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Apr 13

1968 Cambria Air Station

January 13, 1968

The military absorbed the lessons of Pearl Harbor and in the midst of Cold War with the Soviet Union the United States Air Force manned a series of radar tracking stations to warn of an “enemy air invasion”.

Just south of town the Cambria Air Force Station had been monitoring the airspace since March 20, 1951. Photographer David Ranns made the images for the Focus section.

Quoting from the article:

“Cambria AFS is an almost self-sufficient installation, depending on the outside only for some of its housing and for major medical care, which is obtained at Vandenberg [Air Force Base.]”

“Its officers and enlisted men have at their disposal practically all types of recreation, including a bowling alley, movie theater, outdoor basketball court and a putting green.”
“The Cambria AFS library is considered one of the finest among such installations. It also includes a stock of records which may be taken out in the manner as books.”

“A commissary and drug store are other conveniences, particularly for the married members of the force.”

“About 60 per cent of the men live off-station, some in an Air Force housing tract in Cambria, some in Cayucos and others in Morro Bay.”

There were 180 air force personnel also 25 civilian workers on the scenic hilltop. Tours by service clubs were welcomed.

The series of chain-of-command photos at the post office started with president Lyndon Baines Johnson. The two lane bowling alley is the smallest in the county.

The men standing in the hallway “check out the electronic wizard”, what was a state of the art computer in 1968.

Last active in the 1980’s, today the base is decommissioned under private ownership. Property owner Bernd Schaefers is in the color photo at the facility. Asbestos and PCB contamination at the Cambria Radar station have sparked closure notices by government environment agencies. Cal Poly students are studying the property as a project to offer the owner ideas for future uses.

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