810th AC&W Squadron

Dedicated to the 810th Radar Squadron and all the US Air Force Radar Sites of the Past

Background

A few months after graduation from High School in 1965, I was presented with a couple of options. This was the time of the Vietnam War and the draft and it could be dangerous to be my age. Not having the resources to go to college my options as I saw them were to get drafted and end up crawling through the mud with an M-16 while being shot at, or apply my technical interests and join the US Air Force. So in October of 1965, at the age of 19, I found myself at Lackland Air Force base in Texas learning to march and salute.

Up to that point one of my primary interests had been the study of electronics. I had fixed old TV sets, built my own stereo equipment and short wave radios, and even ran a bootleg low power FM radio station. In high school I would ride my bike around town with a portable FM radio and a pair of Lafayette Electronics stereo headphones, listening to the records playing on the turntable in the basement at home. I may have invented the Walkman.

So I joined the Air Force with the promise of going to electronics school at Keesler AFB. Then came reality. I learned they lie when you enlist. Instead of electronics school they decided I would be sent to Refrigeration and Air Conditioning school at Sheppard AFB in beautiful Wichita Falls Texas.

So I got to spend the next six months marching, pressing my fatigues, and learning about thermodynamics, the latent heat of fusion, dichlorodifluoromethane, and the art of silver soldering - skills that have served little use in the years since.

In May of 1966, having completed my tech school training, I found myself standing in a tobacco patch a few miles outside of Winston-Salem North Carolina, staring at a complex filled with really cool electronic gizmos that I wasn’t supposed to mess with. This was the 810th AC&W Squadron - Winston-Salem Air Force Station, and was to be my home for the next three and a half years.

During my time at the 810th I served as a sort of unofficial base photographer and managed to document a fair amount of the squadron's day-to-day life. You can see some of them by clicking the tab marked "810th Radar Squadron Photos".

I would be happy to add stories and photos to this site that others may have to contribute. You can contact me at john@nineveh-junction.com.

You can also see some older, poorer quality photos of the 810th at the radomes.org website. They are now featuring some of my photos as well. 

Several years ago a friend from those days and I drove past the site of the old 810th and saw much of it is still there with the 24 tower intact - though the dish is long gone. I guess it was too hard to demolish that solid concrete structure. As I recall the walls were thick enough that it could probably survive an atomic blast! The base is now the site of Union Cross Park and an alcohol and drug treatment center.

Note that some of the materials on the site are from my memory, and may not always be first hand. If you see any errors or can offer confirmations or clarifications, please pass them along. I would like to make this information as accurate as possible.

John Kessler (copyright, Nineveh Junction Digital, john@nineveh-junction.com) - Updated 3 Nov, 2006