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Tracking the Soviet Union, missiles, and beyond – Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas 2021-04-07 23:00:00 –

Wichita, Kansas (KSNW) — Air Force retirees have some amazing stories, but many are not allowed to be shared. He was part of the first group to regularly enter the Soviet Union to make sure that the Soviet Union was really disposing of missiles that could attack the United States.

(Courtesy: Rich Juarez)

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Rich Juarez graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Kansas. He was nearing the end of ROTC’s four-year commitment when the Air Force began training officers on 100 people who already had a degree.

Juarez thought his eyesight would keep him away from officer training, but he ended up looking at aircraft and missiles as a lieutenant colonel.

U-2. (Courtesy: Rich Juarez)

He knows a lot about aircraft, especially the U-2, which was used as a reconnaissance aircraft during the Vietnam War. Juarez says the U-2 was originally developed for the CIA and has existed since the 1950s.

“I was in charge of maintaining the U2 autopilot,” Juarez said.

He did the same with the DC-130, which was modified to carry what is now called a drone.

“This was before we decided to call them drones, but RPV, remote-controlled vehicles,” Juarez said.

DC-130 with RPV under the wings. (Courtesy: Rich Juarez)

When the drone’s mission was completed, Juarez said he would fly to the Gulf of Thailand.

“The crew actually rewinds the RPV,” Juarez said.

He also spent time helping build the US arsenal.

“Bombs, laser-guided bombs, missiles, air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles,” said Huares.

While working on weapons, he held a teaching position at the Air Force Academy.

The Air Force then sent him to a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He studied at the University of Texas at Austin.

Juarez worked on a project to determine the best way to dispose of the old runway. The team has tested different types of missiles to get the job done.

“In essence, it just creates a tremendous upheaval,” he said.

Juarez dealt with all kinds of technology while looking at others.

It was the height of the Cold War.

“Everyone was doing something to deny access to each other’s information,” Juarez said. “We were trying to use all sorts of intelligence to tell how the Soviet was acting. We were tracking the development of the Soviet Union and its fighters.”

Juarez said he had the opportunity to share everything he learned while teaching aerospace engineering at the Air Force Academy.

“It was a very rewarding mission and I really enjoyed it,” he said.

While at the academy, he and his wife also sponsored cadets.

Juarez said it was really special for his two little sons to grow up around the cadets.

He also enjoyed working on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty under negotiation.

“I wrote all the controls on the front end,” Juarez said.

The treaty ordered both the United States and the Soviet Union to destroy all intermediate-range missiles that could travel about 3,000 miles.

“I came up with the concept of the type of detector to use,” Juarez said.

We also had to determine the benchmarks to see what kind of missiles were actually in each canister.

Colonel Rich Juarez on one of his trips to the Soviet Union. (Courtesy: Rich Juarez)

He said the Soviet Union was not always acclimatized.

Juarez said the equipment needed to be tested with radioactive material to make sure it was working. That means they had to travel with the substance.

“I can imagine getting approval to bring radioactive equipment from the United States to Germany and then to the Soviet Union,” he said. “It was almost hostile.”

What this team came up with was used by all follow-up inspectors to monitor what the Soviet Union was doing.

“For the first time, again, Americans routinely entered the Soviet Union,” Juarez said.

He said the Soviets were watching them carefully while they were there.

Juarez became friends with a Russian interpreter. When Juarez was preparing to go home, the interpreter still said something that made him emotional today.

“He approached me and said,’If my wife and family can take the plane with you, come back and go to the United States, I’ll give you anything,” Juarez said.

(Courtesy: Rich Juarez)

Juarez has memories that he can hardly share and memories that bring a big smile.

He has served for over 20 years and has always had one mission.

“Don’t be surprised by the technological developments that are taking place in the United States,” Juarez said.

He once said that Soviet pilots wanted to flee to the United States. The pilot landed in Japan.

“This was a great opportunity for the United States to take advantage of one of the most advanced Soviet aircraft,” Juarez said.

He said they sent the planes apart to the Soviet Union when they were done.

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