Hometown Heroes - Bob Wheeldon
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A Lake Charles native who went off to join the Air Force, found himself back in his hometown serving a two-year deployment. Bob Wheeldon became part of the Strategic Air Command.
“I was the navigator/bombardier. I had the job of keeping us on track, finding the destination. We were doing practice bomb runs. We didn’t drop any real bombs. It was my job to get the bomb on the target.”
Wheeldon is talking about his days serving on board a B-47 Stratobomber in the Strategic Air Command. After basic training, he found himself back in his hometown of Lake Charles at Chennault Air Base.
“There was about 4,000 people there, so it was crowded. There were 2 bomb wings when I got there and then right after the 44th left. So it was a little bit less crowded. A lot of people lived in the Village, the Terrace. That area up and down highway 14. A lot of people lived in Oak Park and even University place.”
Being a SAC base, many people didn’t realize there were nuclear weapons in the Lake Area during that time.
“We actually stored thermonuclear bombs, hydrogen bombs, atomic bombs here in Lake Charles. And if you go out on the east side of Walmart...there’s a road that goes all the way. If you look and see those mounds out there on the right. That’s where the bombs were stored.”
Wheeldon later served 2 terms on the Lake Charles City council from 1968 to 1976. He served in the Air Force Reserves after Chennault. Wheeldon and his wife Frances will celebrate 66 years of marriage on September 9.
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