Lowry AFB, CO
August – September 1980
Recollection & Memory of Airman Roy Rector (now legally Roy Rivers)
After basic training, I took a couple of weeks leave to return to Arkansas to get my
pregnant wife Nancy and our son Charles, and then reported to my training base for
technical training in Materials Management and Supply (AFSC 645).
We arrived in Aurora Colorado and found a basement apartment 11 blocks from the
base. I began my tech school as scheduled and drove my private vehicle to and from
the base as I received my training. I was excited to begin my new career and learn my
job. My training squadron was commanded by 1st Lieutenant Geoffrey Jasmer.
Within the first couple of weeks, I received a call from Nancy while at school, telling me
that our son Charles was sick and she felt we needed to get him to a hospital for care.
I got permission to leave training and picked Nancy and Charles up. As there was no
hospital on Lowry, we set out for Fitzsimmons Army Base (also in Aurora) for an ER
visit. I needed to get gas en-route and stopped at a station.
As I was pumping my gas, a green two-door Ford Pinto pulled in to the pump
immediately on the other side of the pump I was using. I noticed that the man behind
the wheel had long brown hair, and a brown handlebar mustache. We made eye
contact and I nodded a “hello” to him. He didn’t acknowledge me, but rather stared
glaringly at me while I pumped my gas, and I noticed he didn’t get out of his car for gas
himself. As I finished and got back in my car, I told Nancy about him, because it was
clearly not a normal encounter.
As we pulled onto the street, the man in the Ford Pinto, pulled behind us and followed
us closely. I wondered out loud to Nancy what his problem was. I accelerated to pull
away from him and he accelerated to match me. I told Nancy that something was up
with him and I was going to turn onto the next street so the man could pass us by. As I
turned onto the street into a residential neighborhood, the man also turned and
followed closely behind. I pulled into someone’s driveway thinking the man would pass
us by and leave. He didn’t. He drove a few houses down the street and made a uturn,
then parked in front of the house we had pulled into. He just stared at us from his
At this point I realized that something was wrong and he was being harassing and
malicious towards us. I told Nancy to hold on as I was not going to allow this
encounter to continue. I backed out of the house and headed back to the main road.
The man followed. I was in an Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 and knew I could easily outrun
a Ford Pinto, so I made a beeline for Fitzsimmons. The man pursued us but was
lagging behind as I attempted to leave him behind. Fitzsimmons Army Base was an
open base so there was no guard at the gate.
We caught the light just right and entered the base at a fast speed, well ahead of the
man in the Ford Pinto, but I could tell he was still pursuing. On the base we came
around a big curve and squealed into the security police shack as a base policeman
was just pulling in also. I got out of my car and ran to his vehicle telling him we were
being pursued by a Ford Pinto for some unknown reason. At that very moment, the
Ford Pinto came squealing around the corner and seeing the security policeman,
gunned his car to try and get away, passing us by. The security policeman told us to
stay put as he quickly got on his radio and back into his car making chase.
The man in the Ford Pinto managed to escape off of the base. The security policeman
returned in a few moments telling us what had happened and that he had radioed the
Aurora Police to watch for the man and his car. A report was made and Nancy and I
went on to the hospital with our son, albeit a bit rattled from the experience.
The next morning we were awakened by breaking glass as two bricks were thrown
through the windows of our basement apartment and into our living room. We were
scared to death! We didn’t know anyone in Colorado. We had had no arguments with
anyone and had no enemies. The only correlation we could draw was the previous
days experience with the unknown man in the Ford Pinto. As neighbors in our
apartment complex gathered, we called the Aurora Police immediately and they
appeared on the scene within 30 minutes. They questioned us, searched the area, and
made a report. We had our landlord come over to assess the damage and to arrange
the windows to be replaced. At this point, we were having lots of questions as to why
this was happening to us, and we were fearful for our safety.
I think it was two days later, that I left home for tech training and stopped at the
Clothing Sales store to pick up a new ribbon I had earned for my dress blues uniforms.
I was there right as the store opened. I couldn’t have been inside the store any longer
than 10-12 minutes. With my purchase in hand, I went back to my car and got in.
The next few minutes is a blur of panicky details to me and is mostly remembered in
slow motion. I had gotten in my car, put my seatbelt on, and then the very instant that I
turned my key to start the car, everything exploded! I remember the feeling of the car
“popping up” or “jumping” vertically and kind of backwards. All this in slow motion.
The hood blew off. The windshield shattered and it felt like there was fire and smoke
everywhere. I remember feeling the blast hitting my face, neck and shoulders. The
next thing I remember is seeing fire and my sheer terror of knowing that I had to get out
of the car. I wasn’t knocked unconscious, but I couldn’t make my arms and hands find
the seatbelt release. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to die like this in a fire.
The next thing I remember is the sound of someone yelling something and my drivers
door opening up. The people from the Clothing Sales store had heard the blast, looked
out and saw my car in flames, and grabbed a couple of fire extinguishers and ran to my
aid. It felt like extremely hot water had been sprayed in my face, and I couldn’t make
out what was being said to me for a moment. I was pulled from the car onto the
blacktop. I was dragged a little ways away from the car but I couldn’t make out the
words they were yelling at me. It felt like my head was in a vise and my eardrums were
blown out. I can’t say all that happened afterward. I remember a bunch of vehicles
with flashing lights and a fire truck.
I think it was about 2-3 days later. I was now having to walk to school as my car was
totaled from the explosion. It was an 11 block walk to the side gate of the base. My
first walk there after the explosion I was about 4 blocks from the base when I heard a
gunning engine from behind me. It was very immediate and I don’t know how I reacted
so quickly, but a car came speeding suddenly up from behind me. I heard the car, but
when it gunned the engine, I looked back and in a split second saw the car run up onto
the sloped curb of the sidewalk to hit me. I very narrowly avoided being hit as I dove
as best I could over a section of chain link fence of the yard in the neighborhood I was
walking in. My right foot got hit in mid dive and kind of spun me into the fence as I
didn’t completely clear it. I fell hard onto the fence and the ground, but I was on the
other side of it!
The car sped up to the next crossing street and then did a chirpy u-turn and came
back towards me, running up on the sidewalk again, as if to punctuate his efforts as he
sped away. I was pretty good at cars, and I recognized this car to be a white Plymouth
Fury. I don’t remember the year. I was full of adrenaline and afraid to move. I sat there
for just half a minute or so and then ran with everything I had to the gate, and told the
security police what had happened. Again, the Aurora Police were called, and another
report made. One of the officers that ended up coming to talk with me was an officer
who had knowledge of the report from our basement apartment incident.
At this point, my commander (1Lt. Geoffrey Jasmer) called me in for a few questions
and asked me to bring Nancy with me. He had of course been made aware of the car
explosion and the other incidents and was very concerned for my safety. Nancy and I
were beside ourselves. It’s my understanding that the car explosion incident had
caused that not just the base security police had got involved, but also the Aurora
Police, OSI, and the FBI.
My chain of command determined that some unknown person or group was trying to
kill me. By this time, my ability to hide my fears was totally beyond me. Lt. Jasmer
wanted to get me into a program called the Endangered Airman’s Program, which I was
told was similar in scope to a witness relocation type of scenario. It would require that
I leave my family and get on an airplane that I didn’t know the destination of, and I
would secretly be taken to a location for 6 months and not even my wife and family
would know where I was. My wife and son would then be transported in the same
manner to join me in 6 months. All the while, our extended families wouldn’t know
where we were. Nancy was 8 months pregnant at this time. I couldn’t bear the
thought of missing the birth of our next child and the hardship that would cause her.
So, Lt. Jasmer came up with another plan.
He arranged for Nancy and my son to travel to Hill AFB, Utah to stay with the family of
a Master Sergeant we had never met, for their safety, until I could finish my technical
training and then I would be assigned there. He then arranged for me to move into the
barracks on base for my safety. The orders I had received at tech school were for me
to be assigned to Lakenheath, England. Through my chain of command, these orders
were cancelled and the new orders for Hill AFB, Utah was somehow arranged. Nancy
and my son literally left in two days. A detail from the base helped me to pack up my
household belongings and put them in a storage locker on the base, and I moved into
I had been on base living in the barracks for a week or so, I think. My technical training
was going forward okay. One evening at about dusk, I decided I would see a movie on
base at the theater located just across the parking lot and across the street from the
barracks. As I cleared the overhang of the barracks into the parking lot, I was
accosted from behind by two men who appeared to be civilians. A white man, and a
black man. They pulled my arms behind my back, grabbed me by the collar and my
arms, and I was very stiffly and forcefully walked about 100 feet or so to a hedge by a
ditch next to the road which ran beside the barracks. They told me to shut up
something about a lesson for me.
The second we stopped at the hedge, they turned me around and I could see 12-15
airmen in line at the theater. A couple of them were actually looking towards me.
Before I could say anything one of them winded me with a punch to my solar plexus
while the other one held me. I don’t know how many punches I took, but I remember
them throwing me through the thorny hedge, into the ditch, and they were gone.
I was laying in the ditch, probably in shock, and just hurting all over. It seemed like I
laid there for a minute or two. Long enough for me to wonder why nobody had come
to my aid. Finally, a female airman appeared and asked me if I was okay. I don’t
remember the rest of what she said, but I think she’s the one who called for the
ambulance. I was treated for a few abrasions and released, but I was a mess.
I couldn’t concentrate on my studies after that. Almost every thought was about that I
was probably going to be killed for something that I didn’t know why was happening.
The next morning Lt. Jasmer ordered that another airman was assigned to be with me
at all times. I was not allowed to go off base, and nowhere on the base without the
company of this other airman. (I don’t remember what rank he actually was.)
I think I had this “protection” for 2 or 3 days, when I was called into the office and told
that I was being graduated early the next day, for my protection. The next morning I
was ushered into a room with a Staff Sergeant, who I understood to be one of the
trainers. He told me to have a seat and that I would have to take all the tests for the
future materials I would not be able to be there for. I asked how I could take the tests
and have any possibility of passing them. I was then instructed to read the questions
and the possible answers. The Staff Sergeant would say… “that sounds like D to me”
and I would mark the answer and read the next question.
With the help of my chain of command and other airmen, a U-Haul truck was rented for
me, my families belongings were loaded inside, and I was escorted on the drive to Hill
AFB, Utah for a reunion with my family and to report to my new unit. I was assigned to
Systems Command at the 6514th Test Squadron, located at Hangar 1.
My shop chief was a Master Sergeant Joe Fitzsimmons, whom everyone called Fitz.
The day after I arrived on base, I was brought before a group of men. My unit
commander, the base commander, the head of security police, a man from OSI, and a
man from the FBI. I thought there were a couple other people, but they were not
specifically identified to me. I was briefed that I would be given base housing the next
day for my security. I would also be assigned a detail that would be keeping an eye on
me, if not around the clock, at least nearby on a daily basis for my protection. If felt
People in my unit were standoffish to me initially. I would later learn that some of them
thought I was an OSI “plant” who was actually sent to spy on them. Else why would I
get base housing immediately as a one-stripe airman who was not supposed to be
eligible for 18 months? None of my contemporaries knew about my round the clock
security protection, and they weren’t believing the truth of what had actually happened
About 2 months into my assignment at Hill AFB, I began passing out. This started
happening with some regularity, sometimes several times a month. Many tests were
conducted in an effort to learn why. Initially, it was thought that I might have developed
some kind of a brain tumor because of all the recent head trauma. I had EKG’s, EEG’s,
Sleep Deprived EEG’s, Cat Scans, and more.
After approximately 14 months I think, I was called in for a debriefing one day with a
whole host of people very similar to those I had met with when I arrived at Hill AFB. I
was told that my protection was stopping as of that day. Something had happened
that put a light on why I was targeted. They told me it appeared that the Denver Mob
had put a “hit” on me, but as far as me having any involvement, it was a case of
mistaken identity. Evidently I looked very much like a man who had been killed in the
Denver area by the mob, and the case led to links that somehow had to do with the
timeframes and attempts on my life.
Commander From Lowry, AFB
1Lt. Geoffrey Jasmer
Coworkers & Commanders From Hill AFB
Lt. Col. Herbert Klein
MSgt. Joe Fitzsimmons
SMSgt. Larry Gordon
SSgt. Ricardo Martinez
SSgt. Stan Evett
Sgt. Sharon Hickman
Family that Nancy and Charles stayed with
MSgt. Gallagher (Roy, Utah)
Holloman AFB, NM
August 26th, 1985
Recollection and Memory of SSgt. Roy Rector (now legally Roy Rivers)
Somewhere around mid 1984 I cross-trained from the Supply career field into Integrated
Avionics supporting F-15 fighter jets. After completing my training, again at Lowry AFB, I
transferred to Holloman AFB, NM.
My sponsor when I arrived at Holloman was another very kind hearted Staff Sergeant
named Joe Thomas. Joe was also assigned to the same shop I would be working in. He
was quiet and reserved. Very well mannered and professional. I would join him and
another Staff Sergeant named Tracy Rector as the three of us, Joe, Tracy and myself
would be working together as the three supervisors on night shift in the Manual Test
Station shop. We would rotate our supervision between the three sections of the shop.
Namely the Indicators and Controls, Communication and Navigation, and Radar
We seemed to ALWAYS be on alert, working 12 hour shifts in full Chemical Warfare
suits. The heat was extreme in those suits! The morale in our section would seemingly
go through dips that matched up with the amount of time we were on alert.
One day I learned that Joe was not at work because he was in the hospital. He had
attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. I don’t know the details, except I seem to
remember hearing that he had realized he was in trouble and had called the hospital
himself to report it. To my understanding, he was being treated at the Psyche Ward of
the base hospital. I remember being struck that he was back at work within just 5 or 7
days after the incident took place. I might be wrong on the exact number of days, but I
know we all felt that it was really quick. I didn’t ask him about it when he came back to
work in the shop, but I was there when one of my troops asked him about it and Joe
unbuttoned his long sleeves and showed us where his stitches had been removed.
It wasn’t a long time after this incident that Joe disappeared. He went AWOL and we
were all very worried for him. None of us were given any indication from him that he was
having any recurring problems.
Joe had been AWOL for about 30 days as I remember. As I lived off-base in the city of
Alamogordo, it was my custom to carry my lunch to work with me, as I did on the night
that the incident I’m about to tell you about. For some reason however, on this particular
night, I talked with Tracy and told him that I was going to go home for lunch instead.
Tracy was fine with that, so I left. I think I left at 7pm and planned to be gone for an
hour. It was a 20 minute drive from the shop to my home. I made it there and ate lunch
quickly, explaining to my wife that I didn’t know why I decided to come home for such a
quick lunch. I could only afford to stay for 20 minutes if I was to be back on time,
however I only stayed for 10 minutes and was back on my way to the shop.
As I came back to the base, the gate guards were mobilizing and shutting the gate
behind me. I knew something was going on, and I guessed that a new ALERT had been
As I neared the shop there were emergency lights flashing everywhere. An ambulance
was there and they were just getting someone loaded in. There was still mass confusion
going on, and as I hurried into the building I overheard someone yelling that someone
was shot. Something was said about they still didn’t know where the shooter was.
Another minute later as I entered the shop, we were in lockdown and were told that the
shooter had fled and a search was underway. There was blood everywhere in the office.
My heart almost stopped when I learned that Tracy had been shot and it was real bad.
In those first few moments after I arrived there was already someone yelling my name,
as both Tracy and myself had the last name of Rector. There were security police
everywhere it seemed and all of us were instructed to go into the shop and account for
everyone and wait for instructions.
It was there I learned that Joe had came back from being AWOL and had walked in on
Tracy and Joni, one of our co-workers (they were on an Autovon call). According to Joni,
in that first moment, Joe had asked her where Merle Rusaw (another supervisor) was.
Joni jumped off the call and said she would go get him. She immediately exited the
office, entering the hallway, and then entered the “Auto’s” shop across the hall. Joe
calmly put his briefcase on the desk in front of Tracy and pulled out a handgun, and shot
Tracy twice at close range. Once in the chest and once in the face.
Upon hearing two “pops”, one of my airmen in the shop opened the door to the office
and caught Joe off guard. In that instant, he saw Joe with the gun. As Joe made an
effort to grab the door, the airman pulled the door closed and held it so Joe could not
enter the shop. It was a very heavy steel door. That act of quick thinking likely saved
many lives that night.
As word from the security police and OSI came in, there was a lot of shock and fear that
set in to all of us. We didn’t know where Joe was, we didn’t know if we were all still in
danger as Joe had seemingly gotten away.
Our Shop Chief, MSSgt. Fred Smith came in at some point and directed me to get a
couple of airmen and get the blood cleaned up, as photos and the initial investigation
had been done. It was just a terrible job. One that these days would probably be done
by people in HazMat suits. We had buckets, paper towels and mops.
The next morning it was revealed to us in the shop that Joe’s car had been found up
against a fence on the base golf course. He had hurriedly pulled up to the fence,
jumped on top of his car, jumped the fence, and had escaped into the open desert. In
the front seat of his car was a detailed plan for how he was going to go into the shop
and mass murder as many people as he could. As he didn’t know whether Tracy or
Myself would be the one in the front office, he had made two lists of the first people he
was going to kill. Tracy was the first person on one list, and I was the first person on the
other list. This information absolutely set in with a horrific reality. There were over a
dozen people on each list. He was just going to kill as many people as he could. He
planned every bit of it, including his escape route, which was correct with the location of
where his car was found.
Of course, we were all extremely worried that Tracy would die. He somehow pulled
through and was later medically discharged. I remember talking to my wife Nancy
about all the shock of the events. We, along with everyone on the list were afraid for
our own lives. Joe had never been to my home in Alamogordo, but he had been to the
homes of several people on the list who lived on the base. The base police provided
protection services to those living on the base, as everyone was literally quaking in their
boots about whether they were being watched or targeted.
A newspaper article (attached) that also outlines some of the information, appeared in
the Alamogordo newspaper a couple of days after the attack.
I have struggled with the images of that night and the tremendous fear that I felt. I can
still vividly smell the metallic scent of Tracy’s blood. It just seemed like so much blood. I
didn’t know how Tracy was going to live through it. I remember the look of the water as
we wringed out the blood. Coming back into the shop was never the same for me.
These many years later I still have a hard time with blood. I can’t watch movies that
depict blood loss, without replaying the events of that night over and over. Immediately
after seeing something like that, or even talking about it, I can also see Tracy’s face…
from the first time seeing and talking to him after his initial surgeries. Even that image in
my mind is hard to remember.
Supervisor and Co-workers
MSgt. Fred Smith
SSgt. Tracy Rector
Brian and Joni Cline