Parks Air Force Base Stories

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06-04-2021: UPDATING continuing attempts to revive the site and eliminate
the "404 Not Found" responses to clicking formerly active links have been fruitless,
with one exception. Flight 221's group photo will now display in all its GIANT glory.

Still working. Less and less hopeful for complete recovery. Sigh.


From ABTonne:

My story at Parks AFB began in 1952 when my dad, Captain Alvin B. Tonne, was relieved of flight duties at Davis Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona (at his request because of recurrent nightmares reliving two crashes he had survived, bailing out of B-50s over the mountains of Arizona and in the water off of Goose Bay, Labrador) and assigned duties as Provost Marshal and later (when he was promoted to Major) Squadron Commander of a basic training squadron at Parks. I was 5 years old at the time and worshipped my father. I am the first born of we four siblings. A sister and brother (Cynthia and John) joined our family in Arizona and my baby sister (Judy) was born at the hospital/clinic at Parks AFB in August of 1956.

My earliest memories of Parks revolve around Saturday excursions to the base with my dad in the Jeep he had been issued to help carry out his duties as Provost. Saturday was the day he would finalize paperwork from the previous week or just check on any Friday night mayhem that may have taken place in his absence. We lived in Hayward which is about 11 miles from the base. I loved that old Jeep, partially because I felt like I was in the military when I rode in it, but mainly because on the days when my dad would come home in the Jeep he always made sure to leave a small box (the two piece size) of Chiclets gum under the seat for me to “discover”. As Squadron Commander, on occasion he would inspect the troops on a Saturday morning and he would take me along so I could watch the inspection. He was strict, but never unfair in his inspection review. I think at that young age I was already forming a decision of what my avocation would be. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1968 and spent the next 22 years serving our country, retiring as a MSgt in 1990. But, I digress.

Another activity that was especially memorable and fun for my sister and me was the auction that my parents enjoyed attending in the area. Can’t remember where exactly it was located, but I do remember a huge red barn where the auction was conducted. My parents let us kids play with other children whose parents were at the auction and we had a blast playing all the games so popular with kids back then; tag, hide and seek, etc... I recall also motorcycle hill climbs that took place, somewhere near the base, off the road that came from Hayward to the base. It seemed impossible to me that anyone could climb the side of a dirt hill, that was at least 100 feet high and straight up, on a motorcycle without killing themselves. Actually the hill was probably only about 30 feet high at probably a 45 degree angle. Still, it was exciting to see the riders attempt the climb and sometimes succeed, as we drove by.

I have many more memories of our life in Hayward that were all a direct result of dad’s being stationed at Parks AFB; endless afternoons playing street ball with the kids on our street; numerous trips over the Oakland Bay Bridge, through Oakland to San Francisco where we were treated to lunch at #9 Fisherman’s Wharf; attending the East West Shrine Bowl game (just dad and me); attending the 10th Anniversary meeting of the United Nations Assembly in San Francisco, June 1955; seeing the Grand National Rodeo with my dad at the Cow Palace in San Francisco 1955 with head liner Rex Allen and his talented horse Koko. Then there was the infamous incident in early 1956 on a Wednesday evening at First Baptist Church in Hayward. The church was having new sewer lines installed and the ditch was at the front edge of the parking lot next to the building. I was teasing my sister, Cindy, which caused her to try to retaliate against me. She was chasing me and I tried to jump over the dirt pile along the edge of the sewer line ditch. I misjudged the height of the dirt pile, tripped and fell head first on the sharp edge of the front bumper of one of the cars. My forehead had a one inch gash and I was bleeding profusely. I ran into the church trying to locate my mother who scooped me up, yelled for my dad and hurried to our 1954 two tone blue and white Dodge station wagon. Fifteen minutes later I was in the emergency room of the Parks AFB clinic where it was determined I would survive and two butterfly bandaids were applied to my gashed forehead. I remember being so relieved I did not have to get stitches. My last memory of Parks AFB was the series of vaccinations we had to receive before we rotated to dad’s next assignment as Personnel officer for the 18th Tac Fighter Wing at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa in the fall of 1956. I was 9 years old when we made that move. The nurse giving us our shots was a WWII veteran who served in the overseas theater for a period of time during the war, which meant she was an “old” Army nurse who had been in the service for awhile. She had a memorable technique for giving shots to dependent children. Now, remember those were the days when syringe needles were sterilized and used over and over again. Knowing full well that any given needle might not be as sharp as it once was, she had me look away from her. Then she hit me in the arm with her fist and almost simultaneously gave the injection. Never felt the shots.

I am sure other memories of my time associated with dad’s tour at Parks AFB are hiding somewhere deep in the recesses of my soon to be 75 year old mind. If they should come forth, I will gladly share those with you too. Have a blessed day.


From Traci Kjelshus:

Hello, I have been looking for pictures of my father. I know your email is for stories from people who were at Parks, but I was hoping you might be able to help me. My father has passed away and I am looking for any military picture I can find of him. (I have none). He was part of the Air Police Course from July 1956 to November 1956. I don't know what flight or anything he was a part of. His name was Alvin Challstrom. If you can't help that is fine, I am just trying any possible source to see if there is a class picture out there with him in it.

Thank you
Traci Kjelshus



A message from James Hill:

I arrived Nov.1954 the last class for the year was I had to wait till after the year for a new I just hung around the training area and watched the class that was underway.I got to know the instructors .I spent a lot of time ate the USO in Hayward an was invited to have Christmas dinnner with a family i CastroVallley needless to say I have fond memories of my stay in CA. a se note I went to France from Parks



From Hugh D. Frye

In 1956 I attended the Air Base Defense course. I also practiced with Parks AF B rifle drill team (Screaming Eagles). On St Patrick's Day, 1956, we marched the parade from the wharf to City Hall bare bayonets, In forgetable.

Hugh D. Frye.
MSgt retired



From Leonard Granger:

When the Army drafted me in 1952 I went to DesMoines Iowa to take the physical and all. Came home and told my parents I was going to join the Air Force. Mom said you are in Army and they will call you up in a week. I said i am going to pray all the way to the the Air Force recruiters office I took my college degree and spoke a few minutes to the Air Force man and he said just how soon do you want to go in the Air force. I said right away, so I went with a group by train to Parks AFB just two days later. While going through Basic Training in about the 3 rd week, I was called to the Commanders office. He said, How did you get in the Air Force as the Army says they want you to report to Ft Ord here in California ASAP I told them I enlisted in Iowa and the recruiter never asked about the Army so I said nothing. Commander asked do you still want to stay in AF? I said yes so he and 1stSgt went into a room and talked. When they returned commander said if you want to stay AF tear a corner of this TWX, so I did, then 1stSgt tore off another and then the commander waded the TWX up and tossed in the trash can. Said go back to the training group.. YOU ARE AIR FORCE. AND I STAYED AF FOR 22 YEARS, retired as M/SGT.

When I was going through basic training 1952 at Parks AFB, CA we had a gathering in a large hanger building and the Base Commander spoke to all of us about the importance of our training. As he spoke a pigeon from up in the top pf the hanger building flew down and drop his poop on the hat of the commander, Do one laughed and commander did not notice what had happened. as he had more decorations on his hat. Later the Air Police removed all the pigeons out of the hanger areas .

After finishing Basic Training I was made permanent party. I had just got married and the next month was assigned the Supply Sgt in you will not believe???? YES====, the WAF Squadron and only man assigned that squadron. When M/Sgt Spernyak, the Base Commanders inspection Team Leader, visited the WAF he was surprised to see me. assigned there. He returned and rescued me to the Base Finance Office where I worked till re=enlistment. I was accepted for the Air Force Band as Base Drummer, and a Command Inspection Team But reenlisted to fill a AF space in Greece assigned to the US Embassy and Airport. Got to greet many as they arrived in Greece. Recall greeting Gomer Pyle and asked him if he had any breakfast. He said no , so I took him to breakfast. I also greeted Marylin Mansfield with hug. and the tour of duty will always be remembered. However, my wife came down with POLIO and was sent to Germany for treatments for over 4 months, I would catch a AF passenger flight every other week to visit her. On my last flight they said no AF this week so have to take a Navy plane to Naples, Italy and refuel and on to Germany. At Naples I was bumped off the flight by someone with a higher priority. That plane took off a C-47 and crashed killing everyone and I at the time with a wife and 2 children.



From DeWayne Bremer
Portland OR

We were Oregon boys…fresh out of High School…Myself, Doug Watkins, and Darth Miller. It was june 11, 1956 and we were going to become Airmen in the United States AirForce, learn a trade, grow up some and become whoever we were to become.

It was my very first airplane trip and knew only a couple of guys in this group from High School (Central High School, Independence Oregon )..Wendell Bastion and Chuck Jacobsen. We were so called Adults now and with much fanfare..THRUST into the real world…never ever to really look back.

We landed in Oakland California..Hurriedly herded onto a blue AirForce bus and sometime later..arrived at Parks Air Force Base near Pleasanton of the few AirForce bases in the world without a runway.

14 weeks later we were assigned a training school, promoted to Airman 3rd class and given a 10 day leave and a Train ticket to Montgomery Alabama. We by now consisted of Myself, Doug Watkins and Darth Miller.

6 months later…Doug, Darth and Myself (Firmly educated in the art of Denture Making) found ourselves driving back to Oregon with one of our class-mates, his wife and small child..for another 10 day leave ..before our first work assignment …Edwards AirForce Base, near Barksdale California.

From Edwards AFB in a little over a year..I signed up for and accepted a transfer to the only oversea’s post I could get…Pepperell AFB, St.Johns Newfoundland..Canada.

A little over 2 years later my 4 year hitch was up and I left Pepperel for an honorable discharge at McGuire AFB in NewJersey..and another plane ride back to Portland Oregon..and the eagerly sought for.. civilian life.

3 marriages later, (The third one has lasted 40+ years and still working) 5 children and a successful career as a licensed Denturist for what seems like forever..I am now just a little over a year from reaching the age of 80.

I have done alot off research lately trying to find info about that Grand adventure of June 11, 1956 and have found I want to submit my own evidence of flight 245 and also a picture of our Tech School pose..just so anyone out there is looking for this…

Thank you…and to anyone finding this….You are welcome.

DeWayne Bremer


Russell Moore
Greenville SC

After finishing basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas, I was assigned to 3629th Student Squadron Class 1026 Air Police Training from Feb 1956-May 1956. I enjoyed the Judo Classes and Traffic Control the most. I traveled from Greenville SC to Pleasanton CAL by train which took three and a half days. Long ride.

During the time I was there the University of San Francisco had their 60 game in basketball winning streak going so I took a bus to Berkley to see them play California one weekend. With no ticket, i found one from a student for five bucks.The team featured Bill Russell and K.C Jones but was a disappointment because the score ended up being 7 to 4 as Cal froze the ball all of the time of the game. Probably one of the lowest scoring games in history of college basketball.

After finishing Air Police training, I was assigned to Goose Bay AFB in Labrador for one year, then to Shaw AFB, Sumter SC for the remainder of my 4 year enlistment.

Would love to hear from anyone in that class if any are still living.


Russell G Moore


From Bill Holman
Madison, Wisconsin

Most of the information on this website is from people who were in training squadrons at Parks AFB. Mine is a little different. My training was at Lackland, and I was listed as an A/2C Chaplain's Services Specialist. In June of 1955, knowing that I was due to be separated from active duty the following February, and with a pregnant wife, I was reassigned from Lackland to Parks. During most of these 8 months at Parks, my duty was in the Chaplain's office at the AP School, which was in one end of their mess hall. If you remember the layout at Parks, the base hospital was at the far (east) end of the base, and consisted of some buildings that were probably constructed when it was a Navy base during WW2. It was here that my (then) wife, Elly, gave birth to our first son, Steve on November 12, 1955. Steve will be 60 this coming November, and his son is in the Navy in Washington State. During most of our time at Parks, we lived in an apartment in Komandorski (sp?) Village.

In the summer of 1971, when Steve was almost 16, we drove from Wisconsin to California on a vacation trip. He was anxious to see where he was born, so we stopped in Pleasanton to see if the old facility was accessible to civilians. It was not, but we did find some local people who filled us in a bit on its history since we had been there. We learned that it had been both a Job Corps Center, and a minimum security prison, and that it was (for a while) where Patty Hearst was held. When we asked what had become of the hospital buildings, we were told that local Fire Departments were using the old buildings to practice putting out fires. Steve did not feel that was a fitting tribute to his birthplace.

We haven't been in that area since, but if anyone finds the remains of those old Parks AFB Hospital buildings, I'm sure that Steve would appreciate your erecting an appropriate plaque for his entrance into the world.? ?The attached photo was taken with yours truly holding Steve, in our 1950 Plymouth, in the parking lot at Komandorski Village.



Lou added three more photos and a Parks AFB map:

Here's a map I was given upon arrival at PAFB.
2) A/2c Lou Barkacs wife: A/3c Ruth Zemke Barkacs Photo of P-Town, where we rented an apartment after we married at 195-A Wisconsin Ave. Remember a local watering hole called The Starting Gate?

Lou Barkacs added a statement and another photo:

Found the attached among some other misc, stuff. Didn't even remember having it. It's my flight from AP school. It would date from 1956. That's me, upper left corner. Our TI was a Kraut named Fritz (can't remember his last name). One day, he made us fall-in outside the barracks. He said, "Gennlemen. zee barracks id sheety, zee latrine is sheety, you are sheety". Then we had a big G.I. party. Fritz was a piece of work, funny. After you post this, send me the most direct link. Thanks, Lou Barkacs

From Lou Barkacs AF 15-545-621

(AP Training Flight B, Class 29026)

I enlisted 07 NOV 55. After basic at Lackland 3702 BMTS Flight 915, I was sent to Parks for Air Police training. From there assigned PCS to Naha Air Base, Okinawa for 18 months. Next I was back at Parks, permanent party, 2349th Air Police Sqdn. They must have missed me. Here's what happened next:

This posting was to be short-lived, however. Since Parks had no runway, it was of limited use to the Air Force and was, therefore, scheduled to close permanently later that year and everyone would be reassigned to another base.

Buildings were being shuttered and equipment was being salvaged or scrapped. This included removing the two-way radios from the Air Police pickup trucks in which we patrolled the base. The only way to contact our operations center was by phone from one of the buildings still in use. Until a unit phoned in, OPS had no way of keeping tabs on its patrol units. Without the close scrutiny of the “cat”, the “mice” were free to play.

I had met one of the gals who lived in the WAF barracks. It was early one evening, dark, and I was bored. On a lark, I drove around to that billet and honked the horn, thinking maybe she’d come out.

Somebody did come out, ran to the passenger door, jumped inside and kissed me. I did not know this WAF; she drew back and said, “Who are You?” Turns out she had been dating another AP named Joel and she assumed it has been he waiting outside in the Air Police vehicle. Once we’d sorted thing out, I asked, “Well,you wanna go for a ride?” She did.

We began dating. After about three months, we discussed getting married. This proposition was too sudden for me. I suggested that, since Parks was soon closing, why not wait until we both got to our next postings, write to each other, and see how strong our feelings for one another remained during the coming months apart She was having none of it. I never saw anyone wade through military paperwork and red tape as fast as she did. What could I say? We had one last hurdle to clear before permission to marry got final approval; counsel with the base chaplain. After about an hour, we got the O.K.

So, Lou from Elyria OH and Ruth Zemke from St. Paul MN got a license at the Alameda County Courthouse and tied the knot in Oakland on July 17, 1958. As we walked out of the church, I said, “O, My God, what have I done?" Ruth tersely replied, “You married me and you’re glad!"

We finished out our tours at Sheppard AFB TX. That chaplain commented that, even though he was granting approval, he doubted it would last. That was 57 years ago; shows how much he knew.


From Don Parsons (Flight 50):

I was in flt 50 in Jan 1955; started in Des Moines, Ia; flew to Omaha, Salt Lake City, then Oakland, Ca; bussed from the airport to Parks AFB.

I and another airman replanted one of the palm trees that had died in front of the base theater; all of our flight attended a nationally televised boxing match at the base gym; I think Gil Cadilli was one of the boxers; we marched to the match and marched back to the barracks. I processed thru Parks in 1957 when I went to Guam. Flew from Travis to Hickam; then to Kwajelein and then to Guam.

I was assigned as an Air Policeman to Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Wa; transferred to headquarters as a personnel specialist; then served 16 months at Anderson AFB, Guam, M. I. as a personnel specialist.

Don Parsons
Norwalk, Ia


From Bob Brooks (Flight 329):

Hi Frank

Just found your website yesterday. I’m second row left. One of my memories is when they told us we were going to have a party Saturday night (gullible me) I thought “Wow, here a week and we get a”. Little did I know that meant GI party. Get out your shoe polish and a toothbrush and go to work polishing the floor. Use your blankets to make it shine. I was welcome to reality time. Not funny then but later looking back very funny.


Bob included the "yearbook" photo of his flight, and said he will send the others (326 through 333) so I can put them in an album on FotoTime. He included the URL of this wonderful site where you can search for friends and see and to do many other things:


From Leslie Droe:

Hi Frank

Following a search on Parks AFB I came across your web site. I was wondering if it is still active? I took basic training there from February 12, 1953 thru April 1953. I was in Flight 72. I have the AF photo of Flight 72 and also have the names of the airmen from a copy of the order providing the Marksmanship scores. If anyone is interested in a copy of either of these items please provide my name and e-mail address.

Do you know if the Parks facility is open to visitors? Would love to pay it a visit.

Les Droe
Hacienda Heights, CA


From Dean Gleisberg:

I was pleasantly surprised to find your photo album and pictures of basic training flights for the summer of f956. I, myself, went through basic training there at Parks from 12 February thru April of 1956...before the summer training began. Following my basic training I went immediately to work OJT in Permanent Party status in the Parks AFB, Finance and Accounting Office. I remained there till November of 1956, wherein I was reassigned in a PCS move to Lowry AFB, Denver, CO for 2 more years. Then I returned to California with an assignment at Mather AFB, in Sacramento.

I have long since forgotten what Flight number I was assigned in my basic training squadron. I have nothing but the most pleasant of memories of my nine month assignment at Parks AFB. I enlisted in Colorado Springs, CO and was inducted in Denver, CO. It was there that I was informed that I would be going to Parks AFB for my basic training. I flew from Denver to Oakland, CA and all along the way, one could see nothing but that white stuff (snow) on the ground below. When we reached the Sierras, the clouds began parting, the snow on the ground disappeared, the sun came shining through...and I recall saying to myself: "It's true! It's true! California is the land of sunshine!" We landed in Oakland on a beautiful February day...and I pleasantly recall seeing the palm trees and flowers was a beautiful sight to behold, for sure! It was my initial discovery of "paradise"...and a life long love affair began!

In 1959, I met my wife (my other life long love of 51 of this past 28 February) in Sacramento while assigned to Mather AFB. I then went for one more hitch of 4 years (for a total of almost 8 years) getting honorably discharged on 7 November 1963 following two years at Clark AB in the Philippines. I went on to work in Civil Service for 26 more years for both the Air Force and the Department of the Army. I finally retired 2 October 1990 having served 34 actual years total in the Department of Defense (including both AF and civilian duty). Actually, my retirement pays me for 35 years, because I was given an extra year's credit for having accumulated a full year of unused sick leave.

As mentioned, it was quite a wonderful surprise to have happened upon your web site. I've attempted previously to try and see if I could "google" anything about Park's history...especially in the way of photos...but to no avail. And then, Bingo! I finally hit the jackpot finding your fantastic web site...just this evening! You are to be warmly congratulated for having created such a historical gem! For old-timers like myself, it really brings back wonderful old memories...of a far more care free time. It was a real emotional experience too...I wiped away a tear or two..on seeing those old familiar sights...long thought forgotten. Thank you, Frank, for creating such a memorable web site!

I've attached my Parks basic training graduation photo (note: we were still wearing "blues" for our pics as it was still early in the year). I've also included my "USAF Bio." Well, guess I've rambled-on long enough here, it's time to get this e-mail sent off to you. Thanks again for sharing your fantastic web site. It really made my day (or should I say, evening?) that's for sure. Please take care and God bless.

Dean Gleisberg


From Larry Apodaca - Synopsis Of My Life

Strategic Air Command Specialist Branch. Fairchild and Westover AFB 99th bomb wing. Avionics, Instrumentation B-36 and B-52.

Continental Airlines: Avionics, Instrumentation Lab. (Retired)

AlliedSignal: Supervisor, Space Shuttle, B-1, B-2 and SR-71 Black Bird Avionics and Instrumentation Lab. (Retired)

SpeedFam Semiconductor: Technical Support Engineer R&D

Extensive schooling through the years with various types of photography. Fortunate to have two photographs published by the International Library Of Photography. Had three photos displayed at a museum in France.

Married 53 years. We had eight children. Sadly, losing one at an early age. My wife and I have 16 grandchildren and two great grand children. We are a blessed family and very close.

I worked part time for the YMCA teen center. My wife volunteered her time at the Y child care.

At this time, both of us are no longer working. I do keep busy as VP of a photography club.


From John Kage:

I reported in at Parks 5 Feb 53. I was in Flight 58, T.I. was a big Texan named Kennedy. I believe his first name was David. He carried a bamboo stick 40" long and would sneak up on me to see if was maintaining the proper space behind the guy in front of me. I was 5'1" tall, weighed 109 lbs and was always out of step. I am sure he could be heard screaming my name and threatening to do obscene things with his bamboo stick, in town. In Dec 56 on my way back from Japan I processed through Parks and was reassigned to Truax Field, Wisc where I re-enlisted. Before I left Parks I looked up Kennedy, he was a Buck Sgt. by then. I had just sewed on Staff stripes so I gave him a hard time about out ranking him. He told me I was a brown noser. Often wonder where he ended up. I have (had) a flight picture but can't find it.

RR1 Box192
Oquawka, Ill 61469


From Lavada Cowen:

My brother (Alfred Cowen) served in Japan during the fifties. He was very young, when he returned at age 22 he had Cancer, and it took two years for him to die. I am looking for him Anywhere on the internet. Can you help me. He was an Airplane machanic.



Received from Gil Madrid a note that he had the yearbook from Parks AFB Flights 334, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, July 1956. He sent the URL so you can look at the photo pages. (Seems as if Jesus "Gil" Madrid has removed his scans from his FotoTime page)


Received from Karl Bratcher:

(13 Dec)
Hi Frank,
Went through Parks for Basics and follow up in the North Barracks for Air Police Training. Basic Oct 3, 1955 thru Dec 23, 1955 Air Police Feb 1, 1956 thru April 28, 1956 Have my Basic Training album showing photos with names for flights 351 through 358. I was in Flight 352...

Interesting experience joining the US Air Force 5 October 1955 with my best friend at the time who become my brother-in-law 3 years later when I married his sister. His Name, Warren Douglas McCurtain.

Flight 352 at Parks AFB with A/2C Rebledo as out TI. Pretty much the typical training flight with a couple memories standing out. One such time was the tear gas training in the rather farm looking shed affair which after gone through the mask removal then finally allowed outside to get the snot cleaned out of our heads we were grouped in an disorderly manner when one of the guys yelled something to the effect of telling the instructor to. "Go to h*ll." With that, the instructor ordered all mask to be replaced on every bodies head followed by repeating the exposure all over again in the gas.

The second issue involved that wonderful time we made that suppose to be two day trip on bivouac. Oh lots of fun playing all day followed by pitching tents with our partner. Again, my partner for this adventure was my future brother-in-law. No problem, we had our tent up in no time as we had camped out together dozens of times fishing on the Columbia River. About 45 minutes later, as it began to get much darker out, we were dismissed allowing us to bed down. Our small tent wasn’t all that bad but two blankets wasn’t much for a full night in December even in California. We kind of let our backs get pretty close together to help capture as much heat as wee could. All was as well as could be expected, that was until someone some distance away yelled out for the instructor to, "Fu*k himself." Great, now we were all ordered out of our tents where we were made to stand at attention for nearly an hour while our over seers searched and found the foul mouth airman. With that we were allowed to return to our beds right at the same time it began to lightly rain. Doug and I talked knowing it wouldn’t be long before our bodies would be getting wet. Moments later the order came to get up, fold blankets and personal stuff and to prepare to return to the base. We did return that long march and by the time we hit arrived we were all as wet as if we had jumped in a swimming pool. Hot shower, a little washing of dirty clothes then to bed for the few remaining hours left. Morning saw us go for chow then a march back out to retrieve our tent. When we arrived we made much noise as we looked at all the tent standing a foot and a half of water. In order to get out tent everyone had to wade the water.

Overall I rated the skill of the Air Force Training staff at Parks AFB to be slightly more effective than the Cub Scouts.

(14 Dec) Thanks Frank for the response, I was thinking you may have ended the effort, so am glad that isn't so. I don't remember if I mentioned of not, that Doug and I returned after a few weeks of Christmas at home, in order to attend Air Police School there at Parks. A very relaxed group to say the least. I'll have to tell you the story also that happen in Japan much later while I ran town patrol in a city of two million, as A/2C and arrested a Lt. Colonel in the red light area and did so after instructions directly from our Base Commander a Full Bird Colonel.

I'm not familiar with photo bucket but will check it out. The six flights I scanned into jpg images ready to send. I'll get back to you tomorrow if I run into any problems.


(25 Dec) He did put up the flight pictures, I retrieved them and they are at the FotoTime site:
Flights 351, 352, 353, 354, 355, 356, 357, 358

Let me see ... there are like 55 names on each page; eight pages; more than 400 names. I typed in the names of my flight-mates, so search engines will find them on these pages; however, the eight flights there are just too daunting a prospect, so if any member of those groups are willing to do the job and email me the lists, I'll put them here.

Just too much other stuff to do. Plus, I'm pretty lazy, lately.

Keep those cards and letters coming. I'll catch up, eventually.

/s/ Frank Sheffield


Received from Phil Martin:

Good to see a Site for Parks! I'm a Sampsonite and enjoy our site*, but yours is also interesting. Will visit it occasionally.

So you know Lackland has historic photo section also.

* We have an organization that is fairly active w annual reunions @ Sampson and an Ohio Sq, that meets at Wright-Pat annually, One of our members wrote a history of Sampson. I live outside of Akron, Oh, went to Weather School @ Chanute, then spent 35 yrs at Weather Bureau/National Weather Service @ Akron-Canton Airport '60-95, now teach part time @ Univ of Akron, so the AF set me on a very rewarding and interesting careear. Life is good! The Sampson Air Force Veterans Assn. has a museum @ Sampson State Park in the former Stockade. Am in contact w/ 2 of my Flightmates.

At the last Ohio Sq. meeting @ Wright-Pat our speaker was the Base Commander [female]; after the dinner we had a get together. I asked if she had ever heard of Sampson, she said no. I told her that Parks was also a former Basic Traing Base: she showed some surprise. The AF is not doing a good job of keeping history-- SAD!

Phil Martin Flt 4692 3657th BMTS SAFB Oct-Dec '55


Received from Tom Whitebirch, Palm Desert, CA :

I went to Parks in Mar. of '55. Went into Flt 131. Graduated May 31st after 11 weeks. My T.I. was A/2c Charles Huffman. Had and Asst. T.I. for awhile by the name of Pulley. The last night of Basic was really special. I think our T.I.'s wife was having a baby. He sat there with us and chatted untill we left at midnight. I returned after 10 days leave for ABD school to become an Air Policeman. About 7 weeks into school I aggrivated an old knee injury. They almost discharged me with a medical. I really fought it as I thought it would screw me up for future employment. They worked on me for about 8 weeks to no avail. Meanwhile I was working up in the orderly room for a Master Sgt. Forgot his last name. He used to let me take off on Fri. afternoon and come home to L.A. as long as I was back by O800 Monday morning. Since the knee was all screwed up I pretty much had to take a desk job so ended up at Chanute AFB in Illinoise for awhile and later got transfered to Wright Patt. AFB in Ohio. It was great duty. Worked in the Provost Marshalls office in charge of the Air Force Library. Stayed there for a couple of years and ended up getting out early as my mother got real sick and had 3 younger siblings to take care of. I ended up getting a hardship. Wright-Patt was a great base, enjoyed my 2 years there. Worked for a S/Sgt William B. Moon. What a great guy. Tried to get in touch with him several years ago but found out he had passed away. Last year I was in Dayton, Ohio and went out to the base to see the museum drove around looking for my old area. I'm pretty sure I found it but it was all torn down. It was still eerie being there after all of these years. Went by Parks in 1981. Found my old barracks It was just down from the parade field. Grass had grown up pretty high all around it but I managed to look in the window at my bay. Almost could see the guys in there. Started remembering names and could almost hear our T.I barking at us outside to line up. Went back again in 1996 and everything was gone. Still have my flight book with pictures of flights 127 thru 134. I have found 2 guys that I went thru basic with. Would sure like to locate more. Most of the guys were from Calif. I'll post some pictures and if anyone would like to correspond please do. My email address is bigtwsandy atsign aol dotsign com.


Received from Lincoln Chee:

I had to write to you after reading your website about Parks AFB. Looking at the class picture of your flight I knew it was one from Hawaii. My dad and I reside in Hawaii and when he received his basic training at Parks AFB in October of 1955 he was with Flight 374 and it was a flight with boys from Hawaii. Their flight was nicknamed "Sons of Hawaii". His T.I. was Airman 2nd Class Gomes who was also from Hawaii. Both your flight and my dad's flight was made up mainly of "Buddhaheads". After basic my dad went to Gunter AFB, Alabama for tech school and then to Tachikawa AB, Japan. My dad retired from the USAF in 1975 after 3 tours in Japan.


Received from Cherry Lyn Casalin ( - From Cavite City:

I want to know about Watanabe, Howard T. Where he is residing now or he is still alive as of now!!! Because my aunt name Estella Reyes wants to meet!!!!!!!


Because my aunt meet him in Cebu during the+ vietnam war,the year 1960s. Watanabe landed in Cebu (at Mactan air base)

(Must be a story there, eh?)


My name is Earl Neiss and I received my basic training at Parks AFB as a member of Flight 12. It was on March 21, 1952 that I was sworn in at the Los Angeles Induction Center, boarded a train in Glendale, California and arrived at Parks about 3:00 a.m. We were issued bedding and bunks and got all of about an hour and a half of sleep before we were rousted out to begin our 8 weeks of basic. A rude awakening. We didn't get fatigues, boots, uniforms or any other G.I. clothing for maybe a couple of weeks, but they got us started learning the UCMJ and cleaning up the base along with all the other duties in our civvies. The base had only been open 5 days. The axiom was, "If it moves salute it, if it doesn't move pick it up, if you can't pick it up, paint it". Sure, we scraped paint, finished the barracks and cleaned up the grounds, but as I look back on it, it wasn't altogether too unpleasant and could have been a lot worse.

Our Drill Instructor was "Sgt" Louie Zamaroni and his assistant was "Corporal" Cannon. Zamaroni's rank was A/1c. Cannon's an A/2c. I seem to remember that they were still wearing Army chevrons. Officers were still wearing the 'pinks and greens' left over from the U.S. Army Air Corps. Although Zamaroni wanted us to believe he was tough as nails, we all knew that inside he was really a softie and we really liked him. After a little while we could tell he liked us as much as we liked him. He taught us some intricate marching formations, a lot of Jody Cadence and some slightly risque marching songs which really picked up our morale. The training was thorough and seemed to last forever, but when it was over we were proud and made quite a hit with our marching on parade day and received our orders for our first assignment. There were no class pictures or yearbooks. I didn't even get to go to specialty school. Just a simple written exam, a bypass of Photography School at Lowry AFB, Colorado, an AFSC and assignment to Luke AFB in Arizona where they were still flying Mustangs.

These were soon phased out for the first jets at Luke, the Republic F-84G which were the aircraft used by the newly formed Thunderbirds at Luke. There I served as a Gunnery Film Assessing Technician. After about a year I shipped out to Yokota Air Base in Japan (5th Air Force) as a photographer in the Base Photo Lab and finally a few months at March AFB, California where, in 1956 I was discharged.

All in all, I believe that my time at Parks was a positive experience and that I was well prepared to take on the next 4 years in the U.S. Air Force.

On 2007-03-11 Donald F. Thomas, Sr., checked in again with a photo of the pillowslip he sent to his mother from Parks. The text says:


To one who bears
               the sweetest name,
And adds a luster
               to the same.
Who shares my joys--
               who cheers when sad
The greatest friend
               I ever had.
Long life to her-
             for there's no other,
Could take the place
             of my dear Mother.

Click image for larger version
Lovely sentiment. I'm certain there are many Parks alumni who sent similar gifts. To see Don's earlier contributions click here.

Here's a 2006-08-11 message from Brent Bachman:

Playing around on google I happened across the website. The name John L. Lopes jumped out at me big time !!!!! I was stationed at Hickam (1958-1961) and I worked with and was a roommate of John (we called him Lopey). He rotated sometime in late 1960 and apparently settled in Calif. My wife and I exchanged Christmas cards with John and his wife Janey for several years and at the time he was living in Hemet, Calif. It was our understanding that he was flying as a crew chief on a KC-135 and I assume he was doing so out of March AFB. I don't know if he was still on active duty, a reserve or a civilian. We lost contact in mid-1960's and I've been looking for him ever since with no luck. Mail was returned from the Hemet address. He may have gone back to the islands. I use which is free and I come up with a ton of Lopes in both Calif and Hawaii. If you can help me in any way I'd greatly appreciate it. Hoping to hear from you.....and thanks !

Brent Bachman ~ Adrian, MI

If you are out there, Lopey, click the "Tell us your story" text and I'll forward your message to Brent.

Here's a 2006-05-06 message from John Central Crowe, Jr.:


Just happened to look at your site, my father, A.F. M/Sgt. John C. Crowe (AF32118736) was stationed there, having changed over from the Army, after the Air Force was created. We live in Chabot Terrace, Vallejo, Calif. from 1950-1957, he went to Parks after being stationed at Camp Stoneman, when he was then transferred to Clark A.F.B., Philippines. My dad was a light skin Afro American, & may have been in recruiting & at the Provost Marshall.

John Central Crowe, Jr.
Kailua Kona, HI

Here's a 2006-04-07 message from Jimmy Self:

Dear Frank,

I wasn't in your squadron but I was at Parks Air Force Base for 4 weeks from about July 5 to August ? for the first phase of basic training. It seems like our drill instructor was a squatty guy named "Schultz" I don't remember much about it but it seemed to me that we referred to our group as a squadron not a flight. I'm not sure. I was shipped out to Keesler AFB in Biloxi for the rest of my basic training and classes in electronics. I was trying to locate an old buddy (James Reed Pugh, who enlisted with me in Wichita Kansas) when I ran across your web page.

As I recall, we were among the last trainees to take basic there and the AF began sending all recruits to Lackland in Texas. I was in the regular Air Force on an 8 year comittment and was separated from active duty at Keesler in July of 1960. If it is of any interest to you, I will try to remember more details. It was all pretty much over my head at the time. I was a bewildered and confused Kansas boy while there. I hope my correspondence hasn't been an annoyanbce to you but I assumed I could write since you published your email address.

Jimmy Self

Here's a 2006-02-07 message from a member of Parks Flight 221:

Here's one for your site. The TI is on the first row and his name was Ralph Robledo.


I'm in the back row far left. We were Flight 221 graduating in July 1955. I spent ten years on active duty flying as an Airborne Radio Operator with over 5,000 hours in the air.

I later retired from U.S. Army Special Forces.

Those were the days, my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we'd choose
We'd fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days

Best wishes,

Wayne L. Wickizer

And one on 2006-02-08, from Flight 284:

I was looking up Clyde Springer's name on and the site for Flight 289 Parks Air Force Base, 1956 came up. Wow, looking at those pictures brought back such fond memories of days of my youth. Clyde and I as well as Samuel Collins attended the AP School there at Planeless Parks AFB.

I was in Basic the same time as Flight 289... I was in Flight 284, affectionately known as the LA Flight because the bulk of the guys were from Los Angeles. And, Flight 289 was also affectionately known as the Pineapple Flight.

I believe Clyde went on to duties in Japan as well as Samuel and myself.

Gosh... those were the days.

Dovard Ross

I have a couple-three emails from another Flight 289 alumnus:

2006-01-29: My name is Edwardo Yrojo. I am on the front row of the group picture second from the last. The last person is Benny Manago. Hope to hear from you. The funniest moment was when we had an inspection by TI McClain. He came up to Robert Williams who got so up tight that let out a high pitch sound of a long fart. McClain bust out laughing that made everybody laugh uncontrollably.. After McClain contained himself he yelled out Barracks then everybody was quiet. Did you remember that?
Feel free to use the story. I have more. Where do you call home now? A couple weeks ago I was thinking about the good old days and started typing Parks AFB in the search then I found the picture of our flight 289. Man, was I surprised. I was so happy. It brought wonderful memories.

After high school I decided to join the Air Force but my Dad was a Navy guy and wanted to keep the tradition. I told him no way since I always get sea sick when we go fishing on his boat. I wanted go by air. Sadly too many young men in Hawaii joined the Air Force the same month that the Air Force shipped all of us by a troop ship. I was sick all the way to San Francisco. I wasn't the only one. I will never forget the ship's name since I had my head out of the port hole many times. Yes, it was USS General Alton. Anyway, I looked at your picture and I remembered your face but I'm trying to remember If we did anything together. I was on the North side of the barracks. I email you If remember more. Aloha!

2-3-06: I'm going to a high school reunion this month. I hope to meet many of the fellows who were in flt 289. I'll share the website with them so we can get more memories posted and to know what they're doing now. What are you doing now? As for me I'm retired from Hospital management. Got my B.S. From Loma Linda University in California using my G.I. Now I spend most of my time feeding the homeless. I'm Running a grass root effort to get a decommisioned troop ship in mothball from San Francisco or Vallejo. Bring it to Hawaii, dock it and house the homeless ... It was nice to think about the good old days and communicate with you. Thank you and God Bless you.

I'm eager to hear from and about the others from Ed's reunion.

25 April 2005 - a very sad note:

I stumbled upon your website today & felt that I should pass on some information to you. My Dad, Richard Pilgrim was a member of Flight 289. He passed away just about a week and a half ago on April 16th. He always had fond memories & often told us stories about being in the Air Force.

Dad will be laid to rest at the Hawaii Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe Hawaii on May 6th.

James Pilgrim

I remember Richard Pilgrim as more thoughtful and serene in many respects than were our other Flight-mates. I'm certain his passing leaves a void never to be filled. My sympathy and best wishes go out to James and all of his family.

Frank S

I have a message from Donald F. Thomas, who says he was in Flight 53 at Parks, from April through June, 1952. He "...was on detail after detail cleaning out the new barracks for new flights coming in. Scraped paint from the windows and cleaned floors and latrines..." I guess we can say something about the beginnning of Parks as a Basic Training site. I wonder if anyone out there can say when it closed...

Don said he retired in December, 1982, and that his early Air Force career involved tours at Goodfellow, Harlingen, and Perrin AFBs in Texas, and 13 months in North Africa. He remembers his Flight Chief at Parks, a tall Texan nameed Pierman.

Thumbnail: Joyce and Donald Franklin Thomas, their first photo together

He met his wife, Joyce, while at Goodfellow, and they will celebrate their 51st anniversary in August (2004). Congratulations!

On July 26, 2004, Don wrote to say:
I've done some research on the web and this is what I found. Parks was closed in 1959 as a BMT facility. It was short lived. The need of new BMT facility for the Air Force was overwhelming during that time and the ones they had could not take care of all the new recruites coming in. It's now under the control of the Air National Guard. For a short while it Part of it was used for a California Co-Ed Prison for prisoners with low or no other crime rate. Patty Hearst was there until President Carter let her out. We lived in the Bay area at that time.

Miss Beth Blote wrote on December 31, 2003, to say:
Today I was searching for more information about the group photo I have that my Father, Palmer Louis Blote, went through Basic with. I have only two other names, Bob M. Hood, Ted Dwelle of Fresno, CA in the picture. I don't know what the numbers and letters mean, 3289 B.M.T.S., but the photo was taken by Keith Cole Studios March, 1953. I wasn't born until 1960. My brothers were born at Travis AFB in Mar. 1954, and Mar. 1956 in Fairfield.

I thought I'd write to say how great your site is. I thought I'd ask, even if it's a long shot, to see if you can help me scrape up any more information about these guys or where to find more info.

Thanks for any assistance.

PG Miller wrote on May 13, 2004, to say:
I was there in flight 409 from Nov. 1955 to Jan. 1956. It was a great experience and a wonderful place to take basic training. I have many fond memories of that base. And first weekend pass in to San Francisco. Went up to the top of the Mark Hotel. Many foggy, rainy days when I was there but had quite a few nice sunny days too. Remember the little chicken house where we were trained with tear gas.They marched a few of us into that little shack on the hill behind the base, set off the tear gas in a gallon can and had us take off our masks when the smoke came up inside. Of course the helmet liners were in the way and many, including mine fell to the floor where it was booted by the TI off into the corner. Then ran us outside and cleared our eyes in the breeze. Raised cain about those of us who weren't wearing helmet liners and ran us back inside to get our helmets. Of course it took several trips for some of us to get the right helmet. Went to the base theater and saw the new movie out at the time, "Mr. Roberts". Navy but very inspiring for a young airman.

Well I wouldn't have missed those days for the world, would you?
Paul Miller
Washington state

And on May 14, 2004:
Just a thought. while looking at your flight pix I noticed several guys who looked just like guys in my flight and in the thumbnail your flight looked just like mine and neighbor flights. Well memories are somewhat dimming but every time I see Mr. Roberts it all comes back, the sights and even the smells sometimes. I think I can remember the base cleaners with the smell of cleaning fluid.

On parade day I remember all the flights out on the tarmac and them telling us not to lock our knees while standing for long periods. Sure enough two or three in other flights passed out and hit the deck with there chins and I saw them picked up by medics with the gravel still stuck to their chins and whisked off in ambulances to the base hospital. Funny the things we remember.

It sure was green around there, but it was the wet season while I was there. Wish there were more on the internet about Parks AFB but I never find much, do you?

I did go down to Parks several years ago and actually drove through it. The barracks were still ther and it was being used for something like low income housing and training for Job Corps or something of that like. It was a big operation though. At that time the base still looked just about as we left it. It was really strange driving around through the barracks (found my old barracks) down there and boy the memories sure came flooding in and I felt very sad wondering where all the people I knew had disappeared too since that time. There were lots of people living in the barracks and I guess some had been remodeled into apartments. Kids were out running around between the barracks. Our flight had guys from all over the USA. What an experience. My brother went through Lackland for Basic in Texas and I visited him there while I was in the AF. Lackland couldn't hold a candle to Parks. It was one of a kind and I will cherish it forever.

John Hansen wrote on August 7, 2004 to say:
Try this for AFB info............J. Hansen

Parks AFB, Pleasanton, Calif. (Closed 1959, part to National Guard; AF Comm Station.)

Art Poutre wrote on August 18, 2004, to say:
I found your name while searching out Parks AFB. I went throught Parks on my way to Korea in 1953.
What I am interested in was where did you obtain the photograph of the class, and do you know if there are photos of other classes available. I went through Sampson AFB up in New York and would be interested in finding a class photo if they were available.
I would appreciate what ever help you could provide.

WR Craig wrote on September 21, 2005, to say:
I was at Parks AFB from Aug 18 to Nov 2, 1955 in Flight 305. A/3c Harper was our TI. I went on to Amarillo, TX for jet mechanic training and then on to Presque Isle AFB in Maine.

"USAFE" wrote on October 28, 2005 to say:
I was at Parks Air Force Base from Oct. 1954 to Jan. 1955 in Flight 72. I remember being there and that's about it. That was a long time ago.

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