Press-Republican

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June 8, 2014

Veterans recall time at PAFB at museum opening

Former servicemen share memories at opening of new Plattsburgh facility

PLATTSBURGH — U.S. Air Force veteran Edward Hanlon has fond memories of his time service Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

Moving from Potsdam to Plattsburgh about a year ago, he heard talk of a museum-in-the-making that would honor PAFB, and he supported the effort.

And he was there on Saturday for the grand opening of the new facility on Washington Road, appropriately located on the former base.

"I think it's important for the community to preserve what was here," Hanlon said.

From 1963 to 1965, Hanlon, 71, worked in the Quality Control and Evaluation Department at the base, which oversaw the work of the missile crews.

"If you look around at all these other buildings ... they show another time," he said, adding that the Air Force Base is a key part of Plattsburgh's rich history.

Hanlon was one of about 20 members of the 556th Strategic Missile Squadron who attended the opening.

 

'A THRILL'

Along with visiting the museum, the veterans took a tour of the base, viewing some structures they remember well.

"I hadn't been in that missile (storage) site in 49 years, and it's kind of a thrill," said Ed Deshields, 71, who traveled from Austin, Texas, for the museum opening. 

"It's nice for me because it's a part of my history."

Describing 1960s Plattsburgh as a town with a vibrant nightlife, Deshields smiled when he talked about revisiting a former bar not far from the museum, where he met his wife so many years ago.

"Plattsburgh was a good place to be," said Hanlon, who also met his wife while assigned to the base.

A missile facilities technician in the Air Force, Deshields also remembers many a cold, blustery night spent on the base bundled up in layers upon layers of clothing.

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