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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.