The following articles from 1954 – 1956 are newsclippings taken from the Western News of Libby, Montana, and represent what was going on at the 680th during that time.
Contributed by Richard Konizeski
June 24, 1954 Air Base Open House
Twelve Hundred and ninety-two visitors registered at the Air Base on Sunday, June 13. It was open house held over from Armed Forces day due to high floodwaters in this area.
The base was opened in 1950. Captain Robert Rice, camp commander, greeted the visitors with a warm welcome. Officers and other military personnel escorted the visitors on tours across a well-kept lawn into each building, describing its reason and contents. People expressed admiration at the good housekeeping and homelike atmosphere displayed in the Airmen’s barracks. Good housekeeping was prevalent from the boiler rooms to the officer’s quarters.
All available government vehicles were used to transport the visitors up five miles of curves and switchbacks to the radar station. The hum of the large diesel engines were of special interest to the men. The greatest thrill proved to be the dark room where for the first time, many saw the screen and scopes in action.
It was obvious that in the surrounding darkness the scope served as the eyes for the well-trained operators. The mess sergeant had prepared a delicious chicken dinner for 400 people. The crowd surpassed all expectations and at 4 p.m. after feeding many more than the 400 the mess hall doors were closed. Refreshments being served in the recreation hall were also eliminated in mid-afternoon.
It was explained by Capt. Rice the reason for the open house was to give the public a chance to see where some of their tax money is being used. The base is run on an economical basis, just as any would run a home. Few realized the wide scope of protection from any belligerent country radar gives to us. The general opinion of the hundreds of visitors was that they are proud as a taxpayer to help develop anything so wonderful as radar. While U.S. fighter planes roared overhead the Stars and Stripes never looked so beautiful waving in the warm sunlight. This reporter met an elderly lady who said, “ I am thrilled to learn radar is so wonderful and God bless the men who run it.”
March 17, 1955 AIR BASE TO GET RECREATION HALL
The Yaak Air Force station is to have a new recreation building and post exchange building. Bids for construction are now being advertised.
Bids call for a wood frame building 92 feet by 30 feet with cement asbestos shingle siding, including roads, walks, and utilities. Also asked are bids for approximately 4,600 lineal feet of roadway guardrail.
Work is to be completed within 150 calendar days after notice to proceed.
Many improvements at the base have been completed by service and volunteer work of the personnel. For these improvements, including a new addition to the dining hall and a new NCO and airmen club, the base was awarded first place among 58 stations in the 1954 site improvement contest of the Western Air Defense Force.
May 26, 1955 Jet Fighters Fly Over Yaak Base
A small crowd of visitors toured the Yaak radar base during the Armed Services day open house held there last Saturday. Owing to reconstruction of equipment which is in progress on the observation peak, only the lower installations could be inspected.
Four jet fighters from Geiger air base flew over the Yaak station during the day, circling the lofty mountain country where the installations are located.
Coffee and doughnuts were served to the visitors at the camp.
Because of the reconstructions going on, little attempt was made to attract a large crowd for this occasion. Officers report that the big visitor’s day at the base this season will be July 2, when a special open house program is to be held.
September 1, 1955 Yaak Officers Sponsor Derbies
Members of the non-commissioned officers open mess, and the Yaak officers’ club are offered prizes by their organizations for the heaviest rainbow trout and the biggest eastern brook caught between August 26 and September 15, according to the “New Yaak Times”, which announces the trout derby in its August 26 issue.
A 30-30 rifle will also be given to the man or lady who bags the heaviest deer this season, in the Yaak AFB first annual hunting derby, running through deer season, from October 15 to November 15.
October 13, 1955 Recreation Building At Yaak Air Force Base
Personnel at the Yaak radar base will soon be enjoying use of the new base exchange and recreation building, to be completed October 16.
The new building includes a gymnasium which doubles as a movie theater, a small library, and the base exchange, snack bar and barber shop. Rest rooms and storage space for merchandise and supplies is also included.
Lateley installed were the tile floor in the snack bar area, library shelves, fixtures, and hardware.
The gym includes a half-basketball court, a portable movie screen, and a small folding stage.
January 26, 1956 Yaak Air Base Force Gives Dance For Dimes
Personnel at the Yaak Air Base held a March of Dimes dance in the new recreation building last Friday evening. Sponsor was the NCO Open Mess.
Admission was a donation of not less than 25 cents to be turned over to The March of Dimes fund.
Music was by Lt. Hoaby’s Yaakateers. Recorded music was also available during intermissions.
February 23, 1956 excerpt from the Yaak News Brief section of the Western News
Lt. Harmon left for Geiger Field where he will be discharged from the Air Force. Lt. Harmon, whose home is in Ohio, was a member of the Yaakateers, who have been playing for dances at the community hall.
March 8, 1956 Rod and Gun Club At Yaak Air Base
Airmen at the Yaak base are organizing a new Rod and Gun club according to the base publication, the New Yaak Times.
The organization meeting was held Monday at the Recreation hall. Forty members were already signed up before the Monday meeting.
Plans now call for reloading tools and supplies to be purchased. A skeet range is also contemplated, and fly-tying material and fishing equipment will be ordered. Archery may later be added to the club’s activities.