If you were a
U.S. serviceman or dependent in Greece you most likely began and ended your
day listening to AFRS-Athens. Thousands of English-speaking civilians
working in Greece and Greek citizens also turned to "the little station
that could" for their news, information and entertainment - 24 hours a
day. Perhaps never before, or since, has a group of people come
together who cared more for their mission, and each other, as was assembled
at Detachment 500, 7122nd Support Squadron (AFRS-Athens) in the mid
1960's. Each member contributed his/her unique skills and talents in a
committed manner that is rarely found. This website is lovingly
dedicated to that truly wonderful group of people. We all worked hard
- and played just as hard!
referred to as "Radio Athens" went dark in
the spring of 1991, as the United States was
forced to close it's Hellenikon Air Base at Athinai Airport. Civilian operations at
Hellenikon came to an end in March 2001, after 60 years, when the new
Athinai Airport opened at Spata. The northern half of
the old airport was redeveloped as one of the sites for the 2004
Summer Olympics. As of September 2013, most of the buildings on the grounds
of the former
U.S. air base were still standing but time is taking a severe toll on
them. The original AFRS-Athens facility as it was in 1966, and as it
is now, can be seen on Google Earth.
AFRS-Athens technicals & personnel from the mid 60's
Frequency: 1584kc & 1594kc @ 1kw (.25kw backup) / non-directional twenty-four hours
(Wiesbaden, Germany): (Maj) Pete Ballas
Det. Commander: (Lt)
Ron Gruchy, (Lt) Larry Thibaut (replaced Ron Gruchy in January 1965)
Det. Management: (TSgt) Pat Longo -
NCOIC, (TSgt) Bill Heinemann - Program/News Director, (TSgt) Art Sharpe (replaced Pat
Longo in June 1966)
Engineering Staff: Costas
Office Majordomo: Mary Orphan
Air Staff: (Sgt) Pat Longo,
Heinemann, (Sgt) Ron Strickland, (Sgt)
Art Sharpe, (Sgt) Ric Crawford, (Sgt) Jay Burns, (Sgt) Jim
Bill Billingsley (mornings), (Amn) Bill Anderson, (Amn) Bob
"Tiger" Nelson, (Amn) Chuck Follstad, (Amn) Al Cunningham, (Amn) Craig
(Amn) Don Pagan
suggestions for this site are welcome. Contact
Bill Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include AFRS in the "Subject" line. Information presented here is believed
to be accurate, but is not guaranteed.
aircheck is Bob Nelson's Athens
A-Go-Go broadcast from February 28, 1966
The Mighty AFRS-Athens Gang
Bill Billingsley came to Athens in February 1963 from Diyarbakir, Turkey and was the
"B.B." made a career in AFRTS. He rotated to
Lowry AFB, in Denver, CO. in January, 1967, but later returned
to AFRS-Athens as Station Manager from 1977 to 1979. Bill
separated from the Air Force at March AFB in Riverside, CA. in 1981.
In 1983 he returned to his home state of South Carolina.
Bill and his wife, Vicky, now live in Goose
Ukiah, CA. Bill Anderson arrived in Athens on a cold, rainy
night in January 1965, filling the Starflight / Music
for the Night People time slot vacated by Ron Strickland's
retirement. Bill also hosted Tempo, Only on Sunday,
and the Country Road Show. He rotated to Lowry AFB
in February 1967, where he was separated from the Air Force in
November 1967. After working at KDKO and KBTR in Denver he
joined the Denver Fire Department and was involved with the
department's television training operation, as well as working in
fire suppression. Injuries forced an early retirement in
1986. On to Florida where he worked at WEEJ - Port
Charlotte and WWAM - Ft. Myers. "Andy" is currently
working on audio restoration projects and trying to replace his
destroyed oldies collection.
Bill married his Athens sweetheart, Sandy
Craig, in March 1968. They are still hanging out together in Aurora,
|The lady who kept us organized. She was the greatest and is missed to this
day! Mary married Athens Com Center maintenance NCO Arnie Molloy in
1967. They returned to the States when Arnie was rotated to
Otis AFB on Cape Cod in 1968. They are now both retired from their civilian careers and
living in Somerset, MA.
Mary and Arnie enjoy
traveling throughout New England in their motorhome and spoiling
their grandchildren... to which they admit doing an excellent job.
|From Muskegon Heights, MI. Bill Heinemann
served two tours at AFRS-Athens. First in 1962-1963 via Tripoli,
Libya, then returning in 1964 via Germany. Our exceptionally capable Program/News
Director (he was the squadron's Outstanding Airman of the Year for all of
Europe in 1964), "Heinnie"
was a prolific producer of local items of interest which often found their
way to "network" programming and distributed to AFRTS outlets
around the world. Bill was our weekday mid-morning icon.
Who can forget his signature sign-off - "keep your powder dry".
He returned to the States in November 1966 for duty at Maxwell AFB in
Montgomery, AL, then left the military in 1967 to pursue his education and
eventually earned his Masters in 1970. It was on to AT&T for a
career in Sales and Sales Management. Now semi-retired, Heinnie
works as an Administrative Aide to a Texas State Representative.... when
he's not playing golf (he 69d the Glyfada Golf Course in 1964).
Bill, and his wife Camille,
live in the Austin, TX. area.
Lauderdale, FL. "Lt. T" came to AFRS-Athens in February
1965, from Adana, Turkey to command our quirky and creative group of
broadcasters. Larry did very little on air work, preferring to let his
talented staff simply do their thing. His "Greek traffic
cop" routine created total pandemonium at off-duty
Larry returned to his home
state and stayed in the radio business... as an account executive with a
4-station group in Stuart, FL. Now semi-retired.
arrived at AFRS-Athens on November 11, 1965 and was our steady overnight man
before heading off to an assignment in Peshawar, Pakistan in August 1966,
and then on to the first U.S. television station behind the Iron Curtain
where he helped launch AFTV in Berlin, Germany in April 1967. After
his colorful time in the military, Chuck was involved in the
entertainment/restaurant industry for several years and eventually wound up
in the automotive business after moving to Denver, CO. in 1978.
Chuck is now retired and
living in Denver, CO.
|Pat Longo, our
NCOIC, hailed from Philadelphia, PA. He came to the station in
June 1963 after spending most of his Air Force career with numerous Air
Force bands and then attending the Radio-TV Broadcaster's Course at Ft.
station's awards during Pat's tenure included the George Washington Honor
Medal in 1964 and The American Heritage competition for Best Radio in
USAFE in 1965. Pat returned to the States
in June 1966 and retired from the Air Force in 1968.
Nelson (or simply "Tiger") was from Sheridan, WY. His path
to Athens led him through Germany and Turkey. Probably the
most popular personality with the younger set with his afternoon Athens
A-Go-Go program. R.T.'s signature briefcase gave his identity away
to all - with a tiger tail always protruding from the side. R.T.
returned to the States in March 1967 and promptly earned a degree in
broadcasting from Cal State, Northridge. After stints at KCGO and
KRAE in Cheyenne, WY. the Nelson's moved to Denver where he headed up
Mountain Bellšs consumer advertising division from 1973-1978 and then
moved on to run Samsonitešs worldwide communications. The tech
world called him back to California in 1984 where he directed Memorexšs
worldwide communications, was vice president of marketing at
several tech firms, and taught advertising at San Jose State while picking
up a masteršs degree in mass communications at the school. He now
runs his own marketing consulting business from Morgan Hill, CA.
always smiling, Al Cunningham began his career with AFRS on a part-time
basis while assigned to the Athinai Airport Air Police squadron.
His perseverance and dedication to AFRS-Athens won him
"full-timer" status in the late summer of 1965. From Marshfield, MA.
- he came to Athens from Okinawa in 1964. Al rotated to
Colorado Springs, CO. in August 1966. A five-year tour in the Far
East followed and then stops in Shemya, Alaska / Rome, New York / Udorn,
Thailand / San Bernardino, California and Berlin, Germany before retiring
out of Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. in 1981.
his Air Force career Al lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for some time before returning
to Massachusetts in 2004. He now resides in New Braunfels, TX.
official duty station was the Com Center but he worked part-time at AFRS-Athens.
"Animal" was always there when we needed him and was a great
housemate! DP returned to the States in 1966 and left the Air Force
at Wright-Paterson AFB in Dayton, OH. He worked for the Panasonic
Corporation in television engineering until retirement, and was
extremely active in amateur radio (W8KWR).
Don passed on May 6th, 2008
from congestive heart failure. He was 65 years old.
LA. native Ric Crawford was headed for Germany but a change of plans
landed him in Athens after a tour with the Armed Forces Korea
Network. Ric mainly worked the afternoon and early evening news
block and also produced special projects for AFRS-Athens. His most
notable and widely followed project was a series of broadcast Greek
lessons for American personnel and their dependents. Ric made
E-5 in 1967 but left
the Air Force at the end of his Athens tour to pursue a BA degree at
Northeast Louisiana University, then became a corporate pilot for a few
years. After joining the Naval Reserve, he went back to active duty
and retired as a Navy journalist in 1985.
Ric Crawford returned to
AFRTS as a civilian GS in April 1987 and became the Radio Operations
Manager for the Armed Forces Network, based at March ARB, in Riverside,
CA. until his retirement in January, 2009.
|Jim Strizak was
a former Marine who changed services and cross-trained into AFRTS -
arriving in Athens in November 1965. Jim was transferred to Adana,
Turkey after making E-5 in November 1967. Following a tour in
Vietnam at the end of 1968 and a stint at Keesler AFB in Mississippi Jim
Strizak returned to Greece, stationed in Crete from 1971-1975. The
Strizak's had stops at Wright-Patterson and in Panama before Jim's final
duty station at Randolph, AFB in Texas, where he retired in October 1982.
Jim Strizak passed on
January 25, 2004 following a long battle with diabetes, at the age of
Barnes arrived at AFRS-Athens in November 1966 and moved into the
slot vacated by Bill Anderson in January, 1967.... hosting a
Monday-Friday late night jazz program as well as Athens In
Dimension on the weekends. Craig was also involved with the
Hellenic-American Union teaching English to young Greek students
in his spare time. Following his Athens tour he rotated to
Lowry AFB in November 1969, where he completed his Air Force
Craig is now
retired and travels the world, but lives in Phoenix, MD.
|Art Sharpe came
to AFRS-Athens following duty in Peshawar, Pakistan and took over as NCOIC
when Pat Longo returned to the States. The Tarboro, NC. native was
known as "your host with a heart" on Kaleidoscope.
After his Air Force
retirement Art signed on as a GS with the AFRTS Radio Division in Burbank,
CA. He retired when the AFRTS Broadcast Center moved to Riverside,
|Are you a AFRS-Athens alumni? If you can help with this project, please share your
materials or information. Due to the huge amount of spam on the internet, please
use something like [AFRS] in your subject line.
Copyright 2014 Music
& W.R. Anderson.
All rights reserved.
published July 15, 2004.
Last update: April 28, 2014