The Fall of Saigon and the Rise of Heroes

As we approach the 39th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, it seems appropriate to re-publish this account.  Saigon was captured by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (also known as the Viet Cong) on April 30, 1975.  

History is what people born after 1970 call Vietnam, but for many of the 2.7 million service

Washington Post Article announcing the end of the Vietnam War.

Washington Post Article announcing the end of the Vietnam War.

men and women, the million or more civilian support staff, and the protesters who battled policy, the war lives.  It lives in war stories told with pride, or buried deep in souls and in walled-off psyches protecting their bearers.  Arguably the Vietnam War began on September 27, 1950 when the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Indochina (MAAG) was established in Saigon to aid the French Military.  It ended several years after President Nixon cut off direct funding during a process he called “Vietnamization” when, in April 1975, Saigon fell to the communists.

Twenty-five years is plenty of time for people to form strong, trust-based relationships.  The time frame of reference bridges several generations, if one defines a generation as a group of people born into and shaped by a particular span of time (events, trends and developments).  The Vietnam War significantly contracted the reach between generations. Some Vietnamese and American, men and women, soldiers and civilians, who lived, loved, fought and worked in Vietnam developed, treasured and strove to honor the vital social contracts that punctuated the long and ugly Vietnam War with small sanctuaries of beauty and peace.

Le Van Than escaped from Communist Prison Camp after 1-month

The effects of just one month spent in a Viet Cong prison camp show on 23-year-old Le Van Than, who had defected from the Communist forces and joined the Government side, was recaptured by the Viet Cong and deliberately starved.

Consider for a moment those last few days before the fall of Saigon.  Imagine your friends, colleagues, relatives who, in the grip of the Communists, will be tortured then killed all because they know or work for you.  Back in the day, the Communists had a deserved reputation for brutality.  According to Olive Drab “In total, from 1957 to 1973, the Viet Cong assassinated 36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The VC death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, civil engineers, and schoolteachers. For the Communist forces, atrocities were a matter of policy and were not hidden or punished.”[1]   For those already screaming the U.S. also committed atrocities, the answer is yes, but not as a matter of public policy, although enforcement could have been better.  For example, one perpetrator, Lt. Calley, of the My Lai massacre, on 16 March 1968, was dealt with harshly while his commanding officer, Captain Earnest Medina, walked away scot-free.[2]  But wait, there’s more!

Climbing The Wall

Thanks to John Malch and Bill Cotman for their commitment to all who served in Vietnam whether they war the uniform or supported those who wore the uniform!

During an October 1991 visit to Washington, D.C. I decided it was time to visit The Wall, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.  In my many trips to the nation’s capital I visited the many

The Wall (Photo Courtesy of John Malch)

The Wall (Photo Courtesy of John Malch)

excellent museums and memorials that capture the nation’s history, but never The Wall.   Visiting the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was perpetually on the list to see, but I consistently ran out of time on my brief visits; self-deception at its best.  The names, I could not face the thousands of names I did not know among the many I did.   I could not face the pain of the stories and the losses suffered by my fellow travelers compounded by my own.  I refused to face the anger I felt at my country for our botched foreign and covert policies.  Even today, close to forty years later, I struggle with the staggering realities of that war.  Sometimes the weight of the Vietnam that was forty years ago comes close to suffocating me.

I do not recall whether the sky was clear of cloudy, but it was cold on that October morning

In Rememberance (Photo courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.)

In Rememberance (Photo courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.)

as I stood on a small rise and looked down on the stark, black wall punctuated with bright flowers and pictures left in respect.  I felt the weight of over 58,000 soldiers who lived and died in Vietnam; the innocent victims of the twisted flames of power, incompetence, and impotence.  Soldiers that were honored and reviled as generations came and went and still the war dragged on and the dying continued. I sat where I was and did not go further.   I did not feel the healing that was promised in the brochures.  What I felt was profound sorrow and when I left I promised myself I would find out why, if it was the last thing I ever did.

Now it is April 2014.  John Malch, Vietnam war archivist and historian, shared an email dialog he had with his friend, Bill Cotman, his friend and colleague, which finally opened the soul-healing floodgates for me.  The promise of The Wall is fulfilling itself not with psychologists and drugs, but with veterans helping other veterans one name at a time.  The magic can work at The Wall or remotely, but it does work for many. Continue reading

Easter Offensive-A Parable from the Vietnam War

A buzzer sounds in my head every time I use the term ‘Vietnam war’.  That terrible forty-year

Map of Southeast Asia war

Map of Southeast Asia war

conflict savaged almost every part of Southeast Asia and many in the military refer to it as SEA or the ‘Southeast Asia war’.  In my youth I received a graphic correction to my misconception and I have been stuck with the buzzer that results in the conscious use of the term ‘Vietnam war’.   The Easter Offensive is definitely a Vietnam war story.

A General Giáp special, the Easter Offensive caught both the South Vietnamese and the American commands unprepared.  The plan very nearly worked. John Malch, an historian, archivist of this era, and in-country during the offensive, writes that a military officer told him “had it not been for the vast number of

Map of the Easter Offensive

Map of the Easter Offensive

U.S. Military combat troops and the massive capability of strategic bombing by air assets from Guam and Thailand, the battle would have turned in favor for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).”  The troop strength in April 1972 was 158,000; many, many boots on the ground.

The Adversary

Võ Nguyên Giáp was an old-style Communist revolutionary and the best NVA general of the

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

Vietnam war era.   General Giáp was colorful, engaging and effective.  His campaigns drove France out of Vietnam.  For good measure, he fought the United States to a stalemate before ousting it as well.  Giáp was a merciless, albeit respected, adversary willing to take huge losses of life to achieve his objectives.  When he died in October 2013, the New York Times pointed out that in spite of his 102 years, “…he had not faded away. He was regarded as an elder statesman whose hard-line views had softened with the cessation of the war that unified Vietnam. He supported economic reform and closer relations with the United States while publicly warning of the spread of Chinese influence and the environmental costs of industrialization.”[1] Never forget that no matter how harmless the old man looked, General Giáp was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of American service personnel and millions of Vietnamese. Continue reading

Already Seen – Déjà Vu

Spring in the desert is invigorating.  A flood of flowers push up through rocks and sand to

Spring in the Sonoran Desert.

Spring in the Sonoran Desert.

provide a pink, red, purple, yellow, white and blue mosaic.  Critters by the thousands wake-up, get-up, and show-up or fly-in along migration routes.  Every living thing from birds to snakes dons new beautiful coats to commemorate the occasion.  The random noises of mating calls adds to the sights and smells of spring to fill the rest of the available space.

We, too, are participating in that time-honored spring ritual of moving.  Thinking and writing have been a challenge stuck in

Also Spring in the Sonoran Desert.

Also Spring in the Sonoran Desert.

among the packing and myriad decisions of the ‘move-the-household’ landscape.  Oh how I long for those government contracting days when moving meant setting up an appointment with the movers and walking away.  Instead the backbreaking labor of the move is all ours.  Now the POD is off to storage, the packing semi-completed, and the immediate decisions made (we will not be following the wildflowers up the Rockies as I hoped).

The spouse went to Florida to identify and secure a new base of operations, the boys are visiting friends and blowing off steam in Biosphere 2, Tucson’s Botanical Gardens, and various museums, and the cat is dreaming cat-dreams buried in a basket full of folded, clean laundry.  Now there is a respite; a time to reflect and think.  During these times I always return to the same question. Why do I write this blog?  A friend, Bill Casey who with his partner developed ELG, a premier leadership academy, originally asked me the question. When I responded, he said, “No, why do you really do it?”  Continue reading

Times of Change in the Marshall Islands

The room was small, well-lit, and government blue-gray except for the floor, which was

Looking at a Modernist federal office building from the northeast. James V. Forrestal Building in 2006. (Wikipedia)

Looking at a Modernist federal office building from the northeast. James V. Forrestal Building in 2006. (Wikipedia)

highly polished government-white, gold flecked linoleum tile. A compact blue-grey table, six chairs and an incongruous soda machine humming away in the corner were the only furnishings.  There were no windows. My elation and excitement at having been summoned to the DOE, Department of Energy, Headquarters in the Forrestal Building in Washington D.C. was eroding to a sense of foreboding. I was the DOE contractor’s Pacific Operations manager and was thrilled to have been invited to brief the Pacific’s Marshall Islands Program. It was 1300 hours and a game was afoot.

To this point, everything had gone like clockwork. The afternoon flight from Honolulu, Hawaii landed spot on time in California and the middle-of-the-night nonstop commuter flight to

I walked around the Runit Dome (on Enewetak). It is completely unmarked. I would have heeded a warning sign, if it was there.' — Michael Gerrard

I walked around the Runit Dome (on Enewetak). It is completely unmarked. I would have heeded a warning sign, if it was there.’ — Michael Gerrard

Washington’s Dulles International was smooth enough to grab a few hours of sleep. A quick trip to the Dulles women’s room gave me cover to ditch the palazzo pants and cotton shirt and don the uniform; a blue power suit with a light pink silk blouse, panty hose, and matching heels. I was almost ready for my big day at Forrestal. Grabbing the bag with my newly purchased makeup, I colored my eyes, powdered my face, and painted my lips just like the sales lady at Ala Moana taught me. Throwing my tan London Fog overcoat nonchalantly over my arm and grabbing my bag and briefcase, I headed for the taxi line in full uniform. The taxi took a while but I used the time wisely writing notes to myself about things I did not want to forget. Amongst the notes on the radiological concerns at Runit Dome, the state of the program, and other worries, I wrote a reminder not to wipe the grease off of my lips with the sleeve of my suit jacket. I never wore make-up and the lipstick was driving me crazy- the first omen of the day ahead. Continue reading

Guam and the Rising Storm

Guam wanders in and out of the news feeds with the regularity of a failing Christmas tree

Satellite image of the Guam. IKONOS Quickbird satellite image

Satellite image of the Guam. IKONOS Quickbird satellite image

light.  Because I was there and because people I still care greatly about are there, I grab any posting about Guam tossed out from the world’s media like a lifeline.  I like Guam.  From its natural beauty and its people to its place in the historic context of humans and their wars, Guam is compelling.  I doubt that the Russian jets that periodically circle the island figuratively mooning the U.S. military[1] are there for snapshots of the magnificent and imposing cliffs.  And I don’t think that the Chinese siting of ICBMs placing Guam in the crosshairs is accidental.[2]

Once again, I feel the effect of impotent anger surging through the twists and turns in my brain awakening my desire to protect my country and the rainbow of people who I love.  The anger I sense is not directed toward Russia or China; countries do what countries do.  The anger is directed to the U.S. central government whose policy decisions a decade or more ago have come to fruition, cost a bloody fortune, and weakened the U.S.’s ability to protect itself, and I was part of the process.

Hafa adai is Chamorro for ‘hello’ and the first words I heard as I stepped into the terminal at Guam International in Agana, Guam in late 1997.  As one of the forward troops for a business development team, I was on the island to explore local partnering potentials for a Base Operating Support (BOS) contract that was expected to be awarded sometime around the turn of the new century. The 1997 study submitted to Congress to consolidate base operations and transfer about 2,300 military and civilian jobs to a private contractor was the result of a commercial activities study to compare costs between government and private sector providers.

The size of the potential contract definitely had the big boys’ attention.  The retired generals, astronauts, and high-ranking former government officials who inhabit the upper echelons of defense contractors’ ivory towers were working their political contacts in Washington, D.C. We foot soldiers were exploring the local possibilities. There is a great deal of money involved in the acquisition of one of the big BOS contracts and, once everybody teams up for the kill, the doors of each contractor’s business development team are incarcerated; the doors are retrofitted with cipher locks and redecorated as war rooms. Business development at this level is fun and exciting and the foreign policy decisions driving the acquisition are not even on the radar. Continue reading

Flying High – Smooth Landing

Author: Frank Maio

Returning to Italy after nearly a month in Turkey was great. The only work to be done at this

The Italian Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Brigate Rosse or Red Brigades officially disbanded in the 1980s

The Italian Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Brigate Rosse or Red Brigades officially disbanded in the 1980s

point was picking up the pieces.  At the end of the day, it was off to the old “watering holes” and good food. One had to be careful, of course.  The Red Brigade was very much in evidence at that time and there was a very active Communist Party.

The Italian Communist Party in the mountain region used to meet in a Bar and Restaurant called Moretti’s in Udine, an ancient town in northeastern Italy.  I recall being on town patrol one night and getting a call that a drunk airman had wandered into the bar was causing mayhem where one such meeting was taking place and. Jack, an Apache Indian, had been in the Air Force for a few years when he got to our base but he had NO stripes, so when payday came he would get into a few crap games win a good bit of money and hit the town.  By

Moretti's Beer House & Restaurant Udine Italy

Moretti’s Beer House & Restaurant Udine Italy

the time we got to Moretti’s in our Jeep, the restaurant’s front window had been broken out and locals were lying all over the place, Jack coming out the door with the Hammer and sickle in his hands.

Northern Italy was as close as you would get in that area to Communism, and Boris was our enemy at that time; Hungary a few hundred miles to the Northwest and Yugoslavia about 65 miles to the Northwest and the locals, so it was interesting at times.

You never could tell what might happen in Udine.  For example, a movie company showed up inFOX_D2227288D Udine.  It seemed that Rock Hudson, Jennifer Jones, Vittorio De Sica, Kurt Kaszner came to make “A Farewell to Arms”,   Hemingway’s epic.  A friend of mine, Roger Dabbert and I went up to the set one day to see what was going on.  While walking around the movie trailers out came Rock Hudson and we introduced ourselves.  He was surprised that there were Americans locally.  We explained how we got there and he invited us into his trailer for a box lunch.  During the conversation he asked if we had a BX and of course we did, he was dying for some good old American Peanut Butter.  We delivered same and got front row seating during most of the filming when we could be there.

Libya Beckons

633rdPatchNew orders arrived and we were off for the 633rd AC&W at Wheelus Field, Libya. Back in 1954 the United States and Libya had signed an agreement that the U.S. could use Wheelus and its gunnery range.  During the Cold War, there were thousands of Americans there and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya once called Wheelus “a Little America…on the sparkling shores of the Mediterranean,” although temperatures at the base frequently reached 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (43 to 50 degrees Celsius).

Our plane landed and we were quickly ushered into the base theater. Once again, I found myself in a clime totally unsuited for man nor beast.  Although dressed in khakis the heat inside the un-air conditioned theater was unbearable.  After a few short welcoming remarks from a few officers, a Sergeant takes the stage and in a booming voice begins telling us how horrible conditions were and the rules regarding them.  Rules such as, never go to town (Tripoli) alone, never go the “Old Section”, ever.  If you do go to town always travel in large numbers and if by chance you get drunk and break a local law, do not expect the State Department to assist you in getting out.  In most cases you would be accorded the same punishment that was for all.  If you steal, the hand that stole would be cut off, peeking into windows would have your eye or eyes poked out. Sitting in this HOT theater hearing all of this “it really is not a bad place, but…”, kind of made you wonder why anyone in this world would build the largest military supply base

Luxury Barracks-at last a perk.

Luxury Barracks-at last a perk.

there.  To finish off the education portion of the ‘Welcome to’…, a Sargent got up and said, “now gentlemen, here is a friendly reminder, if for some reason you decide to go AWOL, we can watch you for days if you go South, West and East from the Control Tower and if you go North, well we can watch you till your arms get tired of swimming”.  With that we were escorted to our barracks.  They were my first encounter with two man rooms and a very nice ones at that.  Those with dependents might find a nice apartment in town, but they had to have a live in servant, this afforded security, as the locals did not bother their own.

Continue reading

Treaties and Personalities

The post on The Nuclear Hydra – Proliferation is one line of sight on the Cold War tb02Legacy of treaty mentality. There are many others equally compelling and each adds dimension to the Cold War culture that pervades the foreign policy issues of today.  Following are two excellent reads from some of my favorite reading and research sites for your curiosity’s pleasure. The picture to the right is the signing “…of the Limited Test Ban Treaty on 24 September 1963, President Kennedy signed the treaty into law on 5 October. From left, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director William C. Foster, Senate Majority Leader Michael Mansfield (D-Mt), Chairman, General Advisory Committee to ACDA John C. McCloy, Vice Chairman Joint Committee on Atomic Energy Senator John Pastore (D-RI), ACDA Deputy Director Adrian Fisher, Ambassador-at-Large W. Averell Harriman, Senator Fulbright, Senator George Smathers (D-Fl), Secretary of State Dean Rusk (head showing), Senator George Aiken (R-Vt), Senator Humphrey, Senator Everett Dirksen (D-lll), and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson….” [Source: National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Department of State Collection 59-0, box 23.]

National Security Archives (GWU)

The Making of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, 1958-1963; William Burr and Hector L. Montford, editors

Restricted Data The Nuclear Secrecy Blog

Restricted Data is a blog about nuclear secrecy, past and present, run by Alex Wellerstein, an historian of science at the American Institute of Physics. Wellerstein’s latest post offered a fascinating insight into the personality and character of Leo Szilard, a central player in obtaining the authorization to proceed with the atomic bomb development and a strong opponent of its use.

Leo Szilard, war criminal?

Belfer Center For Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Gorbachev Calls for the Elimination of All Nuclear Weapons


We’d love to hear your view about the future of treaties in today’s world.


The Nuclear Hydra – Proliferation

The nuclear dawn’s light powered-up the ethics banks of the self-assembling supercomputers

Alumni of the Met Lab pose on the steps of Eckhart Hall on the campus of the University of Chicago on December 2, 1946 (the fourth anniversary of CP-1 first going critical).  Front row, left to right: Enrico Fermi, Walter Zinn, Albert Wattenberg, and Herbert Anderson.  Middle row, left to right: Harold Agnew, William Sturm, Harold Lichtenberger, Leona W. Marshall, and Leo Szilard.  Back row, left to right: Norman Hilberry, Samuel Allison, Thomas Brill, Robert Nobles, Warren Nyer, and Marvin Wilkening. The photograph is courtesy the Argonne National Laboratory.

Alumni of the Met Lab pose on the steps of Eckhart Hall on the campus of the University of Chicago on December 2, 1946 (the fourth anniversary of CP-1 first going critical). Front row, left to right: Enrico Fermi, Walter Zinn, Albert Wattenberg, and Herbert Anderson. Middle row, left to right: Harold Agnew, William Sturm, Harold Lichtenberger, Leona W. Marshall, and Leo Szilard. Back row, left to right: Norman Hilberry, Samuel Allison, Thomas Brill, Robert Nobles, Warren Nyer, and Marvin Wilkening. The photograph is courtesy the Argonne National Laboratory.

within the Manhattan Project scientists’ brains.  The scientists that rode the Manhattan Project from the laying of the first brick in 1941 to Trinity’s detonation in 1945 were arguably the single largest aggregation of brilliance the world has ever seen.  These were the foundering brothers who built the atomic bomb.  They also realized the raw power they had unleashed would never be controlled by them.  Many members of the founding brothers awakened during the final stages of the bomb’s development.  The amoral need to find the answer just because it needed finding morphed into the question of ‘what have we done?’.  The awakening began a quest to neutralize the power of their scientific discoveries and the quest was at odds with the political and military objectives of the day.  They were heroes, physics and chemistry’s answer to Hercules, fighting for the survival of the human race bound in the chains of secrecy.  Although this group of scientists embodied the idea the Greeks called pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering, they would find the promised reward of fame and immortality a dubious honor.

The first controlled nuclear fission reaction of Enrico Fermi’s pile on December 2, 1942 marked a major milestone in the laboratory underneath the bleachers of the abandoned Stagg Stadium in Chicago. Scientists from the left and right American coasts were assembled in the middle to kick-off the Manhattan Project under the guise of a new “Metallurgical Laboratory”[1] at the University of Chicago.  Most of the scientists and technicians just referred to it as the Met Lab with a wink

Stagg Field (named for coach Amos Alonzo Stagg)

Stagg Field (named for coach Amos Alonzo Stagg)

and a nod as they tore into meeting its three simple objectives with a religious fervor; 1) develop chain-reacting “piles” for plutonium production, 2) devise a method for extracting plutonium from irradiated uranium, and 3) to design a weapon.  They did that.  Not a bad achievement considering that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s approval for the Atom Bomb’s development had been given a little over a year earlier on October 9, 1941.[2]

The Met Lab successes spurred the design and construction phases into overdrive.  Ordinary citizens, whole communities, farmers and ranchers by the dozens were removed from several tens of thousands of acres of land across the country by a government hungry for nuclearX10Complex1 facilities supported by a congress vying for the economic windfalls such sites would produce, and a population terrified and driven by a terrible war.  Nuclear sites sprouted; Oak Ridge in Tennessee, Hanford in Washington, and Los Alamos in New Mexico became working sites. The Met Lab, the mother lab, diversified and became the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

The successful detonation of the Los Alamos’ Trinity test on July 16, 1945 changed the world forever.   Meanwhile back at the Met Lab, six star-studded committees had already been

The Trinity Test It was 5:30 am on the 16th July 1945

The Trinity Test It was 5:30 am on the 16th July 1945

formed and were plotting regularly on how to best influence future nuclear policy.  James Franck, who along with his partner, Gustav Ludwig Hertz, won the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in 1912–1914 supporting the Bohr model of the atom, headed the Committee on Social and Political Implications, one of the six committees.  Other Met Lab Social and Political Implications Committee members included:

  • Glenn T. Seaborg who together with Edwin Mattison won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements”.[3]
  • Donald Hughes who specialized in neutron physics.[4]
  • James J. Nickson who influenced the handling and management of radioactive waste at Met Lab.[5]
  • Eugene Rabinowitch a Russian born American biophysicist who went on to become a founder and editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[6]
  • Joyce C. Stearns who was the Met Lab Director between November 1944 and July 1945.[7]
  • Leo Szilard, one of the physicists who along with Einstein petitioned FDR to begin the search for the Atom Bomb, was adamant that the A-Bomb should not be used.[8]    Continue reading

Flying High – Cruising Altitude

Author: Frank Maio

When last I wrote, we had just arrived in Turkey and off-loaded the C-124.  It was hot,

Nighttime at Incirlik, Turkey

Nighttime at Incirlik, Turkey

very hot, and, after we completed putting up the OPS hut, we stripped down to bathing suits and brogans, to work inside. The next phase of our lives was about to begin.

The First Night

That night, after our arrival and having unloaded the equipment, we found ourselves near the Turkish Military Fuel Supply, which was just down the road.  Having been given the

Camp at Incirlik, Turkey

Camp at Incirlik, Turkey

first watch over the equipment; that would be one guard as we were inside the perimeter of the base.  It was terribly hot that night, I knew it was night because my watch said it was, but in all reality it was almost as bright as normal daylight.  A jeep went up and down the road putting me in a ready mode, but it never stopped.  At about 10 pm the jeep came back and stopped.  This bullish Turkish Army type jumped out and introduced himself by telling me that we were sharing the area and that he had a guard at the fuel depot.  I noticed a baseball bat in the back of the jeep and I asked what it was used for, he said that if he found a guard asleep on his post or not doing what they were told, he beat them with it.  Now I am thinking that I do not want him driving by finding me asleep.

He left after that and I referred myself to checking my carbine for some reason.  Pulled the clip out and test fired it, nothing.  So looking around and seeing no one, I started field

Welcome to Turkey

Welcome to Turkey

stripping the weapon, going as fast as I could, for I knew that it would be my neck if I were found out.  Luckily, no one came and I got it back together, when I heard this voice, “Hey, Joe, Hey Joe, OK, OK”, coming up the road was the guard from the dump, flicking his fingers in a lighting a match mode.  I figured he could not smoke on his post, so I told him OK, he put a cigarette in his mouth and came towards me.  I reached for my lighter in my pants pocket at the same time setting the Carbine down on the box that I had used to field strip it on.  Had the bolt action pulled back and locked, or so I thought, the second the weapon hit the box the bolt action came out and snapped shut making this awful noise as it fell into position.  Looking up, the poor guy must have thought I was going to shoot him and he was gone in seconds.  Walked out a ways and found his cigarette there on the ground.  Did not broadcast that right away.  I laughed, but it really was not that funny.  The shift being over, I went back to the Quonset to sleep, but it was so hot, no way.

U2 Before It Was an Irish Rock Band

Out bright and early the next morning, putting down flooring and cable in the floor for the Operations shack; the task was accomplished on the first day.  Next day it was working

inside this oven setting up the radar gear and plotting boards.  We were being pushed

Moscow Moscow broadcasts from Radio Moscow

Moscow Moscow broadcasts from Radio Moscow

because we were told that a squadron of F-84′s were to arrive very soon and they needed our setup operating on arrival.  Every hour we had to fall out for water breaks and salt tablets. The maintenance guys were busy in the hot sun putting up the antennas and radio hookups, we had accomplished our duties and were free to wait on the incoming aircraft.  Though as we sat around listening to ‘Moscow Molly’[1] that night we found our “top secret” move was already known in Russia.  Like Tokyo Rose, ‘Moscow Molly’ is pure propaganda as she welcomes us by unit number, personnel number and “we know that the U2 will be arriving soon” and she finished off by telling the base support staff that the third run way light on the left of a particular number was not working.  So much for a surprise, but we grunts really did not know anything about impacts, our job was to just do it.  Continue reading