Service personnel posted on the B-52 Col Keith R Heggen Col Heggen served in the Air Force form 1952- 1972 until his death on Dec 26th when he was captured in Vietnam. During his service he received many medals and after his death he received a Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and several other medals. CMSG Charlie S Poole CMSG Poole Served from 1951- 1972 until his death on Dec 19th when he was captured in Vietnam. During his service he received many medals and ribbons. After his death he received a Distinguished Flying Cross and many Air Medals along with other ribbons and medals.
The above Plaque reads; “B-52D Number 687, 1957-1984 This veteran bomber is the last of its breed to be retired from active duty. Her final flight from Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth, Texas to Orlando was made on February 20th, 1984, twenty- seven years after first joining the operational roster of Strategic Air Command. The Black paint of the Air Force 687 attests to many combat sorties in the Viet Nam conflict; the wrinkled skin to many low altitude training flights for the strategic mission; and the massive silhouette to the thousands of hours standing alert that epitomize the SAC dedication; PEACE IS OUR PROFESSION. From 1963 to 1974 the 306th Bombardment Wing at McCoy Air Force Base (now Orlando International Airport) was equipped with these B-52D’s. They Memorialize these eleven years of exemplary joint effort, coordination and friendship between the military and the community, and our venerable war and peace bird, like many of those who flew and cared for her, has made Central Florida home in testimony to a lasting bond.”
Rear view of the B-52
View of the area that would have had the tail guns
Backstory and Context
The site is on a blind corner on Bear Rd. Drive back until the end of the road and the entrance to park is on the left. Upon parking the memorial consists of the B-52 Stratofortress, an elevated walkway with stairs, a service K9 memorial but there appears to not be anything of significance there and some picnic tables. The memorial is located adjacent to the 528. There are no fences to deter people from walking right up to the plane and explore it.
The site is part of Orlando international airport with the airport code of MCO. MCO stands for McCoy Air Force Base. The reason is the airport used to have a different name of McCoy Airforce Base; it was a Strategic Air Command (SAC). McCoy was home to the 306th Bombardment Wing flying the b-52 Stratofortress and kc-135 stratotankers. The 306th replaces the 4047th Strategic Wing unit This was on April 1, 1963 and lasted until 1974 when the base started to be used for a civilian airport. The b-52 Stratofortress 56-0687 at the memorial was built in 1956 and was in service for 28 years, it was retired in 1984. It also served at Carswell AFB in Texas in the 7th bomb unit before its retirement. (306th Bomb Wing)
The B-52 is the redesign of a previous plane, the B-47. The B-47 had some problems such as “It was so streamlined it was hard to stop when landing, and if a pilot had to abort a landing and take-off again quickly, the engines did not always give him enough power.” (The B-52 Bomber). The B-52 has a wingspan on 185 feet, it has 8 jet engines, its max speed is 595 MPH, it housed a crew of 6 including a gunner that was in the tail.
They were used as a long-range nuclear bomber. (The B-52 Bomber) The B-52 was used in both WWII and the Cuban missile Crisis. During the time of the Cuban Missile crisis the beaches and life of people of Florida changed but not as drastically as it did in Key west. The Army took over a large part of Key West Beach to set up anti-aircraft missile launchers and reinforcing the beaches that faced Havana. (Woody, Christopher)
In 1962 the Cost of the average new home was 12,500.00, the average income was 5,556.0, a new car was 3,125.00 and a gallon of gas was .28 cents.
(Pearson, Steve) For people living in Orlando life was for the most part normal. According to Joy Dickinson, a reporter for the OrlandoSentinel.com, the headlines were more about the “grand opening of the expanded Colonial Plaza” and how it was “the largest and newest shopping complex south of Atlanta” than it was about what was about to happen. The date of the opening of the mall was also the date that President Kennedy addressed the nation about the discovery of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. (Comas, Martin)
306th Bomb Wing - SAC - MacDill AFB, B-47 - McCoy AFB, B-52,
Comas, Martin E. “B-52 CREW RECALLS COLD WAR CRISIS.” OrlandoSentinel.com,
26 Oct. 2018, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-2001-10-21-0110190391-story.html
Dickinson, Joy Wallace. “Mystery Filled the Skies during October 1962
Crisis.” Orlandosentinel.com, Orlando Sentinel, 12 Dec. 2018, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/os-joy-wallace-dickinson-1028-story.html.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) - Airport - Orange County Convention Center,
Orlando, FL, http://www.communitywalk.com/location/orlando_international_airport_mco/info/8830124.
Pearson, Steve. “What Happened in 1962 Important News and Events, Key Technology
and Popular Culture.” The People History, http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1962.html.
“Shadow Box.” TogetherWeServed,
“Shadow Box.” TogetherWeServed,
“The B-52 Bomber: The Air Force's Workhorse.” History, Salem Media, 31 May 2017,
Woody, Christopher. “56 Years Ago, the Cuban Missile Crisis Took the World to the
Brink of Nuclear War - Here's What It Looked like from Sunny Florida Beaches.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 28 Oct. 2018,
Images are taken by Rebecca Nicelli 2019