Mascoutah Reunion Visit

Copyright © 1998-2010, Scott D. Murdock
26 Apr 2001 - Added photos.
24 Nov 2002 - Replaced photos with larger, clearer scans.
9 May 2010 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

Friday, 1 Aug 1997

Departed Louisiana at 1530.  No sightseeing on this day, and I stopped for the night in Forrest City, Arkansas, at 2130.  Covered 325 miles.

Saturday, 2 Aug 1997

Departed Forrest City at 0700.   While in Missouri, I briefly visited Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (CGI), 37-14, 89-34.  This was known as Harris Field during W.W.II, and was an AAF contract pilot school operated by Cape Institute of Aeronautics, Inc. 

I also stopped at Perryville Municipal Airport (K02), 37-52, 89-52, in McBride.  Known as Chester Field, this was also an AAF contract flying school in W.W.II, operated by Anderson Air Activities.  Neither showed much visible evidence of the war years.

My path took me directly by one of the St Louis Nike Sites, the one at Hecker, Illinois (SL-40). The control site (SL-40C), 38-17-24, 89-56-51, was easy to find as it is plainly marked "Beck Area Vocational School."  This compound was locked, so I took some photos from outside the fence. Most buildings seemed to be in use and well-maintained.  A separate fenced area contains sewage disposal ponds.  Heading South, I searched for the launcher area (SL-40L) and found it easily at 38-16-11, 89-57-00.  The site was locked and seemed abandoned.  I noted the foundation from the guard shack just inside the gate.  A dirt road passed by the west perimeter fence of the site, so I found myself just outside the fence looking directly at the launcher area.

Next on the agenda was Belleville AFS, 38-28-30, 89-54-15.  It now belongs to "S.A.V.E. Inc." and I could not find what the acronym stands for.  (I later learned it is St. Clair Associated Vocational Enterprises.)  The gate to the compound was wide open with no signs saying keep out, so I went on in.  There were cars outside the administration building but the door was locked and no one answered my knock.  The radar towers are gone, but I did find the bases of two of them, hiding in piles of trash. Several vintage AF buildings were still standing. The family housing area is in use, as are some of the vintage AFS buildings, including a windowless concrete blockhouse.   I noted possible legs from a height finder radar tower, and the foundation from the guard shack.  The USAF still controls a small part of the former AFS (one building next to a tall antenna in a small fenced area with a "HQ AFCA" sign).  This small piece of land is leased by the Air Force from S.A.V.E., and is now known as Belleville Test Annex.

Belleville AFS had a separate site for the GATR (Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver) known as the Belleville Communications Facility Annex, which I found next.  It is still in use by the USAF and has a variety of antennae on the property.

Next on the list was the former Scott Radio Range; it is easy enough to find as it is on "Radio Range Road" between two main highways.  It is still USAF controlled.

Closer to Scott AFB is the former Scott Munitions Storage Annex, at 38-31-10, 89-50-30.  It is now the Southern Illinois University-Belleville Research Center, apparently used for agriculture research.   Nothing of interest is visible from the public road, but there are a couple of munitions igloos on the site.

I obtained a nice room on Scott AFB, 38-33-30, 89-51-00. Their billeting has improved significantly since my TDY in ’90.   An old base gate has been nicely renovated.

Then, I drove the six miles to Mascoutah and attended my Mascoutah Community High School 20th Reunion.  It included a tour of the school (by the same principal we had in 1977), group photo, social hour and dinner.  Total miles for the day: 415.

Sunday, 3 Aug 1997

On the road at 0630. Visited the Parks Airport (CPS), 38-34-15, 90-11, in East St Louis, IL. This was the second location of this W.W.II contract flying school, operated by Parks Air College, Inc.   It was initially situated about a mile to the northeast on Curtis-Steinberg Field -- I didn't have detailed maps with me so I wasn't able to pinpoint the location of the earlier field.  One hangar looks like it might be W.W.II vintage.

Then I just pointed the car south-southwest and headed for home.  As I was driving west across Arkansas, I saw this impressive dust devil in a field just north of the highway.  To appreciate the size of this thing, notice the large farm tractor in the photo.  I drove 651 miles this day. Total trip was 49.5 hours, covering 1,391 miles.