When the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum’s newest aircraft, a McDonnell-Douglas (Boeing) F-15A Eagle was dedicated late last year, it joined a growing collection of aircraft types that share the distinct honor of having served with the Oregon Air National Guard. Along with the P-51D, F-102A, T-33A and F-4C, the F-15A helps trace the history of the 123rd Fighter Squadron, which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding this year.
The idea of a state-controlled National Guard is a uniquely American concept, with roots stretching back to the first shots of the Revolutionary War. Ever since, state run militias have provided citizen-soldiers for every one of America’s conflicts, and it was only natural that when aviation became a part of the military, that the guardsmen would serve there too. In Oregon, the effort to create an aviation unit began in April, 1939, when President Roosevelt proposed an expansion for the Army Air Corps that included ten new observation squadrons for the National Guard. 2nd Lt. Robert Dodson, who had been flying as a reservist at Pearson Field, requested the creation of a new unit, telling the Air Corps “We’ve got people, we’ve got a place, and we’re ready!” Promoted to Major, Dodson enlisted 117 men at the Swan Island Airport and they were officially designated the 123rd Observation Squadron on April 18, 1941. They received federal funding and erected a hangar to begin operations with O-47 observation aircraft and BC-1 training aircraft.
Within five months, the 123rd was called to active duty and moved to Gray Field, at Fort Lewis, Washington to perform anti-submarine patrols along the Pacific Northwest coast. Then in April, 1944, they received news that they were going overseas. Equipped with F-5s, the photo recon version of the P-38 Lightning, and re-designated the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, the unit headed into combat for a year and a half in the China-Burma-India Theater.
After peace returned to the world, the 123rd was re-instated under the control of the Oregon National Guard at the Portland International Airport. Now designated a fighter squadron, the 123rd was equipped with P-51D Mustangs, and became part of the Air National Guard when the Air Force became a separate service in 1947. Over the next sixty years, the 123rd would change aircraft many times, from the P-51 Mustang to the F-86 Sabre, the F-94 Starfire, the F-89 Scorpion, the F-102 Delta Dagger, the F-101 Voodoo, and the F-4 Phantom. In 1990 they transitioned to the F-15 Eagle, which they still fly today.
The F-15 on display, serial # 73-0089 had a very lengthy career with both the Air Force and Air National Guard (ANG). It was the 6th production F-15 built at the McDonnell-Douglas plant in St. Louis, and was the 23rd F-15 to enter service with the US Air Force. (A total of 17 prototype and pre-production aircraft are included in that number.) It spent the first decade of its life stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, serving with the 555th TFTS and 405th TFS in the training role, before being handed over to the 122nd TFS of the Louisiana Air National Guard. Six years later, it went back to the active Air Force and served in Iraq with the 9th TFS for combat operations during 1991. It then came back home to serve with the Georgia Air National Guard, before traveled back to New Orleans with the 122nd and finally on to the Oregon ANG in 1994 for the last 15 years of its life.
At the time of its retirement in 2009, #0089 was the oldest, longest serving F-15 in the United States Air Force inventory. It was turned over to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, for preservation at Evergreen, and made ready for display by volunteers from the 123rd FS under the leadership of Chief Master Sergeant John Rasmussen. She certainly had a great run, and it is wonderful to see her preserved in the museum where she proudly reflects on the history of Oregon’s own; the 123rd Fighter Squadron.
By Amy Quick, Director of Membership
February is almost here.
And that means it is almost Member Appreciation Month!
If you’re not a Museum member, then it is the perfect time to join. Each new and renewing member will receive free IMAX movie passes, as well as the added benefits of a Museum membership, which includes gift store discounts, free admission to more than 350 museums through the ASTC program, invitations to members-only events (aka Member Appreciation Month!), and free admission to the Museum!
Our schedule for the month is packed with activities for both kids and adults. We will start the month with a Kids Only day in the Evergreen Space Museum on Saturday, Feb. 5, and continue through the month with activities like a Star Party and a Behind The Scenes tour. The Paper Airplane Guy is returning on Feb. 26, and we are offering a members-only breakfast before his exclusive presentation. That same night, the Museum will host a free adults-only wine tasting featuring Evergreen Vineyards wines and a free showing of Legends of Flight 3D.
We will have a members-only drawing every day for those of you visiting the Museum during the month. Museum Guidebooks, Spruce Goose coffee mugs and IMAX passes are just a few of the prizes. Each member can enter to win with each visit to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, culminating in a grand prize drawing for a hot air balloon ride!
All events are RSVP. Please call Anna at 503-434-4185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cindy Borja is a 2nd grader at Wascher Elementary School in Lafayette, Ore. She submitted the following entry to the Museum’s ISS Downlink contest in order to win a seat at the question and answer session with astronauts on Jan. 19.
I would like to go to space to see different planets. I would really like to see Jupiter’s great red spot. I would also love to see half of the solar system. Because some planets are cold and some are hot. If I were to go to space, rockets point would be red. The bottom would be blue, like some toy rockets. I would like to visit the International Space Station to visit Astronots, and ask about what they know about some stars and planets so I can learn some more about stars and planets. And I say if I went to space I would like to see the flaming red hot sun. I would fly to space in my rocket. First I check if the battery and engin of the rocket is full. If it is I’ll fly to space. If it isin’t, I’ll fix it then then go to space. I would ask the astronot. What do you eat in the space station? Where and how do you sleep inside the space station?
Hannah Siepmann is a 6th grader at Duniway MS in McMinnville, Ore. She submitted the following entry to the Museum’s ISS Downlink contest in order to win a seat at the question and answer session with astronauts on Jan. 19.
There are many dangers that astronauts face while living in a microgravity environment, such as the International Space Station (ISS). When living in close to zero-gravity, you could face mental disorientation, osteoporosis, radiation, and “Puffy-Head Bird-Leg” syndrome.
Mental disorientation in astronauts is also called Space Motion Sickness and is somewhat like seasickness. Astronauts can feel ill or disoriented because of the motion of the spaceship. When mental disorientation occurs, astronauts can take drugs or undergo Autogenic Feedback training. Autogenic Feedback training was developed by NASA to improve an astronauts’ condition in space. It includes a six-hour training program an on-the-go system that keeps track of your body functions and tells you. NASA Estimates that half of all astronauts experience mental disorientation when in space, and when it occurs it takes approximately three days to recover.
Osteoporosis is a disease where the bones decrease in mass due to lack of use. In a microgravity environment, the bones are not regularly used for bearing weight and exercise, causing the bone cells to break down. On Earth, people exercise their muscles to their muscles strengthen and stay in shape. Their bones are regularly exercised by walking. When astronauts do not walk because of the micro gravity, their bones do not get exercised. Osteoporosis occurs rapidly, and the decrease in mass causes the bones to become brittle.
Radiation is also a danger in an environment like the ISS. The amount of radiation astronauts are exposed to depends on the distance from the earth, solar cycle, orbital inclination, and individual susceptibility. Radiation can mutate DNA cells, leading to various types of cancer. The radiation in space differs from that on Earth in that particles move at such a high speed that its impact causes ionization. This is called ionizing radiation, and it can cause many types of damage to human cells.
Another risk is called “Puffy-Head Bird-Leg Syndrome.” The human body is accustomed to pumping blood upward to make sure that blood does not only flow in the legs due to gravity. When there is only microgravity, all the blood in the body is pumped upwards, leaving insufficient blood in the legs and feet and excess blood in the head and neck. The end result is, as the name says, an astronaut with a swollen head and skinny legs! Astronauts will almost always recover from this syndrome when they return to Earth.
Astronauts realize the dangers they face when entering a microgravity environment, but many of them risk their health and lives to increase scientific knowledge about space.
Steven Irving is a 4th grader at Memorial Elementary in McMinnville, Ore. He submitted the following entry to the Museum’s ISS Downlink contest in order to win a seat at the question and answer session with astronauts on Jan. 19.
The Big Moment of Blast-Off
I was so happy I was one of the few kids out of the entire U.S.A. to go on this perilous journey to the International Space Station. I went through the two whole years of training underwater and in a space shuttle simulator for many hours at a time. It was all up to this moment in my life.
I knew I was a very lucky Kid! I also knew me, and the five other kids were the first kids launched into orbit. Then, I heard the man from Mission Control say, “ten, nine, eight” …so I got ready for the biggest moment in my life. I was set and ready for ignition. I was all strapped in, and I was so excited! And Mission Control continued, “seven, six, five four…” I gave one last wave to my family and friends on the video screen.
I was all pumped up about microgravity instead of normal gravity, because that meant I got to float through the air. I was also grateful that we had oxygen tanks. I had a lot running through my mind. I just could not wait to see what it looked like in outer space! “Three, two, one, zero, ignition!” I felt the jolt of blast-off. I was thinking I witnessed at least 2 G’s! I saw everything whiz by me.
When we finally got to the International Space Station, I looked back to where I was just a couple of hours ago. I thought I was Oregon, but I wasn’t positive. I could even see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!
On the Second week, I was pretty tired because I only got about 6-8 hours of sleep a day. I also missed my friends and family down on Earth. But I started making friends with the five other kids President Obama let NASA take on this wonderful journey to the International Space Station!
Dedicated: to the hard working NASA astronauts at the International Space Station.