In mid-September, some real U-2 veterans will gather at Beale AFB, California, the home of the aircraft today. It may well be the last-ever reunion of former members of the 4080th and 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wings.
The 4080th was the original US Air Force U-2 outfit, based at Laughlin AFB in Texas from 1957. The wing moved to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona in 1963. It was renumbered as the 100th in 1966. The wing was deactivated in 1976 when the U-2s moved to Beale and joined the 9th Wing, which was operating the SR-71 there.
Laughlin AFB is just outside Del Rio in southwest Texas, on the border with Mexico. It was a suitably remote location for the new top-secret spyplane. Despite the distance, veterans of the wing gathered there every few years for a reunion that was organized by The Laughlin Heritage Foundation, a group of local citizens who wanted to recognize and preserve the unique history of the base. They have created a small museum in downtown Del Rio to do just that.
I will always be grateful to these folks, for welcoming me to their reunions. I attended my first one in 1987, and it boosted my resolve to write a book about their unique airplane. I published DRAGON LADY in 1989, the first of my four volumes on the U-2.
The reunion at Beale is being organized by Tony Bevacqua, who was one of the original Air Force U-2 pilots. He later flew the SR-71 from Beale, and retired in nearby Yuba City. Well done Tony!
Attendees will gather on Wednesday 11th September before enjoying two days of briefings on base, plus social events. I will be a guest speaker.
The reunion is open to all former members of the 4080th/100th and their guests. For more details, contact Tony Bevacqua by email: firstname.lastname@example.org