It was an uncomfortable awareness. The only emotion I can equate it with is as if I were the character from the opening scene of the epic WWII movie “12 O'clock High.” Standing there on an abandoned portion of concrete taxiway at what is now the largest U S Air Force Reserve Base in the CONUS looking out upon the deteriorating, rusting and abandoned KC-135 and B52 Nose Docks that once were so indispensable to the mission of Westover AFB and SAC.
My wife and I, along with my best service buddy (Leif Nielsen) and his wife, had been invited to a personal tour of Westover Air Force Reserve Base. We, Leif and I, had been stationed at Westover when it was the headquarters of 8th Air Force, home to the 57th Air Division, the 99th Bomb Wing (heavy), the 4050th Air Refueling Wing and was one of the most significant SAC bases the USAF had. We had both spent 4 years there, spanning the time period from 1958 to 1962. Now, 44 years later, here we were standing on the same concrete that we had been charged to protect with our lives, looking out upon what time and the change of national priorities had rendered upon what was once so critical to our nation's survival. It was, as I mentioned, a surreal experience. Closing my eyes I could hear the echoes of the SAC years, the constant, incessant high pitched scream of jet engines, the smell of spent JP-4, the thunder of a 99th Bomb Wing B52 MITO. I could see the frantic, almost ballet type sprint of ground crews getting their aircraft ready to taxi, soon to be airborne. Had it really been that long ago that we stood here weapon in hand through the bitter wind and snows of winter and the heat of summer that could often turn the non-aircraft bearing sections of asphalt so soft the soles of your boots would stick to it? It had to be only yesterday that the claxons sounded, the alert hanger doors of the Air Defense Command fighter interceptor squadron lifted open and the alert 104s would scramble with afterburners throwing back their familiar blue-to-white flame then be airborne and out of sight within two minutes.
My heart began to ache; there were too many ghosts of the past for me to deal with, just too many memories. Maybe Thomas Wolfe was right after all.
During the next several weeks, basically out of curiosity, a considerable amount of time was spent searching the Internet trying to find relevant information on our old squadron, the 814th Combat Defense Squadron. The 814th was the guardian of Westover for 18 years yet, very few references to its existence could be found.
In late January of 2007, a decision was made to create a web site that would emphasize the significance of and be dedicated to the history of the 814th while it was activated at Westover AFB (SAC). Additionally, it was hoped that such a site could also offer the ability and present the opportunity to reconnect with lost friends. But, primarily the site was to offer a clear picture of the duty and responsibility of Force Protection provided by the Security Squadrons stationed at Westover during the "Cold War" an 18 year period covering 1955 through 1974.
What follows is the initial result of this effort. The site is still growing; information continues to be received almost daily. If you have memories or information on the 814th, don't be shy. Share it. The 814th deserves to be seen and heard. We have a proud history and only through you can it be brought to light.