December 27, 2013
Continued from November 29th
A Post HS Autobiographical Sketch of Cecil R. Hall - Following that
tour of duty I was returned to the states for assignment of Special Weapons Command,
Albuquerque NM, Assistant Ops Officer Aircraft Accident Investigator. One of many accidents
during my watch comes to mind, A pilot flying a P-51 out of Washington DC destination
Los Angeles crashed near Tucumcari, NM. His engine caught fire and he tried to bail
out, his heel got hung up on the cockpit delaying his exit. He did clear the burning
plane, pulled his ripcord, chute opened, let him gently down into the middle of a thick
patch of cactus. He had forgotten his bailout procedure--- “Roll over on your back and
fall out of the cockpit!” It took the medics a week to remove all the thorns. On 15
May 1950 my son Richard was born in the Air Force Hospital, Sandia Base, Albuquerque.
When Stalin dropped the ‘Iron Curtain’ (about 1950) the flow of vital Intelligence from
Soviet Countries was shut off. The western allies were starving for what was going on
behind the ‘Iron Curtain’. A program was devised in which repatriated German POWs, who
had been slave laborers rebuilding the Soviet Industrial Complex, became of vital importance
capable of providing intelligence information to the west because they had been there
doing the ‘heavy lifting and pick & shovel work restoring the infra structure. Intelligence
collection stations were set up through out the Western Zones of Occupation to receive
the returning German POWs.
I became Station Chief at the collection point in Kassel, Germany in the Northern area
of the US Zone, Germany. This was an overt information collection effort. Most of the
information collected by my unit went to the Strategic Air Command. The repatriated
Germans were very cooperative ‘spilling their guts’, so to speak! The last train load
of repatriated German POWs arrived in West Germany in 1957. 13 July 1953 at the USAF
Hospital, Wiesbaden, Germany my 3rd child Sheila Marie was born.
Returning to the States I was assigned to an Air Refueling Squadron at Riverside CA
flying the old KC-97 Boeing Tanker until later when I was recalled to Germany to head
up a covert Air Force Intelligence activity that was monitoring émigré groups who had
escaped from Soviet Countries. While working those activities my unit became involved
in a Soviet Scientist’s defection. One of the operatives in my unit successfully pulled
of the defection which included the defectors Russian wife and his ex-wife, who lived
in the East Zone of Germany. The defector’s son and daughter-in-law were also included
in the escape plan but the son emptied his bank account on the way to the train station.
The East German police were waiting for them as they were about to board the train to
freedom. Next assignment was to Spain to fill the position of Director of Intelligence
at the USAF Air Defense Command at Madrid. About one year into this job USAF began shifting
the air defense of Spain to the Spanish Air Force and transferring all USAF assets to
the Spaniards. My job evaporated so I packed up my family and returned to the States.
(The time line historical bench mark for the period was the assassination of Pres Kennedy.)
After settling my family in Albuquerque I travelled on to Cannon AFB, Clovis NM. Arriving,
there on the tarmac, I was greeted by my new boss, Francis ‘Buzz’ Binnel, Colonel, 474th
Fighter Wing commander, aka our Chaffey Class of ’39 classmate. I had not seen ‘Buzz’
since one of my tours to Germany in the ‘50s. My job description in the 474th was Director
of Intelligence. The F-100 Fighter Squadrons of the 474th had been and were still making
deployments to Vietnam.
In the Summer of 1965 the 474th received a change in mission from ‘Fighter’ to ‘Trainer’
in order to train more F-100 Fighter Pilots. The Pilots and aircraft were transferred
to Luke Field, Phoenix. Again I lost my job. But never to worry, another job was waiting
in the wings. I was assigned to a Combat Evaluation Team, made up in Florida, to accompany
a squadron of new untried F-5 fighter aircraft, aka, Skoshi Tigers’ (Little Tigers)
to Vietnam for combat evaluation. After 6 months in Saigon the evaluation was completed
and the team returned to Florida to compile their findings and I filed for retirement.
In July 1966, without looking back, I walked away with the rank and pay of Lieutenant
Colonel. In retirement I remarried, settled in Oroville, CA and spent about 12 years
and 3 trips to Eastern Oklahoma gathering the family history that my elders forgot to
tell me about before they moved on. My research let me into the Old Cherokee Nation,
across the Atlantic to Scotland and France. My father and 3 of his siblings were listed
in the final Census of the Cherokee Nation thereby receiving their share of Cherokee
Nation land distribution in the year 1907. So, In summary, following a Grammar School
and High School education my life in the real world merged into a military career embracing
Air Force Flight Instructor, Transport Pilot, Staff Officer in the Field of Overt, Covert
and Operational Intelligence. Three marriages, two divorces, fathering three children
(legitimately), discovering my family roots among the Scots, French, the Native American
tribe of Cherokee Indians as well as a sprinkling of Irish in there someplace. Ironically,
my military career was book ended between; my venerable HS History & Civics teacher,
Anson J Smalley, Aka Captain of the California National Guard unit housed in the basement
of Chaffey Union High School and our Class of ’39 classmate Francis ‘Buzz’ Binnell,
even though, neither of them were my mentor.
Stu says – What a story Lt. Colonel Cecil Hall Ret. You sure gave me a big break
in my researching stories every week. Thank you. And thank you son Jeff for typing for
your mom. Jeff Says- It was an amazing history lesson, thanks for being the best dad
a kid could ever ask for.