top of page

A little about the 1st MOB

(Black Hats)

The 1st Mobile Communications Group (AACS) was charged with the overt and covert installation of much of the communications equipment required in Southeast Asia.  This group was commonly called the 1st MOB or sometimes "Black Hats".  The Black Hat was a baseball cap emblazoned with "FIRST MOBILE".  Their motto was "First In Last Out", of course this wasn't always the case.  The 1st Mobile was manned from the general Air Force pool of communications personnel. Being assigned to the 1st MOB from your plush stateside assignment or technical school was a shock for most of the younger Airmen, but they soon became swallowed up in the camaraderie and high moral of this organization.  The 1st MOB had extensive facilities at Clark AB in the Philippine islands.  The equipment storage, maintenance and training facilities were second to none.  New personnel went through rigorous training and practice deployments within the confines of Clark AB. Only when they were certified "deployable" by their supervisor were they sent out into the field for the real thing.  Many of these deployments were often difficult and dangerous locations under austere conditions.

Major General Paul R. Stoney, former Commander of the Air Force Communications Command, in a 1986 oral history interview, recounted an example of how leaders in theater regarded the 1st Mobile Communications Group: "I remember General Westmoreland coming back from a trip from Vietnam for a hearing before congress or something and decided to stop by Scott AFB.  General Estes was running MAC then.  I went down on the ramp to meet General Klocko who was coming in from someplace else and here was General Westmoreland.  Of course, here I was gaping at General Westmoreland and I heard him say to General Estes, 'There's one person I want to meet on this base - the guy who's responsible for those  black-hatters.'  Because he says, 'you see them all over Vietnam.'  So I stood up and said, 'Well, I'm your guy.'  So he was just all over himself about the responsiveness of the mobile people to the needs of various commanders in Southeast Asia.  And I think by hook or crook and sweat and ingenuity on the part of our people many times, rather than by any really equipping them to meet the thing. They met the contingencies they had to face by ingenuity and hard work and by hook or by crook we did it."
{Source: Major General Paul R. Stoney, Air Force Communications Command Oral History Interview, 1 July 1986}

Many a time you would hear a black hatter proudly say
"This is my second (or third) tour with the 1st MOB."

CMSgt Samuel E. Morrow Jr., USAF (ret), NCOIC, 1ST Mobile Communications Group Command Post and Nav-Aids Site Survey Specialist, 1965-68, 1969-72 Comments:  "The 1st Mobile Communications Group was part of a concept that grew out of the Korean war.  It was realized that there was a need  to provide a Group that had the capabilities to provide everything that a Command might need when going into a bare base environment.  So the Mobile Communications Groups were formed.   These Groups consisted of personnel and equipments necessary to provide a Bare Base Commander with the necessary personnel and equipments  vital to the operation of an Air Force Base.  They ranged from Crypto, Teletype Communications, Radio Operations, Micro Wave Relay, Navigational Aids, Air Traffic Control, Instrument Approach Specialists, Ground Power Personnel,  etc.  Each Group was equipped with the standard equipments , but in mobile form.   
     The 1st Mobile Communications Group’s area of responsibility extended from Japan, to Korea, to Taiwan, to all of SEA., to India, to Australia, and into the Indian Ocean area.  To provide manning to meet these mission requirements the unit was manned with 1,200 various personnel.  On any given day the unit had more than 230 to 250 personnel deployed, some as complete teams, others as individuals. 
     In South Vietnam the unit performed site surveys and deployed personnel and equipment to every base from the Delta, to the Highlands, to Khe Sanh.  They had personnel deployed to Khe Sanh supporting...

bottom of page