More of Shermie Wiehe - Page 4
More pictures of Shermie's Past - Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Shermie's Place

Updated: 01/04/2014 11:23 AM EST

Christmas at Lonnie Smith's home - 1973
L to R - ?, T.L, Lonnie, ?, Boots, Shermie

Shermie Departs Kwajalein
Provided 23 years of technical and logistics support
Friday, June 20, 1997

Posted in the Kwajalein Hourglass

Page 3

Story by Pat Catado
Music by Shermie... Shermie and the Music Masters... Shermie and Friends... Shermie and the Fat Boys...  Shermie and Family.

Shermie Wiehe was a reminiscing mood the other day, looking back over the years he has made music on Kwaj since 1972.  "I was hired as a telemetry technician fresh out of Missouri Institute of Technology," says Shermie.  He laughs when he tells the story.

"I was right off the farm.  I borrowed my dad's suit-the shoulder hung out to here."  He shows six inches over his own shoulders.  "Jerry Brewer, the recruiter, took a look at my dirty fingernails and callused hands, and must have figured I needed a job."

The youngest worker hired for the range up to that time.  Shermie was assigned to the Ennylabegan telemetry site, work for Bill Patton.  He already had years of music lesson and performances behind him.  As an elementary school student, he played piano and organ in a Kansas City church.  When he was 14, his dad signed slips so that Shermie could play drums in bars.  "In those days I got A's in drums and C's in piano at the state music contest held at Kansas University," Shermie said.

He studied classical and popular piano for eight years with a woman who had performed with a Liberace.  He practiced an hour a day, every day, because the alternative was a cottonwood switch and two hours of practice the following day.  He played piano for the Kansas State House of Representatives when was 16, and toured the state with a talent group.  At Ennylabegan, it wasn't long before he found a way to make music at his new location.

In those days, a boat went over twice a week so the men from Carlos could shop on Kwaj.   Shermie went along, but he didn't shop - he played piano at the Yokwe Yuk Club.   The men could stay overnight on Kwaj and take the chopper back in the morning.   So after awhile, Shermie started playing gigs on Kwaj on boat days.

A couple of years later, he transferred to Kwaj and worked on optics at the RADOT and SUPER RADOT sites.  By day, he worked at Legan, Gagan, Eniwetak, Gellinam, Meck, Carlos, Roi-Namur, or Kwaj, but at night he was playing music.

At the same time, he was taking a home-study course in piano tuning and repair.  By 1975, he was the island piano tuner as well as a favorite music man.  He formed a couple of American groups and then his first Marshallese group, "Shermie and the Music Masters," which soon became "Shermie and Friends."

"The guys in the band were like brothers to me," said Shermie.  "We still call each other brothers. I bought all their instruments for them.  Each time we played, I saved some of their money to invest in equipment.  We were all about 20 to 25 years old.  We played together until I left Kwaj in 1978 and moved to Kansas City with my family."

On a band trip to Pohnpei, Shermie met and fell in love with a beautiful Pohnpeian girl, Matea.  They were married in December 1977 and he adopted her three young children.  That was the family he moved to Kansas City.

He worked as a field service engineer in Kansas City until August 1980, when he was recruited to return to Kwaj as the lead in computer maintenance.  The family has been on island since then except for a few months in 1991.  Shermie moved up to supervisor of computer maintenance, then field service specialist for ALTAIR.

But always there was music to be made.  He taught his children piano and formed a family band.  Every Sunday, they practiced for two hours.  Before long, they were booked to play for island functions.

"We played for generals from Washington, DC, the president of the Marshall Islands, Cabinet members, lots of VIPs," Shermie remembers.

All the Wiehe children grew up on Kwaj and are Kwajalein High School graduates.  Andreas, the oldest, is a diesel mechanic at the power plant. Catherine has had a year of law school at Tulane University. Sonson is a journeyman electrician for J.A. Jones and played bass in the band for me," said Shermie.  Raymond graduated this year and plans to join the Air Force this summer.

Shermie joined up with Hawaiian musicians, Elika Kaiwi, Kalani Kaiminaauano, Lamar Hina, and vocalist Mel Sanchez to form Shermie and the Fat Boys, with Sonson on bass.

On Ebeye, Shermie fixed TV's for Fountain Inok in his store and worked for Joba Kabua playing music in his theater before Saturday night movies.  He played for Ebeye dances.  When a TV station came to Ebeye, Shermie helped keep it in repair.  In his spare time, he worked in the TV repair shop at Kwaj and taught 23 piano students.

Now Shermie has another group - Ed Hamblin on bass, David Zaheri on lead guitar, and Mel Sanchez as singer.  It will change soon, because Ed is about to pack out.  But that won't mean the end of making music for Shermie.  "I'm flexible," he says.  "I've been on Kwaj more than 21 years out of the last 25, and most of the that time, I've been playing music.  I play my music around the musicians that I have."

After all these years in the islands, what's his favorite kind of music?  "I still love country.  I was raised on it," says Shermie with a smile, "Cows milk better to country music."

Shermie provided piano tuning as a subcontractor for
the Army and throughout Micronesia.  He tuned all
the private owned and government furnished pianos at
Kwaj and Roi from 1975 to 1997.  Shermie is a certified
piano tuner and technician.  He also provided technical
support in fixing church organs and music instruments.

Shermie smiles for the camera in his home at Kwaj

My ALTAIR office - Responsible for technical support that
included the following:  Engineering support, repair &
maintenance of all computer systems, network & servers
along with providing system management responsibilities.
Of the 23 years at Kwajalein, ALTAIR was my favorite
worksite and biggest challenge.  It was a rewarding site
to work for the last seven years working at Kwajalein.

Shermie provided many years of technical support at
the Macy's TV Repair shop.  He repaired about 1300
items a year working evenings after coming home
from working at ALTAIR during the day.  Shermie
received certification from Sony Hawaii to perform
warranty service on their new products for the region.

Shermie getting ready for laps at the Bachelor pool
< Left, standing ocean side of Bachelor pool - Kwaj

Date of Issue - 25 Sept 1980

Shermie departs Kwaj 1992 but only for 5 months
Greg Kim, Shermie & Stanley Jones

Letter Received from Lieutenant General Robert Hammond in honor of Shermie and
his family for their musical entertainment and performance at the Yukwe Yuk Club.



Kwajalein Range Instrumentation Configuration

America's Radar

The ALTAIR Radar MIT/LL and Raytheon Team - 1997
Operational and Development Testing, NASA Space Operations
Experiments, and U.S. Space Command

The ARPA Long-Range Tracking and Instrumentation Radar (ALTAIR) was developed and built at Roi-Namur in the Reagan Test Site between 1968 and 1970.

ALTAIR is a high-sensitivity, wide-bandwidth, coherent, instrumentation and tracking radar. ALTAIR supports several operating modes, including tracking and signature collection at VHF and UHF. Target resolution in VHF is 37 meters; in UHF, target resolution is 15 meters.

The ALTAIR system provides a large repertoire of narrow- and wide-band waveforms. The high sensitivity and relatively wide beam width of the radar make the instrument ideal for viewing dispersed targets. The same characteristics make the radar ideal for tracking space objects out to and beyond synchronous orbit.

ALTAIR can independently track up to 32 targets in both VHF and UHF. Simultaneous track in both frequencies allows real-time ionosphere correction to further refine tracking accuracy.

The ALTAIR Recording System (ARS) records phase and amplitude data, both Right Circular and Left Circular on all in-beam, tracked targets, transferring data to high speed disks at rates up to 56 MBytes/second.

ALTAIR Characteristics

Frequency: VHF, UHF Waveforms: selectable among 7 at VHF, among 9 at UHF
PRF: 50 - 2976 Pulsewidth: 0.1 - 1000 Ásec
Modulation: CW and Linear FM Chirp Bandwidth: VHF -1 to 7 MHz, UHF - .05 to 18 MHz

The ALTAIR gang wishing Shermie a happy farewell party - July, 1997
L to R - Dale Anderson, Rob Corbin, Shermie Wiehe, John Elm, Eric Stevens

Aloha Shermie - ALTAIR
Farewell cake & party from
the ALTAIR Support Team
July 1997

ALTAIR's central Pacific equatorial location, coupled with its high power
and high sensitivity, makes it one of the most critical elements in the
Space Surveillance Network.

More pictures of Shermie's Past - Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Shermie's Place