"Silent Warriors” infiltrate Port Orford

Sleepy Port Orford, Oregon was gently awakened on June 16th with an infiltration of “WAGers.” Their mission, to reconnoiter surroundings prior to the June 18th arrival of the main contingent. Mission was successfully accomplished with early reconnaissance of the town's attractions and local restaurants. These visits will long be remembered by establishment employees who had the good fortune (?) to be servers, as well as by any local patrons within earshot.

Members of the “Western Area Group” (including attendees from NM, NE and IL) these former Aerial Reconnaissance “Silent-Warriors” are a regional segment of the worldwide “Prop Wash Gang,” an elite group of former and current Air Force Intelligence operatives who collect and analyze vital Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) data while flying sophisticated/highly classified aircraft around and over hostile territories. (http://sw.propwashgang.org)

Port Orford became the designated location for this first WAG event simply because their hosts were Rick Francona, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret) and Emily Francona, Major, USAF (Ret), who reside in this community. Col. Rick is currently a Middle-East Military Analyst with NBC and their affiliates MSNBC and CNBC while Major Emily is a prominent member of the Port Orford City Council. Both are also active within other community projects and events, such as the Life Boat Station. Airlee Owens of nearby Bandon, a former USAF Security Service (USAFSS) Russian Linguist (turned highly talented local photographer) assumed the role of co-host.

Base Camp was established at the Sea Crest Motel on Highway 101 South where proprietor and Manager, Bob Ebert, a former Analyst with the Army Security Agency (ASA), became an unexpected though very welcome interactive participant with the group. The motel-provided Hospitality Suite (co-incidentally and unexpectedly also the designated sleeping quarters for our co-host … or “sub-host” as we than dubbed him) became the daily “after-hours” focal point following the events of each day. Kudos must accrue to any non-WAGer motel guests who might have had the “luck-of-the-draw” to be assigned to nearby accommodations……

A Friday late-afternoon/evening social gathering at the Francona residence with its fabulous view of the harbor below and Humbug mountain in the distance, provided a breathtaking backdrop to compliment wide-ranging conversations, endless pitchers of Margaritas and trays of delicious finger snacks. A half-dozen local citizens and dignitaries, including the Port Orford Harbor Manager, were also in attendance.

The Port Orford Lifeboat Station and Museum became the Saturday afternoon collection point, where key staff-member Rick provided an oral history and indoor/outdoor tour of the facility. After a brief (but lucrative for the museum) browse through the gift shop, Emily led the group along the three scenic pathways covering the extensive grounds. The awesome view from the southwestern-most point rendered the (somewhat aging) warriors breathless … (or was it the short hike?)

The capstone for the weekend's activities occurred Saturday night with a catered private dinner at “The Breadworks.” A delicious salmon dinner (baked in parchment) optionally washed down with choices of wine, was served up by the establishment's chef, “The Breadman” and his staff. As it turned out, “The Breadman” was a former USAF Command and Control Technician at Hahn Air Base, Germany in the 1960's, and as such, peripherally familiar with the Mission of the Silent-Warriors. He was invited to sit-in at the conclusion of kitchen activities, and to present the group with his oral history … as did “ASA Bob” Ewalt and all the WAGers & WAGettes. Quoting Col. Rick, “The history in that room at the dinner was awesome, spanning generations of our business.”

A final Sunday morning breakfast, followed with an impromptu gathering in the parking lot of the Sea Crest. The group “settled-up” their final obligations and (sans a pair of die-hards who remained for one extra day) the group of elites disbanded to return to their diverse homes and normal activities … until the next event.

--A. Ron Kriegel
“Silent Warrior”
(Lake) Petersburg, IL

Stan, Ron, Larry Ron and Larry Larry and Lori Ron, Larry, Airlee
Ron and Stan Rosie Arrives Ron, Rosie, Stan, Larry Unpacking Groceries
Addressing Troops Laura Laura, Rosie, Larry Lunch
Lunch Vic and Rosie Vic Calvo Bud Rosenstrom
On Shuttle The Shumans Arriving at Franconas Rosie in back yard
Emily, Larry, Vic Rick on duty Rick on duty Rick on duty
The Whites Our AMT's Coast Guard Rosie and Bill
Guests Silent Warriors Rick Cooking Emily and Larry
Old Glory Ron, Janice, Larry Rick Cooking At Motel
Guard Station Tour Reserved Reserved Reserved