CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
|ASSIGNMENT TO CIA|
|OFFICE OF SPECIAL ACTIVITIES|
|NOW A CIVILIAN AT CIA|
|STATUES OF WASHINGTON D.C.|
|FUN AND DUTIES AT THE AGENCY|
|TRIP AROUND THE WORLD|
|RETIREMENT FROM CIA|
ASSIGNMENT TO CIA
My first contact with CIA was when I was chosen as an Experimental Test Pilot for the U2 airplane back in mid 1955. Several of us were recruited to test the aircraft concurrently with the Lockheed test pilots, devise the way to utilize the cameras, systems, navigate the airplane, train the Agency Pilots, support them logistically and declare them Combat Ready for their mission. When we completed this for three cadres or detachments and had deployed them oversees, we checked out the USAF and then we were transferred. I went to England for three years. [see Flying]
I was assigned on exchange duty with the CIA direct from Oxnard Air Force Base in Oxnard CA in 1964, shortly after returning from The University Of Maryland where I finished the work for my Bachelors Degree.
After three years at Oxnard A.F.B. as Director of Operations for the 414th Fighter group and flying F101B interceptors, I figured that I was soon due for a transfer. I flew to Wash. D.C. and roamed the halls of the Pentagon. I ran into an old friend, Major Al Pouliot and he suggested that I see a Major Green in the USAF personnel office. The Major said that he was looking for someone with my experience and background and would I like to come to Washington on a very classified project? I jumped at the chance, hoping that it would be something similar to my days at Area 51 where I spent close to a year testing the U2. The very next day a wire arrived at my home base ordering me to immediately depart for Washington D.C. with my family and upon arrival to call a telephone number, PERIOD, This caused quite a stir in the Air Defense Command but a few days later we were on our way East
OFFICE OF SPECIAL ACTIVITIES
I was assigned to OSA [Office of Special Activities] at CIA headquarters. This was the branch that developed the U2. At this time we had operational control of U2 flights worldwide. There were three units deployed and we prepared their missions, had them approved by the President and gave the orders to the units to execute the flights. All this came to a sudden halt when Gary Powers was shot down over Russia by a missile,
During this time we were also developing the YF12A, A12 Reconnaissance plane and its follow on the SR71 blackbird. I became the Operations Chief and spent most of my time commuting to Area 51, monitoring the program and developing operational tactics, arranging the spending of the funds and the development of payload packages. I also was the OSA budget officer and through this had my say in all the operations and projects, since I had to defend each line item to higher headquarters. A very interesting time indeed
NOW A CIVILIAN AT CIA
This all took place during the years, 1962 through 1972. I was an Air Force RESERVE officer with no hope of getting promoted to COLONEL, At 20 years of service the USAF extended me for 2 more years but in 1964 an order arrived retiring me, I mentioned this to my boss, General Jack Ledford and he told me that if I didn't find a job to come and see him.
My retirement date was 30 May 1964, so on the 29th I said good-bye to my fellow workers and the General asked if I had found a job? I answered "No Sir" and he said "I'll see you Monday and ask for a GS 14 rating". So for the next eight years I worked for CIA and received a promotion to GS 15. I was also collecting my Air Force retirement pay, One of the original "double Dippers".
STATUES OF WASHINGTON D.C.
While at the agency, I had a little extra time and decided to do something constructive, like write a book about the statues in Washington DC.
This all started one evening when I was having a senior size Martini on my back deck. I remembered the "I SPY" books in England where children were encouraged to look for various trains, cars, buildings, etc. I thought why not a small book to carry with you while visiting D.C. that would tell you about all the statues that are there. I now had something to do to keep me out of the bars and off the streets.
Primarily, this was a fun thing to do but it also demanded a lot of research and time. Off I went to photograph the statues that I wanted to write about. The next problem was to learn something about each one. Something that would be of great interest so that you would never forget your visit to that spot. The army library was a good place to get started and I learned a lot from their old books. The Library of Congress was the most valuable since I could find out who the architect was, the dates, cost, reason for doing it, and a myriad of other info.
After gathering all this information, I revisited each statue again to try to find something about or on each one that would stick in your mind after your visit. I found lots of very interesting things and incorporated them in my book. Now I had to write the narrative. Not too hard a job. I also decided to ask a few questions of the tourist, at the bottom of each page, about each statue so that he would give it more than a cursory glance.
Then I had to hire a printer to print the book. I even helped him to collate it, staple it together and box them up. Guess who paid for all of this. Now I had a book that I had completed from scratch with my own labor and ingenuity. I even had it listed with the Library of Congress. Now, the next phase was to market it.
I talked to two or three outfits that sell souvenirs in the area and they all said that it was too small, no color photos, etc. and would not sell, even when I explained that it was designed to fit into ones pocket. I sent several copies to the National Park Service and he sent me a letter accusing me of making fun of our National Treasures. I guess I can't win. I have lots of copies left and if you want one, just ask. In 1999 I tried again and ran into the same roadblock. It seems that a private concern has control of all the literature that is sold in the government buildings and they weren't interested.
FUN AND DUTIES AT THE AGENCY
During my time at CIA, there was a Worlds Series and they had a pool at the office. I of course entered and on the last day and the last inning, the Dodgers were 2 runs behind. Two outs, bottom of the ninth and if the batter hits a home run, I win $3oo, and he did. The next day I took all the secretaries in the office out for a long Martini lunch. Well, everything stopped, no phones answered, no letters typed, etc,. When we returned about 3 PM, I wasn't too popular with my bosses. But we all had fun.
I was assigned to Plans and Programs and had control of the budget besides being the contact man for operations with Area 51 and overseeing the U-2 operations and the development of the SR 71. This kept me very busy and I had my hand into all facets of the operation.
If somebody wanted to put an item in the budget, they had to discuss it with me, explain it in detail so that I could present it to the people that okayed the budget. This was for the Office Of Special Activities, not for all of CIA. It was a most interesting position to have.
Through this position I met and worked with many interesting and prominent people in government and the aircraft industry. Contacts that I made during this period are very helpful today, forty years later.
TRIP AROUND THE WORLD
I put in for a trip to visit our overseas units so that I would have a first hand look at their operation. It took a few weeks to get it approved but when I got the OK, I further requested that since I was half way around the world, that I be allowed to continue on around. This too was approved. I think that I took about four weeks for the trip including a week in Athens. If I wanted to stay a few extra days in a spot, I would take some leave and sightsee.
PROJECT AQUILINE [REMOTELY PILOTED VEHICLE]
When the SR71 became operational, it was given to the USAF and I didn't have very much to do. The Agency decided to develop an RPV [Remotely piloted Vehicle] and I was asked if I wanted to be the Chief of the Aqualine program. This entailed a move to Las Vegas, NV and spending my working hours back at Area 51. I accepted and we moved out West. [See flying for a lot more details]
RETIREMENT FROM CIA
I have glossed over this period because the work was always highly classified and detailed. I didn't keep any records and wasn't allowed to. Memory fails me in many aspects. It was a very interesting period of my life and as I wrote to the Director when I said that I was going to retire, "It has been an honor to have served my country and the people of the United States during the past 30 years. I hope that my contribution to the freedom of the USA and the free world was enhanced somewhat by my efforts. I am proud to have been a part of that history". Or words to that effect. I can't remember the exact words at this late date.
Upon retirement from CIA, I waived all the years that were being used for my USAF retirement and applied them to my Civil Service retirement. This meant a great increase in benefits for me.
On November 15, 1999, I donated a framed plaque to the U-2 Heritage Room at Beale Air Force Base. In the Heritage Room is a list of all U-2 pilots. Somehow the original group from 1955 to 1967 were omitted. This plaque was placed in the Heritage Room with ceremonies on May 1, 2000. The plaque reads:
FROM THIS GROUP OF EXPERIMENTAL TEST PILOTS
THE GATHERING OF INTELLIGENCE WAS REDEFINED FOREVER
1955 U-2 PILOTS
PHILLIP O. ROBERTSON USAF TEST AND INSTRUCTOR PILOT
LOUIS A. GARVIN USAF USAF TEST AND INSTRUCTOR PILOT
JOHN H. MEIERDIERCK USAF TEST AND INSTRUCTOR PILOT
LOUIS C. SETTER USAF TEST AND INSTRUCTOR PILOT
ROBERT MATEY LAC TEST PILOT
RAY GOUDEY LAC TEST PILOT
ROBERT SEIKER LAC TEST PILOT
ROBERT SCHUMACHER LAC TEST PILOT
ROBERT MATYE LAC TEST PILOT
WILLIAM R. YANCEY USAF 1957
ROBERT E. MULLIN USAF 1957
JOHN H. (HANK) MEIERDIERCK
PRESIDENT - ROADRUNNERS INTERNATIONALE
Today, 2002, I am
still involved with the U-2, YF12A, the A12 and SR-71 through several
reunions. I have been president of the Roadrunners Internationale twice,
recently for the 1998-1999 period. I also attend the U-2 reunions in Del Rio,
Texas, Tucson AZ. and the Blackbirds [SR-71] in Reno NV. Through these I keep up
my contacts with the Air Force, aircraft industry, and the Agency.