It’s funny to think that while I work with Timing (with a capital “T”), timing has never been my strong suit. When I started researching early book projects, I was usually a “day late, and a dollar short.” People who had worked on systems or in places I wanted to write about had already passed on, or reference materials were no longer available. It bothered me during the early days of writing and researching. Now, I just have to accept that we humans have a “terminal” condition, and not everything is recorded or saved.
That melancholy response aside, I’m doing my darnedest to help preserve the history of a place that… well, no longer exists. From the early 1960s until the mid 2010s, there was a special place that resided off of Mathilda Ave and Highway 237 in Sunnyvale, California. It had many names, but the last one that stuck was Onizuka Air Force Station.
Even this blog post is the day *after* the event. I’m glad that nearly 80 people showed up for a talk about Sunnyvale/Onizuka Air Force Station. I know that most of them know more than me in many aspects of the location and operations. But I do realize I occupy a unique position in that *I never worked there.” Seems silly to celebrate that fact, but as I didn’t work there or know what operations went on, I have flexibility in my research efforts in requesting documents from government agencies. I don’t know what I don’t know, so words are nearly free for me when I write my FOIA requests.
The presentation covered many aspects of the operations performed at the base/station/facility. I shortchanged a few of the awesome National Reconnaissance Programs such as Corona, Hexagon, Gambit, and the numerous Earpop satellites – only two slides were dedicated to these, and I felt the need to provide a mea culpa about this. Tying in decades of operations, more than a handful of organizations, thousands of people… whew! It’s mind-boggling just typing this in.
A few people have subscribed to this blog, and I aim this next paragraph at them. Since many are hesitant to talk about their activities (with good reason), my next few FOIA requests to the NRO will be a memo or statement that explains what has been declassified. I don’t know if this will open up any avenues of conversation, but it is a start. I heard a rumor that such a letter exists for members of the Hexagon satellite team, so I want to get a copy of it to post on this blog.
The next post relating to the 25 October Onizuka talk will be references for each slide. If you saw the presentation live or on YouTube, I did a poor job of sourcing every slide. I will rectify this oversight so you may dig through bad photo-static copies turned into PDF documents just like I have over the last few years.
I’ll also make sure you don’t have to receive the dreaded “Page Denied” sheets. In actuality, the NRO may change the wording for you: something like “Records Denied.” Yes, I still think that wording was meant specifically for me.
If I could post a hug emoji here, I would. Thanks for all of the [tough, sometimes insensitive] love, NRO!
You’re welcome for the shipping bills. 😉