The History of InfoAge Science & History Museums

Oral Histories - Oral History of Frank Vosk and William Speakman

Interviewer: Michael Ruane
Date: 1998?
Place: Camp Evans – 9039
Media: NTSC Video
Summary: Mr. Irv Bauman

TAPE 3:
Frank Vosk and Wm. S. Speakman, R&D Tech Support Agency, Rigger’s Group Frank started in 1848, working thru 1978, 28 yrs. in Evans, 2 years in Hexagon Bldg. Bill had the same service but retired in 1977. Project Diana had already contacted the moon when their work was underway. Both men supported the Evans engineers, moving heavy equipment horizontally and/or vertically for them. Frank helped to construct a TV tower in Bldg. 4, Evans, then it moved to Ft. Monmouth.

In 1960, Frank supported the tracking effort of the first two satellites with the help of an RCA contract converting dishes using dipoles which held the pod that tracked satellites. Frank pointed to photos, one of the “Bedspring” dishes that tracked Tiros I and 2 Satellites.

Bill spoke about his part in the construction of the Sunset Ave, Oakhurst, NJ Tower (402 ft. high), which would connect with the Diana Test Site, to line up with satellites. He used a reference book to define parameters applicable to when the satellite passed overhead. He spoke of boresighting to the dish, to Diana Site. He was involved with parachute design for dropping heavy military equipment (like jeeps) from hovering aircraft. The tower had an elevator which employed counterweights to help mechanically. Every 50 ft, he installed anemometers for Meteorological Branch. On one occasion, a Met Dr. Womabn was stuck in the elevator and the riggers got her free of the elevator safely. Additionally, he spoke of “Diaperville”, an Army barracks where clotheslines were filled with diapers. He spoke of a project involving two hand grenades mounted on tall poles. These grenades would be exploded with sensors counting fragment cumbers.

Frank’s group replaced bad tubes in Signal equipment, earning the designation of “Riggerticians” the early 1950’s, during the McCarthy Hearings, his group moved Lou Kaplan’s office furniture to the Diana Test site while under indictment for radical activity by McCarthy’s team.  Frank liked his work at Evans because his activity was so varied. It included testing artillery shells, and setting up atypical Vietnam Village at Camp Polk, LA.   Additionally, he helped develop sensors in the Evans Area.
His Rigger group built metal towers; Carpenter  Shop made the wooden items.

He stated that the Rigger group had 28 men, 3 to 4 men per crew. Two crane operators unloaded heavy equipment from trucks. He helped to build towers, move furniture. At Ft. Dix, he helped to set up and tear down equipment systems like raising antennas, moving buildings. There was travel involved, which was shared among the men. He also referred to Grand Junction, Colorado, where 500 tons of TNT were used to determine the effects of blast on antennas and buildings. Furthermore, he traveled to set up sensors to record useful information to engineers. The work of the Riggers was always subject to Safety Control.

Page created August 2, 2002

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