Monday, January 26, 2015

Military Monday: SAC Survival School, Stead Air Force Base, Reno, Nevada, August 4-14, 1952

After my father was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant after graduation from navigator training at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, Texas, on April 11, 1952, which began his three years of active duty, he visited home in Chicago in late April and early May.  He was en route to next assignment, which was B-26 bombardment training at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, beginning May 14.

On July 11, 1952, he was assigned to Night Intruder Crew #12 as the navigator-bombardier with First Lieutenant Milton C. "Milt" Royles, pilot, and Airman Second Class William R. "Pep" Peppers, gunner.  On August 4, 1952, the crew was sent to Stead Air Force Base near Reno, Nevada, for an advanced survival training course (completed August 14), and then on to Camp Stoneman near Pittsburg, California.

At survival school, they were joined by two other Night Intruder crews:

  • #8:  Captain Calvin S. Rowe, pilot; Captain Frederick B. Elliott, navigator, and Airman Second Class Albert A. Gagne, gunner; and
  • #13:  First Lieutenant Ben F. Pace, pilot; Second Lieutenant Richard Robert "Dick" Parks (one of Dad's classmates at Ellington), navigator; and Airman Third Class Maurice E. Price, Jr., gunner.

Dad said survival school was set up for teams of ten men, so they apparently had an (unnamed) student instructor assigned to their team.  Their civilian instructor was Jack Farnsworth.

On the back of another copy of this photograph, Dad wrote, "Stead A.F.B. -  Group picture after return from trek thru the mountains."

Here is Night Intruder Crew #12 at survival school, Milt, Pep, and Fred, the "Best B-26 Crew":

I have more pictures of Milt, Pep, Ben Pace, and Richard Parks, so I will write more about them later.  Here is what I could find out about some of the other men pictured:

Calvin Swope Rowe, Sr., was born March 28, 1920, in Adair County, Kentucky, the only child of Kentuckians Martin Rowe and Vila Reece. The 1930 Census shows the family living at the Adair County Poor Farm, but by 1940, Martin has become the sheriff of Adair County and the family is living in Columbia.  Calvin is a clerk in the sheriff's office and is married to a woman named Maxine.   On October 16, 1942, Calvin enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and served in World War II.  In 1958, Calvin was still serving in the Air Force, and he and Maxine were living in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Calvin also served in Vietnam, and ended his service at the rank of lieutenant colonel.  On February 4, 1982, he married Alma Givens Cress in Sacramento County, California.  He died May 17, 1983, in San Bernadino County, and is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Albert A. Gagne was born August 4, 1929, in New Hampshire, the fifth of seven children and oldest son of furniture repairman Albert J. Gagne and Rose Labbe, both born in New Hampshire of Canadian parents. The family lived in Somersworth, New Hampshire in 1930 and 1940.  By the time his Air Force service ended, on November 5, 1955, he had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He married in 1955 and had at least a son and a daughter.  He died October 5, 2001, and is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, New Hampshire.

Maurice Edward Price, Jr., was born October 16, 1929, in New Jersey, the third of four children and first son of Maurice Edward Price, Sr., and Gladys Mabel Wentzell.  The family lived in Takoma Park, Maryland, in 1930, and in Washington, DC, in 1935 and 1940.  Maurice died February 18, 1955, and is buried at East View Cemetery in Salem, New Jersey.  His service separation date was supposed to be October 25, 1955, so he may have died while serving in the Air Force.  He had reached the rank of sergeant in the 308th Bomb Wing.

I was unable to find any definitive information about Frederick B. Elliott or Jack Farnsworth.

© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.

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