138th Aviation Company Memorial

This is the how the memorial should look like once completed. The current plan is to build the memorial next to the B-52 and F-4 on display in a park at the Orlando International Airport.
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This is the how the memorial should look like once completed.The current plan is to build the memorial next to the B-52 At the Orlando International Airport.
This is the how the memorial should look like once completed.The current plan is to build the memorial next to the B-52 At the Orlando International Airport.

Beechcraft RU-21A “Ute” s/n 67-18113 was one of four RU-21A’s built for the US Army Security Agency developed for use in the latter years of the Vietnam War.  The aircraft and its’ associated mission gear were given the code name “Cefirm Leader” (AN/ULQ-11) which included four RU-21A’s for Direction Finding, three RU-21B’s for Intercept and Collection, and two RU-21C’s as radio jammers.  Although the system never deployed to Vietnam, it was eventually turned over to the US Army Reserve and the 138th Aviation Company (EW), of Orlando Florida.
The aircraft did see a lot of use with the Reserves, deploying to Honduras in the early 1980’s during the Civil War in El Salvador, a deployment to Egypt as part of the Bright Star 85 exercise where one of her sister ships, 67-18112 was lost in a ditching off the coast of Greece, and many deployments to Naval Air Station Key West, Florida and throughout the Caribbean basin at the behest of National Level intelligence consumers and Counter Narcotic missions directed by Joint Task Force-East.


upon its arrival at Orlando International Airport after Desert Storm in 1991.
upon its arrival at Orlando International Airport after Desert Storm in 1991.

WarbirdsNews has learned of a fascinating, and under-represented vintage military aircraft that a US Army veterans group is trying to transform into a fitting memorial to the crews who flew and maintained them. The Beech RU-21, was based upon a Beechcraft King Air A90, but had significant modifications for signals intelligence work. They saw extensive service during the Viet Nam War detecting enemy signals traffic and evaluating the transmissions. Obviously, it was quite a dangerous mission, as it required flying over hostile territory. But being that it’s both from the cloak-and-dagger realm, and not as “glamorous” as a combat aircraft, the RU-21’s mission is largely unknown to the general public, so it is refreshing to see a proper memorial coming together to celebrate its exploits. The 138th Aviation Company Memorial is working on this solution, but they need our help.  Here is their report on what they have been able to achieve so far…


“When the US Army retired the U-21 Fleet, the Cefirm Leader Aircraft which included the two other surviving RU-21A’s and two RU-21C’s (the RU-21B’s were almost immediately scrapped under mysterious conditions at Opa Loka Airport in Florida) ended up in the salvage yard of the legendary (and possibly infamous) J.W. “Bill” Duff of Denver Colorado. For 20 years the aircraft sat unrealistically priced out of reach of anyone who wanted to acquire them. Upon his passing in 2013, a group of Veterans of the 138th Aviation Company decided to pursue recovering one of the aircraft for a memorial display. However, the Veteran’s group weren’t the only ones waiting for a change of ownership at the salvage yard, now known as Acme Aircraft Sales and Salvage, as  Karl Stoltzfus of Dynamic Aviation had acquired the collection of RU-21’s there  in order to keep his company’s King Airs flying. Incidentally, Dynamic Aviation was the biggest purchaser of the US Army U-21 fleet when they were retired in the early 1990’s.


However, the story doesn’t end there, because the veterans group reached out to Karl Stoltzfus and he has kindly and generously agreed to restore and donate 67-18113 for a memorial. All the Veterans group had to do was to raise the funds to transport the aircraft from Denver to Bridgewater, Virginia, home of Dynamic Aviation, and once the restoration is complete, bring the aircraft to Orlando, Florida.  The current plan is for the RU-21A to be put on display next to another example of one of the aircraft that were stationed at McCoy Air Force Base, the predecessor of Orlando International Airport, the venerable B-52D Stratofortress, s/n 57-0687.
As of this writing, the aircraft has been pulled out of the former JW Duff Salvage yard and is being transported across country by Les Chapman Transport of Blossom, Texas.


The Veterans Group, the 138thAviation Company Memorial Inc. is in the process now of soliciting funds to pay for the follow-on move, as well as landscaping and granite markers for where the aircraft will be on display.”
You can follow their progress and make a donation at www.138thavnco.org/ru21a-memorial-project.html


More Pictures.


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  1. I spent most of 1971 flying RU-21D’s around Viet Nam and Cambodia with the 144th and 146th Aviation Companies. The U-21 Series aircraft were based on the unpressureized model 87 Beechcraft. The Army versions based on the Model 200 were the RC-12D, G, H, N, and X. The RC-12X deliveries began in January 2011 and likely still in use. Since this aircraft has the square windows, it is not pressureized like the Model 200 is.

    • I am Terry Love. I have a new book book coming out in June, 2017 entitled “U S Army Twin Beeches”. Look it up on Amazon.com. The 138th Aviation Company is well represented in the book, especially in the Vietnam section. I dedicated the book to the crew of RU-21A, Left Jab, Vanguard 216. Lots of other great photos and information on C-45s, T-42As, L-23/U-8s, U-21s, and C-12 series off aircraft. Over 200 photos in this hardcover book. You will enjoy it.

  2. Hi Bill, you must have flown the V-Scan Laffing Eagle! Don’t know if you know that the 146th and the 138th have Facebook pages, check them out!

  3. A lot of history and memories, Aircraft 18112 & 18113 made the trip with us when we flew transatlantic from El, Paso Texas to Stuttgart Germany, a 30 hour flight.

    A picture of RU-21A 18113 is pasted on the plaque that I received when I left Cefirm Leader in El, Paso Texas. US Army Electronic Warfare Company Cefirm Leader 15 may 73- 30 Sep 75 The Color was OD & white. I also have a picture of all 9 of the aircraft in the El Paso Gas hanger

    Cefirm Leader and AC 18113 surfaced again with the 138th reserve in Orlando. It was 1982 when I was called from the 224th Mi Bn at Hunter AAF Savannah, Georgia to command Task Force 138th “Ordway Grove” in Orlando at the old Strategic Air Command based “MCO” Orlando International. Ended up flying 18113 and 18112 to Honduras for a special operations mission. It was during this time the aircraft was painted IR Black and then painted again IR grey. There was not enough time to repaint & balance the control surfaces so they were left black.

    Ended up with over 2,200 hours and flew the Ru-21 A,B,C, J, E and the C-12 before retiring in Atlanta, March of 1988.

    Interesting to learn that 18113 went on to fly during Desert Storm. Interesting to learn that 8112 ( one of the four RU-21 A models) ended up ditching off the coast of Greece.

    Guess it’s time for me to connect again with 18113 and donate a few bucks.

    Wayne King Sr.
    US Army Retired

    • Wayne, was a SSG commo maintenance guy while you were there. Made the trip to Germany for Reforger, convoyed to Alexandria LA. Applied and made Warrant in 75. Was stationed at the Hall in DSCLOG and part of the Ordway Grove planning. Was TDY to Orlando before deployment, then to Taguicaga HO, another TDY to Padro San Solua to do a antenna survey last trip was to Pamarola. I was part of the Crazyhorse integration team while at the Hall.

  4. I have a photo of 18112 on the ramp at MD in St. Louis, MO. The bird is still in white and silver, a Snoopy decal on the tail and was awaiting to be configured with mission gear by Conductron of St. Charles, MO. At the time, I was assigned to OTR at Devens; our interest was operator skills and requirements. Also have photos of RU8D’s at the 138th in Orlando in olive drab and black paint scheme; C. Curkendall was the Sr Advisor for the unit on site. Previously, I was a member of the 4th CARRS in Nam and the 156th flew support for us in RU6’s. Interesting time frame in my memories. rth

  5. I was an ARDF 05D operator at 1st ASA Cefirm Leader 1976/77 at Ft Bliss and worked AC supply at EPNG hanger when not flying. Interesting no mention of 1st ASA in conjunction with these AC. I flew all the A&B models at one time or another during my time there, and even had some stick time on pilot training flights a couple times.

  6. I was also in 1st ASA during a similar time. I was 98-G Voice Intercept Operator with flight status during much of the same time. I was looking for a picture of the aircraft but have not found one. Any suggestions?

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