Administrator Note: This piece was presented by Duane (Al) Lorentzen in response to a request for former USAFSS folks to share their experiences with others.
Duane (Al) Lorentzen
I was stationed at three USAFSS bases and liked the 6952nd (RSM) (RAF Kirknewton,
Scotland) the best of the lot. I thought our mission here was exciting and
quite interesting. Though it cut into my social life in Edinburgh, I
enjoyed working "Eves" the best as it was generally busy and radio
signal strength was better than during a day shift.
Around 18:00-20:00 hours (6-8PM) on some nights, reception would be good and a
searching radio op would pick up an aircraft reporting his position back
to a northern staging base. Down the line another ditty-bop (morse radio
op) would pick up another "bird" and pretty soon all our positions would be
working aircraft radio traffic.
About then, analysts would be going up and down the line of morse operators,
ripping 5-ply tear-sheets from typewriters, breaking the radar plots we had
intercepted, and start tracking these Soviet Long Range Air Army aircraft as they
headed up towards the North Pole on the big map up front in our operations
center. (Admin Note: These Soviet aircraft being tracked were the
TU-16/Badger, TU-95/Bear and M4/Bison of the USSR 43rd and 50th Long Range Air
Armies and the Naval 6th Bomber Air Corp--see photos below)
On some shifts, these puppies would end up going little too far north
for comfort and our guys would alert SAC and probably our Air Defense Command.
Fortunately, they always turned back and, sooner or later, things would settle
When our shift was over we would leave the compound; no matter how tense or
exiting the events that had occurred that night had been, nobody talked
about it when we left that secured area. . . . Very strange considering how
young we were. When people in Edinburgh, or even our wives , asked us what we did for a
living, we'd say we were clerk typists or some such thing. It wasn't easy to
keep quiet about our business if you were married but I think most of us did.
About 25-30 years after I separated from the service, I picked up a magazine and
there was the first of many subsequent stories about NSA and what we Airmen
did while working for USAFSS. Shocked to see it in print. Apparently, by this
time, all this stuff was antiquated and de-classified. Showed my wife that
first article and after all these years, she found out what I did for a living
when I was a young lad. . . .(really never uttered a peep 'til then!!!)
Duane (Al) Lorentzen---Iverness, Illinois
Intercept Radio Operator 29251 (1956-1962)
1957-1958 6981st RGW Anchorage, Alaska
1958 Detachment 3, Shemya, Aleution Islands
1959-1962 6952nd RSM, RAF Kirknewton, Scotland