Please welcome Elbert Cook to my USAF Radar Technician comrade list! Elbert provided a very detailed account of his duty stations and the equipment worked on. Any of you who had the pleasure of maintaining the TPN-19 ASR/PAR radar system will appreciate his comments. I never worked on it myself, but while at Robins AFB, GA (5CCG) in the MPN-14 radar shop a couple of the newfangled, transistorized TPN-19s arrived from Tinker AFB, OK (3CCG)and oh, boy, do I remember the stories that came from the poor souls who came with them. I helped clear the site on Robins AFB's back 40 and laid down a lot of AM2 portable aluminum runway panels for the units to sit on. Rattlesnakes were all over that place - ugh. I was glad to get back to the civilized part of the base after a couple weeks there.
Note: Elbert has completed a scale model of the MPN-13 GCA radar unit, and is looking for dimensions, photos, or any other pertinent data for maintaining accuracy. If you can help, please send me the info and I will get it to him. Thanks.
Elbert sent these pictures that he took while stations at Shemya Air Station, in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska:
MPN-13 Radar, Cobra Ball RC-135, and ATC Control Tower at Shemya AB, AK
Here are a couple 'real time' photos of the MPN-14 and TPN-19 ground control approach (GPA) radars at Robins AFB, GA, while I was stationed there from 1979-1982.
MPN-14 ASR/PAR Radar Unit TPN-19 Radar Shop Sign (Michael Klein photo)
This is the full text of Elbert's letter (with his permission):
Thanks for your reply. You can put this on your web site.
I went back through some old records and this is what I came up with.
Got hooked on the Air Force in 1968 and signed up in April. After Basic Training I went to Keesler AFB for GCA Radar training, you know how that goes. Looking forward to my first assignment I ended up with Sheppard AFB, Texas. April 1969 to June 1973. Started out on AN/MPN-14 B then the new FPN-47 was installed along with the FPN-16. GPX-8, GPA-70, GPA-30 and Brite-II.
While at Sheppard I got a message stating that I will be part of the TPN-19 test Team at the 3rd Combat Com Group at Tinker AFB, OK. I thought I must be in for a good deal. Boy was I wrong. I got to the 3rd Combat Com Group in June of 1973 (left April 1979, was I glad somewhat). While at Tinker I worked on MPN-13, MPN-14, TPN-19 and all the equipment that went along with them. It was two years after I got to the 3rd that we went to the TPN-19 school and factory. While at the 3rd we ended up with 10 TPN-19s. What a mess. There are some war stories about them.
I finely got out of the 3rd April of 1979, but I had orders to Shemya AFB AK. (Shemya from April 1979 to April 1980). Shemya had an MPN-13 without a 301 key system. There was all kinds of room in that power trailer. Our UPX-6 was not restricted to 60 miles. That was nice. We had a T3 Trainer that the controllers used a lot. I have a lot of pictures of Shemya.
I got out of Shemya April 1980 and went to Holloman AFB. (Holloman AFB April 1980 to December 1984) Maintained the FPN-47, FPN-16, Brite-II and all the equipment that went with them. We did have a GPA-131 by then. After two years at the radar side I was moved into Quality Control. Quick story, While I was at my Quality control desk at Holloman I just happen to have one of my old TPN-19 note books with some of my QC notes in it laying on my desk. The front showing a picture of the TPN-19 was up. Rudd came walking through my office and said hi and then he saw the note book and said something like “ OH I see you have a picture of the TPN-19”. Well the normal reaction, the reaction I had any way was “Sure, I was in the 3rd Mob and worked on it for several years.”. Boy was that a mistake. Within 6 weeks I had orders to Langely AFB as the Air Traffic Control Radar Functional Manager and I mostly worked with you guessed it, TPN-19s.
Well, there I was December 1984 to around July 1988 (Retired in 1988) I went TDY all over the US. One of the main problems was the TOs for the TPN-19. It seemed like we were rewriting them all the time. We never did get them right. Another thing was the AC Mod. What a mess. One thing I did while I was at Lnagley was working on the Computer Assisted Force Management System technical manual.
After I got out of the AF, I went to college on the GI Bill. Got two degrees and went to work for a Hospital here in OKC. Worked for them for 14 years and retired again. Now I build model airplanes. I am working on plans to build a model of an MPN-13 GCA unit but I am having problems getting the dimensions. That is how I came across your web site. Oh well I will keep working. As I started through this a lot more came to mind.
You are doing a good job.
Posted August 7, 2013