1978 through 1982 marked my years spent in the
U.S. Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Radar Technician,
AFSC 303x1. After nine months
in technical school at Keesler AFB, MS, I moved on to my permanent duty station at Robins
There, I was part of the 5th Combat Communication
Group (5CCG), aka 5th MOB (MOB = mobile). Most of my early knowledge of electronics was
learned as a result of the experience gained there. To be truthful, I was not overly
thrilled with being part of a mobile communication group, because my goal was to work
on an engineering degree, and the propensity for deployment was great enough to limit
me to a total of about three semesters of college classes. After many years of part-time
and full-time coursework after the Air Force duty, I finally completed my BSEE at the
University of Vermont, of all places.•
AN/MPN-14 was a mobile radar
system that consisted primarily of an Equipment Trailer (all of the radar electronics),
a Maintenance Trailer (workbench, AC/Heat, UHF/VHF radios), and a big RAPCON Trailer
(ASR and PAR displays and controls). A 60-mile Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) and a
10-mile Precision Approach Radar (PAR) provided the primary radar, and a 200-mile Identification
Friend or Foe (IFF) system provided the synthetic (secondary) radar. This IFF system
contained a 1 kbyte magnetic core memory with the four read, write, sense and strobe
lines threaded by Pygmies.
These pictures were dug out of a photo shoebox
and posted for your viewing pleasure. A search on Google for the MPN-14 radar turned
up no pictures at all, so maybe this is now the only one on the Internet.
Due to the huge amount of interest in the 5CCG (5th MOB) both my 5th members and by
members from other Mobs, the scope of this page has been expanded to include all the
MOBs, the first through the 5th. If you or someone you know was a member, please contact
me with your service information and I will include it here. Photos are welcome; I can
scan originals or
negatives and return them to you if you do not
have digital versions.
to my good buddy Don Hicks for sending this USAF cap and coffee mug from Hulburt Field!
- Kirt Blattenberger
Tobyhanna Reporter article on an AN/MPN-14K transformer modification
to prevent arcing.
This was the official
5th CCG "CommuniGator"
coffee mug back in
the early 1980s.
Honorable Discharge from the USAF
AFCS patch in
Crew patch in camouflage (subdued)
5CCG Certificate of Mobility Training
Click here to learn how to find patches and other
paraphernalia from your military history.
Here is a friendly letter I received from the VA. The GI
Bill had been suspended during my enlistment era, so I had to pay into the college fund.
Turns out, the VA had it wrong, and I did not owe the $15.93.
Here is the official 5CCG Alumni Association
website. Sign the guest book and have a look around.
MOB histories are quite extensive, and most have been moved around over the years.
The links below take you to the most useful sites I could locate. If you know of better
ones, please let me know.
• 1st MOB
, Germany (LinkedIn
1st Mob/Comm Alumni Photo Gallery
• 2nd MOB
, Florida, USA (LinkedIn
3rd MOB: Tinker AFB,
Oklahoma, USA (LinkedIn)
4th MOB: Clark AFB, Philippines
5th MOB: Robins AFB,
Georgia, USA (LinkedIn)
Air Force Communicators & Air
Traffic Controllers Association Website
Formerly called "The AACS Alumni Association"
Designations & Descriptions
ITT/Gilfillan (then Exelis and now Harris)
has "resurrected" the MPN-14. It appears from their
brochure that they have gutted the shell and re-fitted it with modern
electronics and software - very nice!. I just hope they have significantly improved the
air conditioning system as well; that old design used to fail continuously.
Thanks to Angelo V for the info.
Here is an identification plate form an AN/MPN-14 radar trailer. It comes from the
1st MOB website
Operations Trailer nearest in photo, Maintenance trailer inline and connected to the
rear, RAPCON separate and to the right. ASR & IFF antennas toward center of trailer,
PAR Elevation antenna nearest - circa 1979-82.
Backing up the tractor to hitch up the MPN-14 RAPCON for a deployment - circa 1979-82.
"Healthy Strike" deployment cantonment area,
Herbert Smart Airfield, Macon, GA. - circa 1979-82.
Inside the Operations Trailer. ASR display nearest door with IFF control box next
to it. PAR display near the arm protruding by door - circa 1979-82.
5CCG Radar Shop - circa 1979-82. (Kirt B photo)
5CCG Radar Shop - circa 1980-82. (Don Hicks photo)
Red Worthington (Don Hicks photo, right)
Sgt. Chuck Powell - circa 1981.
(Don Hicks photo, above)
Joe Hoover assembles Lights atop the MPN-14
- circa 1987. (Don Hicks photo, right)
- New page added just for the TPN-19
- Read e-mails from radar
- Photos of RF Cafe service members
USAF radar tech Elbert Cook
has completed his scale model of the
(Ground Control Approach) mobile radar system that he worked
on. It has an incredible amount of detail, including the ASR (airport surveillance radar)
and PAR (precision approach radar) antennas, the VHF and UHF radio antennas, navigation
hazard light, and even the gin poles that stabilize the trailers against wind forces.
Elbert's modeling skills are impressive indeed! Hopefully, this model will someday end
up in a USAF museum - maybe at Wright-Patterson AFB.
"Old radar troops never die, they just 'Phase Array'" -
Ronald L. Fate
photo of ASR display (PPI, top right) - circa 1979-82.
AN/GPA-131 Analog Video Mapper overlay display can barely be seen on the monitor.
B&W photo of PAR display (bottom right) showing
Elevation display at top and Azimuth display on bottom. Yes, it is in dire need of alignment
- circa 1979-82.
Members of our radar shop assembling the MPN-14 (one of two we maintained, left).
In the picture are Chuck Powell, Ron Dames, Don Hicks, Linda(?), Ed Nugent, Allen Coker,
Scott Breen(?) and Supreme Commander TSgt. "Red" Worthington. I welcome feedback from
anyone that wants to correct my identifications - circa 1979-82.
Yours truly and Sgt. Ed Nugent (right) inside the RAPCON
performing a display alignment - or at least pretending to - circa 1979-82.
Joe Hoover (my OJT
trainer) - circa 1979-81. (Don Hicks photo, left)
John Rackley - circa 1981.
(Don Hicks photo, right)
Comments from Radar Troops (see other notes):
Gary Thomas <service>
- I was inducted in the Air Force March 1968, after Lackland (now merged with Randolph AFB into
Joint Base San Antonio) I was sent to Keesler for
for 303x1 training and then assigned to the 1926 Comms Sq. at Robins in Dec 1969
and stayed there for the rest of my term of service 1971. We had a FPN/16 on a turntable
and worked out the FAA Rapcon bldg. The TSgt. was Victor Sharp, SSgt. Calvin Oberg, Sgt.
Ronald Vaughn. Soon we were joined by Nathan Lemmon, and Larry Gulley. Not long
after I arrived Gilfillan came and did a complete rebuild of the unit including
turntable. We then had a very light work load for the remainder of my time there, due
to all new equipment.
Thanks to Don Hicks and other former Radar Techs for many of these names. The list
originally reported only 5CCG Radar Shop members, but has been expanded to include any
AFSC 303x1 Radar Techs who care to send in their information for a listing. Send me an
e-mail to have your name removed, or to add others to the ever-growing list.