American Eagle

Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
                 AprilSpring Issue                           Volume 16 - Number 2

Welcome to the latest issue of the newsletter dedicated to the CANDOERs (Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement). This newsletter will be distributed quarterly. New issues will be posted on the Web for viewing on or about, January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.

The CANDOER Web site and newsletter may be viewed by going to the following URL:

The success of this newsletter depends on you. I need story contributors. Do you have an interesting article, a nostalgia item, a real life story, or a picture you would like to share with others? Do you have a snail-mail or an e-mail address of one of our former colleagues? If you do, send it to me at the following e-mail address:

or to my snail-mail address:

Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
Tel: Home (301) 283-6549 --- Cell - (301) 535-9263

Please, NO handwritten submissions.

This newsletter is available free on the Web to any and all who worked with or for employees of DC, OC, IRM, IM, or LM.

This publication is available on the Web only.

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Cat's Corner

Spring has sprung the grass has riz, I definitely know where the birdies is! I have a yard full of robins!

Nancy and I went to Florida for the months of January and February. We had cold, rain and a lot of wind. Not as bad as it was here in Southern Maryland, but not what we had hoped for in Florida. We won't be doing that again mainly because my brother moved from Florida to North Carolina (The town of Brevard, a mountain town near Asheville).

Thanks to George McKinney for the "Interesting Trivia" used between stories!

It takes glass one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times!
Hiring on With State

Chapter I

By Dick McCloughan

I first heard that the State Department was seeking to hire communications personnel in 1969 while cleaning out my home in S.E. Colorado. My mother had died in 1968 while I was in the Navy and I had decided to sell the house.

I recall I was in the basement sorting through things I had a small transistor radio and was listening to the local radio station. Infrequently they would put on an advertisement that State was seeking to hire communicators. I had been a radioman in the Navy, liked to travel, especially when someone else was paying for it, and became interested. However, the announcer read the ad so quickly I never could catch the address.

One night I drove out to the radio station and obtained all the particulars. I typed up my resume and sent it off in early 1970.

A couple of weeks went by and I received a number of forms to fill out which included a document for my fingerprints. The directions accompanying the form said a local police station could assist in taking my fingerprints.

One afternoon I took the aforementioned form down to the station and explained what I needed. Now, my home town was quite small, and still is, and I doubt the policeman on duty had ever taken anyone's fingerprints. Nevertheless, I got that done and with the rest of the forms, sent the package back to State.

A few weeks went by and in the mail I received notification the fingerprint form was unusable. They included a new form so back I went to the police station. Another cop took my fingerprints and once again I sent it to State. This one was also unusable. It took another two tries before State was satisfied.

I didn't hear anything from State for several months. By this time, I had sold the house and had decided to move to California and stay with a cousin; I had notified State of my move. Three or four months elapsed when I received a letter from State informing me that there had been a hiring freeze and they couldn't hire anyone for at least six months.

I found work as a counter salesman in an electronics supply warehouse and nearly forgot about State. It had to have been nearly a year when one of the other salesmen at the warehouse took a call from someone who had really butchered my name. (I've heard quite a number of ways to pronounce "McCloughan").

At the time I had a friend who was frequently calling me at work to pick up electronics bits and pieces for him and he thought it was quite funny to mispronounce my name. I answered the phone, thinking it was him, responded with "Yeah, what do you want now?" The woman explained who she was and where she was calling from. I felt about two inches tall. She explained the hiring freeze had been lifted and asked if I still wanted a job with State. I was getting more than a little fed up with my job there in Gardena and said of course. She went on to say that I would have to have an interview and someone would be calling me within a week or so to arrange that.

Sure enough, a week went by and an individual phoned me at work and we set up a date for the interview at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.

At the time my mode of transportation was a Honda 750cc motorcycle so I borrowed my cousin's car and on the appointed day, with the help of a map of downtown L.A., I found the Federal Center.

I parked in a lot about a block away and as I walked towards the building, which was right next to Parker Center (the headquarters building for the LA. Police Dept.), I saw a large number of women marching around it. There were barricades set up manned by approximately 100 police. I walked up to the nearest cop and asked what was going on. He explained it was a group of "Mothers against the Vietnam War" who were protesting and the building was shut down. I said I had an appointment, he let me through, and I began making my way through the women towards the front door. They commenced screaming at me and hitting me with large placards they were carrying. I got to the front door having suffered a cut to my scalp and pounded on the glass door. A private security guard finally opened the door and let me in.

The office I was to be interviewed in was on the 8th floor. I took the elevator and still bleeding, found the office. The secretary saw the shape I was in and immediately called for assistance. They found a first aid kit, applied a bandage to my scalp, and directed me to the interviewer.

I walked in to his office, disheveled, tie messed up, and shirt blood spattered. The agent looked up with a shocked look on his face and asked what had happened. I explained and he said, "You must really want this job." I don't really recall much about the interview, which lasted about a half hour, other than asking if Embassy personnel lived in barracks. I'd endured that lifestyle in the Navy and wasn't fond of it. I was definitely na´ve. By the time the interview was over the demonstration had dispersed and I had no further difficulty.

Two or three weeks passed and I received a call, again at work, from State saying that I had been hired and did I wish to know where I had been assigned. My choices had been Europe at the top since I had been all over S.E. Asia. I replied in the affirmative and this very sexy sounding girl said, "Dacca, Pakistan". I had passed geography in High School and knew there were two Pakistans, East and West, and asked which one. She said she didn't know, the paperwork she had said "Dacca, Pakistan". That should have been a clue as to what I was getting into.

After I got off the phone I called my 14 year old 2nd cousin, who was home from school that day, told him to get out the globe, find India, and look on either side, and tell me which Pakistan Dacca was in. He came back with "East Pakistan".

I got off work at 5:00 p.m., rode my Honda home, turned on the TV just in time to learn the Indo-Pak War of '71 had broken out. The announcer went on to state that American personnel assigned to the Consulate in Dacca were being evacuated. The next morning I phoned the personnel technician at State I had been assigned and asked whether they were still going to send me to Dacca since they were evacuating folk. She advised she didn't know (another clue) and would get back to me. This was the first of December and I wasn't due to begin training until March of '72, so she thought the fighting would be over by then. The war ended by mid-December.

I had planned on working at the electronics store right up until I left for Washington in March, but in mid-January the store endured yet another armed robbery (the store was located in a "not nice" section of Gardena and was held up quite frequently). This particular robbery ended with the perpetrator being shot and killed by LA County Deputy Sheriff right in front of me. Needless to say I was a bit shaken up. I quit that evening, collected my pay, went home and started counting the days until I could leave for Washington.

In February I received another letter from State advising, due to the unstable situation in Dacca I would be unable to ship a vehicle, or HHE, or airfreight. Instead I would be allowed 66 lbs. of excess baggage. I hated to sell my Honda 750, but I got a good price.

At the time there was a dock strike in Los Angeles and all the new Hondas were stuck on ships in the harbor. I placed an ad in the local paper and had people bidding like crazy on the 750. It was less than a year old and had low mileage. With my profits I invested in a couple more suitcases to supplement the two I already had. So, with four suitcases I was destined to take enough clothing and household supplies to last two years.

(To be continued in Chapter II).
Gold is the only metal that doesn't rust, even if it's buried in the ground for thousands of years.
Gee, Look at All Those Poor People
By John Lemandri

The year was 1977 and I was midway through my assignment at the American Embassy in The Hague, Holland. The city hadn't changed much since the war. As my friend and I turned a corner and began walking across the cobblestone square all of a sudden two 1940s style busses pulled in front of us and out strolled 60 or so elderly people dressed in clothing I had only seen in past issues of Life Magazine. I remarked to my friend, "Gee, look at all those poor people," when all of a sudden the elderly stopped moving as I heard what could only be described as a thousand cuss words in Dutch. We had inadvertently walked into a movie set being filmed about World War II, and the director wasn't pleased.

If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.
Bissau Sewer Problem
By Rudy Garcia

To expound on the article by John Lemandri a couple of newsletters ago: I was an AF Rover and was sent to Guinea Bissau to provide coverage while John was on leave. I worked with a new hire (forgot his first name) Bowman. The sewer system, according to the GSO FSN, was a series of pits 24" square and about 20" deep connected to each other by a network of pipes that he said were made of some kind of clay. The outlet pipe from the pit in the comcenter had collapsed so the sewage had nowhere to go but up into our equipment room. We knew it was from the Chinese Commercial or Cultural office upstairs as included in the mess were noodles and other "leftovers" from their lunch.

Bowman and I took turns opening in the morning as the first job was to remove the cover from the pit, using a can wired to a stick, bail the sewage into a bucket and carry it out to the grated central sewage pit located in the GSO yard behind the Chancery. It took about five trips to get the level low enough to provide ample space for the day's waste to collect. While Bowman braved the smell, I used a gas mask (albeit without a canister) to lessen what I was inhaling. The other problem was the only way to the GSO yard from the comcenter was through the Ambassador's office, which had a newly laid WHITE carpet.

I sent a telegram back to State requesting Seabee assistance in rectifying the problem as, I explained, it was highly dangerous having sewage on the floor where we operated HVAC equipment as Bissau was an AFRECONE post. They replied that the Seabees could do nothing that we, locally, could not do and to fix the problem ourselves. The GSO FSN proposed building a platform 24" square and on legs about 10" high, lowering it into the pit to provide space for the sewage to pass. He would then pour concrete to plug the pit so no liquid (or solid) could seep through to our office. I told him to prepare the platform and go ahead with his plan while we secured the comcenter. He inserted the platform and poured over 200kgs of concrete on top of it really sealing the pit. The next day, after the concrete had set, we received a telegram from State saying they were sending two Seabees to work on our problem!

I left a couple of days later, passing through Dakar on my way to my next TDY assignment. I stopped in at the chancery cafeteria and met the two Seabees by chance. I told them what we did and why we did it and recommended they bring bags of food, as there was nothing in the local stores or market. Somewhere I learned that they had brought two pouches of food but had run out, were miserable, and had been working on the problem for more than two weeks.

Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.


Be safe and enjoy life!

See you next quarter


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