I was born and raised in NE Kansas in a small town by the name of Sabetha. Back then it was just another town in Kansas, today it is famous for the man who invented the extrusion process for Hay pillets (all the dog and cat food, cereals, etc) was from there. They have a huge plant there with over 450 employees.

When I was a freshman in high school, my folks moved to Seattle, just one week before the beginning of WWII While in high school in 1942-43, I worked in the summer for Boeing building B17's. In 1943, I worked on the first 6 nose sections of the new B-29 (production models). Little did I know then I would later fly in them. In my junior year five of us joined the Air Force Reserve for pilot training. We were the last class called up from the NW in July of 1945. Pilot training was canceled so we then went to Keesler, MS for basic training. Half way through basic training the 509th dropped the bombs that ended the war Following three days of close down, we finished basic training.

I was later sent to Lowery Field in Denver for tech school. Four of us re-upped for three years to go to Germany to photograph the war crimes trials. (
I was taught photography by a Boeing employee.) In Feb of 1946 we shipped from Ft Worth to Roswell - and the 715th Addn Sqdn (509th) assigned to the 3rd Photo. In May of 1946 went to Kwaj for Crossroads and then back to Roswell. I got out in November of 1948 and went to work as a civilian at Edwards AFB (1951) for 9+ years. I worked with Chuck Yeager and 7 out of the first Space Cadets including Armstrong. I then went back to Seattle, got in with the FAA and worked until retirement at age 55 with 35+ years service. I reached Division Level. I later worked for 8 years for a small airline here in Carlsbad, CA. - Mel Foley


The following photographs are from Mel Foley's personal collection. Some of the photos are taken by Mel, others obtained while he worked in the photo lab. All are copyrighted - so please do not take without Mel's written permission. Please click on the small photos to see the larger ones.

Mel in Roswell 1946





C-54 taking off at Roswell 1946
Twin P-51 arrives at Roswell B36 takeover B29 Roswell 1948
B-25 at Roswell Boeing tanker - first refueler
In flight at Roswell B-29 in flight Roswell 1947
B-29 (302) in flight Roswell B-29's in flight Roswell 1947
B-29 #486401 in flight
1947 Roswell
Edwards AFB 1950's during open house. Muroc dry lake in back. B36, B29, B52, etc.
B-29 taken from above 1947 Roswell More B-29s in Roswell 1947
291 Climbing out from Roswell Mel washing prints in the washer at 3rd Photo Roswell
B-29 Roswell on a mission Blanchard inspects F-80
B-29 # 401 in flight Roswell F-80 visits Roswell
440 Coming in for landing - Roswell 1947 Squadron over Lake Worth, 1947 (Roswell)
The three photos below were sent to me as copies by Ex PFC M. Kinball who was a Photo Draftsman at Kwaj. He is also a retired College professor (PhD). He also gave me one of his First day Covers carried by Daves Dream on the "A" drop.

The aerial shot of our area on Kwaj is the best. When you look at the photo, start at the left hand side. A B-29 is setting there at end of a hardstand. Look down toward the ocean. See the wrecked airplane there? What kind?? To the right you will see two B17s setting on stand,

The other planes next to operations is a C54. At the top of photo is the lagoon at Kwaj. The huge T-shaped building is the Photo Lab. The early arrivals had to completely rebuild the inside of the building to make a photo lab. This had been an old bakery. The Seabees built the entire base after we took it from the Japanese. (Everything was leveled).

Across the street from this building you will see a line of barracks. Their is a gap between the barracks just across the street from the Photo Lab. The first barracks was mine. (Note the small buildings along the beach next to the lagoon. These were out showers, etc.) They had brackish water so you never really got clean. The soap wouldn't even lather. Go about one inch to your right across the street and an open field from the C5. (Note a fan-shaped area. You may need a magnifying glass). This was the Ernie Plye Open Air Theater. Coming back across the field from the theater between the two buildings across the road; the large building is the Headquarters for all the big chiefs etc..

If you look about an inch to the left of the parked B29 into the ocean it looks like another airplane in the water??? The shot of the Trees and guys I think was Burnett Island(R & R)--We got one day off in fours months-Now the shot of the windmill washing machine was quite a deal--That was how we washed our clothes-No laundry on Kwaj-You could send them to Hawaii, but took for ever-The early arrivals invented these machines-The bad water never let you get much suds etc.--
More from Mel below
Mel operating Photostat 1946 with the 3rd Photo. This is the first copy machine. #291 over the mountains in New Mexico
B-29 flying over the Rockies in 1947 430 at Roswell early 1948. We were 15th AF changed to 8th AF and now SAC
715th Wins Base Championship in basketball -1947 715th Commander Lt. Col Walter Y. Lucas a 20th AF pilot. He died 2 years ago in Boise, ID

YR5A Sikorsky Copter -one of the first. Landed at Roswell for refueling. It was coming from Wright Field, OH on the way to be stationed at Alamogordo, NM to work at White Sands Base
7-7-47

Armed Forces Day at Roswell

Photo credit: S/MSGT Beecher(715th)

C54 loading at Roswell on its way to Kwaj 1946 Straight Flush, 1947

Photo Credit: S/Sgt Slusher(393rd)
Flyover at Roswell

Photo Credit: S/Mgt Beecher(715th)
Flyover at Roswell

Photo Credit: S/Mgt Beecher(715th)
Refueling Squadron at Roswell

Photo Credit: S/Mgt Beecher(715th)
Refueling at Roswell

Photo Credit: S/Mgt Beecher(715th)
B-29 flying out of Roswell, 1947

Photo Credit: S/Sgt Zorn
 
Roswell flight 1947

Photo credit: Dr. John Moore
Roswell flight 1947

Photo credit: Dr. John Moore
Roswell flight 1947

Photo credit: Dr. John Moore
Roswell flight over locak mountains 1947

Credit: C. Schnider
Crossroads Photos
B-29 #383 coming at Kwaj 1946 Crossroads (Foley, Michelena, Forker) First drink for me in Hawaii
PFC Foley at Kwaj in Lab in Aerial Film Processing room-6-46 Dave's Dream
To left is aerial view of Kwaj - see description above

Photo Credit: M. Kinball(San Jose Ca)

Photo Credit: M. Kinball(San Jose Ca)

Windmill washing machines.That was how we washed our clothes. No laundry on Kwaj-You could send them to Hawaii, but took for ever. The early arrivals invented these machines but the bad water never let you get much suds.


Photo Credit: M. Kinball(San Jose Ca)
Pleasure Island at Kwaj - I think this was actually Burnett Island. We got one day off in fours months to go there for some R & R. The 509th insignia on a B-29

Arriving by boat to Kwaj



B-17 drone
C-54 in for repairs

B-29 at Kwaj
Gen Ramey-Adm. Blandy at Kwaj-1946 Col Cullen(our CO) and Gen Ramey inspect the Photo Lab, 1946 Kwaj
B-29 grounded at Kwaj, 1946

Col. Cullen and two others-1946-Kwaj
My friend, Clifton Bryant Enola Gay(Col. Tibbets) taxiing out at Kwaj 1946
B-29 over bikini area, 1946 Golf course at Kwaj 1946
Opening night at Kwaj golf course, Gen Ramey, Col Blanchard, M/Sgt Brown, Pfc Foley, Pfc Emerson General Eisenhower at Kwaj (He stopped on his way to Japan).
General Eisenhower with Col. Young, Kwaj, 1946 B-29 landing at Kwaj 1946
Guien Field-Kwaj, 1946 played softball Mel at Kwaj
Formation of us at Kway 1946 when General Ramey arrives. Unit 1.5 Orderly room, Kwaj 1946
Gen. Ramey arrives on Kwaj 1946 Aerial shot Photo Lab on Kwaj 1946
The Trough Beer Hall, Kwaj 1946 C54 at Kwaj being repaired, 1946
6-46-Col.Blanchard, Col. Cullen, Col. Young, Gen Ramey and #2000 arrive at Kwaj


Kwaj in the 1960's

 

Photo Credit: Jerry Wood, 320th Troop Carrier Squadron

Kwaj in the 1960's
Photo Credit: Jerry Wood, 320th Troop Carrier Squadron Kwaj was completely redone for the 1960 bomb tests held over there. ~Mel
Mel 2003

Mel and his family now

Many thanks to mel for sharing these many photos and their stories with us.


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