|Issue 33||September 1998||Volume 3 - Number 10|
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
It is with deep sorrow that I write this article.
As all of you have heard, there were a lot of injuries and deaths in the bombings of Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi Embassies. By the grace of God none of our telecommunications colleagues were killed in either Embassy. We did, however, have two of our colleagues critically injured, Frank Pressley and Clyde Hirn. Both were assigned to Nairobi.
Both were medevacuated to Landstuhl Hospital in Germany and then on the 12th, they were medevacuated to Walter Reed.
As of the publication date of this issue, both are still listed in serious condition and are not allowed outside visitors (at their families request).
Further information about this tragedy may be found throughout this issue.
You will note that The Samson Sagas and several other of our regular contributors have been pushed out of the CANDOER this month. In their places, I have published information and stories that are a result of the events in Tanzania and Kenya.
We have a two new authors contributing to the CANDOER this month, Dick McCloughan and Mike Carson. They have submitted the first of what I hope will be many tales of their adventures.
This months thoughts come from a retired Foreign Service employee. He wrote the following as a letter to The Editor in the Saturday, August 15, issue of The Washington Post. I thought it appropriate to republish it, exactly as it was written.
I spent 30 years in the Foreign Service watching friends, colleagues, and fellow professionals die from terrorist attacks. During by career, 105 names have been added to the Memorial Plaque at the entrance to the State Department, after having 73 listed in the first 189 years of diplomatic history of the American Republic. Among the names are six ambassadors --- more ambassadors murdered than flag-rank military officers killed during the same period.
The terrorism directed at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania is more of the same; more grief for my family, friends, and colleagues. For 30 years, I have listened to official statements from U.S. political leadership: "outraged," "barbaric," "despicable cowards," "will not be tolerated" and more of all the same. Steely gazes into TV cameras; stern words for the public record; commitments to "do something." Forgive me if I doubt not the worlds or intentions, but the results. Unfortunately, no terrorist striking overseas ever has been "brought to justice." Despite all of our fulmination, no specific individuals have been punished in a court of law (or any way know to the public) for murdering American Foreign Service personnel abroad.
It is bitterly amusing that the only time Foreign Service personnel are noticed by the American public and Congress is when we are murdered or held hostage. Otherwise, we have no constituency and are a safe target for ridicule or attack. From left and right, we are an irresistible political football. Congress derides us a "pinstriped cookie pushers," charges us with incompetence at every level, declares we are living lives of luxury at the taxpayers' expense and penalizes career diplomats for carrying out the policies of their political superiors--and then implies that the years of explicit and implicit insult are washed away by flags at half-staff or honor guards for coffins delivered at Andrews Air Force Base.
Professionals also notice who is bearing the cost. In her August 10 town meeting for grieving State Department employees, Secretary Madeline Albright spoke of the Foreign Service family where we all "share the same risks." Not so. Not a single political appointee has been killed by terrorists. After all, what campaign contributor in his or her right mind would want to go to one of those nasty, uncivilized places? And still we have political leaders who have never paid the price, calculating the costs. At least, if a senior military commander calls for steadfast sacrifice, one can look to see if he wears a Purple Heart, which would suggest knowledge of what sacrifice means.
One wonders whether secondary targets of the most recent terrorists are the governments of Kenya and Tanzania. Barely mentioned in fine print are the 40-plus local employees in our Nairobi embassy who died or are missing and presumed dead. More that 4,000 of these countries' citizens have been injured--a high price for their relations with us. Did they urge us not to develop a "bunker mentality" by building more secure embassies? Will other governments with "soft target" U.S. embassies in urban locations around the world wonder whether our presence is worth the cost? Because it will happen again. Probably not tomorrow, when security is at red alert, but perhaps by 2002, when natural relaxation has lowered our guard. Our arrogance in refusing to relocate vulnerable embassies in "low threat" areas or build more secure facilities was penny-wise in U.S. funds not expended but expensive in American, Kenyan and Tanzanian lives.
David T. Jones
On July 29, I received an e-mail from George Solomon. When I originally put George's bio in the CANDOER in the May issue, I failed to add George's e-mail address. His e-mail address is now in the list of e-mail addresses.
On July 30, I received an e-mail from Ray Norris. Ray was leaving Friday, July 31, from Athens, by car, on a direct transfer to Paris. He said that Dick Kwiatkowski would replace him in Athens, in late August.
On July 30, I received an e-mail from Bill Harrison. Bill passed word to me that Floyd Hagopin and his wife were in Maine, and would ultimately return to the D.C. area. For the time being, they can be reached by calling (207) 566-5423.
On July 30, I received an e-mail from Ralph Crain. Ralph is now doing it on-line. You may find his e-mail address in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this issue.
On August 4, I received the following e-mail from Bob Campopiano:
Babe Martin married the former Patty Doucet at St. John's Catholic Church in Bangor, Maine, on the 4th of July. About 170 guests attended the ceremony and reception, which was held at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel (the buffet & cake were excellent).
The ceremony was beautiful and was performed by a priest who sang the mass very well. The only glitch came about when Babe got so engrossed in putting on his wife's wedding ring that he didn't realize that the priest was asking him to repeat his vows. Actually, he wasn't nervous at all --- both bride and groom were very relaxed and really enjoyed the ceremony (lots of smiles all around).
Babe and Patty spent a lot of time with family and friends before and after the ceremony. They spent their honeymoon at the same hotel as their guests (the Sheraton) and it was like a five day party for many of us. We not only got to attend the wedding on the 4th but also got treated to an evening concert at St. John's Catholic Church followed by fireworks downtown.
The happy couple is now renting a townhouse apartment and are currently hunting for a house to buy. These Maine natives are there to stay.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Babe, congratulations to both you and Patty. We wish you both all the happiness in the world.
On August 7, I received a letter and a donation from Barry Leonard. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On August 8, I received a letter and a donation from Brad Ham. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue. Brad had furnished his e-mail address previously. His e-mail address may be found on the last page of every issue.
On August 8, I received an e-mail from Robby Robinson. Robby is now available via e-mail. His e-mail address may be found on the last page of every issue.
On August 14, Kelly Hearney gave me his e-mail address. Kelly's e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and every issue.
On August 15, I received another e-mail message from Ray Norris. Ray is now in Paris and has taken over Phil Tinney's e-mail address. Phil is on his way back to the states. Ray's new snail-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and his e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and every issue.
On August 17, I received a post card from Susan Armbruster. Susan is now assigned to the Department. Her new address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On August 19, 1998, in the name of Frank Pressley and Clyde Hirn, I took $300 from the CANDOERs Memorial Fund and donated it to the Emergency Relief Fund for Foreign Service National employees. This donation was made with the overwhelming approval of a majority of the CANDOERs having e-mail capability.
I have made it a policy, since I started the CANDOER News, not to solicit funds for numerous causes in this Newsletter. I am going to set aside this policy for this extraordinary cause.
For those of you who have e-mail, you have already seen the below ALCAN message. This is being repeated for those of our colleagues who do not have e-mail capabilities.
ALCAN 00073 - August 13
I am going to repeat below two Department Notices I received yesterday and information I received from Tom Paolozzi, by e-mail.
In 1994, the Department established a permanent Emergency Relief Fund for Foreign Service National employees to respond to general crises or humanitarian requests on behalf of FSN employees. The families of four Sudanese FSNs killed in 1992 were the first to benefit from the fund. The department is now soliciting contributions to assist the families of our Kenyan and Tanzanian colleagues who have lost their lives, and/or those FSNs who may have been injured, in the recent bombings of our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Your contribution will aid in replenishing the fund and continue it as a permanent source of FSN assistance. If you would like to donate to the fund, you may send your contribution check (made payable to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE) to:
FMP, Room 7427
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
It is with deep sorrow and regret that we announce the tragic deaths of our colleagues who died in the Kenya and Tanzania bombings on August 7, 1998. We shall remeember that they served with dedication and loyalty to the United States Government.
|Aliganga, Nathan SGT.||MSG|
|Bartley, Julian||Consular Section|
|Bartley, Jay (Dependent)||Consular Section|
|Kavaler, Prabhi Guptara||GSO|
|O'Connor, Ann Michelle||GSO|
|Idi, Hindu O.||Personnel Office|
|Kamau, Joel G.||RFMC|
|Karigi, Lucy N.||Consular Section|
|Kionge, Tesia Warimu||Char Force|
|Kiongo, Joe||GSO Warehouse/Contractor|
|Kithuva, Dominic||Customs/Shipping Unit|
|Kalio, Geoffrey||Customs/Shipping Unit|
|Macharia, Peter K.||RFMC|
|Main, Francis W.||Customs/Shipping Unit|
|Mamboleo, Cecilia A.||Personnel Office|
|Mayaka, Lydiah M.||Customs/Shipping Unit|
|Mbogo, Francis||Char Force|
|Migui, James Mathenca||Char Force|
|Ngamga, Kimeu N.||General Services|
|Nyoike, Vincent||Customs/Shipping Unit|
|Nzioke, Johnson Kimeo||Char Force|
|Ochilo, Francis O.||Economic Section|
|Okach, Maurice||Transportation Unit|
|Omae, Hudson Nyamber||Maintenance|
|Omari, Edwin A.O.||Political Section|
|Onsongo, Evans||Dept of Commerce/FAC|
|Pussy, Mungasia,(Rachel)||Public Affairs Office|
|Sheikh, Farhat M.||RFMC|
|Vrontamitis, Phaedra||Personnel Office|
|Wachira, Josephat K.||Library of Contress|
|Wamai, Adams||Dept of Commerce/FAC|
|Yafes, Frederick M.||RFMC|
|Mohamed, Abdalla||Domestic Management|
|Mwila, Abbas William||Ultimate Dispatcher|
|Ndange, Yusuf Shamte||Driver|
|Nyumhu, Bakari||Ultimate Security Guard|
|Rajabu, Mtendeje||Ultimate Security Guard|
|Ramadani, Mohamed Mahundi||Ultimate Security Guard|
|Romadhani, Doto Lukua||Gardener|
The following was received from Tom Paolozzi:
In Dar es Salaam only one American citizen was medevacuated: Cynthia Kimble.
In Nairobi 32 FSNs were confirmed dead, 12 have been medevacuated to Germany, and eight are still missing. The search for the eight continues.
Of the hospitalized Americans in Landstuhl Hospital in Germany David Robertson and Gary Spears are expected to leave soon and return to post. Ellen Bomer is already at Walter Reed, Carol Hawley, Clyde Hirn, Gary Lundquist, Frank Pressley, and Lydia Sparks expected to arrive from Germany Wednesday morning. Carolyn Riley will remain in Landstuhl and Dan Briehl will be cared for by the military.
The FSN's hospitalized in Germany are:
Abdall, Pauline --- GDC
Gicharu, Caroline --- PER
Kinyua, Moses FCS
Martin, Gideon --- GSO
The Flash telegrams and CNN reports reached Washington, Friday morning August 7, 1998, that terrorists had again struck; this time at two U.S. embassies, in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, causing loss of life to Americans and Africans and considerable damage to both diplomatic missions.
At this time, we who were once at State, mourn the lives of 12 Americans, including a dependant, killed in Nairobi. At Dar es Salaam, no Americans were killed.
Motives are now being established and verified as teams of security and communications experts arrived at both capitols.
I hope James Prosser, one time RCO at Nairobi, now retired, will comment on his observations.
This writer will proceed to start a security background, beginning with my assignment to Kabul, in 1950.
That night in March, I was met by the resigned civilian guard Finnegan with, "You Lobb? You ain't gonna like this place!"
Only at the large embassies, especially in Europe, and the Far East, were there Marine Security Guard Detachments. I was once told they were at posts having MCEB rotor equipment, which required a 24-hour guard.
I recall two new civilian guards soon arrived in Kabul; Petzold and Prisco followed by Joe Koski. Joe later left post while Petzold and Prisco soon resigned. We were left in 1951, with the employee staff and officers performing guard duty at the embassy, then in the old German Legation. We slept in the File and Code Room, including career Ambassador George R. Merrell. This ended with the arrival in mid-1951, of the first Marine Guard Security Detachment.
It was headed by M/Sgt John Murt, a veteran Marine who had extensive WW II combat service. His assistant was S/Sgt "Mac" McNeil and Corporals Harry Lock, Jim Sommerhauser, George Hoffman, and Kasperski. "Ski" as we knew him, had been wounded in Korea. Only recently, members of the detachment met again in Southern California and recalled events in Kabul.
At my next post, London, the Marine Security Detachment at then No. 1 Grosvenor Square were numerous. The Marines were separate from the Marine Guards at CINCNELM Hqs., North Audley Street.
They preformed their duties in the usually efficient manner.
Returning to the Foreign Service at The Hague, in the mid-fifties, there was a detachment of Marines. After the Embassy closed each evening, they manned the switchboard and watched the TELEX for precedence messages from Washington while securing the Embassy, an office building for ESSO. They were under Post Administrative and Security Officer Lee Blanchard.
Returning to the field in 1960, the Marines guarded the new embassy at Port-au-Prince, under their Gunny Andy Zihar. They had the usual five or six guards on duty. I recall of no attempts at the Embassy, which also had a Haitian Army guard.
On to Paris. There was a large security detachment for the Embassy and NATO, with an officer in charge. The barracks were in a facility also housing Embassy vehicles. Many demonstrations took place against Vietnam policy, but also one sneak attack occurred, minor in outcome, but still and embarrassment to the French Government. Some demonstrators spilled red ink over the building facade and broke a window. The elite French security forces performed the first ranks and used force to beat back demonstrators, with gas.
In 1967, it was off to Africa at Accra. The embassy lacked security and had a poor communications setup. However, few demonstrations took place as Ghana came under military rule. The Marines under Gunny Cooksey had their own house and quarters.
But something else was happening! Jet travel had arrived and Americans were traveling more to Europe and remote areas. As I recall, Security was still under Administration and the "Gunny" had complete authority. But Colonel Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., CO, Naval Mission had to be reminded the Embassy Guard Detachment was under Embassy State control!
Finally, in 1974, the MSG in London now resided in Carlton Mansions on West End Road. But times had changed!
Security became tight! SY officer "Mac" Maguire and his assistant Mr. Gibbey had buttoned down the embassy building at 20 Grosvenor Square. Demonstrations still took place over Vietnam, but the Mideast Arab-Israeli conflict continued. SecState Henry Kissinger was using a new style of shuttle diplomacy with frequent trips to the Mideast stopping off at London. Scotland Yard checked out mysterious packages. Letters and package mail was checked in the Mail Room. Security had tightened as glass windows became sealed up or replaced.
One day, our daughter came home from the American School and informed us a bomb threat had taken place! The school children had been evacuated to a nearby Jewish Community Center. Clearly, this along with IRA attacks on the British Government was bringing London into threats from car and other type bombings.
I cite all these experiences which were mild compared to what our Foreign Service colleagues must expect in 1998 and future years.
Since WW II, more U.S. Ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty than generals and admirals combined. Looking at the long list of Foreign Service personnel on the memorial plaque in the lobby of the Department of State who have lost their lives in service to their country, prior to 1960 the majority were due to causes associated with their place and time of assignment: i.e. travel, illness, accident, etc.
Since then, the majority of deaths invariably are due to acts of violence.
Notwithstanding the adverse incidents involving personnel of the Foreign Service, it is an admirable testament that U.S. citizens still eagerly wish to serve their government abroad in a profession that definitely has become personally risky.
The recent terrorist bombings of our Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi regrettably are a continuation of the ever-prevalent threat of terrorism against our government establishments abroad, and, most importantly, the people who spend their lives in service to the United States, both American and Foreign Service Nationals.
Many of us CANDOERs have probably even served in or been associated with personnel of those two posts, particularly Nairobi because of its regional responsibilities.
Having served in Nairobi for four years in the early 1980s and visited there several times subsequently, most recently a year ago, my wife and I had a lot of Foreign Service National friends with whom we have always maintained contact. Regrettably, a number of them died in that senseless terrorist attack.
Elsewhere in this CANDOER issue, there is information on how we personally can financially help out the families of those FSNs in Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi who have served us so well over the years. I urge everyone to be as generous as possible and to remember all the victims of these terrorist acts in your prayers.
I happened to be based in Nairobi when the Embassy was under construction in 1980. At the time, security enhancements to this new building were evident to the point local criticism was that it resembled a fortress. Thank goodness for the design, extra reinforced walls and "pop-up tank traps" at vehicle entrances. Without them, the destruction and loss of life in Nairobi would have been much worse.
The location in the city center at a busy intersection was convenient, but definitely not optimum from a security standpoint. Hopefully, construction of future facilities for the Foreign Service will be supported by proper funding. Keeping our missions abroad safe as well as open to the public is primary.
In the dark days of the then Soviet Union, foreign nations were allowed to fly their national flags only on that country's national day, Russian major holidays, and if a head of state visited Moscow or died.
At our Embassy in Moscow, the flag pole was mounted on the first floor balcony railing above ground. This balcony happened to be off the bedroom of an apartment permanently assigned to an Embassy communicator.
The policy then was all communicators had to live in the Embassy. This was done for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the requirement for 24-hour service in the communications center.
Whenever the flag had to be raised and lowered, the Marine Security Guard would come to the apartment and request permission to go through the bedroom to raise or lower the flag on the balcony. This sometimes occurred for days on end.
During the period 1971-74, the apartment was occupied first by George and Rose Jacobsen, then Joe and Madeline Reeves. It also was a period when U.S. presidents Truman, Johnson, and Eisenhower died, and there were two state visits by Nixon.
The Jacobsens accepted this procedure begrudgingly for it frequently interrupted their sleeping and other habits. So did Joe Reeves, until one morning the Marine Security Guard (who had a pass key) thinking the Reeves were away just waltzed into the bedroom with the flag when he shouldn't have. Joe's fuse was short much of the time anyway, but understandably that day pyrotechnics took place!
Subsequently, a flag pole was installed on the ground just behind the Embassy fence.
The following people were in attendance at the August CANDOER luncheon:
Cal Calisti, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Chuck and Eva Chesteen, Lou Correri, Al Debnar, Charlie Ditmeyer, Al Giovetti, Joel Kleiman, Graham Lobb, Will Naeher, Paul Nugnes, Charlie and Dorothy Hoffman (and one guest), Nate Reynolds, Robby Robinson, Bob Scheller, Dennis Starr, and Tom Warren.
In addition, we had three first timers, one of whom drove down from New Jersey, Marv Frishman. The other two new attendees were Roy Hylaman and a long time retiree, Bill Mason.
A big CANDOER WELCOME to all three of you. We hope you can find time in your busy schedules to make many, many more luncheons.
The following e-mail was received from Patricia Stout on August 5, 1998:
Carl is now an Assistant District Manager for Pricing for Lowe's Home Centers. He covers a large area and does a lot of travel. He is usually home at night, but he goes all over Eastern Pennsylvania.
I started working on Monday, August 3rd, for my family physician.
I have also started a small craft business, painting my original designs on flower pots, bird houses, etc. I really enjoy it and am making a modest amount of income on them.
Carl bought a lawn tractor and enjoys riding that around our "wild" grass. His latest home project is to practice roofing on our out buildings and decide if he wants to tackle the house roof or just hire a contractor. It needs to get done and I am hoping he doesn't try to do it himself. We have a gambrel roof and it is rather steep.
Take care and keep in touch.
The following note was received from Bob Sandberg:
It has been a bad/busy year with a diagnosis of prostate cancer and subsequent treatment (successfully) during the period of November through February. We then took a 83 day trip to Alaska by RV. Will be returning to Florida next month. Enjoy reading the CANDOER.
In July 1955, we reentered the Foreign Service and were assigned to The Hague, after a brief training period in DC/T, under Elsie Crim, Helen Campbell, and Henry Parisella. We Departed for post aboard the SS United States --- then the fastest ship afloat! It was a quiet trip on the North Atlantic to LeHarve; then on to Paris, by train. Here, we obtained tickets on the night train to The Hague.
At The Hague, we were met by Adolph Jones and taken to a pension at Scheveningen, where we stayed until our household effects arrived. David, our son, celebrated his forth birthday riding donkeys on the beach. After, there was a birthday party, given by our Dutch pension owner and her children. David was told he could have ice cream or cake, but not both! This seemed puzzling to us and David, but it was a Dutch custom.
The Embassy was then located on the third and fourth floors of the ESSO Building in central The Hague.
The Communications Supervisor was Nancy Ostrander, who later became U.S. Ambassador to Surinam. Nancy had no prior code training since she was in Visa in Santiago, Cuba. Later, she obtained a commission in Consular.
Other staff members were Betty Gene Pager, Helen Allen, who later married a Dutch Naval Officer, and Dorothy Jaques, records. Earl Gilbert was pouch. The Administrative Officer was Lee Blanchard. Adolph Jones was GSO and Al Warneckie, Budget and Fiscal.
The Embassy was under H. Freeman "Doc" Mathews, Career Ambassador, with long experience in European Affairs. The DCM was Mr. Ronhovde. Political was J. Harold Shullaw and William Sullivan-later Ambassador to Laos and Iran. Economic was Howard Cottam, Keld Christianson, and Jim Haahr, John Pliakas, and Evelyn Brooks. Robert Barnet replaced Jim Cottam. Secretaries were Ellen Hickey, Miss Evans, (Elaine), and Helen Steiner. The Military Section was Col. Hoffman, Army Attache, CWO Cardilla, Jean Marcario, Matt Zelius, and Marion Follis. (I had previously served with Sgt. Follis in the 108th MRU, Fort Jay, N.Y.)
The Netherlands was recovering from war-time occupation by Nazi Germany. Economic recovery had begun. There was a political problem with Indonesia, who gained the former Dutch colonies in the East.
In Addition, there was a MAAG Group and a USAF base at Soesterberg, part of NATO.
The Refuge Relief Program was under Andrew Schelp.
USIA was represented by Robert Donhauser. Several Embassy offices were located throughout The Hague. There were two Consulates in Rotterdam and Antwerp.
Finally, our effects arrived, and we located a garden apartment at 128 Rioustraat. David was too young to begin school.
The Embassy Communications consisted of a switchboard and Telex machines on the third floor, with no circuit to the File and Code Room on the Fourth Floor. The Telex was connected to the American Embassy in Paris. We were a Telex trib off the Embassy (RUFJ). Dutch employees operated the switchboard and Telex. There were two women on duty. After hours, the Marine Guards notified the Embassy duty Code Clerk by telephone for NIACT messages. Since we protected for other agencies, there were far too many NIACTS which were not NIACTS, resulting in MANY unnecessary trips after hours! We received no overtime pay, only comp-time! This was hard to take with personnel sick, on transfer, or TDY.
The communications equipment was serviced by RCO Bill Richmond's office from Paris. I recall Chalmers Pittman, Clarence Heisle and others came when required. Once a Dutch employee changed teletype tape without telling anyone. We were out for several days until the problem was corrected at the Telex positions. U.S. tape was reinserted!
After Suez in 1956, traffic picked up. The Dutch also had problems with Indonesia, with many cables from the Far East.
In addition to serving as Code Clerk, I served as Pouch Clerk, after Earl Gilbert departed, until George Constantinides arrived from leave. There were classified runs to other military and Embassy offices; and the two consulates; plus meeting couriers at Shipol Airport and sometimes the train station at The Hague.
Betty Pager departed for London and Augustine Pardes, a new employee arrived. He had to be trained, but "Teen" met with a serious car accident and was lost to the Post for months. This resulted in another crisis! George Hiraga arrived and things became normal.
Alice Walkup replaced Nancy Ostrander. The office was reorganized.
I piled up a lot of overtime and was able to get some trips to Northern France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. We enjoyed going in our MG Magnette sedan to various places, also Dutch cities and towns. David went along to Switzerland on a longer vacation.
There were many post social activities with the usual cocktail parties, receptions, and staff dinners. Our big problem seemed to be finding baby sitters.
Roberta kept busy at home, but she got to shop in Dutch stores and visit local antique shops and museums. Eating Indonesian food was a treat!
We lived in a Dutch apartment house but one American family with ARAMCO was in the building.
Roberta developed a serious medical problem which kept her in the hands of a Dutch doctor. The climate was damp, rainy, and little sun except in July and August. One winter the canals froze over! The Dutch took to them like in the days of "Hans Brinker." One American entered the race on the canals.
During the Suez Crisis, the consumption of oil and gas was cut. The apartment got colder as the heat was turned down or off. We experienced some gasoline rationing.
Roberta used the Dutch market. We had a butcher (Tony) who delivered. One could also order baked products, groceries and American type milk. Sterovita delivered to the door.
In the fall of 1957, we received orders for Pretoria. Then a few weeks later, it was changed to Baghdad in General Services. Roberta's health had suffered in The Hague so we wondered when she was cleared for Pretoria what Baghdad would bring! It was a hot, Middle Eastern post. Then I never understood why I was transferred into General Services. Later, I learned in the Bureau it was to accommodate someone in Pretoria! Taking all in consideration, I transferred back to Civil Service and obtained a position in DC/T. Resigning from the Foreign Service.
EPILOGUE: Still communications had not changed and offered few promotions!
The Bureaus continued to limp along with no career for Communicators.
We returned via London, crossing the North Sea in a storm as dinner dishes went sailing across the rolling sea-waves. In London, Roberta and David came down with the Asian Flu. We boarded the SS America along with other flu cases, mostly military, and sailed back to New York City. It was a rough crossing, never to be forgotten!
I reported into DC/T and was assigned to the day shift under Ray Watson.
In July 1993, a year and half after my retirement, my wife, Penny, and I decided to move to Palm Coast, Florida. Palm Coast is an unincorporated city, halfway between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach on Florida's east coast. Thing were going along fine, with me playing at what I call golf, and Penny playing bridge and bingo.
Things started going downhill on June 6th, when a fire broke out in the Seminole Woods section of Palm Coast, approximately 6 miles from our home. The fire destroyed 20 homes and 100 acres of woodland. Since we had not had any rain in three months, the underbrush and timber were very dry and a prevailing easterly wind helped spread the flames.
After that incident, more fires broke out in various parts of the county. There was always smoke in the air and soot blowing around. Six other fools and myself, however, continued our golf thing, but you could not see the green from 130 years away. One player, a nonsmoker, made the comment, "I'm losing six months of my life every time I play." He was probably right.
Things really went downhill in early July. On July 2nd, Penny and I decided to pack up the cars and get ready to evacuate, That evening, just before midnight, a sheriff's deputy pounded on the door and said we had to get out as the fire was coming towards us. Needless to say, we took off. We headed to Flager Beach on the ocean. Sounds romantic sleeping on the beach? Wrong! We spent the night trying to get some sleep in our separate cars.
Shortly after daybreak on Friday, July 3rd, we were able to return home. However, on the 10 mile trip back to Palm Coast, the smoke was thicker then ever, like a dense fog and ashes were raining down. Once we got into our house, we turned on the TV only to learn that the fires had jumped over Interstate 95 and Route 1, which were both closed. A telephone call from a friend informed us that a mandatory evacuation of the entire populace of Flager country -- 35,000 people -- was under consideration. Penny and I looked at each other and said, "We're out of here!!" So off we went, taking route A1A north (one of the only two roads left open) to Jacksonville.
It was fortunate that we left when we did, as we made the trip in the normal hour and a half time frame. People who left shortly after we did took six hours to make the same trip.
In Jacksonville we went to our son Jimmy's house. Jimmy is with the U.S. Customs Service and was stationed in Nassau, The Bahamas (just like his father he loves hardship posts.), so we had the house to ourselves. We stayed there until Monday, July 6th, when the evacuation order was rescinded.
When we got back home, we found our home in good shape, although the fire did get within a half mile.
Although some 70 houses were lost in Palm Coast, the toll would have been much higher had it not been for the fire fighters from 40 states that came in to fight the blazes. They bulldozed fire lines and sprayed houses to save them. In many, many instances the fires came within feet of homes, but the fire fighters saved them. There are not enough words to properly express the debt of gratitude we owe these people who worked day and night to save our homes.
That is my story of "Firestorm Florida - 1998."
P.S. If you read of a hurricane heading for Palm Coast, be rest assured, we will be long gone at the first warning and I ain't stopping until I reach Arizona.
My indoctrination to the ins and outs of the Foreign Service all began in the fall of 1971. I'd applied for a position as Communications and Records clerk back in 1970, but due to a hiring freeze I really hadn't been picked up until that day when I received the fateful call at work in California. After getting out of the Navy, I'd landed a job as an electronics parts counter salesman/technician in Gardenia. I soon realized I really wanted to travel and the State Dept. seemed the way to go. I'd filled out the numerous forms and as my first choice for a tour, selected Europe. If memory serves, I was working on a TV set when one of the guys working the counter advised I had a phone call out front. I dropped my tools, answered the phone, and was greeted by the sexiest sounding female voice I'd heard in a long time. She informed me she was calling with my assignment with the Foreign Service. The visions of Paris, Stockholm, or Copenhagen which danced through my head were quickly dashed when this voluptuous voiced female advised I had been assigned to the Consulate in Dacca, Pakistan. Not wanting to appear too ignorant, (I had taken geography in school) I asked which Pakistan, East or West? When this girl said she really didn't know, all the assignment said was Dacca, Pakistan, I hurriedly phoned my 15-year-old second cousin. I told him to get out the globe, find India, and look for Dacca in either West or East Pakistan. Robin quickly located Dacca in what was then East Pakistan. I watched the world news on TV that evening and learned the Indians and Pakistanis were once again shooting at one another. Naturally, this time it was over independence for East Pakistan. The rest of the week I spent glued to the TV as personnel in Dacca being interviewed as they were evacuated from the Consulate. I spent a considerable amount of time, and money, on the phone to State trying to find out if they still wanted me to go to a place being evacuated. I don't believe I ever received much in the way of a satisfactory response. By March of 1972 the fighting had died down in East Pakistan, independence had been proclaimed, the country calling itself Bangladesh, and I departed sunny southern California for my first visit to Washington D.C.
My first day at State I learned there were a total of seven of us being hired as communications and records clerks. My colleagues had also received their assignments; two to Paris, one each to Bangkok, Hong Kong, La Paz, and Abidjan. I couldn't figure out why State was picking on me. Were my qualifications so low they had decided to send me to Dacca or were they that high? For the next several weeks as we began our training and were introduced to more and more personnel at State, I learned Dacca had not been exactly the Garden of Eden before the war and was now even worse. As we began each new class during training we were asked where we were coming from and where we had been assigned. When the instructors got to me and I stated I was going to Dacca, it was always the same exclamation "... and who did you tick off?" I was in a quandary - I knew no one at State and I'd even voted for Nixon - twice. Once we were assigned a personnel technician, I also learned the United States had not recognized the new nation of Bangladesh and I would be unable to obtain a visa in Washington. There was also the question of getting me there. Travel to Dacca had been disrupted because of the war and flights into the country from New Delhi or Bangkok were questionable at best. The area technician advised I would be provided with reservations via PanAm as far as New Delhi, but from there on to Dacca I would have to play it by ear. In addition, she also stated the U.S. had supported Pakistan during the war and they were unsure whether Nixon was going to formally recognize Bangladesh. What had been the Consulate just might be closed. Because of this, I would only be authorized 66 pounds of excess accompanied baggage, no airfreight or HHE. I really felt like the Lone Ranger; the rest of my colleagues were able to get visas and had confirmed flights all the way to their assignments. Where had I screwed up? Just who had it in for me? Paranoia was definitely setting in.
We completed training in mid May and I obtained confirmed reservations as far as New Delhi with an open-ended ticket for Dacca. My personnel technician assured me I would be able to obtain the required visa through the Embassy in New Delhi, they would have someone meet me at the airport, and make hotel reservations. On a Friday evening I bid farewell to the other six students, reluctantly made my way to Dulles, and boarded PanAm. Eventually, after numerous stops along the way, around 5:00 a.m. the plane landed in New Delhi. I believe I was the only American getting off the flight and when I handed my official U.S. passport to the immigration official, his eyes lighted up. When he asked if I had ever been in Pakistan I replied with a yes since the plane had stopped in Karachi just before New Delhi. It was definitely the wrong answer for the official searched my three suitcases which were crammed with nearly everything I owned. This search lasted at least an hour. Once I was permitted to clear immigration/customs I set out in search of someone who looked American. The airport was mass chaos; I hadn't seen that many people crammed into one area at one time since I'd taken the Star Ferry in Hong Kong while in the Navy. I eventually hired three bag boys and we trekked from one end of the airport to the other in a vain attempt to find the individual who was to meet me. Finally, I threw in the towel, found the PanAm office and phoned the Embassy. The Marine on duty stated a vehicle had been dispatched and gave me the license number. Back my entourage and I went, this time searching for a '72 Chevy Impala with a distinctive license plate. As time went by, the temperature climbed, and I became less and less enthused with this Foreign Service life. Finally, I gave up locating the car and hired a taxi to take me to the Embassy. It was nearly 9:00 a.m. by the time we pulled into the driveway. There, sitting beneath a large tree in the parking lot, was the Chevy I had searched high and low for at the airport. I paid off the taxi, unloaded my worldly belongings, and walked back to the car which was to have met me. Behind the wheel was the driver fast asleep. I woke him up and he took me to a hotel where the Embassy had made reservations.
Monday morning I went into the Embassy and dropped off my passport with the consular section who were to obtain a Bangladesh visa. They assured me it would take only one day so while at the Embassy I attempted to obtain reservations for Dacca. I was told I would have to overnight in Calcutta and got a ticket for a flight scheduled to depart Wednesday morning. Tuesday afternoon I received a call at the hotel from the consular folk who advised my passport had been lost and I would have to obtain a new one Wednesday. Back I went to the Embassy early Wednesday, obtained new photographs, filled out the necessary forms, and canceled my flight for Calcutta. Early that afternoon I received a call, again from the Consular section, saying that my "lost" passport had mysteriously shown up complete with the Bangladesh visa. I made reservations to depart for Calcutta early Thursday morning and had the Embassy send a message to meet and assist. Naturally, once I got to Calcutta no one was there to provide assistance and I got a taxi to take me to the Consulate. I am certain I definitely got the scenic tour of metropolitan Calcutta by the Indian driver who was certain I was interested in seeing all the sights. Once at the Consulate I was advised there was a 1:00 p.m. flight to Dacca and if I hurried, I could catch it. They provided me with a car and driver and away we tore through Calcutta, making the airport with minutes to spare. I was next in line at the Indian Airline counter when an announcement was made that the flight to Dacca was delayed until 3:00 p.m. I obtained a ticket, checked my luggage, and hunted around for a place to get some lunch. Finding nothing and getting tired of fighting my way through the hoards of Indians, I found myself in a bar sitting next to a hard looking British chap. He informed me there was no fit place to eat in the entire airport and the only thing safe to drink was gin and to forget about trying to get tonic or ice. I took his advise and drank numerous straight, warm glasses of gin, hearing tales of India from the British ex-patriot until the flight was eventually called at around 5:00 p.m. For some strange reason I do not recall much of the 45 minute flight from Calcutta to Dacca. The CPO was at the airport in Dacca to meet me and I don't believe I've ever been so glad to see anyone in my life.
Here are three sites that might interest some (From SMART COMPUTING magazine):
www.ssa.gov -- Although there's some doubt about the f uture of Social Security, you can view its current status, and read through the list of frequently asked questions about the SSA. You can also reuest a Personal Earnings & Benefits Estimate Statement to determine how much you have coming.
http://consumerlawpage.com -- The Consumer Law Page -- Alerts one to the quiet crime known as consumer fraud--its causes, symptoms, and results of this social disease. Visitors can browse articles and brochures covering everything from defective products and toxicchemicals to fraudulent services and medical scams. Free consultations by e-mail and a lawyer referral service available.
www.nolo.com -- Nolo Press Self-help Law Center Before you pay a lawyer to answer your legal questions, visit this site. This site, produced by a leading publisher of self-help law books, offers more than its share of quality legal advice and information--and it's free. Check out the Current Features, an assortment of essays that examine various areas of the law; the Legal Dictionary, an index of more than 200 clearly explained legal terms; and the Daily Tip, regular hints that can save you time and money. But the real gem here is the Legal Encyclopedia. This collection of in-depth essays and frequently asked questions helps you learn what to expect from a lawyer and the justice system.