649th Radar Squadron, Bedford AFS, VA

Contributed by Ron Gustafson

The following are a few things that I remember about the 649th Radar Squadron at Bedford Air Force Station, VA:

- Bedford AFS, being classified as remote or semi-remote, whichever, was a limited tour. There was a minimum of recreational activity on the mountain, making the assignment a lousy tour for the single folks. Spending every evening in the NCO club wasn`t the best way to live, so they hated it and went down the mountain at every opportunity.

- It was a joint-use site, with FAA maintaining the search radar, and Air Force personnel maintaining the height finders and performing AF operations. This was also a disadvantage for the AF maintenance personnel.

- An AF bus went back and forth to the housing area and the intersection with Rte 460 at every shift change. The bus was driven by shift workers, and was a relief to private autos going up and down daily.

- The US Park Service wouldn`t allow trucks on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so all major supplies, etc., were transported down the back side of the mountain on a narrow, winding dirt road that I think took 70-80 miles to get to the town of Bedford. Snow removal, which could be a great effort at times, was done by a huge flight-line plow that also had to come up the back road. I remember one night that I had NCOD and therefore, my own vehicle, and we had an ice storm. With no exaggeration, the ice on my vehicle had to be at least 1 inch thick. It took forever to get enough off to see through the windshield, but also to get in the vehicle. When I finally got to the housing area, it was still covered, and when it warmed up, huge sheets of ice slid off onto the road. Of course, there was a lot of hazardous driving up and down in snow and ice, and you experienced all levels of moisture between the mountain top and Bedford.

- During the conversion from temperate to arctic towers, a crane broke while trying to move the entire AN/FPS-6 antenna pedestal. The antenna system was crushed. [I have a picture of it somewhere if I can find it when I get back to Colorado.]

- The Appalachian Trail runs through the site, and was detoured around the perimeter fence.

- We lived in housing #13 directly across from the Commander`s house. Oh yes, we had, I think, six different Commanders during my stay, one of which was relieved of his command during the middle of the night.

Ron Gustafson

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