This page provides a history of the Group flavored with some of the pride of accomplishment and humor experienced along the way. The second page provides an interesting and detailed program chronology. At the bottom of this page an additional link to a more personal history page is provided where members may contribute their own personal recollections and unique experiences.
4000TH SUPPORT GROUP
Offutt A.F.B. Omaha, NE
Col. Eugene Hudson
|Detachment 1 4000th Support Group||Detachment 2 4000th Support Group|
|Fairchild A.F.B. Spokane, Washington||Loring A.F.B. Limestone, Maine|
|Lt Col. Chester Brown||Lt Col. Harry Urban|
The 4000th Support Group came into being on 1 February 1963 under the cloak of extreme secrecy. It was comprised of four distinct components:
(1) Headquarters at Offutt AFB, NebraskaDue to the unit's high mission priority and the extreme security required for its operation, the 4000th was assigned to Headquarters SAC where it reported directly to the Chief of Staff.
(2) Detachment 1 at Fairchild AFB, Washington
(3) Detachment 2 at Loring AFB, Maine
(4) the 4300th Support Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, California
In 1968, the Group name changed to 4000th Aerospace Applications Group. Like its predecessors, the mission of the 4000th Aerospace Applications Group was to provide on-orbit command and control of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft; collect and retrieve all data supplied by those satellites; and provide state-of-health analysis and protection for the assigned satellites. In accomplishing that mission, the Group assumed several new and unique responsibilities. Operations of the 4000th during the first 11 years was protected by a veil of security that remains to this day.
For nearly 35 years, the unit's mission remained essentially unchanged: to operationally command and control the orbiting weather satellites which form the space-based component of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). The organization's history, however, was marked by significant changes over the years, driven by changes to the Air Force command structure and by advances in satellite design and ground-based commanding systems.
In May 1967, due to a realignment of launch responsibilities, the 4300th was deactivated with a record of 16 launches without a launch failure. In April 1990, Detachment 2 at Loring AFB was deactivated after 27 years of operations.
In May 1983, the group was transferred to the newly formed Air Force Space Command under the 1st Space Wing and was given a new designation, the 1000th Satellite Operations Group. The group reorganized to align itself with the structure of the 2nd Space Wing in 1985.
In May 1989, Detachment 1 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, was upgraded to squadron status, becoming the 5th Satellite Control Squadron. In August 1989, Air Force Space Command accepted the turn over of Fairchild Satellite Operations Center as the new DMSP command and control facility. Later in the year, the Multi-Purpose Satellite Operations Center at Offutt AFB was retrofitted with a new multimillion dollar ground system.
In July 1992, the One Grand downsized from a group to a squadron and was redesignated as the 6th Space Operations Squadron aligned under the 50th Space Wing, which had also been renamed from the 2nd SpaceWing. Likewise, the 5th Satellite Control Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base reorganized and became Detachment 1 once again.
In May 1994, President Clinton directed the convergence of the DMSP program with the Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Polar-orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES) program. As part of the convergence process, Det 1 at Fairchild closed in 1997.
During 1997, their last full year of operations, the 6 SOPS accomplished a record number of satellite missions...22,221! It also achieved the highest mission effectiveness rating in its 35-year history. For this, the unit was named the 1997 recipient of the General Richard C. Henry Award given to the best space operations squadron in the Air Force.
On 29 May 1998, the 6th Space Operations Squadron transferred satellite control authority of DMSP to NOAA as a result of the 1994 Presidential directive.
A twelve time recipient of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award,
the 6th Space Operations Squadron has long been recognized as one of the
finest units in the Air Force. Although the 6 SOPS has seen many
changes throughout its glorious 35-year history, the loyalty, dedication
and professionalism of its members has allowed the squadron to continually
go...Above and Beyond.
|Some of the less formal history follows|
Excerpt from the Det-2 25th Anniversary Dining-Out Booklet.
Detachment 2 has had eleven commanders since its origin in 1963, its first commander being Lieutenant Colonel Harry Urban, to the present commander Major Boyce B. Burley III. The Detachment's unbroken record of meritorious service has been recognized by the presentations of Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards (AFOUA) - 9 such distinctive honors.
|Past Commanders of Detachment 2, 1000th Satellite Operations Group|
|Lt Col Harry Urban||1 Feb 63 - 18 Jan 65|
|Maj Walter F. Threlkeld||18 Jan 65 - 4 Apr 66|
|Lt Col Clayton D. King||4 Apr 66 - 18 Jan 68|
|Lt Col Gordon W. Addy||18 Jan 68 - 12 Feb 73|
|Lt Col Bernard G Gustafson||12 Feb 73 - 30 Jun 77|
|Lt Col Troy G. Gray||30 Jun 77 - 20 Dec 79|
|Lt Col Michael P. Sykes||20 Dec 79 - 3 Jun 83|
|SMSgt Lawrence H. Furlong||3 Jun 83 - 3 Oct 83|
|Maj Robert L. Giles||3 Oct 83 - 12 Jul 85|
|Lt Col William E. Caffall||12 Jul 85 - 14 Jun 88|
|Maj Boyce B. Burley III||14 Jun 88 -|
Det 2 history excerpted from Don McConnell’s book.
The 4000th Support Group came into being approximately 1
January 1963. Lt. Col. Harry Urban came to Loring AFB, Maine, to determine
if a former Army Nike Site at Connors, Maine, would be suitable for the type
of Operation that was to be performed. He later told the site personnel of
having to "snowshoe" up the hill and of being able to walk over the top of
the fence due to the "light" snow fall. Acquisition of the property for the
site had its complications. Unfortunately, the vacant site had earlier been
placed up for public auction and subsequently purchased by a Mr. Sam Blotner
for a total salvage bid of only $7600. In February, 1963, lawyers
representing the Department of Defense approached the new owner and offered
him $8000 to purchase back a small portion (eight acres) of the original
complex. To maintain a low profile, they explained the land was required
for the establishment of a radar bomb scoring site (RBS). Mr. Blotner
refused the offer to purchase, but after considerable negotiations agreed to
lease the land to the U.S. Government for a fee of $1.00 per year. There
were, however, two major conditions that accompanied his counter-proposal.
First, the land and all facilities had to be returned to the same condition
if the site was eventually vacated. Second, the site had to be named in
memory of his father, Louis Blotner. The conditions were quickly agreed
upon, and until 1982, signs along the road leading to Det 2 bore the bold
but misleading inscription of "BLOTNER RBS SITE". That was rectified in
May 1982, when the signs were replaced with new ones that read simply
"BLOTNER SITE". Mr Blotner did enjoy a sense of humor, as the Air Force
was soon to learn. On several occasion, much to the consternation of the
Air Force, he appeared on the Johnny Carson, late night show, and discussed
in a humorous manner his dealings over the site.
In June, 1963, the first personnel arrived at Loring AFB, ME for assignment
to Det 2. Activation plans called for radome and antenna installation,
hook-up of operations vans, placement of a diesel generator. and the
establishment of office/living space. By July, 1963, the vans and antenna
were in place and operational at the site. On 10 July 1963, a major
milestone was reached when Det 2 started the first ever "Blue Suit" space
operation in the Air Force. Work continued and diesel generator and live-in
capabilities were achieved in September 1963; and none too soon. On 24
October, the personnel at Det 2 were given the opportunity to successfully
test the live-in conditions when the harsh Maine winter brought forth a
furious storm that dumped 10 inches of snow in approximately three hours.
From that point on the site continued to improve both operationally and in
appearance. It became a showplace, attesting to the professionalism and
pride of the personnel assigned.
Don't forget to sign the guestbook and say hello.
Last Updated Mar 21, 2007