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Serving the Present... Remembering the Past...
Air Force Weather



The Air Force approved transferring the weather reconnaissance and residual aerial sampling missions to the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service on 18 June 1975 and the transfer was made on 1 September 1975 ending over 33 continuous years of organized weather reconnaissance in the AWS.  The transfer reduced AWS by a wing, three squadrons, 27 aircraft and 845 manpower spaces (about 11 percent of total AWS authorizations).  AWS weather reconnaissance officers and dropsonde operators continued to fly on ARRS weather reconnaissance missions to gather and report weather data.

    With evacuation of Americans from Laos in late May 1975, over 13 years of involvement by U.S. military forces in combat in Southeast Asia (SEA) concluded.  Last weather squadron in SEA (10WS at Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand) inactivated 30 September 1975; last AWS unit (Det 30, 1WW at U-Tapao, RTNAS) inactivated 7 June 1976.

    On 1 July 1975, the first of five AN/FMQ-7 solar optical telescopes planned for AWS became operational at Palehua, Hawaii.

    Also in 1975, AFGWC was reassigned from 6WW to HQ AWS, USAFETAC assigned to AFGWC, and USAFETAC moved from Washington, DC to Scott AFB, IL.


Korean war begins: The war began on 25 June 1950 when the North Korean army, crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. The United States immediately responded by sending supplies to Korea, and it quickly broadened its commitment in the conflict. On June 27 the UN Security Council, with the Soviet Union voluntarily absent, passed a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for military sanctions against North Korea. Three days later, U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered combat forces stationed in Japan deployed to Korea. American forces, those of South Korea, and, ultimately, combat contingents from Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Britain, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey, with medical units from Denmark, India, and Sweden, were placed under a unified UN command headed by the U.S. commander in chief in the Far East, General Douglas MacArthur. The participating ground forces of these nations, the United States, and South Korea were grouped in the U.S. Eighth Army. The action was unique because neither the UN nor its predecessor, the League of Nations, had ever used military measures to repel an aggressor. (From "Korean War," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99.)

From AWS history ”Our Heritage 1937-1987” – Within 24 hours of the North Korean invasion, an AWS RB-29 was flown on a weather reconnaissance mission over Korea, and within 48 hours a weather detachment was airlifted from Japan to Taegu and began furnishing weather information to United Nations forces. (The last AWS station had been withdrawn from Seoul in September 1949 when U.S. forces evacuated Korea) 

    On 13 July, AWS RB-29 piloted by 1st Lt Fred R. Spies (later awarded 1st oak leaf cluster to the DFC for that and two other B-29 strikes) led first B-29 strike against targets in North Korea.

    AWS suffered its first casualty of the Korean war on     3 September. 1st Lt David H. Grisham assigned to the 20th WS, was staff weather officer to the 18th Fighter Bomber Group and he also qualified as a F-51 pilot.  He flew 45 combat missions over Korea.  On his 46th, an F-51 mission from Japan to Korea, he was reported missing in action.  

    On 8 September, Capt Charles R. Cloniger, 514th Reconnaissance Squadron (VLR) Weather of AWS’ 2143rd Air Weather Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for continuing and completing a typhoon reconnaissance mission in a heavily-loaded WB-29 with one engine feathered.  Determination of the typhoon’s position and intensity was vital to U.S. forces then conducting loading operations at Kobe, Japan, in preparation for the Inchon invasion.  It was believed to be the first DFC in AWS for such missions. 

   The year 1950 also saw the first use of dropsondes by AWS RB-29s in hurricanes; formal flight following and met-watch advisory service being inaugurated in AWS; and,  Fletcher’s Ice Island (as subsequently named in honor of AWS Lt Col Joseph O. Fletcher) was discovered in the Arctic Ocean by an AWS RB-29 weather reconnaissance crew. 

100 YEARS AGO at the turn of the last Century

* The average life expectancy in the US was forty-seven.

* Only 14 Percent of the homes in the US had a bathtub.

* Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.  A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

* There were only 8,000 cars in the US, 144 miles of paved roads and the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

* The average wage in the US was 22 cents an hour.  The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

* The American flag had 45 stars.  Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union.

* The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.  The remote desert community was inhabited by only a handful of ranchers and their families.  There are more folks there now – let’s join them in September for AWA REUNION 2000!

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