786th AC&W Squadron

Minot AFS, ND

The Skies Over D.C. 9/11/2001

786th Veteran in Pentagon During Attack

One of our brothers, Carlton Jones (786th 1957 Crypto), was working in the Pentagon in the USAF area when the attack occurred Sept. 11, 2001. He was unhurt, and writes these thoughts:

I was there at the Pentagon when the plane hit the building, I was there when a Sergeant woke me up about Sputnik (at the 786th), I finished Ronald Reagan's speech with "Amen" when he did his famous "Panama Canal" presentation to Albany, Ga. I was there in Plains when Jimmy's mother gave me a big smile as she exited a country store, I was there in Birmingham when Martin Luther King was in the Birmingham jail. I was there on my front porch in my "Sam Brown" Army Air Corp uniform (age 5) and (age 6 or 7) in my "Air Raid" uniform during World War Two. I will try to "keep 'em flyin' as long as I have breath in my (smoke filled body) and support America any way I can. God Bless America.
CLJ- The Pentagon
17 Sept 2001

We had a small, but great, group of guys at the 50th Anniversary Reunion June 22-24. Click the link above for photos, etc.

Located approximately 18 miles south of Minot, North Dakota on U.S. Highway 83, the 786th AC&W Squadron began operations using AN/FPS-3 and AN/FPS-5 radars in April, 1952. During 1957, an AN/GPS-3 saw brief use. In 1958 the original radars were replaced by AN/FPS-20 search and AN/FPS-6 height-finder sets. A second height-finder set (AN/FPS-6B) was installed during the following year. SAGE operations began in 1961. By the end of 1961 the search set had been upgraded and redesignated as an AN/FPS-66. An AN/FPS-26A height finder was installed in 1964, and in 1965 the site was operating an AN/FPS-27. The original FPS-6 was removed in 1964, and the AN/FPS-6B was modified to an AN/FPS-90. The AN/FPS-66 was removed in 1965, after the AN/FPS-27 was operational.

The 786th ceased radar operations on 1 July 1979 and was deactivated in September 1979.

The 786th was part of the last twenty-three stations constructed as part of the "permanent network". When completely operational in 1952, the permanent network had seventy-five sites.

Source: Searching The Skies, The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program. USAF Air Combat Command, June 1997.

NB: An AN/FPS-8 and AN/TPS-10D were at the 786th when I arrived in 1957, along with an AN/FPS-3 and AN/FPS-6.

Calling 786th vets...

Click for email Please contact me if you have served at the 786th at any time prior to its closing. I'm looking for history, anecdotes, photos, rosters, or anything that will help me to put this site together.

Thanks in advance...



Photos of the Regan and Niobe GFA sites from the time they were operational. Did any of you guys who worked the Gap Fillers sneak a photo or two you'd share?

Documents found which relate to the 786th

786th Vignettes, Stories & Notes
(786th vets contributions welcome!)

 Photo Gallery

 More Photos - some very early 50s

 Other Ground Radar Links

With great thanks - Folks contributing to this site:

  • Tim Akers, 786th 1954-1955
  • Bill Kickert [deceased], 786th 1954-1975
  • Mike Gombert, 786th 1963-1965 & 1970-1974
  • Roland "Johnnie" Johnson, Civilian tech rep, [deceased] 1956-1981
  • Carlton Jones, 786th 1957-58
  • Tom Page
  • Cecil G. Rennie, 786th thru early 1959
  • James Smith, 786th 1957-61