USAF Radar Tech Elbert Cook Checks In!

USAF Radar Tech Elbert Cook Checks In!Please welcome Elbert Cook to my USAF Radar Technician comrade list! Elbert provided a very detailed account of his duty stations and the equipment worked on. Any of you who had the pleasure of maintaining the TPN-19 ASR/PAR radar system will appreciate his comments. I never worked on it myself, but while at Robins AFB, GA (5CCG) in the MPN-14 radar shop a couple of the newfangled, transistorized TPN-19s arrived from Tinker AFB, OK (3CCG)

The Radar Man, October 1960 Popular Electronics - RF Cafe

See "The Radar Man"

and oh, boy, do I remember the stories that came from the poor souls who came with them. I helped clear the site on Robins AFB's back 40 and laid down a lot of AM2 portable aluminum runway panels for the units to sit on. Rattlesnakes were all over that place - ugh. I was glad to get back to the civilized part of the base after a couple weeks there.

MPN-13 GCA Radar Unit Scale model by Elbert Cook - RF CafeNote: Elbert has completed a scale model of the MPN-13 GCA radar unit, and is looking for dimensions, photos, or any other pertinent data for maintaining accuracy. If you can help, please send me the info and I will get it to him. Thanks.

Elbert sent these pictures that he took while stations at Shemya Air Station, in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska:

MPN-13 Radar at Shemya AB, AK (Elbert Cook) - RF Cafe MPN-13 Radar near ocean at Shemya AB, AK (Elbert Cook) - RF Cafe RC-135 Cobra Ball at Shemya AB, AK (Elbert Cook) - RF Cafe ATC Control Tower at Shemya AB, AK (Elbert Cook) - RF Cafe

MPN-13 Radar, Cobra Ball RC-135, and ATC Control Tower at Shemya AB, AK

Here are a couple 'real time' photos of the MPN-14 and TPN-19 ground control approach (GPA) radars at Robins AFB, GA, while I was stationed there from 1979-1982.

Members of our radar shop assembling the MPN-14 (one of two we maintained). In the picture are Chuck Powell, Ron Dames, Don Hicks, Linda(?), Ed Nugent, Allen Coker, Scott Breen(?) and Supreme Commander TSgt. "Red" Worthington. I welcome feedback from anyone that wants to correct my identifications. (circa 1979-82) - RF Cafe              TPN-19 radar installations, 5th Combat Communications Group - RF Cafe

      MPN-14 ASR/PAR Radar Unit                TPN-19 Radar Shop Sign (Michael Klein photo)

This is the full text of Elbert's letter (with his permission):


Thanks for your reply. You can put this on your web site. 

I went back through some old records and this is what I came up with.

Got hooked on the Air Force in 1968 and signed up in April.  After Basic Training I went to Keesler AFB for GCA Radar training, you know how that goes.  Looking forward to my first assignment I ended up with Sheppard AFB, Texas.  April 1969 to June 1973.  Started out on AN/MPN-14 B then the new FPN-47 was installed along with the FPN-16. GPX-8, GPA-70, GPA-30 and Brite-II.

While at Sheppard I got a message stating that I will be part of the TPN-19 test Team at the 3rd Combat Com Group at Tinker AFB, OK.  I thought I must be in for a good deal.  Boy was I wrong.  I got to the 3rd Combat Com Group in June of 1973 (left April 1979, was I glad somewhat).  While at Tinker I worked on MPN-13, MPN-14, TPN-19 and all the equipment that went along with them.  It was two years after I got to the 3rd that we went to the TPN-19 school and factory.  While at the 3rd we ended up with 10 TPN-19s.  What a mess.  There are some war stories about them.

I finely got out of the 3rd April of 1979, but I had orders to Shemya AFB AK.  (Shemya from April 1979 to April 1980).  Shemya had an MPN-13 without a 301 key system.  There was all kinds of room in that power trailer. Our UPX-6 was not restricted to 60 miles.  That was nice.  We had a T3 Trainer that the controllers used a lot.   I have a lot of pictures of Shemya.

I got out of Shemya April 1980 and went to Holloman AFB.  (Holloman AFB April 1980 to December 1984)  Maintained the FPN-47, FPN-16, Brite-II and all the equipment that went with them.  We did have a GPA-131 by then. After two years at the radar side I was moved into Quality Control.   Quick story,  While I was at my Quality control desk at Holloman I just happen to have one of my old TPN-19 note books with some of my QC notes in it laying on my desk.  The front showing a picture of the TPN-19 was up.  Rudd came walking through my office and said hi and then he saw the note book and said something like “ OH I see you have a picture of the TPN-19”.  Well the normal reaction, the reaction I had any way was “Sure,  I was in the 3rd Mob and worked on it for several years.”.  Boy was that a mistake.  Within 6 weeks I had orders to Langely AFB as the Air Traffic Control Radar Functional Manager and I mostly worked with you guessed it, TPN-19s.

Well, there I was December 1984 to around July 1988 (Retired in 1988) I went TDY all over the US.  One of the main problems was the TOs for the TPN-19.  It seemed like we were rewriting them all the time.  We never did get them right. Another thing was the AC Mod.  What a mess.  One thing I did while I was at Lnagley was working on the Computer Assisted Force Management System technical manual. 

After I got out of the AF, I went to college on the GI Bill.  Got two degrees and went to work for a Hospital here in OKC.  Worked for them for 14 years and retired again.  Now I build model airplanes.  I am working on plans to build a model of an MPN-13 GCA unit but I am having problems getting the dimensions.  That is how I came across your web site.  Oh well I will keep working. As I started through this a lot more came to mind. 


You are doing a good job.

Elbert Cook"





Posted  August 7, 2013