Stealth Force Beta

Stealth Force Beta was a secret society that thrived on the campus of New Mexico Tech from 1989 through 1992, following the credo of “Constructive Vandalism”. The Stealth Force generally worked under cover of darkness, and always in secret.

The Beta Operatives were nine men and three women, each of whom exemplified the Beta Spirit of loyalty, courage, and secrecy. No matter how hopeless or dire a situation looked, Beta Operatives always pulled through. The most amazing acts of valor were rewarded with Beta Medals—the coveted Purple Toe awarded for Bloodloss in the Line of Duty, and the ultimate award, the Greasy Rail for Miserable Suffering and Valiant Escape from a Wretched Greasepit.

New Mexico Tech is no ordinary college—located 75 miles from the nearest big city, its remote desert environment and intense academic focus on science and engineering mean that a great many intelligent minds are looking for something to do when they're not studying.  Other students formed and joined the Adrenaline Club or the (waterless) Yacht Club; these twelve operatives joined together to form a Stealth Force.

The leader of Stealth Force Beta was Tom Jones—code named “Sasquatch”—mild-mannered editor of the school newspaper Paydirt in 1990 and 1991.  After a tumultuous triple-ballot 1991 student government election, Sasquatch was elected president for the 1991–1992 school year.

Now that statutes of limitations have expired, nearly all can be told. Here are the stories of most of Stealth Force Beta's fifteen operations, and the amazing operatives who performed them.  Click on any mission name below with a colored box around it. The best missions to read are

  • Operation Gallows and Operation Public Hanging, in which we hung banners bearing the name of our rival school from the tallest building on campus.  This was the most visible, most secret mission, and involved a grappling hook injury and death-defying remediation when a banner got stuck.
  • The Centennial Operations, in which we repeatedly employed devious means to help make the Centennial Plaza a better place.  This was the most complex series of missions, and the benefits of its constructive vandalism continue to this day.  We still don't know who stole the railroad ties after we stole them.
  • Operation Up Your Shaft, in which we filled the elevator in the administrative building with weighted black balloons.  This mission posed the greatest challenges to achieve its mysterious not-quite-successful end, and was the second time a Beta Operative's life was in danger.
  • Operation Gaseous Research, in which we lit butane on fire, complete with very pretty pictures.

The descriptions of other, more minor missions are:

If you have any questions, e-mail General Sasquatch.  If you'd like to get in touch with any of operatives listed below, you can also ask the General.  See other things General Sasquatch does at his personal website.  You can also see a list of content on my site of interest to current and former Tech students.

Full-color coil-bound volumes of the complete Stealth Force Beta history—all the missions described on this site—are now available for about $20.  If you're interested, let me know.  (There's a discount if you were involved with any mission or contribute information we're missing.  The Operatives receive free copies.)  

Operative Real Name
& E-Mail
Undergraduate
Major(s)
Participated in Operations*
Gaseous Research Southern Bumper Tunnel Exercises Centennial Reversal High Exploration Crawlspace Centennial Gravity Highway Robbery Public Hanging Public Hanging Little Stink Up Your Shaft Centennial Blackout Centennial Dig
General
Sasquatch
Tom Jones
tjones@spril.com
Physics,
Basic Sciences
Purple Toe
Rodent Dave Hershberger
hersh@ri.cmu.edu
Mathematics,
Computer Science,
Electrical Engineering
           
Torch Taige Blake
happyvulcan@yahoo.com
Physics                
Fingers Jason Coder
jacoder@worldnet.att.net
Physics          
Ratchet Eric Backstrom Physics,
Mathematics
    Purple Toe   Greasy Rail
Goldilox Jennifer Backstrom (then Menning) Physics                    
Sushi Sean Kelly
kelly@ad1440.net
Computer Science,
Technical Communication
             
Chicken Mary Urquhart
(now Urquhart Kelly)
urquhart@lyra.colorado.edu
Geophysics,
Astrophysics
                         
Climber Michael Markland Geology             Greasy Rail  
Mom Leann Giebler
(now Soffe)
lsoffe@adept.qualcomm.com
Technical Communication                  
Spook Kent Ratajeski
Kent.Ratajeski@nau.edu
Geology                
Shutter Mike Donnelly Mathematics                        
*There is one series of pages describing both Operation Gallows and Operation Public Hanging, and another series describing the Centennial Operations.
Participant participant
Greasy Rail Greasy Rail medal
Purple Toe Purple Toe medal

Do you have information that this page (or any Beta page) is lacking? E-mail tjones@spril.com.

Beta Service Medal
Each Beta Operative received a foil-embossed certificate such as this upon retirement from the Stealth Force.

Information on the Beta Operation pages about the pre-1987 history of New Mexico Tech comes from the following two sources:

  • Storms Above the Desert: Atmospheric Research in New Mexico 1935-1985 is the work of Joe Chew and Jim Corey.  It describes the personalities, coincidences, and feuds that affected Tech's transformation from a mining occupational training school to an institute of solid science.  Amazingly, it's an interesting read even for people who care little about New Mexico Tech or atmospheric physics.  It is also available on the web, or you can often buy a copy at Amazon.com.
  • College on the Rio Grande: The Story of a Small School is Paige Christiansen's history of New Mexico Tech—and I mean “history” in the worst sense.  This book is long on historical trivia and short on explanations of what really happened, and it glosses over most confrontational moments of transition with vague oversimplifications that leave the reader crying for more of the story.  But it is available on the Web for free reading and includes many details of Tech's history that I haven't found anywhere else.  You can often buy a copy at Amazon.com.

My thanks go to Kerry for encouraging me to record these stories.

E-mail comments to General Sasquatch Copyright (C) 2003 Tom Jones Stealth Force Beta Homepage