U.S. Symbol
Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 20August 1997Volume 2 - Number 9

Welcome to the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.

The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:

Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062


The following was received from Verlene Brown, the late Don Brown's widow.

July 01, 1997

Mr. Catlin,

Please pass this message to the CANDOER Luncheon Group.

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful expressions of sympathy to our family during our time of sorrow.

/s/ Verlene Brown

The following letter was received from The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

July 16, 1997


We send to you our sincere gratitude for your recent contribution of $45.00 in memory of Ms. Melissa S. Tinney. It is a privilege to have your support.

The Komen Foundation is a national organization with a network of volunteers fighting to eradicate breast cancer in as a life threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment. Since the very beginning, the Komen Foundation has provided funds to medical institutions in search for a cure, and is the nation's largest private funder of research dedicated solely to breast cancer.

Once again, thank you for you efforts on behalf of the foundation. We appreciate your generous commitment to helping us win the race for better treatment today and a cure for tomorrow.


/s/ Susan G. Braun

The following was received on July 23, from Jim Steeves:


I was just thinking earlier today, as I wrote some more stories, of suggesting that you print a note in the next issue of the CANDOER News asking that other members send in some stories; remind them that they don't have to be Pulitzer prize competitors (jeez, look at mine!) and if they don't send some of their own stories to you, they'll have to put up with reading the junk I send in. There must be hundreds of interesting tales that the CANDOERs have to tell. Hey - I've go it. The best story of the month gets a bottle of Bell's scotch whiskey. Boost the membership price enough to cover it. Who'd complain about that? Whatever works. I hope you get more input from other members.

Oh, one other thing. I've entered the entire Directory of Members into my computer and keep it up to date. If anyone wants it, I'd be happy to fire it off -- provided they contribute to the "Bell's scotch whiskey story of the month contest." Ha! Ha!



EDITOR'S NOTE: There has got to be a million stories out there that you people have told at parties and at luncheons, to others. Jot them down and send them to me. If you feel they need editing, my wife was a school teacher --- English ---, she would be glad to take a look at them and dress them up for you, if you wish. Please, help me with this endeavor, it's either that, or you are going to have to read more and more of Jim's stories. (grin)

The following was received from Phil Tinney on July 25:


I want to thank you and the CANDOER organization for the support, kindness and cards we have received. We were particularly touched by the many of you who were able to attend the services.

Melissa grew up in the Foreign Service and like it or not, did not have a choice but to embrace the can-do spirit. She carried that on into her own professional life when she became a Special Agent for DS. During the week before she entered the hospital she was working a Presidential advance for the Hague in a wheelchair. She loved her profession and the Foreign Service. Her strength could only take her to the edge, but her courage knew no bounds. Of the hundreds of cards we have received, one sums it up best. It came from a classmate who attended the 1987 Security Officer's course in Georgia with her. He said, "When we began training, our entire class knew Melissa was the youngest, but we never guessed that she would become the bravest. She could light up a room with her energy, infectious smile and good humor. She will always be remembered by her friends around the world."

Susie and I appreciate your caring spirit and kind words.

Phil & Susie Tinney


This month I checked with Clark.Net as to the cost of a Web Page for the CANDOERs who have Internet capability. The cost varies depending on what we wanted to do. We can get a Web Page, that would be restricted to 10 meg of information, for as little as $348 a year and a $25 installation/processing fee. This would be a site that would allow ANYONE to access the CANDOER page and read the information. In order to get a Web Page that could be restricted to members ONLY and allow the storage of the Directory and the monthly newsletter, it would cost $1,800 a year, again with a $25 installation/processing fee. Of the 133 members getting the Newsletter only 55 now have full Internet capability. This, in my opinion, makes a good Web Page to expensive, at this time. If we get a majority of the members with Internet capability it may be a direction to take the CANDOERs in the future.

On Friday, July 25, I started working a 40 hour-a- week job with DYNCORP (Ed Ferry). For the present, I will be working in the warehouse at SA-21. I am going to try my best to continue to attend, at a minimum, the Virginia luncheons. I will assure you, regardless of this new development, the CANDOER News WILL continue to be published 11 times a year and the Directory every December.

Effective with this issue, you will note that the heading is no longer in color. Several members have suggested that I could cut the cost of the News by cutting out the cost of the color cartridge. This will cut about four cents per copy, or $5.20 per issue. Not a lot, but a savings is a savings.

THE SAMSON SAGAS by Jim (inabq) Steeves

Samson and the 707

In 1973, in Madrid, I felt it was time to take my then six months old poodle pup, Samson to some place where there were trees. Outside of parks there were not a lot of trees in Madrid and Samson hadn't been properly trained in the business of lifting his leg. Well, he could lift it but his aim was laughable - he rarely ever hit the target of a lamppost, parking meter, etc. One day I decided to try to correct that deficiency by taking him somewhere where I was certain to find some trees. Of course, city parks had trees but the closest park to where I lived was several miles away and the local constabulary probably wouldn't appreciate that sort of training in such a nice place. So I decided to take him to the area beyond Barajas Airport (probably known these days as Barajas International Airport - to distinguish it from the many other "Barajas Airports" in Madrid). I knew there was a rural residential area out beyond the airport so this would be an exploration trip that hopefully would end up as a nice chance for Samson to run around and pick up some really strange smells.

We didn't find any trees but we did find an area where there was lots of vegetation, still some distance from the nearest houses. Samson happily trotted from bush to bush; there was no road traffic and all seemed well until a Boeing 707 started to take off. There was no view of the airport through the vegetation but we must have been located just beyond a perimeter fence - at the end of a runway! Anyway, the sound of a jet taking off grew louder as it approached us and in a short while Samson, totally terrified, ran toward me from a bunch of bushes about 30 feet distant. At this point the jet was almost overhead and a few hundred feet in altitude. When he got to about six feet from me he leapt and I caught him. Almost immediately the plane passed overhead. He shook terribly but then, as the sound moved away, he calmed down and wanted down to resume sniffing the territory. No doubt he felt that his daddy had saved him from a dreadful monster.


In my haste to "get out of town," for my wife's family reunion in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I failed to ask anyone to take a list of the attendees for the July luncheon. Thanks to Charlie Ditmeyer, who noted my absence and took down a list of attendees and mailed it to me.

In attendance at the July luncheon were the following CANDOERs: Bob Campopiano, John Channel, Ralph Crain, Al Debnar, Charlie Ditmeyer, Leroy Farris, Rey Grammo, Harry Laury, Will Naeher, Bob Scheller, Bill Sloan, and Val Taylor.

DEATH OF Charles Drinkwater

It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of Charles Drinkwater. Charlie died on July 3, 1997, after a long illness. Services were held on July 6, with interment immediately following at Lott Cemetery in Waycross, GA.

A card was sent to Nelda, and $45 from the Memorial Fund was sent to the Hospice in Waycross, Georgia, in the name of the CANDOER Luncheon group.

Anyone wishing to send a card to Nelda, may do so at the following address:

Mrs. Nelda Drinkwater
611 Linden Drive
Waycross, GA 31501

Anyone wishing to send a donation direct to the Hospice may do so at the following address:

Hospice of Satilla
1906 Tebeau Street
Waycross, GA 31501

Tel: (912) 287-2664


On June 26, at approximately 1:30 p.m., I was notified that a retirement party, for John Channel, was being held on the 4th floor at 3:00 p.m., that same day. Friday, June 27, was John's last day on the job as Chief, Pouch and Mail. On Monday he entered the job search program for a period 60 days, instead of the normal 90 days. His retirement date is September 3, 1997. Because of the short lead-time (one hour and thirty minutes) I did not have time to notify other members, so I attended the party on behalf of the CANDOERs and invited John to join the CANDOER Luncheon Group.

On 1 July, I received a card from Jackie Clark furnishing her new address, additional bio information and a donation to the CANDOER funds. This information may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

In addition, Jackie furnished a current address for Judy Nichols. I sent Judy information about the CANDOERs.

After receiving the card and check from Jackie, I called her and talked for a while. She said she is doing well and is going to try to attend some of the luncheons. I asked her to get in contact with Millie Muchoney or Ginny Cafolla and bring them along. She said she may do just that.

On July 2, I received additional bio information from Robert D. Bell. That information may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

On July 12, in an e-mail message received from Tim Taylor, he indicated he and Sherri would be departing for the West Coast on Monday, July 14 and did not expect to return until around August 12. He will be out of e-mail contact during that period.

On July 15, Dewey Holmes returned the CANDOER Personal Data Form and a donation. Dewey's updated bio is in the Pen and Ink section.

On July 18, in a letter received from John Kennedy, he furnished the address of another retiree, Charles Oxendine. I sent Charles a letter informing him of the activities of the CANDOERs and invited him to join.

On July 19, I received a donation and a completed Personal Data Form from Len Pfeifer. Len's bio information may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

In a conversation with Jim Carter on July 20, I Iearned that Jim has been having a very rough go of it since before Christmas. He has been in and out of the hospital several times and has had to have surgery several times. He said he is feeling well but has some problems getting around, so has been unable to attend any of the luncheons. I have sent Jim a get well card in the name of the CANDOERs. I am sure Jim could use a little cheering up, and would appreciate hearing from his many friends and colleagues.

On July 21, Bob Campopiano notified me that his e-mail provider has changed. He is now with Erol's. His new e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the final page.

On July 22, John White returned the Personal Data Form and made a donation to the CANDOER News and Memorial funds. His bio and e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and his e-mail address on the final page.

On July 22, Ollie Shaw informed me of a change to his e-mail address. He is now with JUNO. His new e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the final page.

On July 24, Joe Hazewski wrote me a long letter, sent me a generous donation and returned the Personal Data Form. Joe's bio information may be found in the Pen and Ink section and his e-mail address on the final page. His letter, which he asked me to share with everyone, will be in the form of a Letter To The Editor in the September issue.

On July 24, Marjorie Hoefler answered my letter from last month, furnished her bio information and made a donation to the CANDOER News and Memorial funds. Because I failed to send her a copy of the PERSONAL DATA FORM, I called her and got the additional bio data over the phone. Marjorie is doing well and hopes to attend our luncheons. Her bio information may be found in the Pen and Ink section and her e-mail address on the final page.

On July 25, Phil Tinney furnished his e-mail address. His e-mail address may be found on the last page. His message may be found in the Letters To The Editor section.


In last months issue, I furnished information for new computer users to get you up-to-date on many of the new computer terms. This month I have a check list for those of you who are not only experts, but may think you are addicted to the computer.

You know you are addicted to the INTERNET when:

1. You refuse to go on a vacation to a spot with no phone lines.

2. Your bookmark takes fifteen minutes to scroll from top to bottom.

3. You begin to wonder how on earth your service provider is allowed to call 200 hours per month "unlimited."

4. Your telephone bill comes to your door in a box.

5. You move into a new house and decide to Netscape before you landscape.

6. All of your friends have an @ in their names.

7. You start tilting your head sideways to smile :-)

8. You turn off your MODEM and get this awful empty feeling, like you just pulled the plug on a loved one.

9. You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.

10. You step out of your room and realize that your spouse has moved.

11. You wake up at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom and stop to check your E-mail on the way back to bed.

12. You check your E-mail. It says no new messages, so you check it again.


Diamond Smuggler

by James F. Prosser

John Garland (RIP) and I entered the Foreign Service the same day, May 7, 1954. To those of you who knew John, he was a fun loving, great guy from Kentucky. When our cryptographic training time was coming to an end, Elsie Crim said, "I've got two spots to fill this week, Paris and Saigon. Which of you two wants to go where?" It was easy, John opted for Paris and I said that's fine for I wanted the orient.

John flew home for the Christmas holidays that first year in Paris. On his way back to post, he stopped off in New York to party with some friends. One of them was a practical joker. He got into John's suitcase and slipped about a dozen quartz crystals into the pocket of his bathing suit. Now, to the untrained eye, quartz crystals resemble uncut diamonds.

His friends took him to Idlewild Airport (now JFK) and put (more likely poured) him on TWA to Paris-Orly. The practical joker then went to Western Union and sent the following telegram to the Chef de la Douane, Paris-Orly Airport: "Suspected diamond smuggler on board TWA-123. Description: 5 ft., 8 in., 165 lbs, brown hair, blue eyes, light complexion, wears glasses. Regret no name available. Apprehend and advise. New York Customs."

Arriving in Paris, John picks up his baggage and proceeds to customs formalities. The agent asked him to step aside so others could be processed through. The agent then identifies another passenger who, coincidentally, met the same basic description as given in the practical joker's message and asks him also to step aside.

After all passengers have been processed, the French customs man said to John and Mr. "X", "We have reason to believe one of you two men may be smuggling diamonds. If you will declare them, you will not put the other through any further problem." John and Mr. "X" looked at each other with quizzical expressions and responded almost simultaneously, "Not me!"

So the customs agents escorted the two suspected diamond smugglers into a room with their baggage. A very thorough inspection was held of all the contents. They were made to remove their shoes and the heels were even pried opened. The linings of their suitcases were cut open. But after more than an hour of this, the customs agents gave up, and released John and Mr. "X". Both were furious at what they had been put through, especially unreimbursed damages to their personal property.

Several months later, John went on vacation to the beaches in the south of France. When putting his swimming suit on, he felt something odd in the pocket. He found the quartz crystals that even French customs couldn't locate! Only then did he realize that he had been "had" by one of his friends in New York.

Trans-Siberian Railroad Voyage Journal
July 1996

by Jim Prosser

Part 8 of 14

- Friday, July 19 -

With no set schedule today, I stayed in Irkutsk to relax and do my own touring about the city. At least that was my intent.

I spotted Intourist guide/interpreter Alexei in the lobby and expressed my regret I was not able to have him accompany me on my trip to Lake Baikal yesterday. He said not having a telephone available in his parent's apartment is often a real problem for him. I suggested he get one of the cellular telephones we see people using in the outdoor cafe in front of the hotel all the time. To which he responded, "Oh those are Russian mafia people and they can afford them."

After breakfast in front of the hotel the Australian's car was now the center of attention and activity. Everyone was poking about it and trying to peak under the tarpaulin fastened over it. Shortly the son arrived on the scene and unveiled it. He opened the bonnet (hood) so we could photograph the meticulously kept engine. He said the engine is the original one, but has been rebuilt several times.

I learned they are not driving all the way to Vladivostok because the Chinese would not grant them permission to drive across Manchuria. And, of course, they cannot drive across Siberia between Chita and Khabarovsk simply because there are no roads, a distance of 2,300 kms. At Chita they will place their vehicle on a railroad flatcar and ride in it for three days with ample food and water! At Khabarovsk, they will again continue on the road to Vladivostok where they will put the car in a sea container and place it aboard a freighter destined for Australia. By the end of this trip, he informed me, the car will have been driven around the world except for the link between Chita and Khabarovsk. It has been across the USA and Canada once, and Australia three times.

Accompanying them on the flat cars would be a group of American truck drivers and their vehicles under sponsorship of the American Trucking Association. They wanted to prove to the Russians that truck traffic could be started across Siberia. Wisely, they accepted the Russian prohibition against driving cross country Chita to Khabarovsk for they would never get their vehicles out. The truck train does have a couple sleeping cars attached, but automobile drivers prefer to remain in their vehicles to prevent stripping of them during station stops along the way. That hasn't changed in the last 24 years!

The Australian asked the hotel guard where he could wash his Vauxhall. With one crank the engine turned over and ran smooth as silk. The guard hopped in with him and they took off for the "car wash". We then proceeded to walk to the city center and found the "car wash" was around the corner and nothing but the public water hydrant found occasionally in Russian cities. He had his bucket and a cloth and was washing the car by hand. I photographed the operation.

I wanted to visit several shops to see what was available and how they operated. I went to a mix of shops and stores, some of which now work with new methods of merchandising, and some others still organized as under the former communist system.

Generally, I found newer type stores did not have queues and it was simple to make a purchase, pay for it and move onwards.

But I also went into Gastronome Nos. 15, 7 and 3 in that order. They function just as 24 years ago. None of them were crowded and you could see why. Foreigners are amazed to see the incredible waste of time and effort by everyone standing in a queue. The gastronome is divided into several sections (i.e. meat/fish, dairy, vegetables/fruits, dry goods, tinned goods, beverages, etc.), each sort of operating independently. Here customers are never able to touch the merchandise until it has been wrapped and paid for.

The procedure is for you to queue up in each section, tell the clerk what you want, get the bill; go on to the next section queue up again, select, get bill; and continue until you have selected everything you wish. Then take your bills to the cashiers and queue up again to pay. Once all bills have been stamped "paid", you then take them back to each section and queue up again, claim your merchandise and move on to the next queue.

The main shopping streets were swarming with people and there were a lot of goods available, although some of questionable quality. There was a plethora of foreign merchandise of every description. The U.S. products (even Tide washing soap) were at prices equal to home and lower. I wonder how they do it? Are we in the U.S. being overcharged? Or are the goods stolen? At the railroad station in Irkutsk, they are. I saw a man exit the railway commissary shed with a giant box of Tide, put it in his car and drive off.

Adjacent to the central open air market was the local branch of the G.U.M. department store. It was about four levels high and a building of fairly recent construction. There were a lot of people going in and out.

The central open air market was nothing like I had ever seen in Russia previously. It was loaded with all the fresh produce of a Siberian summer, of very good quality and plentiful. Hunger was striking. I spotted in the distance smoke rising and correctly surmised it was a shashlik stand. I headed over to it and had my lunch there. It was outstanding. At a nearby kiosk, I purchased a bottle of local beer which happened to be rated at 15 percent! Wow!

After lunch I went for some morozhnoye, then walked through a very old section of the city to photograph the ornamental wood work on homes.

I took a tram back to the hotel. Trams in Irkutsk are in terrible condition. It would be difficult to guess their age, but I suspect that they might be only 10-15 years old. The basic construction is bad, and maintenance of the tracks is of such a state, it is a wonder there are not more derailments. After several rides on them I noticed broken windows replaced with plywood boards, sliding door panels missing which exposed operating electrical-mechanical equipment, a definite hazard to passengers.

In the shade of a tree back at the hotel, I consumed a 1.5 ltr bottle of Lake Baikal water. Leaving, I took another tram across the river to photograph the Irkutsk station and view rail operations from the overpass. Again, what a change from 24 years ago! All of this would have been strictly forbidden.

Inside the station waiting room is a massive electronic schedule board, with times posted in both Moscow time and local time. It's most confusing. Moscow time should be eliminated, for everyone uses local time exclusively.

This evening I ate dinner in the main hotel dining room. When I arrived, my order was taken promptly and it arrived about half an hour later. By the time I was half way through eating, the band came in and started to play, followed by a floor show of singers and dancers. They were okay, but loud music with good food is not my idea of fine dining.

- Saturday, July 20 -

After breakfast I decided to do more local sightseeing. I took a trams to visit two homes of members of the Decembrist Movement which were restored and turned into museums. The Decembrists were members of the aristocracy and merchants who were exiled to Siberia in the mid-19th century for attempting to overthrow the Romanov Dynasty.

The residences are large, ornate, wood (log) homes with plenty of ornamental woodwork. Nevertheless, they are a great comedown from the palatial homes they had in St. Petersburg. At least they had their lives, albeit in rather harsh conditions at the time.

After viewing the two homes, for lunch I headed back to the same shashlik stand as yesterday in the central market. It was excellent then and the same today.

I then proceeded to the nearby grand hall of the market where dairy, meat and fish sales were taking place on a very large scale.

Later back at the hotel, my thirst was slaked under the shade trees in front by several chilled bottles of Lake Baikal water. Some people were caught in a "Catch-22" situation trying to exchange money at the bank in the hotel. The hotel holds your passport until you check out, but you can't get money without your passport. The bank and hotel apparently don't talk to each other.

As I had a very early morning train departure, I ate an early dinner in the hotel's Chinese restaurant. It was a good thing. I got there early enough to be served, for it was booked for the evening by a large group. The food was very good, but my Russian waitress was in a very bad mood. It appeared she was one of the few available to handle the following group.

I arranged with Intourist for a van to take me to the train station and settled with the hotel before going to bed. I left a 0430 wake up call with the floor matron.

It's a rash man who reaches a conclusion before he gets to it.

The Cardinal's Puff
by Jim (inabq) Steeves

In the winter of 71/72, in Madrid, one of USIA's finest officers often took the opportunity to involve Marines and guests at the Marine House in one activity or another. One evening, while I was still a bachelor and able to make my own decisions, I arrived at the MH and observed that several participants were being administered the test to become a "cardinal" by means of performing an elaborate routine involving both physical movement and verbal statements. The would be "cardinal" was free to choose any liquid desired including water but had to fill a glass with it and commence playing the game. Any error would result in admitting defeat or draining the glass and starting over. Some people may have done it with coke but those I saw that night were trying it with beer or mixed drinks. I was no fool. Well, not that much of a fool so I quietly wandered into another room and thus avoided "playing" the game.

A week later, however, after working late I walked a few blocks from the Embassy to the USIA secretary's apartment where there was a party. Since it was after 7 p.m., I was starved and knew the party would be in full blast by the time I got there. And it was. As I entered the apartment someone yelled, "Hey Jim, you're not a 'cardinal'; get over here and give it a try." Well I tried, I honestly did, to avoid it again but a dozen people yelled something about not having any hair on a certain part of my anatomy which is a statement that no self-respecting, red-blooded American idiot will tolerate, so I accepted the challenge and stepped up to the plate. John, the USIA officer whose last name I disremember, showed me the routine by drinking a beer in the exacting manner required. He offered to do it again and did. He drained both beers in about two minutes. He offered to drink a third but I disappointed him and said I was ready. My choice of drink, being the above-named red-blooded.....etc. was beer but I realized I would have to do it fast because my stomach was growling and any messing around would be disastrous.

Some among you might not appreciate the following comment but the fact is I love beer but Coors, Budweiser and that sort of stuff ain't beer! I figure if the only difference between the stuff you drink and the stuff you pass is temperature.....well, enough said.

Alas, all that was left in the refrigerator, in the freezer no less, was some American "beer" and why she even had it in Spain is beyond me. It was chilled, full of gas, of course and Schlitz or some other such concoction, but I accepted it and proceeded with the attempt to become a "cardinal," figuring I had some sort of cockeyed advantage since it only contained trace amounts of alcohol.

Nearly through the third and final "cardinal's puff" I made a mistake in the manner by which I sat my glass down. So I downed the last few sips and started over. About one minute had elapsed. Early on in the second attempt I messed up again and had to finish a nearly full glass. Realizing that, while I didn't have an alcohol problem there was the very serious threat that the gas in the stuff could cause something to blow I really concentrated on the third attempt and made it but, in the space of five minutes, I had dumped three chilled bottles of American crud into a very empty stomach.

Well, everyone cheered; I shivered like I was freezing and belched repeatedly but I headed for the food table. While my mouth was full of salami, Dick Grimes asked me to go with him half a block down the street to a bar where we would buy some beer to bring back to the party. I agreed and off we went. I must have been a sight, belching with every step. I asked the bartender for a dozen or so bottles of the local brew and he said it would take a minute to go in back to get it and a container. While we waited Dick looked at me and said, "Let's have a beer while we're waiting." Being no fool, as mentioned somewhere above, I did.


AFRECONE (Africa Regional Communications Network)

by Willis E. Naeher

Of all the areas of the world, Africa suffered most from totally inadequate telecommunications facilities, both internationally and domestically. Only those agencies that enjoyed the presence of another unnamed agency had a radio station, which were allegedly clandestine. These Embassies operated through relay stations in order to reach the U.S. because they were mostly low powered and could not use optimum antenna arrays. The Embassies without these facilities used commercial Telex or a lease line which went through a local operator who made the connection for you because they did not have direct-dial switchboards. Many times, when you needed them, the operators were not on duty, after hours, and had to be called out in the case of an emergency, if you could figure out which wife he was with that night. The circuits followed colonial lines, i.e., Ghana had circuits to England; Ivory Coast had circuits to France. Therefore, a cable from Accra to Abidjan, went first to London then Paris and then to Abidjan.

When the other agency providing communications to the Embassy permanently closed down their operation, they removed their radio station and the Embassy had to revert to commercial facilities. It was obvious that a policy change was necessary!

According to the supporting agencies policy, they were responsible for the protection of their information sources. Therefore, to comply, they believed it was necessary to control the communications terminal. Embassy traffic was sent through their channels. The Embassy telegrams were hand carried to the agency communicator for processing.

Furthermore, according to the terms of the Geneva Convention on "The intercourse between Nations" a country must not operate transmitter within the boundaries of another Nation without the host Nation's permission. Few people understood that the military operated under a different law called "Status of Forces Agreement," which included permission to operate a radio station to support the military operation in that country. Roda, Spain operated under this authority, as does other military relay stations.

After some effort, I was able to obtain the approval for the following policy from the secretary of state:

"Where the other agency was present, they would operate the terminal and pass the Embassy traffic to the Embassy communications center for processing. Where they were not present, the Department of State would operate the terminal and would not call on any other agency to provide communications services."

This would eliminate the need for the other agency to maintain a communicator at an Embassy merely to provide what was in effect a "Western Union" service. In this way, they could use their personnel resources for other purposes.

The Department budget provided $2,000,000.00 for the annual acquisition of equipment, such as radios, teletype equipment, and telephones. We immediately established a program to engineer and activate "AFRECONE." We surveyed much of Central Africa, looking for land and permission to operate a relay station. The military relay station in Ethiopia, known as ""Kaknew Station" was closed after a political coup. A number of the other agencies circuits were patched through that station. This forced the community to find another base to relay their circuits. They discovered that Accra, in Ghana, was not reliable to reach western and southern Africa because of the long north/south path. The distance would require more powerful transmitters. We made several surveys, including aerial surveys, which were made by Al Giovetti, to find land suitable for a transmitter and received site. Several were located in Ghana, but we could not received permission to construct. Ambassador Shirley Temple Black tried her best.

We learned later, through our Regional Communications Officer (RCO) Bill Callihan, who was stationed in Accra, that we were allegedly being stonewalled. Mr. Koffey Jackson, Directory of Communications for Ghana was told by an unnamed source that the station we wished to establish was intended to replace the military "intelligence" station which had been closed in Kaknew.

In the meantime, we began to design and engineer a transmitter and receiver station on a modular basis which could be installed in any location, the variables being transmitter power and antenna orientation. We bought receivers and transmitters based upon an educated guess as to what would be needed.

To meet the immediate needs of the area, we activated a "NODAL" plan. One Embassy was to be used as a "NODE" and would communicate with two others. A second emergency NODE was also established. These NODEs would act as relay stations. The NODEs were selected on the basis of availability of leased circuits to Europe, primarily to Bonn, Germany.

A survey showed that the Department had about 50 CW and RTTY operators who had been recruited over time from the military as they retired. Therefore, training was not a problem.

And so AFRECONE was activated on this rather unique NODAL plan which was intended to be an interim arrangement until a commercial relay base could be established. This plan grew to include about 12 embassies connected in a grid.

Later, Ben Reed, Deputy Under Secretary for Management, advised me that I must discontinue any efforts to establish a major relay base in Africa and find another way to meet the requirement. Joe Hazewski, our Operations Officer for Africa, suggested that we continue to use the NODAL system to satisfy the requirement. Ben Reed called the plan "ingenious" and AFRECONE became a reality.

We met with Collins Radio Company who supplied receivers and negotiated an exchange of equipment. We also met with the company who supplied our transmitters and negotiated an exchange of the 3K transmitters for 1K transmitters. We then met with the company who supplied our antenna, which were cut to operate on the long range, to trade for antenna more compatible for the shorter haul. We left about $200,000.00 on the table.

In 1968 the U.S. Communications Act of 1938 was amended. The act of 1938 would not permit a Foreign government to operate a transmitter in the U.S. The intelligence community was very strong against changing this act. However, in 1968 the act was changed to permit a foreign country to operate a "low power" transmitter (read 100 watts) from or near their Embassy providing they granted the U.S. reciprocal rites. Several countries permitted this. For example, France permitted us to operate out of Paris, but only on a preannounced test basis. The Swedish Government also established a transmitter on the roof of the Watergate. They used a large beam antenna and I believe it relayed through Cuba. Later on mobile radios were permitted but we assigned the frequencies.

Later, as Intelsat stations became available, AFRECONE became less necessary. However, internal communications circuits from the down link were still vulnerable and did not always function well. AFRECONE for many years was used as a back up.


See you next month.

Issue Index    Issue 21