|The 79AEW&C Squadron Reserve Unit was activated at Homestead AFB in about 1972. They flew the EC-121D & T. They were deactivated in late 1978. They had a lot of deployments to Iceland. One airplane 55-0121 burned up after its left gear collapsed. Several people from the 552nd transferred to the unit in a program called Palace Chase. I flew on few missions out of Homestead and we had the unique experience of being on blocked by a union crew. The reserve technician who was blocking us said "you must be able to start all engine before a certain time as our break will start, union rules you know"|
|As was announced on
8 Dec. 1975, Detachment 1 of the 20th Air Defense Squadron will activate at Homestead AFB,
Florida during the spring of 1976. Det 1 will be comprised of approximately 310 men, most
of whom will be reassigned from the deactivating 552nd AEW&C Gp at McClellan AFB. The
new unit will fly Connies in an associate unit arrangement with the 79th AEW&C Sq, U.
S. Air Force Reserve. The 79th is the Only Reserve unit equipped with the EC-121.
The combined force will be used for Southeast U. S. radar mission, maintaining a TDY force of EC-121 aircraft in Iceland for support of NATO and other special missions as specified by the Department of Defense.
Headquarters for the 20th ADS is at Ft. Lee, Virginia, and will provide the administrative headquarters for the new unit. The 79th AEW&C Sq will assume control of the personnel and aircraft for training purposes. Aircrew and aircraft will be deployed under the appropriate unified or specified commander. This realignment of forces is in accordance with the Defense Department's total force policy. (note Det 1 was deactivated in Oct 1978)
UPDATE TO THE ABOVE:
As I was just reading your story on the last days in Iceland, I noticed you have the story slightly wrong. The last three planes all left the same week. No plane remained for 5 weeks as your story says. I left on the third-last plane, the second-last left the next day, and the last 1-2 days later. Each was welcomed back at Homestead with a big welcome party pretty much on successive nights. In fact, Capt Steve Welde (nav on the last crew with Jerry Hoff) and I PCSd to Dover together about three weeks later around 1 Nov 78 to fly C-5s. If he had remained 5 more weeks, he would have missed his RNLT date at Dover.
On a side note, even before they left, one of the two AWACS was grounded with a serious hydraulic problem. After all Connies left, the whole AWACS fleet was grounded and a Shackleton from 8 Squadron, RAF Loosemouth, Scotland came over to Iceland to pick up the alert.
Embarrassing for the AWACS!
Lt Col Craig Vara
Last Connie Crew in Iceland and last AEW Mission Crew
Replaced by the E-3A from Tinker AFB in Oct. 1978
Last Connie (55-0122) on run up, notice TWA Markings
Just a couple of notes ref the image links you recently added to the bottom
of the 79th's page.
Specifically, on the picture of 0122 on the run-up pad, please note not only
the "TWA" on its fuselage, but also the familiar checker-board tail flash of
the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which flew the F-4E, and two Jolly
Green Giant footprints on either side of the window on the aft cabin
entrance door, courtesy of Detachment 14, 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery
Squadron, flying the HH-3E.
Also, on the flyby picture, as I recall 0122 had taken off to the west from
Kef, joined up with the two 57 FIS F-4E's and flown back to the east in
formation, crossing pretty much directly over Hangar 885, home of the H-3's
and EC-121's at Kef. A truly awesome sight!
Old H-3 Driver
Sep '77 - Feb '79 Det 14, 67th ARRS, Keflavik
Aug '79 - Jan '82 71 ARRS, Elmendorf
Jan '82 - Feb '83 38 ARRS, Osan
Last Connie flyover with F-4s
E3A and EC-1221T at Kef.
Article about 55-0121 in the
Aerospace Safety July 1978