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"The first month we did a million feet of film, and it went up from there--that’s how many missions we were flying." (Video interview, 38:51)

   Arthur Edwin Roberts
Collection image
Arthur Roberts [detail from video]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Cold War
Branch: Air Force; Air Force
Unit: 6594th Test Squadron; 9th Strategic Wing; 460th Reconnaissance Technician Squadron; 193rd Special Operations Group, Pennsylvania Air National Guard
Service Location: Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado; Misawa Air Base, Japan; Westover AFB, Massachusetts; Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam; Beale AFB, California; also: Middletown International Airport (IAP), Pennsylvania
Rank: Staff Sergeant; Staff Sergeant
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After being turned down by the Army because he was color blind, Staff Sergeant Arthur E. Roberts enlisted in the Air Force--only to find that many options for specialized service were still out of bounds. Fortunately, in what he describes as a “fairy godmother moment,” he was able to train in photography, as it was nearly all done in black and white. This specialty would guide his future career: after spending two years in Japan, he served at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, working twelve-hour shifts in a top secret environment developing film from Corona spy satellites. Transferring to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam, he served with a photo reconnaissance unit, processing intelligence photos of North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (87 min.)
»Photo Album  (1 photo)
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»Vietnam War: Looking Back Part 4
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Attempted to enlist in the Army; rejected because he was color blind; enlisting in the Air Force; choosing photography as a specialty. (03:43) Deployment to Misawa, Japan; working a the base photo lab; taking pictures of anything and everything happening on base. (01:28) Receiving assignment to work at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, MA; spending four years there; working on an extremely secret operation; developing satellite photos. (03:46)
Experiences working in a top-secret environment. (01:53) Arrival in Vietnam; first night spent in Saigon; running into a high school classmate in the middle of the night. (03:52) Working on a photo recon operation; working out of trailers; extensive massive amounts of film. (01:38)
Experience with ham radio; working in TV production work in Vietnam; meeting radio and TV celebrities such as Pat Sajak and Adrian Cronauer; seeing USO shows. (05:24) Keeping in touch with family; sometimes communicating with his wife via radio. (03:38) 

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  October 26, 2011
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