After driving through what looked to us like desolate country, we arrived in Roswell in March 1954. A dust storm was in full force and we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Roswell was our home until September 1958 and turned out to be one our most enjoyable assignments.
Walker AFB, of course, was considered a large SAC base, having two Bombardment Wings and the supporting 812th Air Base Group. My job was assistant Adjutant at first, then later as Adjutant. Col George Porter was the Base Commander at the time and some members of the staff were as follows:
- LtCol Jacob Persky – Dir Material
- LtCol Ray Risden – Comptroller
- LtCol Parry Thomas –Operations Plans
- LtCol J> J> Adleman – Dir Personnel
- Major Edgar Linder – Information Officer
- Major George Patterson – Chaplain
- Capt John Donovan – Safety Officer
Colonel George Porter was a gruff guy with a heart of gold. I remember when he was reassigned from his position as Material Officer of the 47th Air Division, also at Walker, to his new position as Base Commander. The first thing he did was order a bus to Base Headquarters, where he had every member of his staff climb aboard for a tour of the base. He then proceeded to point out things he didn’t like and ordered them fixed at once.
One night, around midnight, he telephoned me and asked that I accompany him on a trip to the Mess Hall for an unannounced inspection. He discovered that pancakes for 0600 breakfast were already made. He was upset and ordered that they be scrapped and new ones prepared closer to the actual breakfast time.
At quitting time, one day, I made a quick run through my Adjutant office and discovered that the printing room had not been cleaned up and secured before the personnel left for the night. When I got home I called the NCO in charge to admonish him, when suddenly Colonel Porter was on the line saying: “Give ‘em hell, Joe.” I hadn’t realized that we shared a line and so became very cautious with subsequent phone calls.
There was only one time that I saw him at a loss for words. There was a refrigerator which he wanted removed from a small closet in his office. Three men from Installations came to do the job. Try as they might the refrigerator just would not come out. No matter which way it was turned, it was just about an inch too wide. He was about to order the door widened when the Sergeant Major came into the office, learned what was going on, then suggested that the refrigerator go back in the closet, the door then opened to reduce the width, which would allow the item to slide out sideways.
Another memory, not involving Col Porter, comes to mind. My Top Secret Control Officer reported that a document checked out to the 509th Bomb Wing couldn’t be located. After a lot of frantic searching, one B-47 Commander remembered that about a year earlier some documents had flown out of his plane while they were preparing for an emergency landing. Nothing to do but have every member of the Wing turn out for a ground search. Against all odds, the document was found in good condition, thus saving the Wing from an investigation.
As we became acclimated, the Roswell, NM area did not seem so desolate after all, and we sort off regretted our pending assignment to SAC Headquarters at Omaha.