Air Force Program Office SP21

Here is a photo of the Air Force (SAFSP-21) Payload Program office:  

Sitting: Capt Randy Cohen, Capt Don Aguirre

Standing: Capt Mike Dunn, Capt Stephen Gourley, Maj George Grogan (Gambit), Lt Col (Sel) Phil Datema.  Cira 1984. 

At the time Datema worked for Col Les McChristian, the HEXAGON and GAMBIT payload Progam Manager.  Datema, who replaced Gainey Best, was responsible for the Hexagon and Gambit payloads. Col Larry Cress replaced McChristian as the HEXAGON Payload Manager after the last Gambit mission in 1984.

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Playing the Clarinet at the PE Christmas Show led by Joe Zelle

Nick De Filippis, the manager of the mechanical engineering department at Perkin-Elmer in Danbury, Connecticut was a talented guy. In addition to being a fine engineer he was a good clarinet player. He played in the Perkin-Elmer band at the Christmas show for many years. The show was led by Joe Zelle who also worked at PE in Danbury. In his younger days Joe was a masterful trumpeter and band leader. He was also leader of the Casa Ritz Orchestra, the house band of the Ritz Ballroom in Bridgeport from 1947 until 1962. Joe also played for proms at many schools in Fairfield, County. Both Joe and Nick worked on the Hubble Space Telescope and the Hexagon satellite programs. The cast of the Christmas shows, as well as the many children of PE employees over a span of 25 years loved the band and the popular annual musicals that Joe produced and directed. 

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West Coast Field Office Personel at Perkin-Elmer

This old photo was taken in the blockhouse at Vandenberg Air Force Base on 18 April 1986, the day the 20th and last Hexagon satellite was launched. Unfortunately it exploded about 1000 feet above the pad. Some of the Perkin-Elmer WCFO (West Coast Field Office) crew were trapped in the blockhouse for several hours before being allowed to leave. They were subjected to the extreme noise and shaking of the ground during the explosion and subsequent damage to the area outside the blockhouse.

left to right. Lyle Lindasy, Chuck Bruener, John Knauer, Roy Odom, Don Armstrong, Ed Woyshner, Capt. Steve Gorley (customer), and Ken Dudschus. In the background on the wall are things from previous missions such as cut ties, a tradition after each successful launch.

Don Armstrong provided this photo.

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Perkin-Elmer West Coast Field Office group that searched the Vandenberg AFB area near the launch pad for several days for leftover film after the rocket explosion in 1986. They recovered much debris ending up with numerous bags of film and other items.

Left to right:

Bill McCafferty, Jim Dimas, Ken Dudchus, George Manolis, Frank Harrigan, John Thomson, Jim Manis, Don Armstrong, John Knauer.

Their shirts say “Slick Bushwackers.”

Here is another photo of some of the west coast staff in front of the memento wall with souvenir ties cut from participants in past launches. Sorry for those I could not identify. 

Figure 4. Some of the West Coast  Personnel jpg.jpg

Fishing with Sam Palasciano

After a diligent search Sam Palasciano found two old photographs of a fishing trip with some Perkin-Elmer colleagues and a few unknowns. Several boats left together from Point Judith harbor, Rhode Island in 1983.

He attempts to identify those in the groups. In the kitchen scene are left to right: Sam, Al Pirone, ?, John Savitski, ?, Bob Kelley, Frank Scott, John Montouri, Bob Browbne, Dick Whittlesey, ?. 

At the docks are left to right: Frank Scott, ?, ?, John Montouri, John Savitski, Al Pirone, Bob Browne, Bob Kelley, Dick Whittlesey.

If anyone has photos of other PE related folks please email them to me at 

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A Youthful Photo

Frank Sileo, one of my best friends, worked at Perkin-Elmer for many years. He was a thermal analysis expert and worked on many programs including Mats and Hexagon. He lives in Ridgefield and each time my wife and I come to the east coast we try to get together for dinner. It is great to reminisce.

The purpose of this posting is to show Frank in his youth with dark hair, not white like now, and his young recognizable face. He is seen in the bottom row at the extreme left of this group photo taken at his Teaneck, New Jersey high school. How many of us have such an old photo from high school. He attended Stevens University and graduated as a mechanical engineer.

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