Merton Leslie Rima

Air Force Badge
  • Name: Merton Leslie Rima
  • Location of Birth: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: September 30, 1930
  • Date of Death:
  • Parents: Arthur Rima and Goldie (Austin) Rima
  • High School and Class: GED
  • College: 1962 - 15th Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at March Field, California
  • Highest Rank: MSGT (Master Sergeant) F-7
  • Branch: Air Force
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: October 15, 1947
  • Place Sworn In: Fort Sheridan, Illinois
  • Date of Discharge: October 30, 1977
  • Place of Discharge: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Units and Locations:
    Start Date End Date Unit(s) and Location(s) Served
    October, 1947 December, 1947 Boot Camp at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
    December, 1947 July, 1948 Aircraft Engine and Airframe School at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois
    July, 1948 July, 1948 Howard Air Force Base - Guam
    July, 1948 November, 1949 51st Fighter Wing - Naha, Okinawa
    November, 1949 October, 1956 718th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron - Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
    October, 1956 July, 1959 55th Air Refueling Squadron, Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas
    July, 1959 July, 1960 NATO Defense Force - Keflavik, Iceland
    July, 1960 July, 1962 9th Air Refueling Squadron - Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
    July, 1962 July, 1965 Howard Air Force Base - Canal Zone, Panama
    July, 1965 October, 1967 Hill Air Force Base, Utah
    November, 1967 October, 1977 Retired Reserves - Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Military Awards:
    Air Force Good Conduct
    National Defense
    Occupation Forces
    Air Force Outstanding Unit
    Non-Commissioned Officer Academy

  • Military Highlights:
    I was recruited by Master Sergeant Herman Hoffman, United State Army Recruiting Sergeant in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in October, 1947. I was sent to Fort Sheridan, Illinois along with two other gentlemen from Grand Rapids--Gene O'Connell and Peter Bertram. All three of us were headed for Fort Benning, Georgia and the 82nd Airborne. While at Fort Sheridan, we were encouraged by an old United States Army Air Corps retiring Master Sergeant to transfer to the newly commissioned United States Air Force, which we did. We were then sent to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonia, Texas for boot camp.
    After boot camp I went to Chanute Field near Rantoul, Illinois for Aircraft Engine and Airframe School. I completed the school in July, 1948 and was shipped overseas to Guam where I was reassigned to the 51st Fighter Wing at Naha, Okinawa as part of the Japanese occupation forces. While there I work on P-47, P-61, and F-82 aircraft. I spent 14 months there and was then reassigned stateside to the Strategic Air Command (SAC).
    I was assigned to Rapid City Air Force Base in South Dakota to the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (H). My squadron was the 718th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron. I spent 6 years there working and flying on the RB-36H--the largest bomber in the world powered by 6 reciprocating engines and 4 jet engines. Our mission was photo and electronic reconnaissance worldwide during the Cold War. We operated in tropical and polar conditions. Greenland, Alaska, England, Guam and Japan. In March of 1953 a RB-36 crashed in Newfoundland and there were no survivors. General Richard E. Ellsworth, our Wing Commander, was on board. That summer President Eisenhower was in town for the Young Republican Convention and he officiated at the renaming of the base to Ellsworth Air Force Base.
    In 1956 I was transferred to the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Forbes Air Force Base near Topeka, Kansas with the same type of mission as the 28th in Rapid City. I was assigned to the 55th Air Refueling Squadron working on and flying on the KC-97G Aerial Tanker. After 2 years here I was reassigned to the Maintenance Standardization Division which monitored the maintenance standards for all KC-97 crews in the unit. In the summer of 1959, I was transferred to Keflavik, Iceland for a year where I flew as a Crew Engineer on a C-54 between Kevlavik and Rhine Main, Germany--this was a NATO Command. Our mission there was the support of Iceland Air Defense Forces.
    I returned to the States in 1959 and was assigned to the 9th Bomb Wing Air Refueling Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. I was back on the KC-97s again. The 9th had an Alert Reflex Base in Canada where temperatures were as low as -70 degrees. In 1962, I attended the 15th Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at March Field, California. After graduating from the Academy, I was promoted to Master Sergeant and assigned as a flight line controller which oversaw all flight line maintenance schedules and monitored all take offs and landings for the 9th Air Refueling Squadron.
    In the summer of 1962, I was transferred to the Southern Command in the Panama Canal Zone. I was able to bring my family after about 6 months and we lived on Howard Air Force Base in base housing. I made numerous trips into various countries in Central and South America to do aircraft maintenance. Our mission here was part of the military assistance program in South America.
    In 1966 I was transferred back to the United States to Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah where I was assigned as Chief Inspector in the Aircraft Quality Control Division. In 1967 I applied for retirement and was transferred to the Retired Reserves in October, 1967. I received my final discharge after 30 years in October, 1977.

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