Mt. Hebo Update

September 29th, 2009

mt_hebo_01.jpg

I recently made a pilgrimage to the summit of Mt. Hebo in the Oregon coast range to see if there are any signs of the old Cold War Air Force radar station. It was a lot easier to get to the top of the mountain than I thought — you just follow Mt. Hebo road on up after turning off of 22 (near the 101 junction). The route is well maintained, yet extremely twisty; so much so, Emily got car sick during the drive. From 22, it’s about 30 minutes to the top. Unfortunately, my first trip was a disappointment due to poor weather. I was hoping to shoot some 16mm footage with Tony’s fancy Bolex using Kodak’s 50D, but typical coastal cloud cover had reduced visibility to around 50 - 100 yards. Eric and I did find signs of old infrastructure, like the foundation of one of the radar buildings and a buried electrical vault (see photos below), but that was about it. There are a couple of newer communications towers maintained by Verizon, the Oregon State Police, and one of the railroads, but nothing military related. The second trip up was far more productive from a filming standpoint. There was still some cloud cover, but I had enough sun breaks to manage a couple of panoramic shots using a really wide prime lens on the Bolex. I’m a little worried about the exposure since I had trouble reading my light meter, but I’m hoping the 50D has similar latitude to Kodak’s other motion picture negative film.

After coming down from the mountain, I also met with Bill Pollard, who served on Mt. Hebo during the Cold War. He now lives in Pacific City and had plenty to say about his time in the Air Force. There were a couple of interesting comments he made I though worth posting:

  1. When the Air Force station closed in 1980, it took two years for contractors to remove everything from the site
  2. The family housing existed about 2,000 feet below the summit. When the station closed, this site was dismantled as well. Some homes were sold to members of the community and can still be found — although heavily modified.
  3. When Mt. Hebo closed, some of the radar equipment was given to the FAA and used on a mountain top outside of Salem
  4. Some of the radar equipment was pretty jerry rig. For example, the hydraulic system on the height finder radar was crafted from modified landing gear scrounged from a T-33 fighter jet.
  5. The reason there were so many makes and models of radar systems across radar sites was not intended to drive technicians crazy. Rather, it was intended to make it harder for the Soviets to jam our radar sites.
  6. There were never any Soviet incursions or unidentified aircraft during the site’s operation according to Bill. Pretty much day-in-day-out routine for the most part.
  7. Encryption was not used for data transfers over Long Lines from Mt. Hebo to Adair, the SAGE site in Corvallis. I guess encryption was pretty much pointless those days, since only the US military had the primitive modems used for transmitting data over the phone lines.
  8. The Long Lines data transfer between Mt. Hebo and Adair was actually two-way. The SAGE system could also send back instructions to the radar.

mt_hebo_02.jpg

mt_hebo_03.jpg

mt_hebo_04.jpg

mt_hebo_05.jpg

Entry Filed under: The Cold War

31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DON BRINGMAN  |  October 7th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    I ARRIVED HEBO IN JULY 1956 PRIOR TO OPENING. FPS 8, FPS6 ,fps-4 radars. 15 people assigned

  • 2. Art Nicewander  |  November 4th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I also server at Mt. Hebo with the 689th Security Police. I know Bill as well. Do you have his contact information you can share with me?

  • 3. Dwight Penfield  |  March 11th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I visited Pacific City and Mt Hebo on July 18, 2009. I was a beautiful sunny day on top of the mountain, with only a little haze. I was in the Air Force and stationed there from July ‘68 to May ‘72. I lived in Pacific City on Brooten Road. I took photos and video. If you’re interested email me and I’ll send you Picasa links. Some video’s are on You-Tube. Dwight.

  • 4. Dwight Penfield  |  March 12th, 2010 at 9:10 am

    To Art Nicewander & Don Bringman - if you were stationed at Mt Hebo you should go to www.radomes.org and register in the Mt Hebo Roster - all your old friends are listed there - including Bill Pollard.

  • 5. David Casteel  |  March 17th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    For Don Bringman. Don, there is a reunion of former Mt. Hebo AFS people in Tillamook set for 11-12 Sep 2010. We have old information on you and attempted to contact you about it but that contact failed. Please contact me so that I can update your contact information. David

  • 6. J.L  |  April 8th, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Does anyone have contact wih Chris Davis, I believe he was an MP & that would have been 79-80.

  • 7. David Casteel  |  April 16th, 2010 at 4:11 am

    I have some very old information (2000?) on a Chris Davis in Pennsylvania who had been stationed at Mt. Hebo AFS.

  • 8. NLassig  |  September 15th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I was at Hebo, recently, My husband, Rich Lassig, was stationed on the mountain in the late 50s early 60s. Would love to hear from anyone who attended the reunion who might have known him.

  • 9. Lonnie Page  |  September 28th, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Was stationed on MtHebo from Jan. 57 until Dec. 58. Would love to hear from someone in this time fram.

  • 10. Nancy Lassig  |  September 30th, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Hi, David,

    I received a lovely note from Steve W. saying that the reunion was very successful. I hope you had a wonderful time. He said you took notes and referred me to an article in the Tillamook newspaper, which I’m going to search for so that I can send it to my kids.

    I wound up spending three weeks in Tillamook, and went to Hebo several times while there; once on Rich’s birthday. Then I explored all the nooks and crannies of the area, which was very interesting, hoping that I was walking in Rich’s footsteps. I got home a week ago.

    Would love to hear about the reunion if you wish to share your thoughts. Thanks. Best wishes to you and those you love, and to all who read here.

  • 11. admin  |  September 30th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    For anyone interested in the newspaper article, here’s the link:

    http://www.tillamookheadlightherald.com/news/article_114bdc5c-bb5f-11df-bdfe-001cc4c002e0.html

  • 12. Randy Shindle  |  December 27th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I was stationed @ Mt Hebo from 11/73-11/76. Worked on the FUZZY 7 radar. Would love to attend a reunion if any more are planned.

  • 13. David Casteel  |  January 7th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Nancy, and others: the 2010 reunion was a complete success. We had about 130 people attend and the weather was just wonderful. My photos are at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8712554@N02/collections/72157624999919728/. I enjoyed meeting so many folk I’d been in touch with via e-mail, too.

  • 14. Gary Sexton  |  February 6th, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Dwight, I was stationed at Hebo the same time you were. Do you remember an AP by the name of Rick Bremen? He married a local girl named Debbie.We lived in those cottages across from the Tucca Way. J Byrd and that bunch.

  • 15. Dwight Penfield  |  March 10th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Hey Gary, yes I remember you, Rick, and Debbie. They moved to somewhere near White Plains, NY, don’t remember exact town. I remember trying to find their house once when driving through NY. No cell phones, internet or GPS in those days - about 1974. Debbie’s mother was a part-time barmaid at the Sportsman and Terry Weathers and I used to call her “Mom”. She was very pleasant but very overweight. I remember that Rick and Debbie had problems and divorced. George Pell probably has more info about them because he married a local girl Cheryl Litsell (sp). I think Debbie and Cheryl were friends and their moms were friends. I visited Hebo and PC in 2009, saw George, and attended the Mt Hebo Reunion in Sept. 2010. I live in CT. Find us all on: http://www.radomes.org/museum/showsite.php?site=Mount+Hebo+AFS,+OR
    Add yourself to the “Site Roster”! GOOD hearing from you! Dwight.

  • 16. Dick Hindman  |  March 21st, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Anyone still alive that was on the Mountain 1956 to 1960???

  • 17. Dwight Penfield  |  April 12th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    All, If you were stationed at Mt Hebo AFS you can find your friends at RADOMES.ORG - All the Mt Hebo information is here:
    http://www.radomes.org/museum/showsite.php?site=Mount+Hebo+AFS,+OR
    Join in on the USAF Radar Vets Museum startup effort here:
    http://www.radomes.org/afrma/
    Also please join this USAF Radar Vet Group:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AFRSV/

  • 18. Jim Fassler  |  May 6th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I served at Mt Hebo from Jul 66 - Jul 67. The memories of the trip to the “top of the hill” still are fresh. Hebo was the best of all my duty stations during my active duty service.
    Jim Fassler
    907-398-8384

  • 19. Dwight Penfield  |  May 10th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Jim, you should go to RADOMES.ORG and register on the Mt Hebo roster. Lots of your old friends are there. I’ll send you photos and video of our reunion and trip up the mountain, last September. Here’s the link to the site: http://www.radomes.org/museum/showroster.php?site=Mount+Hebo+AFS,+OR Take Care!! Dwight Penfield - Mt Hebo ‘68 - ‘72 T-2 and Q-47 Maintenance Shop

  • 20. Barbara Skinner  |  May 16th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Hi,My step-father,Doyle(Woody) Woodward was at Mt. Hebo from 1957-59. He was an electronics engineer. We lived in Pacific City,Oregon on Brooten Hill Road. I went to school in Cloverdale. I was in Pacific City last week on vacation with my husband. A guy there told me that at that time a lot of families lived there who worked at Mt. Hebo.We could see it from our kitchen window.A friend of my fathers was a Captian Brown. I don’t know if he worked there or not. Is there anyone alive who was there during this period of time? Thank you for any information you can give. Or do you know a sight I could go to for history of this time.

  • 21. Dwight Penfield  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Barbara - I would go to the RADOMES.ORG website (in post 19 above) and look thru the roster for guys that served on Mt Hebo during those years and contact them via email. Dwight.

  • 22. Myron D.Hutson  |  July 9th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    for Barbara Skinner:
    I served at Mt Hebo AFS in 1957-1958 as Radar Maintenance and repair. Captain Brown was the Commander of the Statiion.
    Best wishes on your search.

  • 23. Myron D. Hutson  |  July 11th, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Barbara Skinner - I had reviewed my Mt. Hebo pictures, etc. not long ago. some info in my notes: Captain Brown had the rank of Major in 1958. After I left to go overseas in Jan. 1959, I heard at one of the flight stops that he had an aircraft accident but was basically OK. At Mt. Hebo, I was assigned to work with engineers and tech reps on antenna calibrations, etc. A commercial TV translator was installed on The Hill in 1958. I was shown the workings of it by the engineer in charge of maintaining it. Do you remember if your step-father was that engineer? At 77, I’m good at faces but not recalling names. Myron

  • 24. Tom Williams  |  December 30th, 2011 at 3:33 am

    My family lived on Sunset Drive in Pacific City from ‘64 to ‘76…during the late ’60s ‘the Nixon’s were our next door neighbors…he was a stationed on Mt. Hebo AFS and became very good friends with my deceased mother. Would like to say hello for her if I can. I believe he was stationed in Alaska and came from Indiana…had a wife and one or two small children. I think his first name was David (Nixon) but I could be wrong…have a Christmas card in my mother’s effects with their names…will try to find it…thank you for any help.

  • 25. Davey H. Lee  |  September 13th, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I was stationed at the 689th from 1972-73 Security Police!

  • 26. Jim Doughty  |  June 3rd, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I was stationed at Mt. Hebo Oct 74 - May 77. Univac 1218 computer tech Fuzzy 7. Lived in Cloverdale.

  • 27. Dennis Scheffert  |  August 3rd, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Was stationed at Mt. Hebo from 5/68 to 10/70. I was a radar operator. Was married and lived on 9th St. in Tillamook. Did not know of the reunion in 2010. Would have loved to attend. I made a trip up the mountain in 2008, unaware that EVERYTHING was gone. What a Surprise!!. A Twilight Zone experience. I enjoyed my 2 1/2 years in the area very much. A lot of great times with other young married couples. A party every week at a different house. Fond Memories.

  • 28. Dave Williams  |  January 25th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    For Tom Williams. I knew a Dave Nixon in Montana that was stationed at Mt Hebo many years ago. He was a Radar tech in the Air Force while there and during his career. He retired and became a technician working for several USAF contactors supporting the GWEN system. last I heard he was in Nebraska near Omaha.

  • 29. mark adam dean  |  June 19th, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I was there from 1974 to 1977 at FSS-7 radar site. I caused a fuss for Major Robb by petitioning for a real hobby shop, but we had a Korean karate for a time. There was a lot of alcohol flow from the NCO club. One day they maintained the access road with oil and my motorcycle suffered for it. I will never forget how those feather merchants strutted about with those huge coffee cups. My first commander, Major Morrison was a decent bloke; his replacement ,Major Wheeler…..well I caused some trouble for him. i suppose many people would prefer to forget it all, I never will.

  • 30. mark adam dean  |  June 19th, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Jim Doughty….you enjoyed mucking up the dunes with your Jeep and always had a smart comment for me! I still converse with Bruce Billett and now I am busy with Computer Engineering at Valencia College. I tried to contact Dennis Sheridan recently- they live in Tillamook. Anyways hope you and family are doing well. I do miss the sandwiches at he Hebo Inn and the chilli at the tavern across the intercession of 22 and 101.

  • 31. Steve Weatherly  |  October 8th, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Since 8 Aug 14 there has been a new Forest Service sign at the site of the former Mt Hebo AFS. Through photos, text, and a timeline the sign provides information on what the radar station was all about.

Leave a Comment

Required

Required, hidden

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Calendar

November 2014
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Most Recent Posts