I married a Honolulu girl, Vicki Farrell, in early 1962.  We left
Hawaii
in late 62 for discharge at T.I.  We had a six-week old son with us
when
we left.
Before leaving the squadron, I participated in the atmospheric atomic
tests held near Christmas Island.  I saw two events from the island,
and
one while airborne.  The most exciting flight I had, however, was also
my final on the barrier.  During that short flight I actually sent a
Mayday.  I also sent my one and only ZBM2 signal.  I’ll have to write
something about this another time.

Upon discharge, the three of us headed to my home in El Paso, Texas.
In
February 1963 I began working towards a BSEE at Texas Western College
(later known as UTEP).  Four and a half years later I received my
degree.  Those years were the most difficult of my life – school, work,
family, etc.

I thought seriously about going back into the Navy – I had always
wanted
to be a military pilot.  The Navy flew me to NAS Olathe where I took
all
of the necessary tests.  They would not waive the requirement for 20-20
vision (I wore glasses), so I declined.

In July 1967, I went to work for Westinghouse Defense, which has
headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.  I am still working for the same
company, although the name changed a couple of years ago when we were
purchased by Northrop Grumman.

We have travelled extensively with the company.  Of 32 years, all but
about 18 months were spent in the field away from Baltimore.  We lived
overseas for twenty years – Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Spain,
and Germany, and have had short-term assignments in other countries.

I started working with the fire-control radar in the F4E.  During the
Vietnam War, I was assigned to Korat airbase in Thailand, where we
launched strikes against the North, Laos, and Cambodia.  Down the ramp
from where I worked were two USAF Connie units – the 552nd “College
Eye”
squadron, and the 553rd “Batcats”.  The College Eye birds were like our
Willy Victors, but the Batcat birds had been stripped of radomes,
painted in camouflage, and were crammed with receiving equipment.
Their
job was to gather information from sensors that had been dropped over
the “Trail”.  Now for the interesting part – I found out years later
that these birds were our old barrier Willy Victors.  After the barrier
folded, the USAF took them over, stripped off the radomes, and
configured them for their new task.

I learned to fly in, of all places, Spain.  This was with a USAF aero
club at Torrejon air base.  The FAA sent people to the aero clubs to
administer the tests and check flights.  Flying in Spain was really fun
– very little air traffic, and almost no rules.

In 1976, I began working with the AWACS radar system.  I spent seven
years with the program, and travelled all over the world with the
aircraft.  I was with the first AWACS to go into Saudi Arabia.  The
bird
has the same job as the old Willy Victor, but with greatly enhanced
performance.

In 1985, we moved to Riyadh Saudi Arabia, and lived there for ten
years.  We were there during the Gulf War, and were recipients of
several Scud rockets from Iraq.  From Saudi Arabia we moved to
Thailand.  (Now that is a REAL change in lifestyle).  Last year, we
moved back to the U.S., to Sacramento, where we currently reside.

A couple of years ago Vicki and I had the privilege of visiting Midway.
This was in early June.  We were there for the ceremonies commemorating
the Battle of Midway.  This was also the last month that the USN was
still at Midway.  At the end of the month, they turned control over to
the U.S. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, and their contractor, the
Midway Phoenix Corp.  We had a great time there.  I want to go back.
 
 

I have qualified for early retirement with the company, and am
approaching a decison point on 1 October.  At that time, I will either
retire, or accept another assignment.  Either way, we are going to
establish ourselves in Las Vegas.  We have a home there and have
decided
that is where we are going to put down roots.

Bob Hodes
Sacramento