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Direct Hit

Section # 3

“The Extended Mission of
Stardust Four Zero”
a book length story by
Bill Baumer

Soviet MiG-15s

U.S. SR-71
Copyright 1999 William H. Baumer
ISBN# 0-9704359-1-6

Permission for publication on web site RB-29.net
authorized by author on 11/29/03
Editor's Introduction

It gives me special pleasure to add this book-length story to our growing web site, whose mission it is to find, record, publish and preserve stories from WW II, the Korean War and the early Cold War. The author of this story, Bill Baumer, has lived a most remarkable collection of experiences stemming from his service as Operations Officer and Aircrew Member of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, flying out of Yokota Air Base, Japan. To me, his story reflects the underlying connections that the Korean War had with the early evolution of the Cold War as the Soviet Union began to cloak their plans for world domination through the spread of Communism in ever-growing secrecy and deception.

In January of 1953, Bill had orders in his pocket to return to the States after completing his assignment with the 91st SRS. He agreed to fly one last mission to help out his squadron at a time when their regular recon crews were over-scheduled with important missions. His duty was to give a check flight to an experienced B-29 crew that had recently been placed on TDY duty with the squadron to reduce the mission load on the individual 91st SRS crews. Little did he know that he would not get to use those orders that would take him back home. The Chinese Communists had other plans that would delay his return until August 1955.

Many months ago, when I first learned of Bill Baumer's experiences, published in a limited-edition book entitled “The Extended Mission of Stardust Four Zero,” I established a listing of his work in the Contributed Stories Section of our Index of stories and articles. As described in that section, he has also published a related novel entitled “Far East Mosaic”. For me, this was one of the most compelling books I have ever encountered in my entire life. If, sooner or later, you want to learn how and where to obtain either or both of these publications, you can just click here to access that information with an easy return with your “back” button.

As you become familiar with Bill's story, you will learn why this document of personal experiences provides an intimate, comprehensive window to the dawning of the Cold War. I commend this story to teachers and students, of all ages, who are striving to sort out the history and relationships of the Korean War and the early Cold War which shaped our nation's focus and efforts for decades to come.


RB-29.net Web Site Developer, Chuck Stone

Dedication and Prologue


To all the “folks back home”: my sisters, (Alice Moore, Dorothy Armstrong, Lois Bayolor, and Jeanne Hendricks), my brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and many friends, all of whom backed much concern with action — prayers, letters to me, letters to the Chinese Government, and contacts in various forms with the Government of the United States.

But especially to my Mother, Mary Ellen Baumer, who, despite her anguish and anxiety, became a person entirely different from the mild mannered lady I knew. She grasped the banner of a just cause and strode to the forefront, willing to face any person or obstacle when she felt action was indicated. Her efforts and many prayers were answered — an answer she earned.


Although this series of events begins during the Korean War, my service in the Air Force began in 1942 when that branch of the military was the Army Air Corps. It was then that I enlisted early in World War II.

Having qualified for pilot training at Santa Ana preflight school I completed primary flight training at Visalia, California – basic flight training at Merced, California – advanced flight training at Luke Field outside Phoenix, Arizona, where I earned my Wings and was commissioned as a brand new 2nd Lieutenant.

“What do you want to fly?”, the Training Squadron Commander asked as I took my place before his desk. “P-51s, Sir,” says I. He was looking at a chart, the content of which I could not see — if there was anything there. I'm not certain he even pretended to write anything but he smiled and said, “OK Lieutenant”. — My subsequent orders read, “Twin Engine Instructors School”.

After completing the instructors' program, I was sent to Roswell, New Mexico where I instructed cadets in Advanced Twin Engine School. This lasted only a few months during which construction began on the runways and ramps. This was the prelude to the introduction of four-engine B-17s.

Again, I went through instructors' school, this time in B-17s. However, this time we were instructing commissioned , flight-rated officers, some fresh out of flying school and some older pilots. Again, construction began on the field – longer runways, wider taxi strips and additional parking space. Sure enough one day a B-29 showed up! At that time the B-29 was the biggest bomber we had.

When I first started working in the B-17 I was not too pleased, but now, the bigger they came, the greater my desire to fly them – and I really liked that bird!

I remained at Roswell all during the war, and though I had applied for combat on a couple of occasions when “Do-you-want-to-go” lists came out. I suspect that these lists were mostly morale boosters because it seemed that only a few instructors who had gotten into difficulty ever went.

At the end of the war I was separated, but remained in the Army Air Force Reserves.

I attended college on the GI Bill and earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. While in college I managed to maintain a certain level of flying proficiency while joining Reserve units which had planes.

After graduating I investigated a couple of engineering offers and two airline offers. The ground jobs did not appeal to me nor did the airline prospects which meant starting as a flight engineer and, over time, being promoted to copilot and, eventually to captain. If I went back on active duty and probably went to Korea I would be again in the seat as Aircraft Commander.

After a refresher course, I was assigned to a crew and following some additional training, I became a member of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, now wearing the new U.S. Air Force Blue.

End of Editor’s Introduction & Author's
Dedication and Prologue

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Soviet FireFox

U.S. RF-4C

Soviet MiG-21

Soviet Tu-95

Soviet MiG-31

U.S. B-58

Soviet MiG-15s

Soviet Recon Duo

U.S. F-86s

U.S. B-36

Soviet Tu-16, Badger

U.S. B-52s

U.S. SR-71

Soviet Tu-95 Bear
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