A close look at the HF antenna system unique to the communications car was a special system designed by Collins Radio. This was a complex system for the time. The overhead pictures of the antenna system on the cars in service in the 1960,s (below) and the car identified as POTUS I today appear to be the same.

In service Antenna System Myer Communications Car USA 87325 (1961)
In service Antenna System Myer Communications Car USA 87325 (1961)
Antenna insulator found next to Myer Communications Car USA 87325 POTUS 1 
Remains of the Antenna System Myer Communications Car USA 87325 (2013)
Interior pictures of  POTUS 1 and POTUS 2 that were used to try to identify the Radio Room and the Staff/Lounge areas was difficult but, I believe the picture below is of the Radio Room.

Radio Room (1961)
Aisle looking from the Comm room door towards the vestibule end of the car (2005)
Radio Room (2005)
I believe that the POTUS 2 (Morn) can be identified as the Staff/Lounge car from the interior pictures that were provided by the article.

Staff Car (Morn) USA 89426 POTUS 2 (1961)
Staff Car (Morn) USA 89426 POTUS 2 (2005)
Some interior photos of Crate at Union Station in St Louis (1961) found in the JFK Library were also used in the comparison. These are the only known photos of the interior of the Staff/Lounge Car.

Staff sleeping area looking toward Lounge Area (1961)
Lounge area looking towards the restroom, deep freezers, and kitchen.(2005)
Lounge area (1961)  
Lounge Area (2005)
Since no one is interested in restoring these two railcars, the fate of Crate appears to be the salvage yard and extinction!

Updates to the status of Crate can be found in the Railway Preservation News Subject: Hollywood Florida Railroad Museum & the Presidential Train

President Johnson's Visit to Dallastown Pa. (1966)

Dallastown, Pennsylvania
Entering Dallastown

 876 ft. (267 m)
 York County, Pa, USA
 39°54′0″N 76°38′27″W

28 Aug 66 to York PA for Dallastown Rally with President Johnson

I was working at Camp David for about ten months before I was assigned to President Lyndon Johnson’s  trip team when he visited Dallastown Pa. as part of  the town's centennial celebration. The president and his wife, Lady Bird, keynoted the Dallastown Centennial Celebration on Sept. 4, 1966.

Since this was my first trip I was teamed up with two other radio guys from the Shop in Washington DC.  CWO Pierre Fontaine was assigned as the Trip Officer he was my CO at Camp David.  

Mr. Fontaine and I drove to York Pa. on Aug 28th to meet the radio guys who had driven from the shop in DC with all of the communications equipment. We met with a marketing representative from GTE at the Travelodge in York and advised him of the pending visit and the telephone circuits required for all of the Communication equipment necessary to Support the President, Secret Service and White House Staff during this trip.

The Travelodge in York Pa.
The GTE Central Office in York Pa.
Our first order of business was to meet with the Secret Service and Staff Advance people to get the Trip Itinerary and to determine the locations that we would use to install the Switchboard, Comm. Center and also identify sites for the FM radio base stations.

The President and Mrs. Johnson would arrive on Air Force One at Harrisburg International Airport and motorcade the 39 miles to Dallastown. After his speech they would then return to Harrisburg International Airport for their departure back to Washington DC.

The Motorcade route from Harrisburg Dallastown Pa.
With only six days to install everything we went to work. We met with the GTE operations people at their central office in York Pa. and obtained spaces for the WHCA Switchboard and Comm. Center in The GTE CO. Once that was taken care of we started our Radio Survey by driving the motorcade route in search of possible radio sites that would insure coverage of the entire route. We would discover two locations with radio towers already in place. These towers were located at the WXQXA-FM Radio station in York and the FAA radio site overlooking Harrisburg International Airport. These sites were ideal because they had direct line of site of Interstate 83, the main route of the motorcade would travel. Once permission and access was obtained to the radio sites, we would drive the entire motorcade route checking radio coverage. GTE was then contacted and the orders were placed for our remote keying lines to be run from the WHCA switchboard in York to each of the FM Radio base stations.

Baker/Charlie (Secret Service) and Sierra (White House Staff) base stations were installed at WXQXA-FM and at the FAA radio tower in Harrisburg; the remote keying lines were installed and tested to the remote consoles at the WHCA Switchboard in York which was now operational.

The 125’ FAA radio site near Harrisburg Pa.
WXQXA-FM Radio Site in York Pa.
By Friday we were finished with installing the radio network and all that remained was to set up the Presidential motorcade just before the arrival of Air Force One the next day.

Early on Saturday morning we headed to the Harrisburg Airport with several Motorola (P-33) radios to be placed inside the vehicles that would make up the motorcade. The Presidents Limo had already arrived from DC and motorcade was complete and ready for the President and Mrs. Johnson.

One final install needed to be completed, the Chopper Pack! Since LBJ took office the Secret Service required a surveillance chopper to be deployed to cover all motorcades that took place. This was to insure that no snipers were on billboards, radio towers, rooftops or any other vantage point. Local law enforcement officers would be positioned on freeway overpasses and at the on /off ramps. The chopper Pack consisted of two Motorola P-33 (B/C) radios to communicate with the USSS agents in the motorcade. Two headphones with push to talk microphones and a connection to the helicopter’s intercom system so the USSS agent on board could talk to the Pilots.

The surveillance Chopper a Huey UH-1
This would be my first flight in a helicopter and I was a little apprehensive about the trip ahead. The chopper that was used was a US Army Huey UH-1, the type used in Vietnam; the pilots were both vets of Vietnam. The Huey has a large door on either side that could be opened during flight with jump seats facing outward. Once I secured the radios, I took my place in one of the jump seats with the Chopper Pack between my legs and tested the radios and intercom.  I then fastened my lap belt and was ready for the flight. The USSS agent strapped himself next to me in a contraption called a monkey belt. This devise allowed him to move around and even stand while we were in the air. He then removed an M-16 from its carrying case, loaded it and sat down next to me. We were ready to go just as soon as Air Force One was on its final approach.
LBJ and Lady Bird arrive at Harrisburg International Airport
LBJ arrives aboard Air Force One
LBJ is greeted by the crowd at Harrisburg International Airport
Shortly after the President and first lady arrived at the airport and was greeted by Congressman N. Neiman Craley Jr. the entourage departed by motorcade.

We were already in the air following the 29 mile route looking out for anything that might present a risk to the motorcade. Now I always thought that Helicopters went up and down, little did I know about their actual maneuverability until the USSS agent aboard spotted someone running across a field toward the highway and with the approaching motorcade told the pilot to turn around to check out the situation? The Pilot made a very sharp turn putting the Huey on its side, here I am looking straight ahead looking at the highway and the USSSS Agent standing in up in the monkey belt. To this day I can’t believe he didn't fall out, I suppose the force from that tight turn was enough! It turned out that the person below never made it to the highway, and we continued on.

The motorcade arrived in Dallastown and president and Mrs. Johnson were greeted by a friendly audience. Congressman N. Neiman Craley Jr. served as grand marshal of a parade to celebrate Dallastown’s 100th anniversary, where President Johnson spoke.

The President addresses residents of Pa. in Dallastown
Read the President’s Speech Here.
The First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson is greeted in Dallastown
The speech had concluded and it was time to depart Dallastown and return to Harrisburg Airport where we would prepare for the departure of Air Force One, and then collect all of the radio equipment from the motorcade and any staff member that was issued one for the short stay in Pa. 

The President had departed Harrisburg and headed back to Washington DC and we headed back to York to start packing up all of the equipment we had installed over the past week. On Sunday morning it was time to visit the two radio sites and retrieve the base stations Antennas and Coax from these locations and get them ready to return to Washington DC. Once all Of The equipment was inventoried and loaded on a truck. I left York and returned to Camp David. This would be the first of many trips world wide that I would participate during my assignment with the White House.

President Johnson's visit to the Manila Summit (1966) 

U.S. Embassy in Manila P.I.
U.S. Embassy in Manila P.I.
Coordinates:                                        14°35′N 120°58′ 
 June 10, 1754
 16.0 m (52 ft.)
Population (2007)

26 Oct 66 to Manila PI with President Johnson

Manila is the capital of the Philippines and one of the 16 cities that make up Metro Manila, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world with a population of 20 million people. It is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay on the western side of the island of Luzon.

Manila was the site of the fiercest battle in the Pacific theater during the war. During the battle, Manila became a city of bloodbath in Asia where 100,000 civilians were killed. It was the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw during the Second World War. Since then the city has been rebuilt.

During the Marcos dictatorship, the Manila metropolitan area region was enacted as an independent entity in 1975 encompassing several cities and towns. During the Lacson era, also known as The Golden Age, Manila was revitalized and became once again the pearl of the orient, which Manila has earned before the outbreak of World War II.

City of Manila
The leaders of the SEATO nations assembled at a Summit in Manila, hosted by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on October 24, 1966. In attendance were Prime Minister Nguyen Cao KY (South Vietnam), Prime Minister Harold Holt (Australia), President Park Chung-hee (South Korea), President Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Prime Minister Keith Holyoake (New Zealand), Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu (South Vietnam), Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn (Thailand), and President Lyndon B. Johnson (United States).

SEATO Leaders in front of the Philippine Congressional Building
Although other subjects were discussed, the Vietnam War was the main topic. Prior to and Immediately after the Summit President Johnson would also make state visits, to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea. On this particular trip to Southeast Asia the President also made a surprise trip to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam to visit with the troops fighting there.

Malacañang Palace Manila Philippines
President’s Marcos and Johnson and First Ladies
While in the Philippines, President Johnson had several private meetings with President Marcos at Malacañang Palace, like the White House, this is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. The palace was made famous as the home of President Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who were its longest residents, from 1965 to 1986. As first lady, Mrs. Marcos oversaw the reconstruction of the palace to her own extravagant tastes. Including the former San Miguel Brewery Buildings, this was demolished upon Expansion, paving away to a park near the San Miguel Church.

President Johnson and President Marcos also visited Corregidor to dedicate the opening of General MacArthur’s restored headquarters. The President also visited Battery Geary while on the island. In advance of the President’s visit temporary communications was established by connecting the location’s being visited and the WHCA switchboard in Manila. A temporary Command Post for the secret Service was also established for security reasons.

Corregidor is an island at the entrance of the Philippines' Manila Bay. Due to its position in the bay, it has served as a focal point for the naval defenses of the capital city of Manila. During World War II.

Entrance to MacArthur's Headquarters on Corregidor
Remains of Mile Long Barracks
Battery Geary was a battery of eight 13-ton, 12-inch mortars. Defiladed in a hollow on Corregidor's Southern coast it was fairly well protected from Japanese shelling. However, on January 6, 1942, a Japanese bomb landed in a makeshift bunker killing 31 of Battery Geary's NCOs and cannons.  This battery was pinpointed by the Japanese artillery and was subjected to heavy shelling. One direct hit by a 240-mm shell, which detonated the magazines of this battery in May 1942, proved to be the most crippling shot during the entire siege of Corregidor. Large chunks of steel were blown as far as the Malinda Tunnel, killing 27 of the battery crew instantly.

Remains of Battery Geary on Corregidor Island (Gun Barrel)
Remains of Battery Geary on Corregidor Island (Gun Mount)
General MacArthur was ordered off of Corregidor Island to Australia, announcing to the people of the Philippines as he left, “I shall return”.

After the dedication on Corregidor Island they visited The International Rice Institute in Los Banos and then to everyone’s surprise The President flew to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam to visit the troops.

President Johnson and Gen. Westmoreland Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam
In October of 1966 President Johnson departed on a diplomatic visit to a number of countries in Southeast Asia. The war in Vietnam was raging on, and the President planned to meet with allies at a SEATO conference in Manila.

Presidents Travel Itinerary October 1966

Wellington New Zealand
October 19-20, 1966
State visit; met with Prime Minister Holyoake.
Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Townsville, Australia
October 20-23, 1966
State visit; met with Governor General Casey and Prime Minister Holt.
Manila, Los Banos, Corregidor, Philippines
October 24-26, 1966
Attended SEATO summit conference
Unscheduled Trip            Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam
October 26, 1966
Visited U.S. military personnel.
Bangkok, Thailand
October 27-30, 1966
State visit; met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
October 30-31, 1966
State visit; met with Prime Minister Rahrman.
Seoul, South Korea
October 31-November 2,     1966
State visit; met with President Park and Prime Minister Chung.

WHCA’s Role in the Presidents Manila Summit 

Although the Manila Summit wasn’t scheduled to start until October 24, 1966 the preparation for the President’s visit actually started on the morning of October 5, 1966 at Andrews AFB just outside Washington DC. On the tarmac sat a large C-141 transport plane. This transport would carry approx. 30 WHCA communications personnel and tons of communications equipment to Manila. Because of the length of the flight a comfort pallet was first loaded on to the plane, this contained an airline type kitchen and a rest room; the pallet also had airline style seats that would recline. The communications equipment was loaded last. When the cargo was secured, we were ready to leave. 

Manila was only one stop on a six nation Presidential trip so there would be five other C-141’s loaded with communications equipment at Andrews and sent to their assigned locations awaiting the Presidents arrival according to the travel itinerary. 

Loading cargo at Andrews AFB
Lockheed C-141 Starlifter
The first leg of the trip was from Andrews to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. After the plane was refueled and a new crew reported in, we departed for Komaki AFB in Tokyo, Japan. We departed Tokyo on October 7, 1966 and headed for Clark AFB in the Philippines.

The equipment was loaded on trucks and was sent to Manila, while the communications personnel were flown to the city arriving at the U.S. Embassy about 4 PM on 7 October 1966, where we received an orientation of the facilities and our I.D’s to use during our stay.

The equipment arrived at the Embassy the following afternoon and all of the Comm. Center secure voice and TTY equipment was unloaded and taken to the area where it would be installed. All of the FM and HF radio equipment was stored in the embassy until coverage surveys were completed and installation locations were selected. The final stop was the Philippine Telephone Central Office closest to the embassy and Malacañang Palace, this is where the switchboard would be installed and all circuits would be terminated. Also all of the Sierra FM radio circuits and paging system would terminate at the switchboard. 

Over the next two days radio surveys were completed checking coverage of all locations that the President, Secret Service and the White House Staff would be visit over the next two to three weeks. Baker, Charlie and Sierra FM base stations were installed at the Phillipinas Hotel, and the Telephone Co. Central office. The Embassy Annex was chosen to place the Collins Radio, KWM-2A which is a 1KW Single Sideband transceiver, used for long range radio communications back to the White House. Baker, Charlie and Sierra FM base stations were also installed at this location.

The US Embassy would become the WHCA base of operation. The Secret Service Command Post would be established there, all of the Baker and Charlie FM radios would terminate in the CP. The AV events would be staged and shipped out from the embassy. All of the Sierra FM radios would terminate at the WHCA switchboard at the Telco’s central office building. The Embassy also had an area large enough to handle all of the helicopter arrivals and departures.

By October 12th the Comm. Center, Switchboard and radio equipment was installed and now manned around the clock. As the circuits were installed and tested the reliability of the network increased.

The travel itinerary also included two side trips that Presidents Johnson and Marcos would take. The first was to the International Rice Institute in Los Banos, Laguna Philippines and then to Corregidor Island. Los Banos was about 60km from Manila so we loaded a chopper and flew the radio equipment to the Rice Institute and installed it in about two hours. The next morning two of us again loaded equipment on a chopper but headed for Corregidor. We landed at the airstrip and we were met by the Military Governor of Corregidor Island. We surveyed the island and installed a field telephone at Battery Geary. With the help of the Philippine Army field wire was strung from Battery Geary to a radio site on the Island where a phone patch could be established. Later that afternoon we returned to the Embassy again by Chopper.

Everything was now installed and fully operational just waiting for the Presidents arrival on October 24th. I was assigned to work the CP and fly surveillance during the three days that the President was in Manila. The President and First Lady arrived as scheduled and were greeted by President and Mrs. Marcos. The summit convened that afternoon and adjourned the next day about noon. Then it was off to Corregidor and the dedication of Gen. Mac Arthur’s headquarters and visit to Battery Geary, at the conclusion of the dedication the President choppered to the International Rice Institute in Los Banos where he addressed representatives from several Southeast Asian countries. That concluded the day’s activities and the President returned to Manila.

On the final day of the visit President made an Unscheduled Trip to Vietnam to visit with the combat troops at Cam Rahn Bay. Nobody knew in advance where they were going and it wasn’t until Air Force One was on its way back did we know where they had been. The next morning the President departed to go to the next stop in Bangkok, Thailand. We had to keep everything active until the President touched down in Thailand then our job was to tear everything down and again gather everything together to ship it back by truck to Clark AFB.

There were a few members of the WHCA team that worked this stop, including myself that left Manila on November 1, 1966 to return to the US. We met with some additional personnel that were returning from other locations that the President had visited on this Asian tour. We were briefed aboard the aircraft that we were to be redeployed to various locations in the US that the President was planning to visit just Prior to the 1966 mid term elections.

We left Clark AFB and flew to Yokota AFB near Tokyo to refuel, we then flew to San Francisco where went through customs.  I was told that the next day that I would pick up radio equipment and go to Chicago IL to join a team that was already there setting up the trip site. When I arrived in Chicago on Nov 2 1966 I was picked up at O'hare International Airport where I loaded all of the equipment into the Vehicle and departed for the Chicago Hilton Hotel where I would be staying.

Chicago Hilton and Towers
Two days ago I was enjoying warm weather in the Philippines and now I am in Chicago in the month of November, with only summer clothes.  the closest thing I had to a coat was a rain coat! The Windy City lived up to its name thank God I would be there for only two days!

Since the fund raiser was being held in the Hilton Hotel, the Switchboard, Comm. Center and one set of FM Radio base stations were already set up by the time that I arrived.  Now we had to cover the motorcade route the President would take from O'hare to the Hilton downtown.  We choose the USSS Field Office on the near north side to install a second set of FM base stations for the motorcade.

Approaching O'hare International Airport
Once the radios were operational I started to survey the motorcade route by driving the Kennedy expressway out to the airport to make sure we had good radio coverage. I was almost to O'hare when I was informed that the entire trip had been cancelled! I turned around and returned to the field office and removed all of the radio equipment we had just finished installing and returned to the hotel.

On Nov 4 1966 we left Chicago and returned to Washington DC and home.

President Johnson's visit to Punta Del Este Ur (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 approximate permanent residents 

11 Apr 67 to Punta Del Este UR with President Johnson
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).

Metropolitan 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
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 GPT 750 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. 

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.

HF Transmitter, Receiver and SSB converter
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.

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.

Camp David Communications Detachment ( Cannonball 1967-1970)

Experiences at Cannonball

Our House near Lemasters PA (2009)
Type Of Activity
 Experiences while at Cannonball
 Mercersburg Pa
Date of Activity
 Mar 1967 to Jun 1970
 +39.648333N  -77.466667 W

17 March 1967 to Cannonball a Remote Communications Facility

In March of 1967 I was permanently assigned to a microwave relay site named Cannonball.  It was located on Cross Mountain, near Mercersburg Pennsylvania.  Joanne and I initially rented an old farmhouse in LeMasters, Pa .we lived their approximately six months and then moved down the road about mile. Nothing could have prepared my wife, Joanne for the isolation she would have to experience when I was given this assignment.  The town we lived near, LeMasters had a population of 26 people, the downtown consisted of a bank, general store and a grain elevator and our next door neighbors were Mennonite.  Every Sunday there would be quite a bit of horse and buggy traffic as they went to church. Joanne was a city girl, born and raised in Chicago and never went more than 100 miles in any direction before we were married, she didn't drive because she never needed transportation and you talk about living in the boonies. LeMasters had a population of 26 people and we were four of those people.

LeMasters Pa (1967)
7 Sep 67 to Lemoyne PA to AT&T 1A1 Key Telephone Training

The telephone system utilized at Cannonball tower was a 1A1 Key System since I knew nothing about the 1A1, and I was responsible for the installation and repair of new and existing equipment I attended training at the AT&T Training Center in Lemoyne PA. 

The three week course covered the Key Service Unit (KSU), power supply, and various telephone sets used in the system.  This training would turn out to be very valuable as I would re-cable or rewire the system several times before we closed the tower in 1970 and the system was removed.

Typical Six Button Rotary Dial Telephone Set
1A1 KSU Key Service Unit
Chuck Duval a friend of ours married a girl that he met at that secretarial school in Hagerstown, he and his wife Barbra lived in Blue Ridge Summit right next to the US Post Office. This is where we rented an apartment for a couple of months while we were waiting for housing at Camp David to open up.

The old Post Office in Blue Ridge Summit PA
 We were living in Le Masters Pa. at this time. Chuck and Barb had a party at their apartment shortly after they were married and of course Dale Anderson and all of the guy's from Camp David attended, well around midnight we decided to leave the wives who were playing cards and go down to get a drink at the Monterey Tea House.  We had to cross in front of the post office in order to get to where our cars were parked, well one thing led to another and the next thing that I knew Chuck had been attached to the flag pole and Dale with some help had raised him to the Top and tied him off.  We all had a good laugh and slowly lowered him to the ground. As we were walking to the cars to leave, two cars of men drove in and blocked our retreat. They all belonged to the Blue Ridge Summit Auxiliary Police Department and told us that someone had reported that we were trying to break in to the Post Office.  After some fast talking and that Chuck lived next door, they told us to keep the noise down and left. No wonder Mr. Horst felt like he was running a loony bin!

Our neighbors knew that I worked for the Government but never asked where.  The people that lived around Mercersburg and Greencastle thought that Cannonball was a water tower.  Our families knew that I was with the White House and did visit us but never knew any details of what went on at Cannonball or Camp David. All they ever knew was that I had something to do with communications and that I traveled a lot with the President and VP.  Our friendships were pretty much with the Seabee’s (Al Jensen and Bud Evans) both assigned to Cannonball and some of the WHCA people that I worked with from Camp David

 The Crosses (1968) 
Bob with proud Papa holding Kathie (1969)
Our daughter, Kathie was born in Chambersburg Pa. on Jan, 8, 1969, and because of a flu outbreak the hospital would not allow visitors. I was only able to take the kids as far as the parking lot to see Joanne and wave to her at her room window.  We first saw Kathie when we brought her and Joanne home from the hospital! 

18 May 69 to Norfolk VA for technical training of an HF Radio System

I was sent to the Naval Training Center in Norfolk VA for training on the URT-23, which was a single sideband HF radio transceiver. WHCA was in the Process of adding this system to all overseas packages and needed qualified technicians. I was there for ten days and for the first time since I was assigned to WHCA I was required to wear uniforms. WHCA would widely use these whenever long range communications were required and would be included in the CCT’s standard equipment package!

 URT 23-A with R390-A receiver
In the spring of 1969 we decided to move into an apartment in Greencastle, PA., the house that we were living in had only two bedrooms and with the arrival of Kathie we needed more room. 

Antrim Apartments in Greencastle PA.
Don, Bob with Kathie (1970)
We learned that Al Jensen our Navy Seabee was being transferred, Bud Evans would replace Al in July of 1969.  Bud and his family would end up renting the apartment directly above ours in Greencastle.

We were in the middle of several major construction projects at the Tower that kept us busy the remainder of the year. First Project was to resurface the access road on Cross Mountain leading to Cannonball. There were also plans to add guard rail in multiple locations along the access road. This was really appreciated by all of who had to plow snow in the winter time as there had been several close calls in the past.

We also completed construction on an 80 ft tubular tower with a new Log Periodic HF antenna to increase our capabilities as the Remote Transmitter site For Cactus. We also installed a 4 port Multi-coupler that would allow us to use several transmitters to simultaneously use this new antenna.

The final and largest project was the shock mounting of the entire tower! Several things took place, steel reinforced walls were added to the elevator shaft on all floors and the Air Handling (AC) units were all remounted on an angle iron plat form and hung on springs from the ceiling on all floors. The final step we needed to do was to temporally move all of our operational equipment so a platform could be built and suspended by very large springs on every floor. Once the new suspended floor was completed we then reinstalled all of the equipment on the platform. All this was completed while the traffic on our microwave routes was uninterrupted.

When the projects were complete I started to travel again, this time supporting the Vice President. It was early 1970, when we found out that four of the microwave towers, including Cannonball were going to be closed. All of the people were to be assigned to Camp David, San Clemente CA., or Key Biscayne FL. I was assigned to San Clemente.

The White House Staff Christmas Party (1967)

 White House Christmas Party 
The Blue Room at the White House  Christmas Party (1967)
Type Of Activity
 Staff  Event
 The White House Washington DC
Date of Activity
 December 9, 1967

December 9th 1967 The Staff Christmas Party

The President and Mrs. Johnson always had the annual Christmas Party at the White House for the Support Staff.. If you attended you could pick up your Christmas Card from the President and Mrs Johnson, and if you couldn't attend the card would be sent to you.  

In 1966 the Christmas Card was not received by any of the WHCA personnel at Camp David, even after we discovered that all of Navy personnel had received theirs. If you could not attend The Staff Party your card was usually mailed to you within a couple of weeks of the event. It seemed like all requests about their whereabouts fell on death ears. One of the WHCA spouses decided to take action, and she wrote a very polite letter to Lady Byrd Johnson asking why we hadn't received our cards. We all know what rolls down hill and it did in this case, it was no time until Mr. Fontaine was making a list and checking it twice. I took about another week and everyone at Camp David had their cards. So in 1967, I decided to go to the Christmas party and pick the card up myself and bring it home.  I went with Al Jensen the Navy Seabee working at Cannonball Tower with me. 

I was only able to attend one party primarily because of driving distance from Mercersburg PA. and weather conditions..

The Marine Corp Orchestra
When we entered the White House we were greeted by the Marine Corp Orchestra I stopped and listened to them before entering the Blue room and viewing the Christmas tree.  There was plenty of refreshments served and after we were there for about an hour when the Johnson's came in to greet all of us and announce the evening’s entertainment.   
The President and Mrs. Johnson in the Blue Room
The entertainment for the evening was bandleader Skitch Henderson of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  The show was very entertaining and Skitch played many holiday songs getting all of the guests into a holiday spirit. 
Bandleader Skitch Henderson
After the show the Johnsons retired to their private living quarters and the party continued for a couple more hours.

As the guests left they were given their Christmas card to take with them. I ended up with five Johnson Christmas cards and five Nixon Christmas cards all framed and displayed proudly.
LBJ’s Staff Christmas Cards

1964 Staff Christmas Card
1965 Staff Christmas Card
1966 Staff Christmas Card
1967 Staff Christmas Card
1968 Staff Christmas Card                    
WHCA Recruiting Trip to Ft Bliss TX (1968)

Recruiting Trip
Entrance to FT Bliss

Type Of Activity
Personnel Recruiting Trip
Ft Bliss TX
Date of Activity
 Aug 04 1968 to Aug 10 1968

04 Aug 68 to El Paso TX -Ft Bliss Recruiting Trip

WHCA sent recruiting teams to all of the Army, Navy and Air Force training centers in the US trying to find candidates in certain technical MOS’s. I was recruited by WHCA while I was attending Microwave School in Ft. Monmouth NJ.  A team of four members from the organization, all in civilian attire, asked me wide variety of questions for about an hour. Then I was submitted to an intense background investigation necessary to obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance, which was required prior to being assigned to WHCA. This entire process took several months to complete.

In 1968 I was assigned to a four man team to go to Ft. Bliss TX to review, recommend and ultimately select candidates for future WHCA assignments, because Ft Bliss was the HQ for the US Army Air Defense Command there was a large Training Center on the Base. After a cross country airplane flight from Washington DC's National Airport to Chicago's O'Hare International to Dallas and finally to El Paso Airport. We also received meals on every leg of this flight so we ate four times on a flight that took five hours. We arrived in El Paso TX Sunday evening and got settled in our motel. The next morning we met with the Base Commander to obtain full access to all 201 files of the students currently attending any training that was taking place on the base. We were given permission to go to the base personnel unit and were given a contact to meet with so we could get started.

Insignia of the United States Army Air Defense Command
The Air Defense Command.s Museum at Ft Bliss
We immediately contacted the personnel unit and began reviewing hundreds of 201 files. Each of us separated the records of people that we thought would make good candidates. We then looked at military aptitude scores, current training courses,  education and general backgrounds to make our final decision on who we would interview. The few individuals that remained were first gathered in a group while we explained what we were doing and let them know about WHCA and the process that we would follow to make our final decision and what it would take to qualify. We did give everyone in the room a chance to withdraw from consideration with no questions asked. For the next three days we conducted personal interviews asking many direct questions about their lives and background. As we completed the individual interviews we discussed the merits of each candidate and made our final selections.

We met with the final seven candidates the next day to have them complete the administrative paperwork, which also included the forms needed to perform an extensive background investigation and obtain top secret security clearance. Once they graduated and received their security clearance they would receive their assignment in WHCA.

While I was in Fort Bliss Texas on this recruiting trip the 1968 the Republican National Convention began in Miami Beach FL, and even though there were demonstrators, there were no violent incidents like what would erupt in Chicago in a few months. Richard Nixon the Republican nominee surprised everyone by choosing Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate.  I would have never imagined the events that would take place in the next couple of months would forever change the Presidential election process.

The White House Country Fair (1968)

 The White House Country Fair

Lynda Bird Johnson try’s to win a prize

Type Of Activity
 White House Staff  Event
 Washington DC
Date of Activity September 9th 1968

LBJ White House Country Fair Monday Sep. 9 1968

In 1968 LBJ had one of his famous BBQ's on the south lawn of the White House for the Staff and their Spouses.  The 1968 election was about two months away and a new President would be elected, and the Johnson's were saying Thank You to the entire White House staff for the last four years of support. WHCA was in the middle of an election campaign that for the first time included support for all active candidates.
Invitation to the White House Country Fair
When Joanne and I received the invitation, we didn’t know if we would be able to attend because Joanne was pregnant with our oldest daughter Kathie and I was traveling a lot making numerous campaign stops. Joanne had quite an ordeal to find the right dress to wear to The White House.

1968 White House Country Fair
We arrived at The White House with Al and Sonia Jensen that evening and to our amazement there was a typical Country Fair on the South Lawn of the White House, complete with a Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-round.

View of the midway from Top of the Ferris wheel
You could win little trinkets like a 6" ruler with White House Country Fair 1968 inscribed on it or a ball point pen with the same inscription.   Joanne and I had our picture taken with the White House in the background, but we have unfortunately misplaced that photo.  There was plenty of beer and food and we had a great time.

South Lawn at The White House
BBQ was the main course
Joanne and I loaded up on the BBQ and sat down at a table that was across from Liz Carpenter who was the press secretary to the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson (1963–1969), for whom she also served as staff director. Suddenly the lights went out and we set there in the dark for only a few seconds, when they came back on Liz made the comment, “I wonder if Lyndon is trying to tell us it’s time to go home”!

The entertainment that night was Buck Owens and his son. He was great and their music was perfect for this occasion.
Buck Owens on the South Lawn of The White House (1968)
 The President did go to the South Grounds  to the Country Fair for White House staff members and spouses at about 8:30 pm. He spent about a half an hour at the fair and then returned to the residence in The White House.

That was one thing that LBJ was good at was including WHCA in these staff functions like the children's Christmas parties as well as the staff Christmas parties. In less than two months from this event we had a new President and the Johnson’s would then return to Texas and the ranch.

WHCA and the 1968 Presidential Election (1968)

1968 Election Support Trips with all Presidential Candidates

This is an unprecedented period of time. The United States presidential election of 1968 was a wrenching national experience, conducted against a backdrop that included the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and subsequent race riots across the nation, the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, widespread demonstrations against the Vietnam War across American university and college campuses, and violent confrontations between police and anti-war protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

On November 5, 1968, the Republican nominee, former Vice President Richard Nixon won the election over the Democratic nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Nixon ran on a campaign that promised to restore "law and order". Some consider the election of 1968 a realigning election that permanently disrupted the New Deal Coalition that had dominated presidential politics for 36 years. It was also the last election in which two opposing candidates were vice-presidents.

The election also featured a strong third party effort by former Alabama Governor George Wallace. Because Wallace's campaign promoted segregation, he proved to be a formidable candidate in the South; no third-party candidate has won an entire state's electoral votes since.

The U.S. Secret Service came into existence nearly 150 years ago, but the agency as its known today was essentially created June 5, 1968 — the night Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

That policy changed after Kennedy's assassination. In 1968 with the assassination of a major presidential candidate, the Secret Service began to protect all of the major presidential candidates.

After Kennedy's death on June 6, the Secret Service was hurriedly called upon to protect the men who were still running for president in 1968. And then, of course the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) would be called upon to support the Secret Service details assigned to all of the candidates. The situation was exacerbated because there was no criterion for choosing who else would receive Secret Service protection. WHCA was then assigned to provide communications for the Secret Service Protection Details! 

WHCA’s role in the support of the Secret Service

WHCA immediately assembled multiple equipment packages that could be immediately deployed anywhere in the US. Utilizing one or two men teams the candidates schedules were confirmed and teams of people were dispatched to meet up with the Secret Service advance agents.

Each equipment package contained an FM base station usually on Baker and Charlie frequencies for the Secret Service Command Post (CP) and hand held units to be used for the motorcade and speech site. Many times the CP was located in the same hotel that the candidate was staying. Telephone lines were ordered and installed in the CP for routine communication. There would also be an EOD (Bomb Squad) member assigned from a local military installation to sweep the hotel, motorcade route and speech sites for any explosive devices. There were many threats called in but nothing was ever found.

The communications teams would take down the FM radios when the event concluded, collected all of the equipment and would be assigned a new location and the next event. Nobody was assigned to a particular candidate but would work with all of them.

On August 5 1968 the Republican National Convention took place in Miami Beach FL, and even though there were demonstrators, there were no violent incidents. I was at Fort Bliss Texas on a WHCA recruiting trip when Richard Nixon surprised everyone by choosing Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate.

WHCA would provide communications support to the USSS assigned to the various protection details working with the major candidates and their staff.

1968 Republican convention in Miami
1968 Democrat Convention in Chicago
We were all involved with the insanity of the 1968 Presidential election, the Vietnam War protests at the Democrat National Convention in Chicago which was by far the craziest time during the whole election. The convention opened on August 28th at the old Amphitheater which has since been demolished. All support people stayed at the Conrad Hilton on Michigan Ave. overlooking Grant Park, this is where all of the Chicago riots of 1968 took place, but what was it like setting up Communications for this event? I understand that the unions were on strike and employees of C&P Telephone accompanied WHCA to help install the POTUS board and interface with AT&T. We had to assume that President Johnson would make an appearance at the end of the convention, but he never attended. After several days of political turmoil, Hubert Humphrey and Edmond Muskie were nominated by the Democrats. The WHCA communications team then packed up everything and left Chicago without any incidents involving the demonstrators or police.   

The Chicago Police prepare for demonstrations
Police clash with antiwar protesters in Grant Park
21 Sep 68 Atlanta Ga. - George Wallace

And finally the stage was set for the 1968 Presidential election itself. My involvement began on Sep. 21, 1968 when I was sent to Atlanta, GA to support George Wallace at a campaign rally. This was a pretty standard stop. I installed an FM radio base in the Secret Service CP at the hotel where we were staying and provided some mobile radios for the motorcade. After several hours of activity and upon conclusion of his speech, I collected all of my equipment, and headed for the airport to return home.

04 Oct 68 Newark NJ - George Wallace

After a couple of weeks at home on October 4, I was sent first to Newark NJ to another rally supporting George Wallace. This turned out to be an in and out visit with an arrival at the airport and a short motorcade to the rally site. After the rally we returned to the airport but before the Governor departed, he personally thanked every police officer that was involved with the motorcade.

Gov. George Wallace at a rally in Atlanta GA
Gov. George Wallace at a rally in Newark NJ (1968) 
07 Oct 68 Raleigh NC - Spiro Agnew

I left shortly after Gov. Wallace departed and headed to Raleigh NC where I was assigned to support Spiro Agnew at a rally scheduled on the 8th of October. Upon arrival in Raleigh I met with the SS advance agent. I then surveyed the rally site for FM radio coverage, the rally site was only two blocks from my hotel and where the CP would be installed. Governor Agnew would motorcade from the airport to the speech site, then after his speech, the motorcade returned to the airport for his departure.
Spiro Agnew speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh NC.
Spiro Agnew speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh NC.
24 Oct 68 San Jose CA - VP Hubert Humphrey
27 Oct 68 Los Angeles CA - VP Hubert Humphrey

I found myself in northern California with two weeks left before election night. I was sent to California on Oct 24th to support VP Humphrey who was making campaign speeches in San Francisco and San Jose. Both of these stops were uneventful I would set up and tear down the rally sites and after I was finished there, I was sent to Los Angeles to set up communications to cover another speech by the VP at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It was now Oct. 27th and things were starting to heat up now that the election was only ten days away. I set up the CP in the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the event was to be held and where I was staying.

VP Hubert Humphrey campaigns  in Los Angeles CA 
VP Hubert Humphrey campaigns in San Francisco and San Jose, CA
30 Oct 68 Long Beach CA - Richard Nixon
31 Oct 68 Burbank CA – Richard Nixon

In the meantime Richard Nixon was scheduled for a campaign stop in Long Beach CA for a rally on Oct. 30th. The Long Beach site was out of range for FM radio coverage so radio base stations were installed at the Long Beach airport and installed remote circuits back to the CP that was installed in the Century Plaza Hotel. After the speech Nixon would spend the night at the Century Plaza. The next day Nixon made a trip to the NBC Studios in Burbank to appear on Laugh In and utter those immortal words “Sock it to me!” Since Nixon resided in southern California he was coming home to vote.

Richard Nixon at a campaign rally in Long Beach CA
Richard Nixon on Laugh In with Dan Rowan and Dick Martin
03 Nov 68 Anaheim CA - Curtis Le May

I received a call from the USSS agent in charge of the protection detail assigned to Gen LeMay to let me know that there was a speech on Nov 3rd in Anaheim. I met with the advance agent at Gen Le May’s residence in Bel Air to discuss the details of the arrival, the subsequent speech and the motorcade to Bel Air. The CP would be set up in the Holiday Inn in Anaheim, just a short distance from the speech site and within walking distance to Disneyland.

Gov. Wallace and Gen. LeMay in California
Gen. LeMay’s home in Bel Air
05 Nov 68 Los Angeles CA – Nixon/VP Humphrey

On election eve both Democrat and Republican parties had rallies, Nixon’s was at the Century Plaza Hotel and Humphrey's was,down the street at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. I had equipment scattered everywhere and it wasn’t until two days later before I had collected it and could head for home.

The election on November 5, 1968 proved to be extremely close, and it was not until the following morning that the television news networks were able to call Nixon the winner. The key states proved to be California, Ohio, and Illinois, all of which Nixon won by three percentage points or less. Had Humphrey carried all three of these states, he would have won the election. Had Humphrey carried any two of them (or just California), George Wallace would have succeeded in his aim of preventing an electoral college majority for any candidate, and the decision would have been given to the House of Representatives. Nixon won the popular vote with a plurality of 512,000 votes, or a victory margin of about one percentage point. In the Electoral College Nixon's victory was larger, as he carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, to Humphrey's 13 states and 191 electoral votes and Wallace's five states and 46 electoral votes.

Richard Nixon at a campaign rally in Philadelphia just prior to the election
For five months members of WHCA leaped frogged across all fifty states supporting the candidates and it finally came to an end shortly after the November election. Besides supporting the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates it was also a huge task to support President Johnson and his staff for the rest of 1968.
With Richard Nixon the new president, WHCA had new challenges at San Clemente and Key Biscayne where he purchased residences and permanent communications had to be installed for the security personnel assigned at these locations.

President Nixon's Visit to New Delhi India (1969)

            U S Embassy in New Delhi India                        
U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India
Coordinates:                                      28°36′50″N 77°12′32″E
 216 m (709 ft.)
Population (2001)
 302,363 (New Delhi Only)

31 Jul 69 to New Delhi India with President Nixon

New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the center of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi

The foundation of the city was laid on December 15, 1911, and was planned by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, leading 20th century British architects. Inaugurated on February 13, 1931 by Viceroy, Lord Irwin, the city is known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards and is home to numerous national institutions and landmarks.

It is situated within the metropolis of Delhi and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and home to a population of 14 million. New Delhi is one of the nine districts of Delhi. The total area of the city is 42.7 km.

Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India

The Rashtrapati Bhavan or The Official Residence of the Head of the State is the official residence of the President of India, located in New Delhi, India... It is the largest residence of any Head of the State in the world

During our stay in New Delhi the U.S Embassy and the State Department arranged for a tour of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Agra is a city in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, some 200 km from the Indian capital city of New Delhi. It is also the home of the Taj Mahal..

Main entrance to the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Taj Mahal means Crown Palace; one of the wife's names was Mumtaz Mahal, Ornament of the Palace. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world's heritage.

President Nixon was inaugurated in January of 1969 and this was his first diplomatic state visit to discuss his plans to bring peace to Southeast Asia. This worldwide trip would be the foundation for Nixon’s diplomatic success that he accomplished by ending the Vietnam War, his historic trip to China, and an improved relationship with Russia.

President Nixon arrived at Palam Airport in New Delhi. Acting President Mohammed Hidayatullah’s welcomed the President to India. In 1969, Hidayatullah served as the Acting President of India being ex officio Chief Justice. He served from 20 July to 24 August, 1969.

In his arrival speech Nixon said “The first principle of the relationship between India and the United States is that our two countries share fully the basic objective of peace in Asia and peace in the world. Only in peace can Asian nations devote their full energy and attention to the most important problem they face: the grave human problem of meeting the expectations of men, women, and children to share in all the benefits of modern science and technology. Mankind has reached the moon. Now we must improve the quality of life here on earth”. 

President Richard Nixon
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
He continued by saying “It is in this spirit that I come to New Delhi and it is in this spirit that I look forward to fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Gandhi and the other leaders of this bastion of democracy in Asia”.

”I leave with a sense of destiny, and also with a greater confidence than ever before about the future--the future for this country--and because this country's future is one that will have such an enormous effect on all of Asia and the world, confidence in the future of the world”.

President Nixon with India’s Prime Minister Gandhi
President Nixon’s first diplomatic visit to promote his administration’s new foreign policy would circle the world and would take him to eight countries meeting with their heads of state.

Presidents Travel Itinerary July 1969

Manila Philippines
July 26-27, 1969
State visit; met with President Marcos.
Jakarta Indonesia
July 27-28, 1969
State visit; met with President Suharto.
Bangkok Thailand
July 28-30, 1969
State visit; met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Saigon, Di An Vietnam
July 30, 1969
Met with President Thieu and visited U.S. military personnel.
New Delhi India
July 31-Aug1, 1969
State visit; met with Acting President Hidayatullah.
Lahore Pakistan
August 1-2, 1969
State visit; met with President Yahya Khan.
Bucharest Romania
August 2-3, 1969
Official visit; met with President Ceausescu.
Mildenhall United Kingdom
August 3, 1969
Informal meeting with Prime Minister Wilson.

WHCA’s Role in the Presidents Worldwide State Visit

WHCA would send communications teams to every stop on the President’s trip itinerary. On July 11, 1969 the New Delhi contingent formed at Andrews and loaded all personnel and equipment on to another C-141 the preferred mode of travel for all of our overseas trips. We left Andrews on the first leg of our trip that would eventually take us around the world. We would refuel in Madrid, Spain and fly to Incirlik AFB in Adana, Turkey. 

We arrived on July 12, 1969 and because we had to wait for final approval of our flight plan to New Delhi, we spent the night in the bases BAQ. My first experience with nickel slot machines came at the NCO club there, they must have been broken because I came away with over 100 dollars in my pocket by the time we left. Departing the next day and arriving in New Delhi on July 13, 1969.

The inside of a C-141 with a comfort pallet
In-route to New Delhi

Our first order of business would be to unload the tons of equipment that we brought with us and get settled into the Janpath Hotel where we would spend the next three weeks.

The switchboard, Comm. Center and FM radios would be installed in the Ashoka Hotel where the President and his staff were staying.

The US Embassy would become our base of operations using the Annex to set up our HF radios. We installed two Collins Radio 1KW HF systems for long range communications. RCA Corp. also installed a single channel satellite earth station capable of reaching the United States.

We were up and running within a week of landing in New Delhi, all we had to do was keep the radios up and operating until the visit was complete. During this period of time we were communicating with other WHCA locations in Thailand and Pakistan...

We had a native for a driver. He wore a turban, was impeccably groomed, and wanted someday to come to the United States. He took several of us several of us to look for some brass souvenirs. I think I have a business card for the merchant where we visited and bought souvenirs. John Parkash, yes I remember he gave out his business cards to all of us when we arrived at the airport.  It’s strange the things that we remember, I can remember John Parkash, but I cannot remember anyone that went on this souvenir hunting trip with us. I bought a brass tea service and two very large brass lamps.

When we left the shop there were some Buddhists using elephants in farming activities. We stood outside the car watching them work when suddenly they came running in our direction. Our driver told us to get in the car and we sped away. He explained they saw us taking pictures and believed that if someone took their picture you were stealing their soul. We really moved when they started towards us and quickly left. I also remember his stopping the car and waiting for a cow to get out of our way. He would not honk; we had to just set until the cow decided to move on.

The Janpath Hotel
Embassy assigned driver
President Nixon arrived at Palam Airport in New Delhi on July 31, 1969. I was assigned to work the arrival which included setting up the motorcade and plugging in the ramp into the nose of AF1 when it stopped on the tarmac. After the Presidents arrival, I went back to the hotel and changed my clothes because my suit was soaked from the 100+ degree temp, and went to the annex and pulled an eight hour shift on the HF radios.  On this trip we also had a Collins Radio Tech Rep (Leo Crane) who was there to make sure that the Collins system worked.  I don't remember the model number but it was black with thumb wheels on the control panel, but I never saw them again after we returned.  I guess they were experimenting with them that is why we had LEO!  I remember that our call sign was Circus Star,

I have no idea how anyone picked these particular systems. I remember that we were installing the verticals with the temp well above 100, and at about 11 Am we sent a couple of guys over to the annex's cafeteria to get something to drink, well, I guess they tried to buy some beer, I don't know what the problem was but CWO Desautles received a call from the embassy wanting to know why we were trying to buy beer and if he approved. We never did get anything cold to drink, so we crawled down from the roof, took a break and drank some water. I cannot remember if we had any other system with us like the URT-28.

The State Department set up a tour of the Taj Mahal they provided the air transportation and flew us to Agra. I was lucky enough to be off that day and was able to make the trip. We had a tour guide that showed us the sites and explained everything to us. 

I got tired of eating hamburgers at the US Embassy, but it was about the only safe place to eat. I remember we did eat a "wheels up" dinner at the Jan Path Hotel’s restaurant the night before we left. We all had Sweet 'n Sour pork since there was no beef on the menu. None of us got sick and we were ready to return home the next day. 

The President spent the rest of his time conferring with the Heads of state of India. On Aug 1, 1969 President Nixon departed New Delhi for his next stop in Lahore, Pakistan. It was now time to tear down and pack up all of the equipment and continue our around the world trip.

I can remember CWO Desautles threatening to throw off of the plane the entire load of souvenir's to make room for the equipment and luggage. We departed New Delhi on August 3, 1969 headed for Bangkok, Thailand. After a refueling stop we flew over Vietnam, where we could see artillery flashes from 29,000 feet in the air, I remember that because we flew over a war zone that we were tax exempt for one month. We really knew how to make money! We arrived in Tokyo Japan on August 4, from there we flew to an AF base outside Sacramento, and then on to Andrews, we ended up flying around the world. Everything made it back OK, but I remember several large horns that were vigorously HONKED whenever we took off and landed on our return trip.

Vice President Agnew Blasts the Network News Media

Vice Presidential Support Trips
Vice President Agnew

Type Of Activity
Political Fund Raiser
New Orleans LA
Phoenix AZ
Date of Activity
02 December 1969
23 February 1970 
29°57'22.7" N  90°03'56.2"W
33°25'57.83 N 112° 0'27.34"W

02 Dec 69 to New Orleans LA-Political Speech

It was almost a year after the election when I was sent to New Orleans to support Vice President Agnew. The Vice President had just delivered a hard line speech concerning media bias toward the Nixon White House. We expected his speech in New Orleans to continue along the same lines as his Cedar Rapids speech and we were correct as he continued to criticize the network news media. The Secret Service was also expecting some demonstrations and public protest during the period of time he would be in the city.
Vice President Agnew in Cedar Rapids IA                            
I departed Washington DC with two WHCA personnel and enough radio equipment to support the VP and the USSS. Our first stop after landing at the New Orleans International Airport was at the local USSS Field Office and review the Itinerary of the upcoming trip with the Advance Agent.  When we were finished at the field office we went to the Royal Orleans Hotel where we were staying.

The Royal Orleans Hotel on Bourbon St

The next morning we met with the Hotel Manager and the local TELCO representative to survey the Suite where the Vice President would stay and the room that we would set up the USSS command post. We also conducted a survey of the hotels mechanical room and the roof for a location to install the B/C base station and its antenna. All circuits were then ordered from the TELCO rep. and we started the installation of our equipment. The suite had several key telephones installed with ring down circuits to the USSS CP. Key phones were also installed in the CP along with the remote console for the radio’s. When we were finished installing the radios we conducted a radio survey of the motorcade route to insure we had necessary coverage. The last piece of equipment that was installed for the VP staff advance was a DEX-1 facsimile machine.

The Royal Orleans Hotel near the VP's Suite
The Vice President and Mrs. Agnew landed in New Orleans about noon on Dec.4, 1969 and traveled by motorcade to the Royal Orleans Hotel. The speech was scheduled for that evening and the Vice President continued his attack on the media and the unfair coverage of the Nixon administration’s policies. Patrick Bucannon and William Safire were the two speechwriters that were responsible for these speeches. They eventually toned them down over a concern that they were too inflammatory.

The VP speaks at a Republican fund raiser 
The Agnew’s on the way to Brennan's Restaurant
The Vice President’s popularity had increased with Republicans ever since his now well-known speech attacking the Network media by saying “A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.” and by calling them “nattering nabobs of negativism”. The Vice President became the Nixon Administrations most prolific fund raiser and was in great demand. The Agnew speech criticizing the news media came out of a personal and political context of personal enmity against the press and in favor of building a new political coalition.

The Vice President continues to blast the National Networks 
Vice President Agnew went to New Orleans and, as everyone now knows, he wowed not only the audience, but millions who saw him on television. Overnight, the Vice President lifted the country out of its depression and had everyone laughing.

There were a few protesters present but no large demonstrations like the Secret Service had anticipated. The Vice President and Mrs. Agnew departed the next day, and we removed and packed all of our equipment and prepared for our return trip to Washington and home.

23 Feb 70 to Phoenix AZ-Political Speech

I was again assigned to support Vice President Agnew and was sent this time to Phoenix AZ where he was speaking at another fund raiser. Which we found out would be held at the Del Webb Town House Hotel.

The Vice President’s popularity had increased with Republicans ever since his now well-known speech attacking the Network media by calling them “nattering nabobs of negativism”. The Vice President became the Nixon Administrations most prolific fund raiser and was in great demand.

This trip was a pretty routine trip.  The Vice President would motorcade from the airport to the Del Webb Townhouse where he would also stay and the event would take place. We would install all of our equipment there as well as installing the USSS Command Post and our radio base stations so everything would take place at one location. We did have a moment when the Hotel received a caller who claimed that there was a bomb hidden in the hotel and would be detonated when the Vice President entered the hotel. After a review the EOD team assured us that they had found no evidence that a bomb was present.

Del Webb’s Townhouse in Phoenix AZ in 1970 
Vice President Agnew arrived made his speech and departed the following day. It was time for us to pack up and return home. I was leaving temperatures in the mid-eighties to the subzero temperatures in Greencastle PA.

When I returned from Phoenix I found out in Early March of 1970 that the Microwave Towers including Cannonball were going to be closed and all of us would be sent to other locations which were to be determined. This was to be accomplished by June and I would be assigned to the San Clemente Communications Detachment as the NCOIC of the San Clemente Communications Contingency Team. The CCT was a new concept that we would develop and refine once all of the team members arrived in California.

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