From the time Loring Air Force Base was established in 1952 until its closure in 1994, the 42nd Bombardment Wing was the home for thousands of military personnel and their families — some for a brief period of time, others for extended tours.
Recently, some members of a special group, known as the Loring Ramprats, 42nd SPS, or Security Police Squadron, gathered for a reunion held by members of the Loring Military Heritage Center, located on the former base site. Although not the first Ramprats reunion, for many of those attending the July 24 event, it was the first time the airmen had been back in the area since their deployment.
The Ramprats patrolled the base flight line perimeter and provided security for the bomber crews as they boarded and disembarked from planes.
Securing the flight line in the northern Maine winter “was very, very cold,” said Gary Jones, who was stationed at Loring from 1963 to 1965 and now lives in Charleston, S.C. “We were out there 24-7 in the subzero temperatures.
“But we all liked it here. I lived in what was called Ward’s Village, a group of log cabins off the base. None of us had much money — we only got paid once a month — and not very much at that. Many times we would all get together and have potluck.
“Sometimes, if we had a little money to spend, we would go into Caribou and eat at the Victory Restaurant,” he said. “We liked it up here because everyone treated us so well.”
Another Ramprat, Denny Smith of Indiana, who was stationed at Loring from 1964 to 1967, said he spent “two cold years” on the flight line.
“This is my first time back here,” said Smith. “When I was stationed at Loring, I lived in Caribou and during my time off from duty I worked at the Powers Theatre. When I got into town this weekend, I thought I would go by where I had lived and also check out the theater — I was surprised to see that there was no main drag, like when I was stationed here. It took me a little time but I finally was able to get where I wanted to go and found the Powers building.”
He also said that when he was downtown asking for directions to the local Harley-Davidson shop “an older lady who was in the store said, ‘If you follow me in your vehicle, I’ll take you there.’ I was so impressed that someone would take the time to do this for a stranger. I followed her to Plourde & Plourde, she turned around in the driveway, waved to me and left. You don’t find many places where people would do something like that anymore.”
The reunion of the Loring Ramprats saw a large number of former military service members, some alone, some with their spouses and children, greeting each other, most for the first time since those days when they were part of the community called Loring Air Force Base.
For information on the Loring Ramprats go to www.loringairforcebase.com.
For information on the Loring Military Heritage Center, located at 131 Cupp Road on the former base, go to www.loringafbmuseum.com.