The United States Air Force
553rd Reconnaissance Wing
Life Support Equipment Section Shop

First Life Support image added 05/26/00 on the individual and crew photo page, moved to this page 06/21/14, Last updated 07/23/14.

This page has information about the Life Support Equipment Section of the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing. Life Support was responsible for the care, maintenance, repair, inspection and storage of paracutes, survival vests, life rafts, and other safety equipment. Life Support carried out its responsibilities in building 1919, which was located between the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron building 1918, the 553rd Reconnaissance Squadron building 1920.

Life Support Equipment Section doesn't show as an unique squadron of the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing organizational chart. Input from those assigned to the Life Support Shop indicates those working Life Support reported directly to a flying squadron operations officer. John Anderson, who has provided many of the images below, was assigned to the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron, and was housed in building 601, the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron barracks.

If you can confirm those assigned to Life Support reported directly to a flying squadron, or correct my assumption, or add additional information please contact webmaster Larry Westin at

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Images and Information about the 553rd Recon Wing
Life Support Equipment Section Shop

While the official wing name is "Life Support Equipment Section" for those assigned, I will in most cases use the more common name of "Life Support Shop" on this page.

Shown in front of the 553rd Life Support Equipment Section Building 1919 is Ron Bogota. Ron was a Crew Bus Driver, normally driving those of us in the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron. My thanks to Ron Bogota for the image. B&W, about 39K, Added 05/26/00.

Between the 554th Recon Squadron building, and the 553rd Recon Squadron Building, was the Life Support Shop. This is an interior view of the Life Support shop. Left to right Charlie Brown, Bernie Rattay, and Spink. Survival vests on left, yellow bags are for life rafts. My thanks to Bernie Rattay for the image. Color, about 121K. Added 09/13/09.

This image is of the interior view of the main area of the shop. On the left is the counter area where gear was issued to crews, the vest rack and the parachuted storage racks. To the rear is the exit onto the flight line access road. The rafts and the LPU's are inflated for a 24 hour test, then re-packed by us. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 158K. Added 06/21/14.

Image of the EC-121 Air Crew life support gear. We stored and maintained all this equipment, both in and out of the aircraft. Also kept and maintained the flak vests. As modeled a Smoke Mask is shown being worn. There were 10 smoke masks stored in the EC-121R. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 160K. Added 06/21/14.

Part of the agreement between the United States and Thailand for the USAF to use Thai air bases was that NO USAF personnel, other than Security Police and K-9 Handlers, could carry weapons in Thailand. For 553rd Reconnaissance Wing missions into the combat areas aircrews required a side arm in case of bailing out over enemy territory. To comply with the U.S. - Thai agreement side arms were kept in locked cases until the EC-121R departed on the mission. Life support maintained the side arms, which were Smith and Wesson model 15 revolvers with a 4 inch barrel. Life support also maintained the survival vests, which contained the amunition. Life support maintained control over the side arm and survival vest by requiring each aircrew member to sign for these items. Here is a weapon and survival vest sign out chit. My thanks to Les Robbins for the image. Color, about 187K. Added 07/23/14.

Life Equipment Shop also provided ditching and survival training view 1. SSgt Russell, one of our folks in Life Support, who did the "water" instruction, is in the one man life raft. SSgt John Anderson second from left standing. Ditching and survival training view 2. The EC-121R carried two 20 man life rafts, one stored in each wing root locker. The C-121G aircraft used by the 553rd had 5 twenty man life rafts, two in the left wing root, one in the right wing root, plus another by each of two main entry doors. To remove and inflate the 20 man lift rafts the emergency exits had to be removed in the EC-121R. Left side emergency exit at the radio operator station, the right side emergency exit at the navigators station. After the emergency exits were removed a "T" handle was accessible. Pull the "T" handle at each emergency exit to open the wing storage locker on that side of the EC-121R, which ejected and inflated the twenty man life raft. SSgt Russell is holding the rope from the side of the pool with a crew member climbing into the 20 man raft. My thanks to John Anderson for these images. Both images B&W, about 149K and 175K respectively. Added 06/21/14.

Sgt. Barry Jundt in the Life Support Shop. He was packing Life Preserver Units (LPU's) on the back table. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 152K. Added 06/21/14.

At the Life Support counter are left to right - "Puchi" who was a nice guy who did the cleaning of the building, SSgt Jimmy Allen and SSgt. John Anderson. Please note the sign above the counter, "Your Life Is Our Business." My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 97K. Added 06/21/14.

View out the back of the Life Support Shop. The blue vehicle pictured on the right is our "Step Van," we called "Old Blue." This was our transportation to and from the line, and to other areas around the base. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 210K. Added 06/23/14.

Our step van, called "Old Blue" out on the flight line. Life Support maintained a lot of the safety equipment which normally stayed with the aircraft. Twenty man life rafts, parachutes and smoke masks for example were kept in the aircraft. Life Support serviced this equipment on the aircraft, or brought the safety equipment back to the shop for service. To the right, down the ramp is where the 553rd RWG's birds butted up against the perimeter of the base. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 225K. Added 06/23/14.

View of the Life Support Shops crew. Left to right, SSgt Jimmy Allen, Thai lady name unknown, unknown standing, MSgt. Dockum NCOIC of Life Support, "Marty" Martinez, and Gross. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 314K. Added 07/23/14.

Life Support reported to these officers. Left to right, unknown officer on left, Major Fidalgo on right who was Life Support's boss's boss. My thanks to John Anderson for the image. Color, about 276K. Added 07/23/14.

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