Hi All! I'm Proud To Be Here...


Feb 12, 2012
Simi Valley, CA
Greetings to everyone,
I thought I'd share just a few thoughts here as part of the intro. After you guys/gals get to know me, you'll find that I'm not usually at a loss for words. So, if you have a question about something and you're wanting an accurate & complete answer, I think you'll find that I'm the kind of person you can rely on to bring you solid info you can take to the bank.

Here's a short sit rep on VietVet.100SRW (Steve Miller). I'm a 4th generation military serviceman. My great-grandfather served in the British Army in the 1890s before he and his family emigrated to America. My grandfather, Al Miller, served in the U.S. Navy as a radioman/electrician during WW I. He wanted to service again during WW II, but sought a Comms Officer billet since he was married with two high school kids (my Dad & his older sister). Al had a Ham Radio License for 20 yrs and used that as his ticket to join a maritime union as a Merchant Marine Comms Officer and sailed on several brand new Liberty & Victory ships. In fact, he kept a diary during the war. Based on my background as a military historian I was able to flesh-out a complete story of his first sailing in 1942. USCG, Navy and Nat'l Archive records really helped in putting the whole story together. After completion of the research I wrote a book about his first roundtrip on an armed merchant ship in WW II. The book went on-sale in Dec 2011 through Amazon.com and my editor's publishing contract with them. If anyone who is a member here on Shadow Spear and would like a copy, let me know. Or, if you don't want to wait, you can buy one from Amazon. The title is: "First Sailing of the S.S. Smith Thompson: Serving in the Merchant Marine in WW II."
My father also served in the Navy with his hitch straddling the last year of WW II, thru the first year of the Korean War in 1951. I served in the Air Force during the last few years of the Vietnam War and was privilged to serve in USAF's first and only unit to take drones into combat reconnaissance during Vietnam.
After several decades of work starting after I finished my USAF hitch, including several DARPA sponsored black programs, I started teaching college at night for some extracurricular activity. That effort kept expanding; I began to do corporate seminars and and classes for professional trade associations. This led to writing magazine articles as a SME for contract negotiations, leadership, international strategic sourcing and many other topics.
The speaking/training gigs led to doing book reviews for various trade group memberships. I eventually got into military history research and doing book editorials for that genre. I still do management consulting and professional speaking; but begin spending more time doing military history research. Several years ago I started doing non-profit military service mentoring. I reach-out to area schools and other young adult forums to help these great kids and our future leaders figure out if military service is right for them. This service is done on a "branch agnostic" basis in lieu of playing adjunct recruiter for just the Air Force, or just officer candidates, etc.
When I provide military mentoring for our country's best & brightest, it's my philosophy that most of us are likely to preferences for a MOS or AFSC; or whether college is something the candidate is looking at. I've developed some techniques that help young adults really get to the core of their career goals and their likes & dislikes. This is done with placing emphasing on which branch to choose after other criteria is sorted-thru, first.
I am a firm believer that if you put a little bit more emphasis on decision-logic and getting to the root of what it is that you want to do & what sacrifices and/or effort you willing to invest to get where you want to go - you'll be much less likely of ending-up doing something in the military you are not interested in, and are ready to bailout before you've even started.
I'd like to touch briefly on my family. For nearly all military men & women, we will have to make some value judgments at least once in our career; where we need to weigh what everyone else is telling us - that being your spouse, or your close-in family (mom, dad, sister, brother), your CO, your career advisor, your clergy, your peers or your drinkin' buddies. I'm a firm believer in being a man who subordinates his wants/desires until I've considered the comments and advice of those around me. When I review another person's chosen path and how that's working for them, their success in subordinating themselves is an important evaluation factor.
I can honestly say that when I've looked at a person's life summation they've left behind - whether they were able to lead a long & full life, or left this part of their life story far too soon, I now have the opportunity to see the person's legacy; and rightly or wrongly, they no longer have a direct say in what they left behind. Literally, their personal wants & desires cannot force an outcome anymore - whether it would've been a good choice or not. The only Q&A that matters anymore is if the departed has left this existence, such that the people and institutions they left behind are better off than before because the person pledged themselves and all they had and all who they touched, to be just a little bit better than it was before they arrived.
I love my wife, Kim, my four kids, my brother & sister, and knock on wood because I'm 56 and my parents - God bless them - are still with us & thriving. I pledged my life and what little I have, to the betterment of these souls today and in the eternities.
And how about my pledge to all of you? And all the other lives I've come in contact with? For you who have made the choice to serve your country for awhile, or as your life's work, I think you've already learned that humans are designed & built for service. As a SOF member or other role you've chosen to pursue - you've already seen that your success and everyone else's is interdependent on each other. You've chosen to serve in a manner that if you arrive at juncture where someone has to go "all in," you've already made that choice, if need be.
In closing on this note - hey, you don't know me and I don't know you...yet. But I've made numerous "all in" decisions already; but the marker has not been collected, so far. Someone might read this and decide, "man, he's full of bologna!" Nope. There's folks who'd read this that know me, and they'd say, "Yep; go ahead - ask him for help; you'll." For example: I already authorized PayPal to give ShadowSpear $25 a month and I haven't even been verified or checked-out, yet. Hey, I'm cool with that; I made my decision to serve 39 years ago. It's important to keep this forum going...whether it's me contributing - it's only my money that's contributing, or both.
Unlike you younger guys who've got it goin' on between the ears and in the legs, you'll have to settle for "between the ears" from me. Two back surgeries have guaranteed I'm not running any real marathons. But...between the ears - I'll race ya!
Welcome Aboard
Where were you at in country? Were you involved with the fire control drones launched and recovered off of the Battleship?

Thanks for the welcome messages. Am glad the website is back with us...I thought, "Oh great...I join & kill the thing!"

As for the question about the various drone programs and which one I was in - Manolito, you have asked the right guy. After finishing my 1st book in Dec 2009, I started work on my 2nd one. This time I decided to write about my Vietnam-era drone recon outfit, the 100th SRW. I've toyed with the idea for several decades; but 90%+ of my unit info in either USAF's hands, the CIA or NRO has been at least classified Secret, or some still carry its original TS-SCI classification. I could've wrote the book a long time ago; but it would've been sans any official gov't documentation.
In 2006 (but I didn't find it until 2008) a retired USAF O-6, Roy Stanley, wrote a book called "Asia From Above." The book was about the 67th Recon Tech Sqdrn at Yakota AB - activated in 1957 and deact'd in 1971. Until 1957 the only photo imagery processing/interpret/analysis unit USAF had west of Calif was PACAF's 548th Recon Tech Group at Hickam, reporting direct to CINCPACAF, with dotted line to CINCPAC. The lion's share of their work was supporting USAF's ongoing mapping & cartography program which started at the end of WW II. Our preeminence in 1945 allowed us to get into most sections of world which were previously unchaeted.
With IMINT rqmts increasing in western PAC, PACAF stood-up the 67th @ Yakota, subordinate to 548th. When our drones & U-2s were deployed to SEA in 1964, the 67th was the post-mission unit in the beginning who was handling our film. So, you can see my interest in Stanley's book.
Colonel Stanley noted in his 2006 book that he started-off with the same problem as me: 90%+ of the 67th RTS' docs were still classified Secret or above. Stanley submitted numerous FOIA requests and MDRs (mandatory declassification review) to USAF HQ in Pentagon. It took USAF four years to declassifying and/or redact the docs Stanley needed. I have no doubt there were Eskimos in Nome, AK who heard me groan when I read "four years."
By 2009 the 1st book was "in-the-dry" so I told myself mentally about having to go thru a guantlet like Stanley..."O.K. Big Air Force - bring it on - hit me with your best shot." I've been able to get about 22,000 pages of miscellaneous stuff; but the worst these docs had was admin markings for FOUO. The director of USAF's Historical Research Agency @ Maxwell got the FOUO marking lifted with little trouble. The really hardcore stuff with at least Secret NOFORN markings or higher, amounts to 1,700 pages and I submitted in Sept 2010 a FOIA/MDR for those and (I can't believe it) I will receive all that next month.
In the meantime I've been doing oral history interviews and chasing down tech manuals, etc to write the book. There have been a couple of efforts in writing about the Teledyne-Ryan AQM-34 recon drones. But none were by a former unit member, and none have been a complete, deep dive effort. My book sits at about 500 pages right now. Whether I asked for it or not - I've become the subject matter expert about our gov'ts drone efforts in the 1960s & 70s.
The question about the Navy program in the 60s to have drones perform an ANGLICO role burned like a combination Roman Candle/bottle rocket. In 1962 when Wright-Pat's Aeronautical Systems Division was working with Ryan Aeronautical to come up with a recon drone, both envisioned a "new" drone being designed & built - from the sheet metal, up. The 1960 Francis Gary Powers U-2 shootdown over USSR prompted Eisenhower's DOD boys to feel like they needed an unmanned capability like YESTERDAY. So ASD/Ryan was directed to grab the Firebee target drone and "make something work." It started there; stretched the airframe, gave it longer wings, etc, etc.
The system almost got used in Oct '62 with the Cuba/Russia missile crisis. The brand new NRO had just been given "head traffic cop" duty by Kennedy on all airborne recon platforms, starting with satellites, and on down. Kennedy did this because right in the middle of the Cuban missile crisis the CIA was drawing a line in the sand and saying, "we're the God's of intel, so you gotta give the drone program to us." The NRO shut them down.
After the Cuban dust-up calmed down, ASD/Ryan decided they needed to find a permanent home within USAF for the new recon drones. At this point the program was a tar-baby; the drones were really tactical recon, but the CINCTAC turned it down. They asked the Army intel shop, INSCOM, and Naval Intel; nobody wanted it. The stigma was it was unmanned. Everyone was afraid if they took on an unmanned program, it would signal to GAO and other bean counters that it was o.k. to chop their budgets for the manned aircraft they wanted.
So, other than the CIA, who was happy to take work away from anyone, even if by deception or bullying - who could/would take on the drone recon program and didn't have all this other undesirable baggage? SAC. SAC had an unlimited budget and at the height of the Cold War, only three uniformed elements at that stage had Carte Blanche: Navy Nuclear subs; the Army in Europe; USAF's Strat Air Command (SAC).
After SAC deployed the drones to Vietnam in 1964, they quickly proved to all, that they really were a national intelligence asset. The SR-71, U-2 and drones all functioned with direct ties to the Nat'l Command Authority. The air war in Vietnam was a tactical one; managed by 7th Air Force. The told everyone, starting with MACV, PACAF, CINCPAC, TAC, DOD that they'd be taking over the drone program because it was so valuable in the air war. The NRO shut them down; SAC will keep it. The Navy had their hands full with Task Force 77 on Yankee & Dixie Stations. They decided drones would be real handy for recon, gunfire support, etc. DOD directed Ryan to work with NAV AIR to come up with an AQM-34 drone for shipboard launching - primarily from carriers to start with. The Air Force launched & flew the drones from a highly modified C-130 - known as a DC-130. The Navy said they didn't want DC-130s because of the same ground station stigma they had to deal with using the P-3 platforms. The Navy wanted their drones to be fleet mobile. The decision was made to modify an E-2C Hawkeye to carry the drone's remote control radar (like what the DC-130 had). USAF-ASD, 100SRW & Ryan offered to have Navy aircrew come out the Davis-Monthan to be trained on the remote control radar in the DC-130. The Navy declined.
I can look it up, butt suffice to say that the Navy interest was happening right in the middle of the prime Vietnam years of 1967, '68, '69, et al. An AQM-34, Navy configured was deployed on an aircraft carrier to CTF77 on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. In that location you have two-thirds to three-fourths of the land mass surrounding the area that was either Communist North Vietnam or Communist China. The first Navy AQM-34 was launched from a carrier with the E-2C control aircraft already airborne. On the first operational sortie the Navy controllers aboard the E-2C lost control of the drone intermittently and crash-landed the UAV on China's Hainan Island.
CINCPAC (Admiral McCain) got the full story - the good, bad & ugly the next day. He canceled the whole program after one ops sortie. His comment was: "If you need drone support for anything, ask the Air Force."
Sorry for the long story. As Paul Harvey was wont to say: "...and THAT is the rest of the story." I don't know about my fellow ShadowSpear members; but part of the reason I joined is to hear what all you guys have to say. I don't think any of us log in here each day and say, "Oh good; nobody posted anything so I don't have to stick around here for the rest of the day." In my opinion, if anyone here feels that membership, logging-in, reading, writing, mentoring, contributing for each other's professional, historical & personal enrichment, is too much trouble, then what's the point of belonging? Naturally, this excludes considering why the wannabes desire membership here. This is why I think our site administrators do such a great job of membership vetting. By letting the wannabes join, we're enabling or adding legitimacy to their behavior. Lastly, most wannabes desire to be here primarily to "receive" the benefits of membership. Rarely are they in a position to "give" something of themselves for the benefit of the rest of us.

BTW, my mgmt consulting work I'm doing now involves negotiating strategic goods/services contracts for DOD; especially right now for you guys going down range in Southwest Asia. You won't see/hear any InfoSec and/or OpSec breaches from me. But, it's no secret the road is getting pretty bumpy in Mr. Karzai's country. I don't need to tell you of the headaches and flaming-hoop jumping I'm dealing with as a fallout of GLOC along the eastern border. My colleagues are bustin' their ass to keep the goods moving to you guys down range. God bless each one of you and keep your damn heads down!!! ;-)

Steve (call anytime...I'm here...805-210-4735)