Airman First Class (Sep.) Jim Widlar enlisted in the Air Force on December of 1960 and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command’s 706th Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Atlas) at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base (AFB), Wyoming.
He was an Atlas-D Missile Mechanic assigned to a launch maintenance crew with the 389th Missile Maintenance Squadron. His primary duties were to provide periodic maintenance to the SM-65D weapon system. He was also on alert returning missile offline for scheduled maintenance to “Ready State A” during the defense readiness condition 2 Cuban Missile Crisis, and again following President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
Other duties included loading, off-loading and escorting airlifted missiles on the Douglas C133B Cargomaster. He also had a temporary duty assignment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to assist in four Atlas-D missile launches. Upon deactivation of the Atlas-D weapon system in 1964, he received an early separation from the USAF and relocated to Silicon Valley, California, where he finished his career in the electrical construction industry.
Widlar, now semi-retired, lives near Boulder, Colorado, as a founding member of the Association of Air Force Missilieers, and as volunteer at the F.E. Warren AFB Heritage Museum where he served nearly 50 years ago.