Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A 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.

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