St. Francis Herald (Kansas)
By Karen Krien
With the introduction of the Internet, the world has continued to become smaller and smaller. Neil McCumber, St. Francis found out just how small it was when he received an e-mail from Walt Reston, who was one of four men in a missile launch crew in Germany.
Mr. McCumber and Mr. Reston along with Nixon Adams and Allen Owen, made up the crew.
(McCumber, Reston, Adams and Owen are former members of the 823rd TMS, Crew 2-15.)
The e-mail started: “Hey Sarge.”
Mr. Reston said he had been thinking about Mr. McCumber through the years and wondered what had become of him.
“I’ve been scanning all our slides and photo albums so that I can save them as computer files, and the old ones seem to have made me nostalgic.” Mr. Reston said. “I was able to find your middle initial on my Sembach ‘Curtailment of Assignment’ orders.
With this info, I started searching the Internet, concentrating on Colorado and Kansas. I started with the Denver area. as that was where I lost contact with you. I found what looks like your old address in Aurora and what I thought might be your e-mail address. I then sent an e-mail and an inquiry letter. no response… I kept searching and hit ‘pay dirt’ when I found an Aug. 11, 2005, photo from the St. Francis Herald.” (on the Internet)
Mr. McCumber joined the Air Force in 1954. After basic training, he went to mechanic schooling in Texas, then he went to Salina where he was at Smokey Hill Air Force base which eventually was changed to Shilling Air Force Base; and, later, transferred to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka.
He was then selected to train in the pilotless missile program. He was stationed in Germany and had there been a war, he would been commanded to start the engines and send the missile. He carried one key and his commanding officer carried the other key.
When he returned to the states he trained crews in the updated missile program.
Before retiring from the Air Force in 1974. he was on courier duty. delivering top secret mail to officers.
Out of the Air Force, he and his wife, Nancy, then moved to Aurora with four kids, a dog, two cars and a tent. In 2004, they moved to St. Francis after having discovered the quiet little town. He and Mrs. McCumber opened up Nancy’s Bed and Breakfast on 301 E. Spencer.
Today, he has turned his flying interests to radio-controlled miniature airplanes and hunting. He also works part-time for the city as the overseer of the roadside park.
Mr. McCumber said he hasn’t seen Mr. Reston since 1966 but he and Mrs. McCumber may try to plan a trip to the eastern United States and see Mr. Reston, who now lives in Massachusetts.