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Smither, James (Interviewer)

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Schaefer, William

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Bill Schaefer was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1943. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University in 1965. He enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to San Antonio, Texas for basic training. He was selected for top secret code work and was trained at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. With that training complete he was assigned to the 410th Bomb Wing stationed at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Michigan and got picked to serve aboard the airborne command post, flying missions out of Guam and directing B-52 bombing raids over North Vietnam. In May 1966 he was sent to Lindsey Air Station, West Germany and was assigned to Central European Operations, part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. During his time with them he worked to stop the desertion of soldiers, tracked uranium shipments in the Eastern Bloc, and oversaw the retrieval of codes from the U.S. embassy in Czechoslovakia (Prague Spring), Wheelus Air Force (Gaddafi seizure of Libya), and the U.S. embassy in Jordan (Jordanian Civil War). In the early 1980s he was assigned to the Pentagon to work with Tactical Air Control Party units and retired from that in 2003. He is now an active member of the Kent County Honor Guard aiding veterans and veterans' families.

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Veterans History Project collection, (RHC-27)