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 636th AC&W Site - USA

636th AC&W Site - (Close To Condon, Oregon)
  1952 (August) - 1954 (November)

While Stationed At The 636th AC&W Site, Radio Operator Duties Consisted Of Monitoring The Airways. After A Short Time, I Was Able To Transfer To Radio Maintenance, Which I Really Enjoyed And Used During My Work Life After My Military Service Was Over In 1954.

 Operating The MARS Radio Station During My Off Duty Time While At The Base Was Fun. I Had A Second Class FCC Radio Operators License. My call sign was W7TGO.

MARS Radio Station

Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 10:39:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: ?"john franz" <>

Subject 636th mars station
To: "ned scholz"

Ned .......Wonderful site about 636th. I too was stationed their (62-64) and ran the mars station. we still used the hammerlund and the old bc-610. The station was later moved to a free standing block building at the west end of the base. Equipment was upgraded to a Collins S-line. I was airman in charge for a couple of years. It made my stay at Condon more enjoyable. The call letters then were K7FCR. Thanks for the memories. John Franz, Nashville, Indiana

Prayer does not use up artificial energy, doesn't burn up any fossil fuel, doesn't pollute. Neither does song, neither does love, neither does the dance.-Margaret Mead

 I Did Attend An NCO Academy At Macord Field In Tacoma, Washington While Stationed In Condon. Condon, Is A Small Farming Community Of Approx. 600 People.

My 1948 Mercury

    In November, 1954 I Was Sent To Geiger Field, Spokane, Washington
    For My Discharge from The Air Force. That Was The First Time
    I Was Able To See B36's Taking Off and Landing. Also, This was
    The First Time I Was Able To Get Up Close To Such Big Air Craft.
    While At Macord Field, We Did Get To Tour The Boeing
     Manufacturing Plants At Seattle, Washington, Where They
    Were Building The B47.  It Slips My Mind, If At The Time,
     They Had Started Building The B52.

From:    "Dick Reed" <>
Subject:Condon - 636th AC&W Squadron
Date:    Thu, 8 Jul 2004 22:40:54 -0500 Hey Ned, I just stumbled on your site and saw the 636th listed and read
what you said about it. I too was a radio operator at the 636, getting
there at Christmas 1953 and leaving in August of 54 for Geiger Field. I
was an A/1C and lived in the barracks farthest from the messhall. I
think there were only two or three there.

My good buddy from there was Len Tyree and we have corresponded several
times in the past few years. He is retired living in Thailand.

I do not recall your name, but perhaps you remember me. I did go into
radar ops and worked behind the big board but never cross trained into
the field. It was just a job that kept me out of trouble.

At the time I was there my dad worked at the Hanford plant in North
Richland and I hitched hiked up there 14 times during the eight months I
was at Condon.

Would love to hear from you. Dick Reed

I was Richard Reed when at Condon.


Photos Below Provided By
Dick Reed
email -
636th AC&W Squadron
Dec. 53 - Aug. 54


Dick Reed By Car In Front Of Barracks 636th 

                                                                                                              Snow Scene At 636th AC&W  Squadron


636th AC&W Squadron From The Air

636th AC&W Squadron With Buildings Pin-Pointed

Looking Toward Radar Dome From Down The Street
                                                                                           Looking Toward Mess hall From Barracks # 2

Photos Below Provided By
Basil Stephanoff
email -
636th AC&W Squadron
Condon, Oregon

636th Operations Building Entrance

C-82 over Condon

Basil Standing In Front Of BAQ 3


Fairchild PT- 26 Flown By One
 Of The Guys At The Site

Email from James Huddleston

August 9, 2007

Thanks Ned...  It's great to from another Condonite after all of these years...Condon, the town was a real culture shock for me.  I was born and raised in the Los Angeles know...hustle-bustle and fast paced, but warmer than the Big Apple, in many ways.  Anyway a quick story about my arrival at Condon...the town.  When it was time to report to the 636th, I flew from LAX to PDX, commercial.

 Upon arrival, I got downtown to the Greyhound Depot where I went in to purchase a ticket to "Condon, OR".  The agent looked into a book about 12" think looking for the place...with some help from another agent, the two finally found Condon.  But the story gets better; on the ride from Portland to "ARLINGTON, OR", which in those days was on US Highway 30, approx 150 Mi out of it's been moved up the hill because of a Dam installation on the Columbia it's now on I-84. 

   <>Upon arrival in Arlington, which was about 10:PM in very early July.  There was a young girl on the bus that I talked to across the Isle...she asked if I was reporting to Condon..."Yes", she asked I her family could give me a ride to Condon.  Well, of course I took them up on the offer. Stayed the night in the Condon Hotel.  The next morning, I looked outside...I said to my-self that this had to be a movie set, surely real people do not live in a place like they?  Well from July of 1957 to Aug 1960 I was stationed at Condon.  I worked in Base a clerk typist...out of my AFSC/MOS.  In August of 1960 I was transferred to Portland Int'l Airport...there until discharge in Dec 1961.  More later...will dig out some 'OLD' photos for your consideration.  Ned, have some comfort in knowing that all of our memories are fading...know what I mean. I'll write to you soon.

Best regards,  Jim Huddleston, 08.09.2007, 4:02PM,PDT

----- Original Message -----

From: Ned Scholz


Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 7:46 PM

Subject: 636th AC&W Station

  <>Hi James

I received your email about being stationed at Condon, Oregon...I was there from July 1952 until November 1954 when discharged. I was a radio operator in Korea and when arrived in Condon there was not much use for operators anymore so went into radio maintenance, had fun at that job. Ran the MARS station in spare time. Also, worked part time off base in Condon for a retired AF person (I think but not sure his name was Tom Kagia) helping to put up TV towers for customers in the area wanting to receive channel 6 out of Portland. Tom had a radio/repair service in Condon. I remember driving to Portland attempting to gain a dates with girls at a nurse’s school.

  <>It's becoming harder to remember those years as it’s so long ago. 

Did you check my web site and look at the 636th page? If you put a few words together about your time at Condon along with any pictures and with your permission I would like to add it to the site.

Anyway, have a nice day and let me hear from you

Ned Scholz

Email from Tom Whiteley

August 12, 2007



Glad to have found your site. I ran the MARS station at Condon from July 1964 to October 1965, while working at the GATAR Site (Ground to Air Radio). I have a First Class FCC Radio Telephone License with Radar Endorsement and my call sign is WA6FCO.

<> If this gets to you I have a few more things to mention….
<> Tom
        Tom Whiteley's 53 Olds

Email from Tom Whiteley

August 14, 2007

Well, a few days ago I found Ned's web site and contacted Ned and John Franz. Ned gave me a copy of James email, so I thought I would start a Condon Group in my email Address Book.

I was at the 636th from July 1964 to October 1965. I am fourth generation San Franciscan, and like James, there was a "bit of a culture shock" upon arriving at the 636th and then discovering the big city – Condon! From people in Biloxi (where I went to GATR school) to San Francisco, I heard the same story. "Why at the 636th, there is a girl behind every tree"! They forgot to mention that there were no trees! J

When I left San Francisco by Greyhound, bound for Condon, little did I realize that the bus stopped at Arlington and did not go straight through. The bus station was on the north end of town and today is under water along with the rest of the old downtown area.

When I arrived in Arlington I called the site and they had a red headed sergeant pick me up. He was very cheerful and just a good person. As I entered the orderly room, I was greeted by a first lieutenant who was wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He came up to me before I took three steps and said, "I was an enlisted man like you. I went to operation bootstrap and became an officer"! I think that is the only time we spoke. He was a bit strange.

As I mentioned to John I had lots of adventures at Condon. I enjoyed myself as much as possible. I play flamenco guitar and formed groups to entertain people in Fossil, and the surrounding communities. We also played folk and country and western music. The people were starved for entertainment. 

After about a year at the 636th, people would get flaky. Many would get drunk very often. Several guys got drunk and drove off cliffs.  I din drink so I decided to drive my 1953 Oldsmobile to San Francisco and visit my family. I did this almost every weekend. At 6 PM I would be on the road and stop for gasoline at a truck stop at Klamath Falls. The guys at the gas station knew me after a short time and would give me coffee.

At about 6 AM Saturday I would arrive home, mom would fix breakfast and then I would visit my friends. At 6 PM Sunday mom would serve dinner and then I would be off. At about 6 AM the next morning I would arrive at the 636th, shower, etc. and go to work at 0700. Amazing what you can do when you are in your early 20’s J Sleep, what sleep? Who needs sleep?

Every two years there is reunion at Condon for the 636th. I went three years ago and due to my job I was not able to go last year. It was fun meeting guys I had been stationed with, as well as meet the residents of Condon whom I remember well.

I found the people of Condon to be very friendly and willing to help an Airman, but they hated anyone from California who was not a member of the 636th. Case in point:

There was no mayor at Condon, but the owner of the Coast to Coast Hardware store sort of ran the town. The Texaco gas station was sold to a civilian from California. The owner of the hardware store called a meeting. I was a customer in the front of the store when I heard what was going on. The owner said, "A Californian bought the Texaco station. Put the word out – do not buy anything from him"! In thirty days the Texaco station was out of business, and bought by one of the Airman at the 636th, who was from California. The Airman did well with his newly acquired business.

There was a very bad winter storm December 1964 that wiped out the Condon water supply. The 636th trucked in water until things were repaired. During that storm a radar site on the West Coast of Oregon blew off its hill. We gave them our FPS 20. I had escaped the storm (barely) and spent Christmas at home in San Francisco and went to North Hollywood to attend a friends wedding. I married my friend’s sister and we celebrated our 41st Wedding Anniversary last December.

To express how the people of Oregon felt about Californians, the following is offered. The later part of 1964 the governor of Oregon was on television. He stated, "We have completed I-5 so Californians do not have to stop in Oregon"!

When I was at Condon there were about 1200 people. At last count there were about 600. If you grew up in Condon chances are that you had to leave to have a job.  When the Air Force left the population reflected it. 

Here is a link to a PDF file about the last 636th reunion: Page ten = left side towards the bottom.


Click Here For Online Air Defense Radar Museum
From the Air Defense Radar Museum you will be able to find very good
information about the 636th. On the main page left side, click "Radar
Sites". Enter in the Unit/Squadron block 636. Location enter Condon,
State enter OR. Select North American/Hawaii.
Click Serarch for the site.

Email from Dick Gaarenstroom
Date: Friday, March 9, 2012 11:23 PM
To: Ned Scholz
From: Dick Gaarenstroom TSG USAF (RET.)

Subject: Condon AFS

Ned, great website.  I enjoyed the posts and reading the memories of those who lived and worked at the Radar Station.  My name is Dick Gaarenstroom TSG USAF (Ret.). While never having served on any of Oregon's Radar Stations, I did serve with the 621st TCS Det.3 at Mt. Palgong-San in Korea.  I guess out of all of Oregon's AFS my service in Korea would be more akin to Mt. Hebo on the coast. Darn Cold and Darn Windy.

I had the privilege of visiting Condon AFS last August.  I stayed in town for about 4 days and tried to envision myself being a young airman again and what my off duty hours would be like. I see myself yawning.  That's not to be derogatory. At 18 yrs of age I probably would have had all the energy in the world, but with no car and no money what can one do.  Matter of fact, for those of you that were in that same situation, what did you do?

Things change I can attest to that, and I'm sure Condon has as well.  The bowling alley in town is converted over into a grocery store.  Downtown looks probably like downtown did back in the 50's.  There is a block or two of very nice retirement homes for the elderly, the golf course is probably a lot better off now that it was back when the base was on line.

The Airport just past the cemetery is quaint and the only part of town expanding is the cemetery.  Condon is shrinking, but it's not dead yet.  You will not believe the wind generators along the ridge line.  What a thing to behold. I know the State of Oregon and private partners are banking on renewable energy generated from the winds of this area.  But life is never easy in the big lonely.  I hear the Air Force is not happy with the wind generation being produced.  To be fair to the Air Force they rely on the Radar near Fossil for making their bomb runs on the bombing range of Boardman.  The Air Force is concerned that the wind generators are disturbing the radar that is crucial for their flights.  Lord knows all they need to do is ask us and we would be more than happy to consult with them letting them know it may be a win win situation to just relocate the Radars and accomplish the mission.

I took a load of pictures of Condon Air Force Station and I sorely need some help interpreting all that went on their.  I would like to strike up some friendships with folks that remember it the way it was and not the way I saw it.  The housing area is intact and most if not all the houses look like they have been restored and are either rentals or private homes.

The main gate, orderly room/theater on the right hand side as you come into the gate I get.  I think the flag pole is located there as well. The commissary is behind the orderly room and next to it the BX. By trade, my Air Force experience was aircraft mechanic and jet engine mechanic.  I've learned a great deal about the search and height radars but I have to admit that I have some serious learning gaps when it comes to visualizing what some of these structures would be. I would be much appreciative if anyone is interested in helping me out with researching Condon Air Force Station.

As a matter of fact, I guess I'm asking for all kinds of help.  My long term goal is to research all of the Air Force Radar Stations in Oregon.  I don't really see myself as a historian.  I see myself as a Geographer, which by the way I am.  I really want to know how these bases functioned in the rural settings they were placed in.  How life intersected with the local towns people.  How the town help win over the hearts and minds of the service men and women, and how the Air Force culture helped change the lives of the local people.

As people we interact through sports, politics, hunting, recreation, love, marriage, religion, what have you.  That's the information I'm after.  Who are these service men and women?  Who was the commander, XO, who participated in the Condon Bowling league?  What was the name of the Condon AFB newspaper/newsletter and who wrote it.  There is so much to learn about these places more than just dates and dirt. Its people and lives and mission and work and community.

I feel privileged to post on your website and look forward to meeting and talking with whomever out there would like to talk about your life and your dreams, about your Air Base and your town Condon.

Please feel free to contact me.
Dick Gaarenstroom
fax 503-232-0187

Please note that if you lived and worked on another Oregon Air Force Station I still want to talk with you.  My goal is to compile the geography of all of the Air Force Stations sited in Oregon. Hope to hear from you soon.

Dick, 3/10/12


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