Stanley Benton

Military Service:  USNR Aug 61-Jan 3; USN Jan 63-Jan 67; USAF Apr 67-Dec 89


Awards:  Bronze Star; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (3); Air Force Commendation Medal (3); Vietnamese Honor Medal 1st Class; and various service awards.


Specialty:  USN Radarman, separated as RD2; USAF, Aerospace Control and Warning Systems Superintendent, retired as Chief Master Sergeant.  Last position held was: Superintendent Air Defense Operations HQ NORAD.


Assignments: Naval Reserve Electronics Division in Arkansas City, Kansas; USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5) homeport Long Beach California Jan 63-May 64 and then Yokosuka, Japan Jun 64-Nov 66, and finally Hunters Point California Nov 66-Jan 67; 756th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Finland, Minnesota; 621st Tactical Control Squadron, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand; 620th Tactical Control Squadron, Son Tra (Monkey Mountain), 616th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Wasserkuppe Air Station, Germany; Vietnam; 23rd Air Division, Duluth Minnesota; 621st Tactical Control Squadron, Udorn RTAFB, Thailand: 23rd Air Division, Duluth, Minnesota; 631st Tactical Control Flight, Wurzburg, Germany; Det B 23rd Air Division, Empire AFS, Michigan; 727th Tactical Control Squadron (Test), Hurlburt Field, Florida, 729th Tactical Control Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah; 932nd Air Defense Squadron, Rockville, Iceland; and Hq North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson AFB, Colorado.


Narrative:  Being a voracious reader of history, my goal upon graduating from High School was to see the world.  As a consequence of that desire I joined the Naval Reserve between my Junior and Senior Year of High School. 


Upon graduation I spent two weeks at Charlestown Naval Shipyard in  Boston on the USS Johnston. 


Subsequent to that I attended Radarman A School at Great Lakes. Illinois and after completion of that school I enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the USS Oklahoma City a Guided Missile Light Cruiser.  The first year was spent in the shipyard at Long Beach, California and then we deployed to the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) where we were homeported out of Yokosuka Japan and were assigned as Flagship Seventh Fleet.  During the course of the next two and a half years we operated all over the Western Pacific including about 14 months with Task Force 77 in the South China Sea off the coasts of both North and South Vietnam.  On our first trip to Vietnam in August of 1964 we went up the Mekong River to Saigon which was an interesting trip for a ship of our size.  When we got to the basin at Saigon we had to have two tugs warp us around because we didn’t have enough room to maneuver on our own.  One of our main functions was to provide Naval Gunfire Support along the coast of Vietnam.  We fired about 150 live fire missions during the Westpac Deployment.  On returning to the United States I separated from the Navy, spent three months deciding what I wanted to do, and ended up joining the Air Force. 


I spent 9 months at Finland AFS, MN and then returned to Southeast Asia. In Thailand I was working at a Ground Control Intercept Unit and our primary mission was putting the strike and reconnaissance aircraft on tankers in order to extend their operating range on the way to Laos and North Vietnam and to put them back on tankers on the way home.  We also provided Air Defense for Northern Thailand and enroute flight follow service within our sector.    We were constantly handling aircraft with emergencies and some of the Search and Rescue Missions we supported lasted for days and involved hundreds of aircraft. Needless to say, with the amount of traffic we were handling and the critical mission we were supporting it was an extremely high stress situation but at the same time one of the more satisfying periods of my military career.  Leaving Thailand I went to Son Tra, more commonly known as Monkey Mountain, Vietnam.  The job there was much the same as in Thailand but we did not handle the same level of traffic. After that tour I was assigned to Wasserkuppe AS, Germany.  Our function there was Air Defense within our sector and Control of the Buffer Zone which was a restricted flight corridor inside West Germany along the border with East Germany.  This was a great tour of duty and living in Europe for three years was fantastic.  This is also where I met and married my Wife.


Returning to the US I was assigned to an Air Defense unit at Duluth IAP MN.  I stayed long enough to process a volunteer statement to return to Southeast Asia.


I once again was assigned to Udorn RTAFB, Thailand and although satisfying, the job load had decreased and it was a little more laid back.  During the course of that tour we provided tanker support to the aircraft involved in the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Saigon.


Then it was back to Duluth again.  Once again I stayed long enough to process a volunteer statement for overseas.


Back in Germany for another three years I was assigned to a Tactical Control Flight located at Leighton Barracks in Wurzburg.  This was my first assignment to a mobile unit and I got my fill of living in the field during the tour.  I do have to admit that there was some satisfaction in doing a difficult job in really crappy conditions.  I think every field deployment we made was either in the rain or the snow.  Upon returning to the states I immediately sold my camping gear, 


Coming back to the states I was assigned as Site Chief at a Joint Surveillance System unit at Empire AFS, MN.  This was a fantastic job for several reasons.  First I was in charge of the site and had five other Air Force Personnel and one Government Service Civilian working for me.  It was great being in charge but not always fun since I had no staff and my Hq Unit was 500 miles away.  The other thing that was really great was the support of and my interaction with the local community.  The people of the little village of Empire, population 350, was phenomenal.  Even though I stayed there for three and a half years and was ready to move on, I left feeling a little regret. 


In December 1984 I reported to my next assignment, my first Stateside to Stateside move since deploying to Westpac with the Oklahoma City in 1964.This was a different type of assignment since we were a Tactical Control Squadron but had no mission other than testing new systems for the Tactical Air Control System.  In two and a half years we tested one system which took about two months.  Needless to say our paperwork was in immaculate condition.  During this assignment I also went on 90 days temporary duty to Operation Elf One, which was an Air Defense Enhancement for the Eastern Air Defense Sector of Saudi Arabia.  This was in August of 1984 and the Iraqis and Iranians were at war.  The culture shock of being in Saudi Arabia was extreme.  Can’t really say I was impressed with anything about the area.  The air war between the Iraquis and Iranians consisted of the Iraqis striking the oil loading docks at Kargh Island in Iran and the Iranians responding by striking a tanker well south in the Arabian Sea.  The Iranians would not engage the Iraqis in aerial combat and made sure to strike the civilian tankers well out of range of the Iraqi interceptors.


My next move was to a Tactical Control Squadron at Hill AFB UT.  It was a newly designated unit and was located at Hill for political purposes, primarily keeping Senator Garn happy.  We had no aircraft to control and our equipment was tasked from United States Air Forces in Europe.  You can imagine the state of the equipment we received from Europe especially after traveling across the Atlantic in open containers.  Needless to say it was not pleasant trying to bring the unit on line.


I then went to another Air Defense Unit at Rockville, Iceland.  During my tenure there we were installing and bringing an automated system on-line while continuing the daily mission.  We provided Air Defense for Iceland and the Northern Atlantic and also controlled the interceptors that shadowed the Russian Bear and Bison Aircraft on their rotations to and from Cuba.


Coming back to the US I was assigned to Hq North American Air Defense Command.This was my first true staff job and I was disappointed in the structure of the job as I felt it failed to effectively utilize my expertise and experience.I was much happier at the operational level where I could work with and support the young troops that actually accomplish the mission.  After 15 months I decided it was time to do something else so I retired.


In retrospect, I got to see a lot of the world, experienced some excitement (not all good), and met and worked with a lot of exceptional people.  I would probably do some things different if I had it to do over, but I had an outstanding military career and have no regrets about choosing that path for my life.



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