At left: test parachutists being carried aloft by a helicopter. The men were towed at speeds exceeding 80 knots. (Front cover illustration from the National Parachute Test Range brochure, published September 1975.)
Photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Dick McKie, USN.
Following is a partial listing of the USN photographers and other personnel who served at the National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1975 - 1978.
This page was started in late 2001 and put aside in March of 2002 for several years when I became involved with other projects. Unless otherwise noted, all comments on this page date from that time. I returned to work on this page when I heard from PHCS Kenneth A. George (retired), who was the Navy Chief in charge of the NPTR Still Photo Laboratory during the time I worked there.
On 29 August 2008, I talked on the phone for a couple of hours with Pat "Smitty" Smith and it was a very enjoyable conversation.
Please note on the Photographs of Aircraft at NPTR page that Rick Harris of the Collings Foundation is seeking photos of the Skyhawk TA-4J (BuNo 153524) with NPTR markings. This aircraft was used at NPTR as a photo chase plane and was frequently flown by Lt. Bartelli, who still flies it today at air shows. On 7 Sept 2008, I received a photo of one of the two NPTR TA-4J Skyhawks from Chuck Lohman and have added it to the page.
The time I spent at NPTR was one of the most interesting and enjoyable times of my life. I'm still in touch today with many of the friends I made there.
Please let me know if you have anecdotes or photos to add to this page. Before sending material, please read my Contributor's Guidelines. Unless I'm specifically told otherwise, I will assume that any comments made in e-mails sent to me about the National Parachute Test Range are intended for publication on this page.
Thanks to everyone whose comments and photos appear on this page!
Jerry Ferrin, 14 Sept 2008.
Doug Alexander, PHAN.
Doug Alexander, playing an F major chord on his Fender guitar
National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California.
Photo by PHAN Pat "Smitty" Smith, circa 1976.
"- A.K.A. the "Lonestar Armadillo". Known for his extensive collection of Frank Zappa albums which he cranked up during the Sunday morning prayer meetings held in the room next to his by Evan Wilson, PH (2/3?), who worked in the Range branch of the photo lab and was head of the Born Again contingent at NPTR." -- Paul Dileanis.
"Doug Alexander is another person you guys have resurrected for me. I remember going with him once, to the abandoned Army air field outside Holtville. The Sports Car Club of America and Porsche Club, San Diego region, used to race there. Doug and I rolled out there in his Mazda RX2 coupe. He was smart enough to bring a helmet. But the car had no roll bar, being a road car. Nonetheless, Doug did some laps while I watched. He sticks in my mind as a intelligent, good good-old-boy." -- Terry Parkhurst.
"I got a short e-mail from him recently... We recalled his wankelengine and Kinky Friedman!" -- Tim Dardis.
"Doug was liked by everybody. He would tell you how he felt about anything. He would run that Mazda full out all the time." -- Pat "Smitty" Smith, e-mail to Jerry Ferrin, 2 Sept 2008.
"Doug bought a professional sound mixing board while living in Barracks 496 at NPTR and quickly became expert in sound engineering. As I recall, Tim Dardis told me several years ago that Doug has been the sound man for the ZZ Top band since shortly after he got out of the Navy. Pat 'Smitty' Smith reminded me recently that Doug was hired to be the sound man at the Imperial Valley County Fair in 1976 for the performances by Freddy Fender, Jose Feliciano and the band called 'Captain Hook and the Medicine Show'.
Tim Dardis and I went together to photograph that Jose Feliciano concert. PHC Ken George, as was typical of him in how he always looked for ways to give USN photographers opportunities to do photography, had arranged for free passes for all of the NPTR photographers - not just the NPTR Still Lab photographers under his direct supervision - to photograph at that fair.
At that concert, Jose Feliciano sang during the performance of his "big hit", an overplayed cover version of the overplayed Doors song Light My Fire: 'You know I wouldn't be untrue, You know I wouldn't be a liar, If I were to say to you, I hate to play Light My Fire'. The audience roared with laughter at that line." -- Jerry Ferrin, 13 Sept 08.
Lt. Peter F. Bartelli, USNR, NPTR Photo Officer peterbartelli at hotmail dot com
Great to hear from you. I am presently on vacation in Italy visiting relatives so give me a few days and if I can figure out this European computer keyboard well enough I will send along something for the NPTR board.
Thanks for your telephone number as well. Here's mine 941.726.0220. I will call you soon to chat. Take care old friend.
Peter F. Bartelli
Senior Captain B777
Continental Airlines, Inc.
-- E-mail from Peter F. Bartelli to Jerry Ferrin, 2 Sept 2008.
Again, it was great to hear from you, and, as promised, here's a somewhat brief run down of my time at NPTR and the years following.
I reported to NAF El Centro in November, 1974. As a reserve officer and Naval Aviator, it was to be my last duty station after a total of 6 years active duty. Initially, I was totally bummed out with everything I saw.....the desert lifestyle was very alien to me. Additionally, I was a batchelor and the only resident of the BOQ. There were a few other junior officers on station but all were married and I found it difficult to blend in. I generally spent my weekends in San Diego driving my vintage 1961 Porsche Roadster the 125 miles every Friday night. Eventually, of course, I grew to love The Valley, made new friends, many of whom I still see today, and thoroughly enjoyed the flying. My memories of those two years in El Centro include the mini Blue Angel airshows every winter, the Mount Signal Cafe, the F8 crash into the cattle pen right off base, the critcket infestations, the A3 crash on base killing LCDR Von Hendy, the kindness shown to me by Captain Joe Paulk (CO NAF), some really spectacular photo missions like the B1 Bomber escape module tests and of course, riding my '75 Kawasaki Z1B (I still own it!!). My duties as the Photo Officer were made easy by the wonderful oversight of Art Fszol and Senior Chief Stan Shaeffer who constantly kept me out of trouble. I guess every young officer learns the ropes from the chiefs and I was no exception. As I looked over your web site, so many wonderful memories of the men I had the honor to work with come flooding back.
After separating from the Navy in November, 1976, I moved to San Diego and began the quest for a job with an airline while I worked as a charter pilot for Jim's Air at Lindbergh Field. In the fall of 1977, I was hired by Continental Airlines. Initially I was the third pilot, the Flight Engineer, on the Boeing 727 based in Houston, TX. Within a few years, I moved over to the co-pilots seat and in 1987, I was promoted to Captain, initially on the B727, then the B737, now based out of Newark, NJ. Since then, I've flown internationally on the B757 and B767 and three years ago transitioned to the B777. Continental operates the B777 on a worldwide mission with destinations that include Hong Kong, Tokyo, Delhi, Mumbai and Beijing as well as military contracts to Dubai and Kuwait. Within a few months I will be retiring from Continental with the satisfaction of having had a most fulfilling 32 year career.
I call Venice, FL home now and plan to retire there spending my days as I've always done....promoting the love of aviation at the local airport and riding my Z1B every now and then. My current hobbies include restoration of vintage Porsches (still), scuba diving and motorcycle touring. I would welcome any/all contact with former NPTR shipmates.
All the best,
6201 L' Pavia Blvd
Venice, FL 34292
-- E-mail from Peter F. Bartelli, Senior Captain B777, Continental Airlines, to Jerry Ferrin, 2 Sept 08.
Continental Airlines Boeing 777-224ER (N78017), Gatwick Airport, England.
Photo taken by Adrian Pingstone in April 2004 and released to the public domain. Wikimedia Commons
You're welcome. I happened onto the NPTR site the other night and noted you had already posted my e-mails. Kinda funny reading about oneself.
I mentioned that I still keep in touch with a few officers from NPTR. In particular, Lt. Bill Powell, who preceded me by a few years, is living in Vancouver, WA and is a captain for Northwest Airlines. I believe he flies the B747 on routes to Asia, like myself. Also, Lt. Andy Wernham, Safety Officer at NPTR, just retired from Continental Airlines last December as a B737 captain. Lt. Basil Pugh went on to medical school on the Navy's dime and returned to active duty to finish his career as an 06 Captain. I believe he has a practice in Charlestown, WV now. Captain Joe Paulk and I kept in touch regularly. I would stop in Lubbock on layovers and drink his wine and we'd spend hours talking about the Navy. Following his retirement, he married a high school girlfriend and tried a few different part time jobs but none really "fit" him. Joe passed away in 1994. Lt. Mike Frazier is living in San Diego and has for years operated a solar energy business. Lt. Bob Franicola is also, last I heard, in San Diego running a family dismantling business.
I read on the site that McKie might have a photo shop in Groton, CT. I grew up just a few miles away in Waterford and visit relatives there often. I will try to contact him on my next visit.
My time in El Centro sure seems like more than just 2 years. So many memories. We all did a lot of living and maturing in those few months. Hard to believe it's been more than 30 years ago. I will call you soon. Stay well my friend.
All the Best,
-- E-mail from Peter F. Bartelli to Jerry Ferrin, 6 Sept 2008.
De Havilland Otter, DHC-3, military (Navy) designation is NU-1B
Main hanger, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California.
Photo by PHAN Pat "Smitty" Smith, circa 1976.
"Oh...you wanted the info on the "tail-dragger". It's a De Havilland Otter, DHC-3. The military (Navy) designation is NU-1B. It was sure a "throw-back" to simpler times for me following all of my jet hours. I had a blast flying it, especially with the balloon tires which allowed landings in the desert to pick up jumpers. I would fly it around at 90 knots with the pilot side window open and my arm out getting tanned. I remember one particular mission when Master Chief Picard and 6 jumpers were to do a "test" jump at 10,000'. I was flying the Otter in a slow circling climb over the jump zone leaning out the fuel mixture every thousand feet or so to keep the engine running smooth. I guess I was a bit too aggressive with the leaning 'cause at about 9600' the engine coughed and quit! Master Chief Picard looked at me...along with all the "wide-eyed" jumpers...and said..."close enough LT...see ya!" as he and the 6 jumpers bailed out....
I nosed over the Otter, established a shallow glide and circled the jumpers all the way to the ground. I was laughing so hard, Picard swore he heard me through the open Otter window. I'm laughing now just thinking about the looks on those kids faces when the engine quit.
I was gone from NPTR by the time Chuck Lohman arrived but I heard about the A-3 door incident from Andy Wernham. Did I mention Andy eventually went to work for People Express Airlines in 1984 which was bought by Continental in 1987? I attended his wedding in 1986 and remained close through the years. He stayed in the reserves, while I didn't, retiring as an 06 I think. He's in PA now doing volunteer church work and lots of "Honey Do's". I'll call Andy to tell him of the NPTR web page."
-- Excerpt from an e-mail from Peter F. Bartelli to Jerry Ferrin, 8 Sept 2008.
"Pete Bartelli Lt. Now he was a trip. He flew every plane we had except the C-117. He was easy to get wound up, all you had to say was "Wow....nobody can fly like those BLUE ANGELS!" and he would fly the break like Maverick in Top Gun! I heard a story that he was going to leave the Navy to fly Lear Jets so he had to take a test in a Lear... on the walk around the instructor started asking him questions: "What's the length of this plane?" " Height?" "Wingspan?" "Length from nose to tail?" and he looks at the guy and said: "I don't want to build a box for it, all I want to do is FLY it!" Knowing him I believe this to be true!" -- Mark Schneider, AMH-3, who flew in the back seat of Skyhawk BuNo 153524 with Pete Bartelli as pilot.
"Lt. Bartelli was one of the officers I liked and respected most when I was in the Navy. Those Photographer's Mates I knew who were on the aircrew loved to go flying with Pete Bartelli, as he was a "hot pilot" in whom they had complete confidence. I particularly recall stories told to me by Dick McKie about flights with Bartelli which illustrated Pete's love of flying and his excellence as a pilot.
Scott McDonald told me a story once about having been called into Pete's office for some reason and that Pete was turned away from the door and talking on the phone when Scott entered. There was an anthropomorphic parachute test dummy seated on the couch in Pete's office and, when Pete turned around and saw Scott, Scott was "making out" with the dummy.
That line in the movie Top Gun, "I feel the need, the need for speed", has always reminded me of Lt. Bartelli. When I was at the NPTR Photo Lab, Lt. Bartelli had a Kawasaki 900, the fastest street motorcycle made at the time as I recall, and was known to like to ride it fast. He also had a classic Porsche at the time. I think it was a "Boxter". (Current google.com search results for Bartelli +Porsche)
I got a postcard from Pete after both he and I were off active duty; it featured a photo of a commercial airliner and his note on the card said that he was flying one like it. -- Jerry Ferrin, 10 Nov 2007.
Robert Bentley, PH3
"Worked with John Stevens at Warner Brothers Studios after he left the Navy." - Pat "Smitty" Smith, 29 Aug 2008.
Richard Blue, PHAN
Gayle Bond, PH1
Here's a photo of Gayle R. Bond.
___? Bright, PH3
Roy Carlson, PH1
"When I first arrived at El Centro, he was in charge of the Black and White printing & finishing area. He had bought a place near Escondido California and his family stayed there and he commuted on week-ends." --Patrick Lewis
Jim Cox, PH2
"I believe he left the Navy in the fall of either 1973 or '74. He was the second in command at the Still Photo Lab for a time in 1973. He was the father of a little boy, whose name escapes me and had a wife, not in the Navy. Cox was the first person I knew personally who owned a 240Z. Being just a PH3 when he did, he bought it used. I don't know how I've forgotten him, since in the past month I've talked about his car to several people, both at Nissan and in the Z car clubs I've been writing about. I believe Jim Cox was a PH2 by the time he got out. A disciple of PHC John Gorman, Cox moved to San Diego and the last I heard was photographing weddings." -- Terry Parkhurst.
Tom Crittenden, PH2
Tom "Critter" Crittenden, PH2, at PH1 Bill Nolta's NPTR retirement party. Photo by Jerry Ferrin.
"It has come to my attention that Tom passed away some years ago.. I believe it was a heart problem. "Critter" Here was a guy that most could not help but to like. A gentle soul with an infectious laugh. He was in charge of the still lab for most of the time I was there and he did a fine job. Unfortunately, he was learning leadership on the job and often had trouble getting the work out. Because of this I remember him often doing it himself late at night." -- Tim Dardis.
PH2 Tom 'Critter' Crittenden, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1975. Photo by PHAN Pat "Smitty" Smith.
Jeff Crandall, PHAN (Blue Angels photographer) http://www.jeffcrandallphotography.com/
"Jeff was a friend of mine in PH-A school at Pensacola. I went to a local festival held by an Indian tribe in the area with him and his wife one weekend. He was selected for the enviable job of being photographer for the Blue Angels flight demonstration team after PH-A school. I saw him at NPTR often when the Blue Angels were there for their winter practice and training. He won an award at the Imperial Valley County Fair in 1975 for his photograph, taken by a camera he had mounted on the instrument panel in front of the pilot, of a Blue Angels pilot taken while flying he was flying his A-4 Skyhawk inverted. It was a great photo as it appeared it was displayed upside down at first glance but the fact that the earth and sky were normally oriented in the background made it clear the pilot was flying upside down. Jeff also contributed a photo which was published in the college literary arts magazine, Mazagine, when I was on the staff of that publication." -- Jerry Ferrin, 21 Sept 2008.
Tim Dardis, PHAN
PHAN Tim Dardis in the Still Photo Lab, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, CA, circa 1975. Photo by PHAN Pat Sweeney.
E-mail: [email protected]
Tim's website is:
Tim Dardis Photographic Resources, LLC.
"I remember myself, those many years ago, as a sort of a creative snob. I remember thinking I was too good to be stuck in El Centro. What a joke! I did finally learn over the years that the time I had in El Centro was incredibly valuable to the building of the person I am today. Of course I was not too good for El Centro. It was an unrivaled opportunity. My memories tell me so.. The memories of those listed here that helped make me who I am I remember like it was yesterday the night I arrived in the Imperial Valley. I have no recollection at all of the day I left. I now know which was more important." -- Tim Dardis, 11/29/01.
"A visit to NPTR in 1998" by Tim Dardis
"In 1998 I made a tour of the US in a 25 foot chevyvan! I bought a new airport type shuttle and had it made without any windows or seats... This was to be a tool used to sell my software to frame shops & art galleries. I drove it about 35 thousand miles in 9-10 months! It was called the Art & Framing Technology Van... (AFTV)
I made a couple of detours... The first one that you might be interested in was the US Naval Schools of Photography in Pensacola... This fine school was being decomissioned the week I was there... I got a tour from the standing CO and one of his instructors and it was quite a "trip"... Even though we were not there at the same time, I'm sure you have similar memories... I went to the school twice... once for A school then I went to MOPIC C school.. I had a BLAST there...both times... The wierdest part was when I went and sat down on the wall across the field from the school where we made our color photo of the school framed in the tree limbs... (We WERE SO CREATIVE!) I just sat there and cried like a baby... It was VERY emotional.. I have analyzed that moment and feel I know why... nothing earth shattering ... just realization... Anyway, the school was full of ths same smells and noises except I got to meet the LAST photographer going through... I had lunch down at the Navy exchange and watched all the AOCS with the same glee I did in 1974! I never learned more in such a short amount of time... If I could, I would hunt down those photographers that guided me through school and heap praises upon them... (Chief Bunting from His Majesty's Royal Navy, Lee Kidwell and a guy named Scanlan from this man's Navy, stick out in my mind today...) To them and all the rest...THANKS!
On to El Centro... I came in from the east and drove through the town before going to the base... WHATACRAPHOLE! I remember flying in my first night... It was all dark and I didn't have a clue where I was... I'm glad it was dark that night so long ago! I drove RIGHT on to the base.. no guards, nothin! not even a lonely cricket left over from one of their yearly invasions...the stock yard is gone... ALL of the wooden buildings around the drying tower are gone...(Including the still lab where I spent SOOO many long hours in the peace of darkroom creativity... This entire area looked a bit like ground zero. The main photo lab is now the security office... (a bit of a joke as there was NO security!) The local non-Navy) residents actually farm the land BETWEEN the runways! They come and go at will... Our barracks is still there but many are gone... (Those nights that Chief Picard would make his rounds to make sure we were awake for our watch!!!!... WHEW, Makes me shudder to even remember him walking my way!!) Our barracks was being refurbished and there were some squids playing football on the asphalt... Remember, I'm driving a 25 foot long van full of computers and stuff... I had sponsor's company names plastered ALL OVER the outside... NOBODY questioned me at all!! The pool and gym are gone...(I think!) The off base shacks that Pat lived in are gone... There is a little neighborhood behind where the pool used to be that is now base housing...(looked bigger than before).. I can't imagine anyone living there... Ok, after about 45 minutes I drove up to the photo lab..(Now security) and just sat there... I blew my horn and some spit and polished E5 came out to see what was up... (I could see others looking out the door!) He gave me a little run down on the base but as far as I could tell, they don't do anything, nobody knows they are there and that's the way they want to keep it!!! There are still a few hangars and I guess the runways are used but the lab and the tower are the only buildings left on that entire side of the base... In a nutshell, it was PITIFULLLLLLLL! OF COURSE the O club is still there!
This trip did me good... I have VERY fond memories of this time in El Centro. The locals were great to me, I learned a tremendous amount from those higher up the chain of command like Chief Ken George and many others... Bill Nolta and the first class that sat at the main lab counter...remember? he could write upside down and backwards!?!?!? I also leaned alot about being one of many those couple of years in the desert... This visit reminded me that the PLACES we go matter little... I remember the PEOPLE and that is what made this relatively short period in my life a big event..." -- Tim Dardis, from an email to Jerry Ferrin, 12/03/00.
Tim Dardis riding the NPTR Special Services two-seater landsailer at the abandoned Holtville air strip.
The other person on the landsailer is either Pat Sweeney or Dick McKie.
Photo by Jerry Ferrin, 1975.
Tim Dardis midway through the tipping over of a two-seater landsailer at the old Holtville air strip.
The other person on the landsailer, whose foot is near the ground, is either Pat Sweeney or Dick McKie.
Photo by Jerry Ferrin, 1975.
"The old Still Photo Lab, which was in an old wooden building, would sometimes be secured early on days when there were dust storms and it was too dusty in the lab to work. I had a 1969 Chevy van at the time and, on at least two occasions, Dick McKie, Tim Dardis, Pat Sweeney and I would rent the double-seater and single seater landsailers from NPTR Special Services, load them in my van and go landsailing at the abandoned air strip near Holtville. Those were some wild rides, running with the wind down the strip, the front wheel bouncing up every time it hit a seam in the concrete pavement and being hit in the face with weeds cut off by the frame of the landsailer and blown back towards us. These photos were probably from the first trip, as I recall that we took motorcycle helmets to wear the second time we went landsailing." -- Jerry Ferrin, 21 Sept 2008.
Frank DeVance, PH2
"I would just like to thank you for the time and effort that you put into this website. I ran across it purely by chance. Just browsing through it brought back some good feelings about NPTR. I will try to see if I can find some old photos that were taken at NPTR and send them to you. My telephone number is 903-757-9193. It was great to see photos of the guys that I worked with. I will keep in touch." -- Frank DeVance, onebigfrank1112 (at) sbcglobal (dot) net, 21 Jan 2008, posted in the site guestbook.
Paul Dileanis, PHAN
Left: Paul Dileanis with guitar, circa 2000.
E-mail: [email protected]
Paul's aerial, industrial & architectural photography business is called Upshots.
"Paul visited me in Tucson about 1978 and then again in February of 2001. He has had a very successful post-Navy career as a photographer. He plays guitar and sings very well. When he was here in 2001 he performed several songs that he plays for his Boy Scout troop. I think he told me that he is the Scoutmaster of his sons' Boy Scout Troop. Just before he was in Tucson in 2001, he had visited with Tim Dardis at a photo convention." -- Jerry Ferrin, 31 December 2006.
Jim Dixon, PHAN
Bill Dodge, PH2
Tony Famiglietti, PHAN
Left: PHAN Tony Famiglietti at PH1 Bill Nolta's NPTR retirement party. At right is PHAN John Stephens. Photo by PHAN Jerry Ferrin.
"Thanks for the list. As I read it faces and memories emerged such as Tony Famiglietti and his endless Mamiya RB-67 tests culminating in his discovering it is not a good idea to store your lenses without a lens cap under the front seat of your car along with a loose orange." -- Paul Dileanis.
"Paul, now that you mention it, Tony was always doing, we were told, highly-technical testing on his camera equipment before he set out to make "real" photos. Meanwhile, the rest of us, most of who bought the then-new Olympus OM-1 camera system, were out shooting up a storm with our 'training film' bulk-loaded from 'short-ends' of the 35 mm color film leftover from shooting high speed 35-mm color film in the Milliken cameras used at the range. However, everyone has a right to their own quirks, and I liked Tony when I knew him. He had a good sense of humor and was a decent, 'do-right' kind of guy." -- Jerry Ferrin, 2002.
Jerry Ferrin, PHAN
PHAN Jerry Ferrin at work on an article for The Sandpaper, the National Parachute Test Range's base newspaper. Photo by PH3 Dick Mckie, circa 1975.
My comments about the time I spent at the NPTR are scattered throughout this page. I'll probably add more autobiographical information later. For the time being, though, a brief history is that I was in the USNR until November 1980 and got out as a PH3, worked at an underground mine owned by Magma Copper Company from November 1978 to 2 August 1982, got a B.F.A. in Studio Art (Photography Emphasis) from the University of Arizona in 1985, was a freelance photographer for many years and have always been involved with publishing in one way or another since my days at NPTR.
I published The Ferrin Family Newsletter for 11 years, a newsletter devoted to researching and publishing information on the life & times of Captain Jonathan Farren of Amesbury, MA & Newton, NH, (circa 1697 - 5 May 1770). He was the American progenitor of many of the Farren, Ferren and Ferrin families living in the USA today and is my earliest known paternal American ancestor.
Once when I went to Captain Chew's office at NPTR to photograph a retirement ceremony, his secretary told me that her maiden name was Ferrin and that I resembled the Ferrin men in her family. She was descended from a Robert Ferrin in Arizona. Though we didn't figure out the connection at the time, years later I learned that we were indeed cousins, as she was one of the descendants of Samuel Ferrin, who joined the Morman church soon after it was formed and is the progenitor of most or all of the Ferrins who are Mormans today. Samuel was a 4th or 5th generation descendant of Jonathan Farren.
Two of my websites, built as a hobby, are: Barber County, Kansas: History & Genealogy and Comanche County, Kansas: History & Genealogy. Other websites I've built are: thehillmoncase.com for author and law professor Marianne Wesson and theoakcreekranch.com for Barber County, Kansas, rancher Ronnie Hoagland. I also made websites in honor of two of my friends, Rex Cravat, a glass artist, and Todd Walker, a photographer and artist.
I learned to make web pages and web sites at "The College of Bob", by which I mean I gained this skill because of my friendship of twenty years with Bob Keller, webmaster of Bob's Rock Shop.
Bob Keller also taught me to facet gemstones, and the first one I faceted (which was designed by him) is pictured at right. See the instructions and plans for cutting the Simple Jack design by Bob Keller and then facet your own stone!
As you'll see on my Comanche and Barber County, Kansas, web sites, one of the historical topics of special interest to me is honoring veterans from those counties by finding and publishing information about them. One of my favorite webpages is in honor of Lt. Howard Reason Burnett, USNR, a decorated dive bomber and fighter pilot, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in flames over Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Silver Star, Air Medal with Gold Star, and the Purple Heart.
Masthead for The Sandpaper, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California
Phyllis Field, PH2
________ Foster, PHC
Chief Foster helped me get my 1952 MG-TD running one morning when it developed vapor lock in the fuel line. I sold that car before any of you all came to the base. PHC Foster was a very moody guy. He ran the Still Lab from the time I arrived at NPTR in September 1972 until the time PHC John Gorman took over. PHC Foster, retired and then literally ran away, leaving his wife at the base. I don't recall anyone ever hearing from him again, after about 1975, when he did that." -- Terry Parkhurst.
Arthur L. Fszol, Photo Lab Director (Civil Service, GS-12)
FSZOL, Arthur L. — Age 85, of Sutherlin, Oregon, passed away on November 21, 2004. He was born on May 12, 1919, to Stephen and Mary Fszol in Poughkeepsie, New York. He married Catherine E. Smith on July 6, 1940, in Poughkeepsie. Art served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1943 to 1945, and was the supervisor in the reproductions plant for the Department of Defense in the U.S. Army Corps Engineers from 1946 to 1954. In 1954, Art became the Technical Director of Productions Manger at station KIVA-TV in Yuma, Arizona until 1959. From 1959 until 1976, he was the Director of Photography at Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility in El Centro, California. Art also owned Fszol's Custom Gems in El Centro. He received a Community Service Award, was a member of The Society of Photography and Television Engineers; Photography and Optical Engineers; Director of Photography at Naval Parachute Test Range (sic) for the Department of Defense; and taught gem faceting and jewelry making at Umpqua Community College. Art retired to the Umpqua area in 1976. He was a photographer, gemologist and pilot, and shared his talent and knowledge with many people. He loved to teach. He is survived by his wife, Catherine E.; son, John Thomas Fszol and his wife, Cheryl of Mesa, Arizona and their three children, Michelle; Wendy; and Sean; two great-grandchildren, Cathi and Andrew. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Catherine A. Fszol in November of 1990. At Art’s request, no services were held. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your favorite charity. -- The Oregon News, December 10, 2004.
Paul "Chip" Gensemer, PHAN
"Paul was an acquaintance of mine at PH-A School and was part of the same group of 30 or so PHANs sent to NPTR at the same time as me. He worked in the Camera Repair Shop at NPTR. While at NPTR, he married a woman from El Centro who was at least ten years older than him and who had four kids. As I recall, he adopted all of her kids. I've always wondered how that worked out for him as he took on a huge responsibility as a husband and an adoptive father at a fairly young age." -- Jerry Ferrin, 13 Sept 2008.
Kenneth A. George, PHC
"Ken George was head of the NPTR Still Photo Lab" when I worked there. After leaving NPTR he worked for both Stars & Stripes - Pacific and Stars & Stripes - Europe; here's one of his photos. Chief George also won the "Military Photographer of the Year" award for all branches of the service two years in a row.
When I first arrived at NPTR, I was fresh out of the USN Photojournalism 'B" School at Pensacola, Florida, and made a special point of meeting him and asking to be assigned to the NPTR Still Photo Lab, which was, in my opinion, not only the best place to be of any place in the Photo Dept at NPTR, but also the most prestigious, as Chief George had a reputation of choosing the best photographers at NPTR for his lab. It worked out well, as I was always willing to work extra hours if need be to shoot jobs for the base newspaper to illustrate stories I wrote for the paper, and Chief George often went out of his way to arrange interesting assignments for me. He even loaned me a Leicaflex kit (for all the time I was at the Still Lab) which had been assigned to him by the USN because he was a graduate of the Syracuse University School of Photojournalism.
He wrote a story about me, illustrated with his photos, which was published in the NPTR Sandpaper when I made a portait bust of aerospace engineer Gene R. Drew while I worked at NPTR. He even sent a copy of that newspaper to my mother along with 11" x 14" prints of the photos of me which ran with the story. They're still hanging in Mom's house today.
I was delighted to hear from Ken George this year by e-mail after we'd been out of touch for several years while he was traveling around the world doing photography. I immediately called him and we talked for a couple of hours. I'm looking forward to visiting with him in person sometime in the near future.
Of all the people I've known in my life, Chief George has been one of the most influential on me, both professionally and personally.
-- Jerry Ferrin, 31 December 2006.
John W. Gorman, PHC
According to the Navy Photographic Community Roster, John Gorman died on 30 March 2004.
Andrew Hawley, PHAN
Mark Hedgecock, PHAN
Mark was one of my peers at PH-A School and was part of the same group of 30 or so PHANs sent to NPTR at the same time as me. Somewhere I have a portrait photo of him taken by a window on the second floor of the PH school to fulfill the "bounced fill light" assignment. We weren't close friends at NPTR because he was one of the people under the influence of the spurious "holy man", Evan Wilson, who did his best to create discordance and division among people at NPTR at the time, but I always liked Mark and got along with him well." -- Jerry Ferrin, 13 Sept 2008.
Mike Hubbard, PH2
PH2 Mike Hubbard, the National Parachute Test Range, at PH1 Bill Nolta's NPTR retirement party. Photo by PHAN Jerry Ferrin.
______ Kelly, PH2.
Bill Kern, PH1
"He sat at the front desk of the Mopic lab, rebuilt cars (such as the International Orange Dodge Dart which he sold to a red haired photomate who's name I don't recall at the moment. I don't think he's on your list yet, at least I don't associate any of the names with him. Perhaps you or someone else can come up with a name. I remember that his wife was a WAVE and that he had to wear sandals and white socks for a few months to cure a foot problem. He really stood out at the inspections.)" -- Paul Dileanis.
"I remember PH1 Bill Kern as the person who first used the term "guv'ment" because of his disdain for government programs. He wasn't a Bircher - Bill Nolta was and let me look at some of the Birch Society literature, which seemed interesting but didn't ring true to me - but Kern was of the so-called smaller government or no government bent. Bill Kern had a really pretty daughter. He and she both ended up going to the pavement on his motorcycle - they both lived; but Bill was pretty banged up and his poor daughter, who was wearing a dress from what I'd heard, had to undergo some skin grafts. I wonder if Kern is still alive?" -- Terry Parkhurst
"Great guy.. could write upside down and backwards (said he used to be a sign painter and he had to do that to paint on glass!) and secretly wanted to be a pilot for his own company he wanted to name "fly by night airline". He would laugh hard out loud at his own humor! I loved that guy!" -- Tim Dardis.
Joanne Larson, PH3
"PH3 Joanne Larson was in the Photo School in Pensacola when I was there in 1972. She got to El Centro before I did. As I recall, she rotated out of the service in late 1973." -- Terry Parkhurst.
Ron Larrington, PHAN
PHAN Ron Larrington of the National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1976. Photo by PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith.
I got a call from Pat Smith last night telling me about this great site so I thought I would drop you a line and give a little background about myself.
I too remember Chief George and he is a great guy.
I remember the great times out on the drop zone and how we went to work early but also got off early and how we would race the 6 bys and the pickups and jeeps through and around the little hills and valleys and hoped none of the officers were out flying around during our little joy rides and we had some pretty good barbeques of carne asada and other things out there.
I also remember all the softball, flag football, and basketball games we played and usually won, we had some good athletes in the photo lab.
I also remember a time when myself and a Airforce member almost got caught racing the Dodge pickups on duty one nite on th air strip.
I was wondering if anyone knows the where abouts of Maggie Cocklin, she was stationed at the base for about a year and a half and then transferred to Hawaii, she was a little red head from Minn, and last I heard she was married to an officer.
I was especilly glad to see Ron and Paula Vest's name and address since I lost track of them, he was a lucky boy to get such a great Iowa girl.
I left El Centro in June of 1977 and went back to Iowa where I attended Graceland University where I played football at the ripe old age of 25. While going there I was also Co-Head Coach of the Womens Softball team and later took over as Head Mens Baseball Coach.
I am now going on my 25th year as a Behavior Disorders Special Ed Teacher in which I teach Science and Social Studies.
I have been married for 17 years to my wife Amy and we have a 16 old daughter named Morgan.
We live on the Lake of the Ozarks in South Central Missouri . Thanks again for this great site.
968 Twin Valley Loop
Linn Creak Mo. 65052
E-mail: [email protected]
-- E-mail from Ron Larrington to Jerry Ferrin, 19 Sept 2008.
"I also remember Ron Larrington. He dated a girl named Sida (sp?) who worked in Special Services back when it was next door to the Exchange. Do you remember the gedunk on the flight line... "Mary, the gedunk cook?" -- Mark Schneider, from a 2006 e-mail to Jerry Ferrin.
Left to right: Petty Officer 2nd Class _______, PHAN Ron Larrington, Petty Officer 3rd Class ______ Rogers.
National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1976.
Photo by PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith.
Chuck Lohman, PH3 www.charleslohman.com
I found out about your NPTR PhotoMate web site from Mark Schneider, a old Navy bud from the happy days in El Centro. I was PHAN - PH3 Chuck Lohman and I would love to add to what you have. I have lots of photos and many great memories. I was there from May '77 thru Nov '79. After NPTR, I went to Art Center College of Design and majored in photo. Then opened up my own studio in '87. I am currently teaching photography, part time at Mt. San Antonio College and East Los Angeles College. I am also still actively shooting commercial jobs in the L.A. area. My web site is www.charleslohman.com. Please let me know when and how I can add to your fun memory lane web site.
Chuck Lohman. charles.lohman at sbcglobal dot net
(E-mail from Chuck Lohman to Jerry Ferrin, 27 Feb 2007)
"I'm not sure which PR that was jumping out of the C-117. I remember after the jumpers cleared we circled over the town of El Centro with the door still off and Paul Zito and I were tossing toy parachuting soldiers (the kind from the grocery store toy rack) out over the city imagining what it would look like from the ground. What a country, what a Navy!" -- Charles Lohman, from an 7 Sept 2008 e-mail to Pat "Smitty" Smith.
Orville Lawson, PHCS
Patick Lewis, PH_? [email protected]
Email from Patrick Lewis to Paul Dileanis, 11/30/01:
I was stationed at el Centro from April 64' through Sept. 64' and then again from Jan 73' through May 76'. At one time or another, I worked in stills, Print room, Chem mix and motion picture processing. I recognize many names on the list and can remember a lot more folks, however many names escape me.
Gertrude, the film librarian for one. Chief Lawson was a PHCS and his first name is Orville. Fred Shaw first as an LT. and then as a Commander was Photo Officer for several years and on different tours. He retired and became City Manager of Holtville, CA, for some time and has now moved North. Bernard (Bruno) Brunneli returned to his home town in Colorado. Dave Holt ended up a career as Chief of Police in Brawley. His wife was in the first class of nursing students at IVC. Mrs. Holt's sister, Hope married Bruno and they have raised their children and run a donut shop in Colorado. Chuck Kerkvliet retired from the navy and worked for camera companies and deployed on several carriers as a civilian and is now retired in Lake Havsau, NV. Dick Combs after the Navy worked in MP Processing for several years but now has returned to his home state of Washington where he works as machinist and he and his two sons have a trucking business. His wife, Eva works in Yakima as a school teacher. Captain Clancy Rich retired from the Navy to become an undersheriff in Montana. Capt. Joe Paulk CO of NAF retired and returned to his home state of Texas. The Reverend Father Melvin Harry Cmdr, CHC, the catholic chaplain for several years on the base, died a year ago after having suffered a stroke the year prior. Tom DeRosier Msgt from the 6511th test group died several years back. I still run into Bill Powers Smsgt. from time to time. Wayne Huyler died about a year or so ago. He had moved up to China Lake when they transfered the operation. Chief Don Barnes was another of the old photo gang and I think he has passed also. Al Conarty retired to live in El Centro and continued his work with the Special Olympics but I think he died not too long ago.
Well that is all the time I have for now. As I think of more, I'll make some notes.
Email from Patrick Lewis to Jerry Ferrin, 12/03/01:
Jerry, I don't have any problem with your adding them to your list. Here are some more: Charlie Pfaff PHC. Chief Pfaff ran the motion picture processing section for quite some time. I think he also had done two tours at El Centro. Incidentally, in the old days NPTR was called NPF Naval Parachute Facility and then it changed to NARF Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility and then to National Parachute Test Range. I don't know what happened when they went to China Lake. Roy Carlson PH1, when I first arrived at El Centro, was in charge of the Black and White printing & finishing area. He had bought a place near Escondido California and his family stayed there and he commuted on week-ends.
There was at PH2 by the name of Dan and I think his last name was Summers. He too had done a tour at El Centro prior to the sixties. Dan had been a card dealer and dealt at the Esquire Card Room in lovely downtown El Centro. If my dad hadn't totally convinced me not to play cards, Dan sure did!
There was also a chief that worked the MP area. His first name was Rick, he and his wife raised several children while living in Seeley and rebuilding a very old two or three story house. They tore down several old barracks on the base and salvaged material to use on their project. Rick was promoted to Warrant Officer and went to Savanna Georgia as Photo officer. To set the time frame, in 72' as I was getting ready to leave Pensacola, The detailer (also a chief that had been in El Centro and I forget his name) sent me to Savannah to see if I wanted to go there. Well, my friend Rick did not like beards on his shooting crew so I talked the detailer into sending me back to El Centro!
I spent nearly the entire year of 72' at Pensacola. While in the Tonkin Gulf aboard the Midway in 71'. I met a photo type LACER making a movie. I helped him with his story boards etc. and led he and his partner high and low on the ship to shoot his flick. He was on his way to Pensacola to become training officer. I applied to B and two C schools and was accepted for all three. There were some conflicts in dates however, I did B school and then because of the LCDR I went TAD to Eastman Kodak in Atlanta Georgia for several weeks and when I returned I worked on the Mo-pic school curriculum while I waited for Camera Repair School to begin. After Repair School with a little help from the detailer I returned to El Centro.
Enough for this chapter, Others have talked about Sally Anne Meyers (Quihada ) or Sam as she was more affectionately called. I believe I read in the paper some time back that she passed on. So I will close for now.
-- P. Lewis
Scott McDonald, PHAN
PHAN Scott McDonald with two glasses of beer
Seen from inside the sign-in window of the Enlisted chow hall, NPTR El Centro, CA.
Photo by PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith, circa 1975.
"Scott was one of my favorite people at NPTR. He was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy with an irrepressible sense of humor. When I knew him at NPTR, he was an Air Crew Photographer, meaning that he shot mo-pic footage of aerospace tests from the backseats of chase planes. (Other guys on the Air Crew were: PH1 Gale Bond and my friends, PH3 Dick Mckie and PHC Ken George. The Air Crew were an elite group, they were not only expert photographers, they were able to consistently turn in good footage taken under difficult circumstances.)
Scott was from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and his father was a USN officer, a Commander as I recall. After his active duty in the USN, Scott owned and operated a photo-processing lab in Hawaii and had major contracts with sports teams.
Scott called me about 1988 to tell me that our friend, Pat Sweeney, had committed suicide in California. It was a shock to me, as I'd spoken with Pat by phone just a few months before that and didn't have a clue that he was having troubled times.
Scott called me again about 1992 and we had another long conversation. At the time, he was working as an assistant cameraman in a photographer's guild in Hollywood. He named a few of the movies and TV shows he had worked on, but I don't recall their names. Shortly afterwards, he shipped a prime piece of wood from Hawaii to me to use for woodcarving. I don't recall the name of it, but it is extremely hard and is purplish in color when sanded and finished.
I would love to hear from Scott, so please let me know if you know how to contact him.
-- Jerry Ferrin, 31 December 2006.
Scott McDonald is almost certainly one of the people listed at the following imdb.com page:
Dick McKie, PH3
Photographer's Mate 3rd Class F.D. "Dick" Mckie, Air Crew, on a recovery boat in the Salton Sea just after his first parachute jump. PH2 Frank DeVance is in the background. Photo by PHAN Jerry Ferrin, circa 1975.
"Dick McKie was one of my closest friends at NPTR. He and his wife, Peggy, often had me over to their house as a guest for holiday dinners when I couldn't get away to visit my family in Tucson. Dick is easily one of the best photographers I've ever known, and is certainly the most technically proficient person in the darkroom of whom I know.
We had a ping pong table in a back room at the NPTR Still Photo Lab, and Dick was the best player in the lab. As I recall, his only serious challenger was Bill Nolta.
Dick is the manager of a photo lab in CT. I had the chance to visit Dick & Peggy and to meet their 3 fine sons in October of 1995. Dick and I took a trip to see the submarine museum at Groton, CT. Those awesome huge transparencies, 4' by 8' or so, which you'll see at that museum were printed by our ol' buddy Dick McKie! His phone is (203) 245-6067." -- Jerry Ferrin, 2002.
PHAN Jerry Ferrin, at left, and PH3 Dick Mckie on a boat in the Salton Sea immediately after Dick's first parachute jump to qualify as an Air Crew member. Photo by PH2 Frank DeVance.
George McMullen, PH2
"How 'bout...(and you have to have the tone of Bullwinkle the Moose)"Hullo? Pettyofficer McMullen speaking, may I help you?" A VERY , uh,colorful addition to the still lab!" -- Tim Dardis.
____? McCoy, PH2
Jerry McNutt, PHAN
PHAN Jerry McNutt of the Range Crew, Main Photo Lab, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, CA, circa 1975, at Bill Nolta's retirement party. Photo by PHAN Jerry Ferrin.
Ed Muzalowski, PH2
"Before I forget, I should tell you about PH2 Ed Muzalowski. When I first arrived at El Centro he ran QC he had been through the program at RIT. He began to work part time at the KXO radio station in El Centro as a back up DJ for Red Listiak who was also a PH2. Red evolved into quite a famous entity and the last time I saw him he was hosting the Miss Arizona contest on a Phoenix TV station. Ed changed his last name to Muzzy got out of the navy and eventually became the president and CEO of KXO Radio. a few years back he succumbed to a major heart attack." -- Patrick Lewis
Tim Nagel, PHAN
"Tim and I were friends from USN PH"A" school, and were room-mates in Barracks 496 at NPTR El Centro. Tim was assigned to the "Range" part of the photo lab and appears in the NPTR brochure for which Tim Dardis and I were staff photographers.
Tim and I went on a motorcycle trip to visit his family in the LA area - Sherman Oaks, I think - in about 1975. He had four older sisters and one younger brother. While we were there, on a "holiday weekend", his sisters sat together on the floor, photogenically posed, and sang Christmas standards in four-part harmony while his dad sang a bass line. Tim's dad had taught his daughters to sing in harmony while he sang bass, and The Nagel Sisters were once famous in the LA area. Tim told me they were the "runner-ups" in the competition to be on the Lawrence Welk TV show; The Lennon Sisters won. The Nagel Sisters (& their dad) singing on that holiday is one of my favorite musical moments to recall. It was magical! The Nagel Sisters rule!" -- Jerry Ferrin.
Bill Nolta, PH1
"His signature phrases were 'Bald is beautiful','You girls would be lost without your sea daddy', and 'True Fact', all of which he often said to the troops in Still Photo. These phrases were included in a photo which was embedded in the frosting on his his retirement cake at his NPTR retirement party.
You may recall that I made a life-sized portrail bust of aerospace engineer Gene R. Drew while I worked in the NPTR Still Photo Lab. I also made a stoneware smoking pipe which merged a portrait of Bill w/pipe features. I still have it & will add a photo of it to this page one of these days." -- Jerry Ferrin, 11/28/01.
"Bill and his wife had a daughter who was about 6 years old in 1975, and Bill's world revolved around his little girl. He'd take her with him any time he could. Once, when he had a cookout of carne asada at his home in El Centro for the troops in the Still Photo Lab, he introduced his daughter to us and told us that he'd recently taken her deer hunting. "You took your little girl deer hunting?", someone exclaimed, and he replied: "It's the best cure for the Bambi Syndrome."
Bill had a habit of standing for a moment in front of someone, rocking back and forth on the balls and heels of his feet, before he'd say something pertaining to military matters, such as being out of uniform or needing a haircut, so there was always a moment of anticipation for the men in the Still Lab while they wondered what Bill was going to say when he stopped in front of them and started rocking back and forth on his feet.
One time I was standing with Dick McKie at the print finishing table in the old Still Lab and we were looking at a large print, 3 feet square or so, of an aerial photo taken of the drop zone at the NPTR range the day before. The most prominent feature in the photo was a huge circular area had been plowed in the sand to make a soft landing zone. Beside it, barely visible, were the pickup trucks used by the still photographers taking photos from the ground. Dick and I had been looking, without success, at the print with a 10x magnifying loupe to see if we could spot any men on the ground in the photo, as Dick had been there at the time with a 500 mm lens on a 35mm Nikon camera. PH1 Bill Nolta walked up behind us and stood there rocking on his feet. When Dick noticed him, said: "Hey, Bill, do you see the guy with the 500 mm lens standing beside the pickup?"
Bill took the loupe, bent over the photo and studied it for at least a minute. Then he stood up, handed the loupe back to Dick and said "Yeah, and the S.O.B. needs a haircut", then spun on his heel and walked away. Dick and I still crack up when one of us mentions that story about Bill, as it was so typical of him.
Speaking of haircuts, Bill's normal manner of telling one of the men in the still lab that he needed to get a haircut was to greet them in the morning by saying 'Hey, Hip'. By that it was understood that the 'long-haired hippie' so addressed had been instructed to get his hair cut at the first opportunity." -- Jerry Ferrin, 13 Sept 2008.
Chuck Osborne, PHAN
Soon after we got to NPTR as part of the same group of about 30 recent graduates of PH-A School, he bought a Triumph motorcycle which was always breaking down. I recall marveling at how fluidly and expertly he shot a film of a personnel inspection at the school. His cutaway shots were in sequence, meaning that he spent a lot less time splicing than most people did. -- Jerry Ferrin
Kenny Osbourne, PHAN
Terrence Parkhurst, PH3 [email protected]
PH3 Terry ParkhurstSteppin' Out to Seattle. Photographer's Mate Third Class Terry Parkhurst on the day he left the US Navy, NPTR, El Centro, CA, 30 Jan 1976. Photo by Jerry Ferrin.
Email: Terry Parkhurst
Born on April 19, 1950, I served as a photographer's mate in the U.S. Navy at the National Parachute Test Range, from September 1972 - the exact date I arrived escapes me - until I was mustered out of the Navy (honorable discharge, if you please) on January 30, 1976. I went into the Navy on January 31, 1972.
I was born in Seattle, but raised in Tacoma, Washington about 35 miles south. I attended Catholic schools through high school, with my secondary education being with the Jesuits at Bellarmine Preparatory School. I hated it at the time, since it wasn't coed then, but the Jesuits taught me to read and I was encouraged to write by Mr. Patrick Twohy, now Father Patrick Twohy, S.J. It was a hard time for me. I lost both my parents before I left high school. My mother died of cancer when I was 15 and my father was killed by a drunk driver a month before my 17th birthday, at the start of the Easter weekend in 1967. My folks, Dorothy and Edward, were adoptive parents; but since I was adopted at one month of age, I take everything I know from them. The reason I belong to the National Writers Union today (www.nwu.org) is because my father was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
When I graduated from high school, I worked a summer at the now defunct Weyerhauser sawmill in Everett, Washington. Then, using some money that came from a settlement of my father's death, along with social security survivors' benefits, I attended the Art Center College of Design, then in Los Angeles, California. (It has since moved to Pasadena.)
I started out majoring in transportation design, but gravitated to product design. It was a wonderful time to be at the Art Center. I had instructors which included Peter Brock,. designer of the 1963 Corvette Stingray and 1964-'65 Shelby-American Cobra Daytona Coupe, as well as Gordon Buerhig, the designer of the 1937 Cord.
In fall of 1970, I was running out of money and decided that my real talent lay in writing. I returned to Seattle and got a B.A. degree at the University of Washington. I was further encouraged in my writing by Jack Cady, whose work had appeared in The Atlantic. Still, I was interested in art and wanted to pusue photography.
The fellow who ran the photo lab at the U.W. School of Communcations was a former U.S. Navy Photographers' Mate Chief. I can't remember his name, but he told me the Navy was a good place to learn. I took a film-making class while still at the U.W. and signed up for the service in the fall of 1971. The recruiter tried to get me into Officer's Candidate School, but my desire to learn photography made me adament about staying enlisted. I am glad I did.
While in El Centro several Navy senior enlisted men helped me. Two chiefs, John Gorman and Ken George taught me what to look for and how to shoot. Both at been in combat in Vietnam. Chief Gorman had nerves which led him to twitch, every so often, due to his time in country. They were good men.
The other person was Bill Nolta, a Petty Officer First Class. He was an incredible guy in the lab. I remember processing colour film in the dark - you had to - and Bill directed me with the skill of a real pro.
While I was in the Navy, I made my way out to the old Army air base at Holtville, where the San Diego Region of the Porsche Club of America ran races. I was welcomed by them, in part, because some of its members were former Naval aviators. I began to contribute words and photos to the club magazine.
I also succeeded in getting on the base newspaper where I served under a Chief whose name I recall as Hannah. He was a good editor, although our efforts to do articles on topics such as gays in the military - the late USAF Staff Sergeant Matlovich made headlines in the civilian press in 1975 - were thwarted by the one of the two base Captains,whose name I don't remember, showing how important I thought they were not.
Shortly before I got out, Chief George took me aside and told me he was glad I was getting out of the Navy, because he felt it stiffled my creativity. "Just don't become a hippy," he asked. I laughed, knowing what he meant, and promised not only not to grow my hair too long, but not to smoke any substance other than tobacco - if that.
When I got out, I returned to the University of Washington, despite a job offer in the parts department at Alan Johnson Porsche-Audi in San Diego. I worked part-time in the Veterans' Affairs office on the U.W. campus and got a degree in Political Science in December, 1976. The earlier one was in General Studies.
After graduating, I drifted. I tried working in an ad agency, now defunct, Kraft-Smith in Seattle. I ended up working as a file clerk at Pemco Insurance. Around 1980, I began to see many of my problems as related to drinking. With the help from a counselor, friends and a program that I can't name, I stopped drinking and stayed away from alcohol. I applaud those who can drink socially; but I am not one of them.
Thing got pretty good then. I worked as a reporter for the Methow Valley News, in Twisp, Washington in the fall of 1980. But living in a small town after being a city boy, was hard. I came back to Seattle and spent the 1980s, working first as an information specialist at the U.W., then freelanced while on unemployment when that position was cut. After that, I worked briefly as a technical writer, then a public relations writer.
In 1988, I ended in sales at Eddie Bauer, it allowed me to continue to freelance for a variety of automotive publications. I was able to combine my interest in cars with my writing skills. I also never gave up my photo skills. I still have the camera - a 35 mm. Nikkormat - I used at NPTR and it has served me well.
I'd started working, on a contract basis, as auction reporter for Old Cars Weekly News & Marketplace in the fall of 1987. I continued to do that while at Eddie Bauer. I sold an article to AutoWeek in May, 1988 on collector car auctions. When I was laid off at Bauer in the summer of 1989, it was a real blessing. I built a good portfolio.
I tried working at another small paper in August, 1990, the Islands' Sounder in Friday Harbor, Washington. By that time, while I had never married, I inherited a cat, "Tommy," who is, at this writing still alive at age 19 and a half years (born 1981). Both he and I did not fit in Firday Harbor. I like to think I finally learned that small towns, while appealing on the face of it, lack so many of the things found in cities, the only way I would ever fit in, would be to live in a small town close - 50 miles or so - to a city.
My feline pal, "Tommy" and I returned to Seattle in November, 1990. I became the apartment manager where I lived and this helped me survive as a freelancer. In May, 1993, I took a part-time job in a warehouse in Seattle, while continuing to freelance. I left there in June, 1994, did nothing but freelance until May, 1995, when I landed at Gilmore Research, doing telephone surveys. This work tied in with my experience as a reporter, so it lasted until January 1997.
Since 1997, I first worked as associate editor for Auto News, a local publication paper, which led to my present part-time job as associate editor at Northwest Motor magazine, where I have been since July, 1998. I also supplmented my income with freelance work for the Puget Sound Business Journal, where I have done freelance writing and photography since it was the Seattle Business Journal in 1981.
I am starting to do work for some new magazines and hope to continue using the skills I learned as a Photographers' Mate to illustrate things I write about. I have never gotten married, although I still hope to, before I die. I rent, but if I buy a home, I plan to leave it to a veteran's group, for the Vietnam vets who will need a place in the 21st Century, as we all age. The time I was in the Navy has helped me not only in terms of what I learned as a photographer, but what I learned about myself. Friends such as Jerry Ferrin and Randy Thorpe saved me from my own worst inclinations. I feel if I can make it, anyone can, with the right support.
I thank god that I have been able to use whatever talent I have to educate people and express myself.
Anyone can contact me who wishes at my telephone: (206) 525-7024, or at my e-mail: [email protected]
Bill Nolta, at left, in a 'grip & grin' photo with PH2 Terry Parkhurst, at Bill's NPTR retirement party. Photo by PHAN Jerry Ferrin, circa 1976.
Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Terry Parkhurst at the print finishing table in the old NPTR Still Photo Lab.
National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1974. Photo by PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith.
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Dan Paulsen, PH1
I was here at NPTR at the shut-down. Transferred to Okinawa in 1979, then to NAB Coronado and retired in 1983. NAF El Centro went contract for base operating services in 1986, ran photo lab for a couple of years then went to work at the range (BOMBING RANGE in R-2510) Bldg 5000 is now range control for SRSMS (Surface Range Scoring and Monitoring System). I have been here since 1992, Controlling A/C and operating the WISS (Weapons Impact Scoring System). I worked for 3 different contractors, Loral Aerospace, Lockheed-Martin, and now Arcata Associates of Las Vegas, NV, a subcontractor for Northrop-Grumman. I was saddened by the passing of Bill Nolta, Al Conarty, Stan Shaeffer and others. My E-mail is restricted but I can be reached via phone at 760-996-4050 and by mail at P.O. Box 363, Ocotillo, Ca. 92259-0363. I live at Painted Gorge Road, there are no phone lines and I have to truck my own water in but there are no "drive-bys". My best to all. Dan. (10 Oct 2007)
Charlie Pfaff, PHC
" Chief Pfaff ran the motion picture processing section for quite some time. I think he also had done two tours at El Centro. Incidentally in the old days NPTR was called NPF Naval Parachute facility and then it changed to NARF Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility and then to National Parachute Test Range. I don't know what happened when they went to China Lake." --Patrick Lewis
Scott Rhodes, PH3
"PH3 Scott Rhodes was a close friend. He had become active duty as part of the 2 years active, 4 years in reserve, as I recall. He was a Mormon and both he and his wife, Cheryl, were active in the Mormon church there in El Centro. After I left the service and returned to Seattle, Cheryl wrote me a heartfelt letter about a child they'd had, born stillborn. I remember getting very drunk the day I read that letter. of course, getting drunk did not change anything. Later that decade, I again heard from Cheryl about how she and Scott had finally had a child AOK." -- Terry Parkhurst.
Mark Schneider, AMH-3
I saw your website about the photolab and photomates from the 70's at El Centro and I couldn't wait to respond!
What a blast from the past! Fantastic! I was in Aircraft Maintenance from 1975-1979: AMH-3 Mark Schneider. I was an A-3 Aircrewman. I went to A-3 Fam school at Alemeda with Gayle Bond and Dick McKie. My roomate was Randy (Heavy) Blake. I hope to fill in some blanks as well as add a few things!
I believe it was Al McCoy...he wrote for the Sandpaper.....I used to write sports under the name "Snidely". He wrote an article called Outback with Al McCoy.
Charles (Chuck ) Lohman PH3 www.charleslohman.com
How about Brian Stiller - pronounced Styler - he played football with Frank Devance on the photo team.
Tony Famiglietti was the coach of the "Mixed Breeds" flag football team. I was on that team.
Kenny Osbourne was a Mormon from Utah and he would fly home in the TA-4 with Lt James, a tall thin guy that was also a Mormon. I don't recall the base they went to.
Robin Tedder - he was always taking sports pictures but when you asked to see them he would refuse to show them to anyone. I never did figure that out.
I don't remember Evan but I do remember the Prayer meetings. Tony Famiglietti was also "born again". They would even baptize each other! One night they got in to MD 20-20. I think it was to cleanse them from the demons or something. LOL.
I talked to Frank Devance a few years ago. He's in Texas.
I just recently found Chuck Lohman, Jerry Teal, Lynn Coyne ADJ3, Fred Gasparro AE3, Conrad Jutras ADJ3 then, but retired from The Navy as a Chief, went back to El Centro (his wife was from there).
I remember the Stovers/Vests. He played on the Photolab softball team.
Ken George was an accomplised Referee and umpire if I remember right.
Pete Bartelli Lt. Now he was a trip. He flew every plane we had except the C-117. He was easy to get wound up, all you had to say was "Wow....nobody can fly like those BLUE ANGELS!" and he would fly the break like Maverick in Top Gun! I heard a story that he was going to leave the Navy to Fly Lear Jets so he had to take a test in a Lear... on the walk around the instructor started asking him questions: "What's the length of this plane?" " Height?" "Wingspan?" "Length from nose to tail?" and he looks at the guy and said: "I don't want to build a box for it, all I want to do is FLY it!" Knowing him I believe this to be true!
I also remember Ron Larrington. He dated a girl named Sida (sp?) that worked in Special Services back when it was next door to the Exchange. Do you remember the gedunk on the flight line... "Mary" the gedunk cook?
The memories keep flooding back. I'll have to rumage around for pictures and get back to you... great to see some familiar faces. Thanks for taking the time!
As you can see I work for Eastman Kodak (this week anyway). It's sad. I started here in 1979 and there were 65,000 people. Now it's under 12,000 and getting smaller.
Digital is the future they say, but film always paid the bills. I'm in a Prototype precision sheetmetal and machining.area we support both digital and film - for how long? No one knows. Keep in touch and we'll see what we can remember.
Thanks for the Memories!
(from an email to Jerry Ferrin in 2006.)
Mark Schneider created and maintains the following message board at military.com:
National Parachute Test Range - “Welcome to El Centro... 30 miles from water... 2 feet from Hell!!!!”
Stan Shaeffer, PHC
"There was a "Photo Lab Party" at the Enlisted Men's Club after Still Photo had moved from our funky circa WWII building on the east side of the base to the Main Photo Lab Building, and everyone was getting loaded - it was thing to do at the time - at the bar, when Chief Shaeffer's oriental wife came into the bar and gave him hell 2 or 3 times in front of everyone he supervised. On the last occasion, when his attention was diverted, I took a fingerful of potato chip dip out of a bowl on the bar and smeared it on the inside of the clear plastic face shield on his motorcycle helmet. (He rode some sissy step-through ladies model Honda 50 or 90). The next day when he came into the lab in a very bad mood and announced a "surprise field day" for everyone in the lab, I chuckled to myself all the time I was waxing floors about his probable reaction when he stormed out of the bar to go home and discovered his face visor had been besmirched." -- Jerry Ferrin, 11/28/01.
Carrie Sideras, PH__
John Siebert, PHAN
Pat "Smitty" Smith, PHAN
Left: PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith of the National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California. Photo taken in Mexico circa 1975. View a larger copy of this image in a new browser window.
E-mail from Pat Smith to Jerry Ferrin, 25 Aug 2008:
I just found this web site... GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!
I sent the site to John Stephens today and he will be happy to see it . He is the webmaster for the LA county DA and worked on the OJ trial as a photographer.
I live in Lewisburg, TN, a small town. Im a landlord and am happy. I just got married last Oct. to a great Philippino woman, Lea. Seeing your website brought back some great memories. I'll dig up some photos and some stories... like waking up to hear running water outside my door and it was Scott MacDonald peeing in my trash can. We were room mates in photo school. I would like to find him again.
I'm at 1277 Coosie Branch Rd, Lewisburg TN 37091 and my phone is (931) 637-1141.
You can publish my stuff and I'll send more.
Pat "Smitty" Smith
Smitty, here is the site I mentioned in our phone conversation where you can download Paint Shop Pro 5.0:
and here's a site with tutorials on using it:
John Stephens, PHAN
PHAN John Stephens of the National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1975. Photo by PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith.
"I sent the site to John Stephens today and he will be happy to see it . He is the webmaster for the LA county DA and worked on the OJ trial as a photographer." -- Pat "Smitty" Smith, e-mail to Jerry Ferrin, 25 Aug 2008.
"What can you say about John Stephens? He came to the Navy after working for the Miami Herald so he had more experience than most of us and would help anybody that need a hand finishing up a project. He was a flight crew photographer and had great stories - after a mission on the range he told the pilot he was getting sick, so he was told quickly to take off his glove and throw up in it. As soon as they hit the runway, up came the canopy and out went the glove. Everybody liked him. He was quick-witted and could always see the funny side of things. -- Pat "Smitty" Smith, e-mail to Jerry Ferrin, 2 Sept 2008.
Ron Stover, PHAN
"Ron was the red-headed guy mentioned by Paul who bought the car from Bill Kern. His wife, Paula, was also a PHAN. She got contact dermatitis from working with Dektol and had to avoid working in the darkroom because of that." -- Jerry Ferrin.
Email from Ron to Paul Dileanis:
"Yes, I'm the photo mate that revamped that drab U.S. Navy uniform and created a hip social statement during the 70's. Actually, the doctor wrote me a chit for those so that my feet could breathe. We were trying to kill my athlete's foot, they never did though. At least not on active duty. And that orange Dodge dart was not my fault. That was my wife's (Paula) car. The car is long gone, but I still have her." -- Ron Vest, 11/24/01.
Ron & Paula Vest, 3466 Monte Carlo Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89121-3412 Phone: (702) 434-6132
Pat Sweeney, PHAN
Left to right: PHAN Pat Sweeney, PH3 Robin Tedder and PH2 Frank Devance, US Navy Photographers.
Still Photo Lab, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, CA, circa 1975. Photo by PHAN Jerry Ferrin.
_____? Taylor, PHC
Robin Tedder, PH3
PH3 Robin Tedder, at left, and PHAN Jerry Ferrin, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1975.
"Robin Tedder was one of my best friends at NPTR, where we both worked in the Still Photo Lab. He had a Honda 550 and I had a Honda 500. We took many weekend motorcycle trips together, of which one trip in December of 1975 stands out in my memory as we were riding to Tucson on a Friday night and it was so bitterly cold and windy that we rode for many miles right behind a 18-wheeled truck because being in the backdraft was a little warmer and gave some protection from the crosswinds.
Rob came to Tucson from Seattle to visit me in 1980 soon after he got out of the Navy and we drove to Northern Arizona to see Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti project. We also took a trip to Nogales, Mexico, and visited the Center for Creative Photography (which has two of my hand-made artist's books in their permanent collection) at the University of Arizona.
After he left NPTR, Rob was the photographer on an Admiral's staff. He told me of how a multi-engine aircraft he was on had one engine quit while they were flying over the Pacific and of how everything movable in the aircraft, including his personal Nikon F camera and lenses, had to be tossed into the ocean to lighten the plane's weight enough to try to make it back to the nearest island to land. Eventually they had to ditch the plane in the ocean. Rob was decorated for rescuing the Admiral's wife after the plane ditched. He downplayed the award when he told me the story, saying that all he had he done was to swim to her and help her into a life raft, and that he thought he'd been decorated for heroism in order to have a positive element in news stories to draw attention away from the fact that the ditching was caused by a preventable mechanical problem with the plane. The Navy did replace the camera gear he had to toss out of the plane into the ocean, he told me.
One of Rob's photos was published in Mazagine, a literary arts publication I was on the editorial staff of for a few years at Pima College in Tucson. I made a point of asking my USN photographer friends to contribute photos for the Mazagine books, calenders and posters we published. PHAN Pat Sweeney and PHAN Jeff Crandall also had photos published in Mazagine, which was named for a child's mispronunciation of the word magazine." -- Jerry Ferrin, 18 Sept 2008.
PH3 Robin Tedder, at left, and PHAN Jerry Ferrin, in the portrait studio of the Main Photo Lab, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1975. Photo by PHAN Tim Dardis.
"Randy Thorpe, an African-American, was one of my best friends. Randy was at the MoPic lab, processed film and went on flight crew. I believe he was still in the Navy when I got out. I called him on the telephone in 1978 - I believe he'd given me his folks phone. He was living in New Jersey at that time, working as a fireman. He had, in fact, changed his name to one more like that of an African. "Randy Thorpe was a slave name," he told me. He was nice about it, but firm. I'll also never forget, on the phone, when I told him I still drank (then). 'You STILL drink," he said. "Man, after what I've seen you do, I wouldn't drink.' He was smarter than I. It took me another two years to figure he was right." -- Terry Parkhurst.
Larry Tipton, PH3
Ron & Paula Vest, PHANs
See "Ron & Paula Stover" above. Following is an email to Paul Dileanis from Paula Vest:Hey, actually, we changed our last name to Vest (Ron's biological father's last name in 1977 (where were you???). We de want to add a few additions to your list: It was Chief Stan Shaeffer. Chuck Lohman, PHAN Blue, Ron Larrington, PH2 Phyllis Field (color),Chief Taylor, PH1 Dan Paulsen, PH2 McCoy, PH3 Bright, PH3 Chuck Osborne (There was another Osborne but I don't remember the first name), Smith was Pat Smith (originally from Illinois). Do you remember these civilians: Al Conarty, Russ Hall, Lorraine Willis, Sally Quijada, Ray Verett, John Danish (Supply) and Larry Bird?
And who could forget Chief Hebert at the barracks and Chief Picard, the Command Master Chief?
(HEY, This is fun!!!)
Actually, we stopped at the base in December of 1999. The main Photo Lab is now the Security building.The guys' barracks had been torn down. The wave cage was still there but it's officer country now (they can have it). The old Acey-Ducey Club is now a weight training building. Quite a bit was still the same -- the Exchange is still there but seems smaller, the ball fields are still there. It was a nice visit.
We went to San Diego about three months ago--they are really tearing down the old Recruit Training Command/NTC -- Ron didn't recognize much of what was left. Paul, we don't know how you found us but thank you for getting in touch.
Jana Williams, PH3
PH3 Jana Williams of the National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1974. Photo by PHAN John Stephens.
This photo was taken for publication in The Sandpaper to illustrate a reminder about an upcoming change of daylight savings time.
"She was at the base from fall 1972 until she mustered out in 1975. A nice person, she and Carrie really got messed around..." -- Terry Parkhurst.
John Walker, PHAN [email protected]
"I was PHAN Walker back in 1975. Lohman and knew Blue. Also knew PH2 Kelly and you left out PH1 Horschild, spelling in question. Enjoyed the web page much." -- E-mail from John Walker to Jerry Ferrin, 4 Nov 2007.
Evan Wilson, PH (2/3?).
"Range branch and head of the Born Again contingent at NPTR." -- Paul Dileanis.
" I'd forgotten Evan Wilson, until you guys mentioned him. I am ashamed of that, since I still have a very well done pencil portrait of me when I briefly grew a full beard in 1973. The portrait flattered me and that is one reason I kept it. Yes, I remember his Christian thing - he was always trying to save me. He had a motorcycle, a chopped Triumph, the first chopper based on a Triumph, I'd ever seen." -- Terry Parkhurst.
"I didn’t know Evan very well but he was a colorful character that I remember. How weird is this? His name came up at a friend’s house about 2 months ago (2001) in Green Bay, WI! GETOUT!!! True story.. My friend’s kid has stayed with him in some sort of rental arrangement in Idaho! I sent him an email and it was the SAME Evan!! He sent me a photo of a large family via email, he is a pastor and graphic artist today. And of course, still saving souls. KEEP IT UP EVAN!" -- Tim Dardis, 11/29/01."
Other NPTR Personnel:
L-R: Captain Robert Chew, C.O. of NPTR, Lydia Stevens, Miss NPTR 1975; Captain Joe Paulk, C.O. of NAF El Centro
El Centro, California.
Photo by Pat 'Smitty' Smith, 1975.
View larger image in a new browser window
"Captain Chew came from a F8 fighter background and Captain Chew from the F4 fighter community. Both had rather unique and often dissimilar command styles. As I was the only bachelor junior officer on base for a while, Captain Paulk would often invite me to dinner either at his home on base or the O Club. He allowed me to modify my BOQ room to better suit a full time resident, ie cable TV, hot plate etc. I have many fond memories of him and his wife. Joe passed away in 1994 in Lubbock, TX and I believe Bob passed away in Newport, RI about the same time." -- Lt. Peter F. Bartelli, USNR, 17 Sept 2008 e-mail to Jerry Ferrin.
Randy Burke, U.S.A.F.
"Randy Burke was a 6511 airforce guy that everybody liked. He and his wife Kris moved to Arizona." -- Pat "Smitty" Smith, 2 Sept 2008 e-mail to Jerry Ferrin.
PRC Bill Coram
Jerry, I ran across your message board and it brought back a lot of memories. I served with a lot of the people you wrote about. Lt Bartelli flew me home when my sister was very ill, he also flew the jump planes for us except the C-117, he would probably have flown it to if he could have gotten away with it. He was also my defense when I made Chief, he mouthed off and Senior Chief Picard cut off his neck tie. All this is on record because of all the work the photographers did at my Chief's initiation. My e-mail is [email protected] Bill Coram, retired test parachutist.
PR (3 or 2) Joe Crotwell
Parachute Rigger (Test Parachutist) Joe Crotwell
National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, circa 1976.
Photo by Pat 'Smitty' Smith.
"Joe Crotwell was a great guy and a lot of people knew him and liked him. When I got to NPTR he was recovering from a bad road rash that he got from crashing his motorcycle going over 100 mph when the front tire blew out. John Stephens and Harry (his room mates) nursed him back to health. I had heard that he started a parachute jump school in San Diego and while teaching one day his chute didn't open. He will be missed by all." -- Pat "Smitty" Smith in an e-mail to Jerry Ferrin, 2 Sept 2008.
"Joe Crotwell played guitar, sang and was the leader of a rock and roll band I heard perform at the NPTR Enlisted Men's Club. He was a happy and friendly guy who it was always a pleasure to meet." -- Jerry Ferrin, 8 Sept 2008.
Google.com search results for "Joe Crotwell".
"Another partner was Joe Crotwell of Aerospace Equipment Research of Apple Valley, who made the modifications to the escape system based on Dryden specifications. Crotwell's company also was responsible for packing the parachute." (11 June 1999 article about an ejection seat test at Naval Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, CA.) -- http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Newsroom/X-Press/1999/June11/ejection.html
"Joe Crotwell became a quadrupalegic as a result of a military test drop using dummies which were being tossed out of an airplane wearing parachutes, one deployed on the way out, which caused the aircraft to be put in some kind of spin, or it may have went inverted, I'm not quite sure of the details. Joe was the jumper with the most serious injuries. He sold his DZ in Apple Valley shortly after his accident. Sadly, Joe died of complications to his organs 5-6 years later. His buddy Greg Beloit was also on the jump, he can better inform you of the details. Sorry to report the sad news to you. Joe was a great guy." -- E-mail from Carl Anthony Nespoli to Jerry Ferrin, 17 Sept 2008.
"Joe Crotwell gone: Joe passed away this last weekend of a heart attack. RIP Joe." -- Dropzone.com Skydive Forum message board posting by "hottamaly", Apr 12, 2006.
Joe Crotwell was a team member of the Flying Elvi, a group of skydiving Elvis Presley impersonators.
Pat Garlic, in her dress white USN uniform, dines with two friends at the 1975 Miss NPTR dinner
Enlisted chow hall, National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California, 1975.
The woman in a plaid shirt at right is Sheila Sweeney, Miss NPTR of 1974. (Pat married PHAN Tim Nagel.)
Photo and comments by PHAN Pat 'Smitty' Smith.
Master Chief Robert James “Bob” Hudson, Sr., excerpt from 2006 obituary: "His greatest legacy came from his assignment to the National Parachute Test Range in El Centro (later relocated to the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, Calif.) where as a Naval test parachutist he accumulated more than 1,000 parachute jumps during his 13-year tour. Hudson was the driving force behind testing and qualifying the NASA space shuttle escape system after the disaster to the Challenger space shuttle. For these efforts he was awarded the Air Medal."
Melanie Malloy, ET3 (JJ, the Radio WAVE)
Name: Melanie (Malloy) Patterson [email protected]
Comments: It was fun to visit the site and go back in time. I don't know if you remember me. I was the lone female ET3 at Ground Electronics from 1975-1976. Most people called me JJ. You did some photos of me for the base paper holding the "Shop Cat" (actually one photo looked like I was strangling it) and another photo with my .22 rifle. I had the best time at EL Centro, even though we were out in the boondocks. Guess I'll go dig out some old photos to share.
Note by Jerry Ferrin: I was delighted when "JJ, the Radio WAVE" signed the site guestbook today, 17 Sept 2008, as I wrote a feature story and took photographs of her for the Sandpaper when we were at NPTR.
It was so nice to hear from you. :)
I kept that Sandpaper along with one on the flood in Octillo (remember that?), and also the one on the Blue Angel Nile Kraft crash. I pulled them out of box last night along with some photos of a bunch of us. I'll have to scan and send them to you.
I didn't remember that you wrote the article about the "Radio Wave" too, just the photos. When I retired out of the Navy I worked for a Navy contractor for a while in Jacksonville, but I was burnt out with riding ships and working on electronics.
I now work for the Centralia Outlets in Centralia Washington as the media specialist/administrative assistant/photographer. I shoot all the photos for advertising and our website (plus updating the website). I also receive requests for photos for various newspapers and magazines. This is a link to my website: www.centraliaoutlets.com. I've also had a construction company, the Chronicle newspaper, the Lewis Country Chamber of Commerce, and the Lewis County Convention and Visitors Bureau place some of my photos on their websites. I like shooting outdoors but I've set up a studio in the back room for merchandise pics.
I never forsaw this back in 1976, but photography has become my passion. So what are you doing now? JJ
-- E-mail from Melanie "JJ" Malloy to Jerry Ferrin, 18 Sept 2008.
Message boards at military.com:
Right: National Parachute Test Range embroidered patch,
courtesy of Mark Schneider.
National Parachute Test Range - “Welcome to El Centro... 30 miles from water... 2 feet from Hell!!!!”
As of 23 Jan 2008, the members of this message board are Peter F. Bartelli, Frank Devance, Jerry Ferrin, Charles Lohman and John Walker. The board was created and is maintained by Mark Schneider.
Naval Air Facility: El Centro, Calif.
The message board has 98 members as of 23 Jan 2008.
Right: Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility embroidered patch,
courtesy of Mark Schneider.
Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility, El Centro CA
The message board has 15 members as of 23 Jan 2008.
OPS Department NavAeroRecovFac, El Centro,CA
The message board has 1 member, Richard B. Tucker, as of 23 Jan 2008.
USGS Aerial Photograph & Topographical Map:Photo: El Centro Naval Auxiliary Air Station, California, 6 June 2002
Map: El Centro Naval Auxiliary Air Station, California, 01 July 1989
National Parachute Test Range, current search results at google.com
Crew Systems - National Parachute Test Range
Naval Air Facility El Centro: "Naval Air Facility El Centro was commissioned on May 1, 1946, as a Naval Air Station. Prior to that, the base was a Marine Corps Air Station. Through the years, Navy El Centro has had several names: Naval Air Facility, Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, Naval Air Station, and the National Parachute Test Range."
Naval Air Facility, El Centro (Marine Corps Air Station, El Centro; Naval Air Station, El Centro; Naval Auxiliary Air Station, El Centro; Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, El Centro; National Parachute Test Range)
NA-3B Skywarrior, NA-3B Skywarrior, BuNo 142630, National Parachute Test Range markings.
Naval Aviation Chronology 1970-1980
National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, CA, a collection of technical papers on tests conducted at NPTR and Joint Parachute Test Facility, El Centro, CA from The Dave Gold Parachute Collection at Wright State University Libraries.
Other U.S. Navy Photographers:
Terry Baker, PHAN
"Terry was one of my room mates in the barracks when I was in PH-A school at NAS Pensacola, our other room mate was James Pollard from Texas. I've always had the habit, probably learned from my paternal grandfather, Ernest L. Ferrin, of giving nicknames to people I especially like or dislike. Terry was in the former category and I called him "Chowdown Pooch Hard", because of his love of eating. Terry was assigned to a base in Japan after PH-A school. We lost touch after about 5 years after PH-A school. He planned to become an attorney after getting out of the Navy, and probably did. I'm fairly sure he was from a town called Mount Pleasant in Ohio. I did a lot of sketching while I was in PH-A school and one of the sketches in my sketch book from that time is of my friend Terry Baker." -- Jerry Ferrin, 13 Sept 2008.
Bob Collins, PHAN
"Bob was in PH-A school at the same time as me and was someone I especially liked. He had a distinctive manner of standing and walking, though I can't say just what was unique about it. A few years after photo school, I saw him from behind while he was walking into the NPTR EM Club and recognized him instantly because of his walk. I yelled, "Hey, Bob" and he was surprised to see me and to have been recognized by me from a few hundred yards away as I was driving past on my motorcycle even though I hadn't seen his face." -- Jerry Ferrin, 13 Sept 2008.
Bill Scanlan or Scanlon, PH2 (photo school)
Art Giberson, PHC (photo school instructor)
Steven L. Waterman
Author of Just A Sailor: A Navy Diver's Story of Photography, Salvage and Combat.
Other U.S. Navy Photographers websites:
The U.S. Naval Photographic Community Online
International Combat Camera Association
The Columbia Space Center is seeking Apollo drop test photos
E-mail from Laura Lovett to Jerry Ferrin, 15 May 2008.
I ran across your web page all about the photographers stationed in El Centro so I'm hoping you can answer my query.
I am working on the exhibits for the Columbia Space Center, www.columbiaspacecenter.org, currently being built in Downey, CA on the site of the old Boeing plant where the Apollo capsules were made (and where the shuttle orbiters were designed as well). Anchoring the exhibits on the first floor is Apollo Boilerplate 19, which saw "active service" when it was used for parachute drop tests at El Centro in 1964. Because we have the real thing we are looking for photos to show the drop tests and their role in confirming the safety of the Apollo capsule. I have dates for the tests if that's a help. NASA photographed everything so we feel sure there are photos someplace but have had zero success thus far in finding them.
Having been a photographer in that locale in the right era, do you have any leads for us?
San Francisco, CA
E-mail: lelovett at earthlink dot net
Laura, I've posted your request in hopes that one of the readers of this page will be able to help you out by contacting you directly if they have photos of the sort you want. (I didn't arrive at NPTR until 1975.) The NPTR film library was located in the Main Photo Lab at NPTR and held films and still photos of probably all tests ever conducted at NARF and NPTR. I don't know the current location of those archives. PH1 Dan Paulsen (see his entry on this page) was at NPTR when it was shut down and might be able to tell you what happened to the archives of the NPTR film library. His phone is 760-996-4050. I also suggest contacting the Public Affairs Officer at El Centro Naval Air Facility to ask where the archives can be found today. The phone number I found for the base is (760) 339-2699. Good luck with your search! -- Jerry Ferrin, 20 Sept 2008.
Disclaimer: This is an unofficial web page which has no connection with the United States Navy or the U.S. Department of Defense.
This RootsWeb website is being created by Jerry Ferrin with the able assistance of many Contributors. Your comments, suggestions and contributions of historical information and photographs to this site are welcome. Please sign the Guest Book. This page about photographers at the National Parachute Test Range was originally created in late 2001 and early 2002; it was added to this site 31 December 2006; it was last updated 21 Sept 2008.
The url of this page is: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~kscomanc/nptr.html
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