Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Passing of David Schuur

I was looking at Frank Warren's site today and came across Robert Hasting's article relaying that David Schuur had passed on 31 May 2013.

Mr. Schuur had provided an interview to Robert Hastings back in 2008 describing a UFO encounter while on alert duty at Minot AFB back in the mid to late 1960s.  I had written a blog post regarding Mr. Schuur's experience back in December, 2010: "Did a UFO Attempt to Launch Minot AFB ICBMs?"

Recently, prior to Mr. Schuur's death, I had updated the post:

Update: 5/23/2013

David Schuur's interview to Robert Hastings brought up the idea that he had tapes to turn into his squadron and/or other base personnel.

I had downplayed this as confusion centering around printed tapes that would have recorded commands issued and received by the crew and that this capability was non-existent for the Minuteman I system.

Frankly, the confusion is mine.  David Schuur in all probability turned in recorded tapes after his alert cycle.  I came across a web page that detailed Minuteman alert crews back in 1967-68.  This apparently was an Air Force promotional spot that may have either aired on TV back in the 67-68 time frame or was a promotional film that was shown to civic gatherings.

In the film, it details a 12 SMS crew at Malmstrom AFB.  The film and it's narrator makes a point to show the voice tape recording system that was installed in the LCC.  Per the narrator, this was supposed to be activated during a higher state of readiness and in preparation to launching the flight's ICBMs.  Basically, it would have been a voice record of the event since there were no other capability to have a written trail to show the actions of the crew.

Obviously, by the time Minuteman II had been fielded, upgrades resulted in a printer system that recorded day to day actions of the crew.  These tapes had to be turned into the squadron hq when the crew returned to base.

Tim Hebert

I thought this to be an important item that I had discovered which clarified Mr. Schuur's statements regarding the issue of tapes.  

My sincere condolences to the Schuur family.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about Mr. Schuur's passing.

    Your write-up, however, reminded me about a question I had for you some time ago that I never got around to asking. In the Navy, way back when they used tapes as records in much the same way, the archive that was maintained only kept the actual tapes for 90-days (I think -- there may be a little doubt there, because when I was in the service, tapes were no longer maintained at all, since they weren't used, at least not to any extent that I was aware of). Was there a similar dated archive for the USAF? I doubt anybody saved anything that might be available today, but I'm curious as to whether there was an archive maintained for only brief periods. The navy only saved that sort of data long enough to ascertain that the archive wouldn't be necessary to prove the question should an accident, disaster, or criminal conduct make such a detailed record necessary to review. Since I hadn't heard of any such archive in the USAF, I thought the question should be asked.

    Sorry that I took so long to ask it, though.


  2. The tapes referred in David Schuur's statements involved audio tapes. In the documentary (I'll try and find it and post it) the tape recorder system was located above the deputy's console, appeared closer to the capsule ceiling. The system appeared to have been only activated during an EWO event. This would have been a voice record of the processing of an EAM and subsequent key turn. I'm not aware that it was activated thru out the alert itself, though I could be wrong.

    I doubt that any of those tapes survived 40 plus years, again, I certainly could be wrong.

    Starting in MM II we had actual print out records for most of our actions, ie, sending and receiving data, to and from, the LFs and LCC. These printer tapes were collected at the end of the alert and taken back to the squadron hq which were then turned over to DOV (Division of Standardization) for evaluation, if need be. Where those tape print outs went from there, I don't recall. The print out tapes were not classified.

    I doubt that such tapes going back even to the 1980s exist today. Same with crew logs that I'm aware of.

    With the above said, I believe that such data was maintained, filed, for a particular period of time until its value was deemed worthless (for lack of a better word).


  3. Thanks for responding so quickly. I've noticed that there's an assumption among a large segment of the public that all records, all recordings, all logs, etc., are maintained indefinitely as an active archive, and it's just not true. I don't think there's enough data storage in the entire country to maintain an active archive as large as a lot of people seem to expect. In my opinion, that's one of the primary reasons that the FOIA review of a lot of older cases is especially unsatisfying for a lot of interested researchers. The information just isn't saved that long. Unfortunately, it is this aspect of the problem that enables people to come forward after 30-40 years and make ridiculous claims of one sort or another for whatever reason.

    It's not my intention to assert this point in regard to David Schuur's claims; frankly, I'm not very familiar with the story he apparently told Robert Hastings, and I have no opinion regarding its veracity. I do find it difficult, however, not to foster some doubts whenever claims many years after the fact are presented, especially when this is done so through "researchers" like Robert Hastings, who has repeatedly proven to my satisfaction that claims are more important to him than facts, even though he's shown a marked propensity to change those claims whenever the need to do so suits him.

    That being said, the fact that FOIA requests very often produce nothing particularly interesting does not mean that the Department of Defense is still keeping all of the requested data classified. If the response isn't what you expected, it could very easily mean that there was nothing very interesting that needed to be archived.

    Thanks, Tim.

  4. James, I believe that there are still classified documents available. Some should have been declassified years ago. Most classified information that I had accessed to was to be declassified after 40 years from the release date. This assumes that the one writing the document, and/or others mentioned in a document, would be deceased by the time of the declassification...that was my understanding, yet I could be off base on this.

    Another reason for documents remaining classified is shear laziness on the government's part or lack of manpower to comb through the volumes of documents to legitimately downgrade the classification. I believe this to be a stumbling block with FOIA requests and contributes to the conspiracy/paranoia of the general public.

    Transparency tends to be fleeting illusion at times.


    1. I'm not sure how you guys are getting confused, but the only tapes used in the capsule were the tapes that continuously recorded the Primary Alerting System (PAS) and messages received from SAC Headquarters, and occasionally from other headquarters who had transmit capability. The tape recording machine was above the deputies console, had no transmit capability, and the tapes were changed about every 24 hours and then reused. Their only purpose was so the crew could go back and review messages that may have been missed, to reauthenticate priority messages, etc. The only way the crew could communicate with headquarters was by telephone. The tape had nothing to do with recording actions of the crew, which it could not do with no microphone. The only record of crew actions was the Combat Crew Log, SAC Form 1114, which crews filled out and then turned in upon return to base.

  5. Thanks very much for the clarification! Prior to my stumbling across the documentary (if it could be called that), I had no knowledge of this recording system. Obvious by my time in MM II such a system was gone, since each PAS message was followed by printed formats via SLFCS and SACCS....SATCOM towards the end of my tour.

    So, that definitely clears up the confusion on my part. You'll have to forgive James since he was simply following my lead.

    BTW, perhaps you can give me more info concerning when, where and how you were affiliated with the Minuteman system?

    Thanks for your comment.

    Tim H.