Camp David Communications Detachment ( Cannonball 1967-1970)


Experiences at Cannonball

Our House near Lemasters PA (2009)
Type Of Activity
 Experiences while at Cannonball
Location
Location
 Mercersburg Pa
Date of Activity
 Mar 1967 to Jun 1970
Coordinates
 +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! 

Don, Bob with Kathie (1970)
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.
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
We were in the middle of two major construction projects at the Tower that kept us busy the remainder of the year, we also found out 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.

 It was early 1970, when we found out that four of the microwave towers, including Cannonball were going to be closed. I was to be assigned to San Clemente, so in June we loaded all of our personal belongings and set out on the cross country trip to sunny California.


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