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 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15.
The CANDOER Web site and newsletter may be viewed by going to the following URL: www.candoer.org
The success of this newsletter depends on you. I need 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: (301) 283-6549
Please, NO handwritten submissions.
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Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
All is quiet here at the "House of Cat!" I have been able to get in several days of bass fishing and have caught a lot of fish. I had a slow start this year, due to our "Snow Birding," but have made up for it since.
It's a Small World
I found a story that Jim Prosser sent me a long time ago and I saved it in the wrong directory. It is finally published in this issue. Thanks, Jim.
Another short story by John Lemandri is also included.
While back in my home town, Waterford, PA for Heritage Days, and a class reunion, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with my high school principal, Dr. Earl Stubbe. Dr. Stubbe is 94 years old and still going strong. During breakfast he gave me a story about an experience he had during World War II that I thought would be of interest to the CANDOERs.
The "witticisms" found between stories were received from several people!
By James F. Prosser
"Small world" experiences are described in Wikipedia as encounters one has with someone you have previously met or known in another distant place or time. They generalize that there is no more than six degrees of separation between any two individuals on the planet.* * *
Foreign Service folks like most of us who have traveled abroad extensively and served in numerous countries are quite likely to have had a number of "small world" experiences in our careers, perhaps many more than those who remain in a specific location all their lives.
I have had several of them and thought I would share some with readers of the CANDOER News. I urge others to do likewise, for there has to be quite a large variety of interesting incidents.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, I served in the U.S. Air Force, mostly at Portland International Airport, Oregon during the Korean War (1951-54). While there, someone stole my savings book and checkbook, and cleaned out my accounts. Luckily, the not very clever thief was eventually apprehended and punished. The bank made good my loss and had an officer who worked with me in the legal aspects of the court case. Let's call him Mr. Johnson. We got to know each other quite well over the next few weeks.* * *
A couple years later after joining the Foreign Service and while at Saigon, my first post, I took a vacation to Hong Kong. On Hong Kong Island, at the top of the Peak Tramway, there is a long trail one can walk around the peak to get marvelous views of the city, harbors, and South China Sea. At one of the viewpoints, I stopped to look out to the sea. Just a few feet away from me was this gentleman whom I thought I recognized. He looked at me with almost the same quizzical expression. It was Mr. Johnson from the bank in Portland, Oregon! We both were stunned at this meeting 5,000 miles and three years from our previous rendezvous.
In 1962-64 I was posted in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo. We had a Marine Security Guard at the Embassy named Sgt. Ken Young. He created quite a stir in the ex-patriot community because he took quite a fancy to the wife of a Belgian banker. The banker's wife divorced her husband, and eventually married Sgt. Young who by then had finished his enlistment and was discharged from the Marine Corps.* * *
The spring of 1968 my wife Mary and I were on home leave in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We had arranged with a favorite aunt and uncle to make a trans-continental west coast train trip to California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
At San Francisco, having rented a car, the four of us drove out of the city across the Golden Gate Bridge north to the Muir Woods. There we hiked quite a ways back into the forest on a desolate trail. After a while we saw a couple coming towards us. Incredibly, it was Sgt. Young and his wife! While Mary and I chatted with them over our lives in Leopoldville and subsequent events, my flabbergasted aunt and uncle stood by slack-jawed unable to comprehend how we met up on a lonely California forest path with a couple we knew 10,000 miles and four years ago in the Belgian Congo.
It was U.S. Memorial Day, May 30, 1982. I was in Cape Town, South Africa on official business. Being an American holiday in the middle of the week, with the Embassy and Consulate General closed, CEO-T Gary Minatre and I decided to spend the day by driving out into the countryside for lunch in the vineyards near the town of Stellenbosch. This particular vineyard served meals outdoors on tables beneath the trees in a beautiful garden. When Gary and I were seated, all the tables were then fully occupied.* * *
We had just placed our order when I noticed a couple walking in from the parking lot seeking a table. When they were about 20 feet away I was completely surprised to recognize the man. His name was Raymond Wicki. We knew each other when he was a hockey referee in the Swiss Ice Hockey League at the time I was posted in Geneva 1974-78. I called over to him by name for he and his wife to join Gary and I at our table. Raymond was as surprised as I was at this encounter. We really enjoyed reminiscing about our times at ice hockey matches in Switzerland. (My son, Stephen, was goalie on the Geneve-Servette Hockey team for four years.) Even Gary, normally a quiet, reserved person was amazed at what he was witnessing.
In the autumn of 1993, Mary and I made an extensive driving trip from Wisconsin through the U.S. southwest. It took almost one month. Invariably if we did not stay with Foreign Service friends along the way, we would always stay at a bed and breakfast establishment. We arrived in Durango, Colorado late one afternoon in preparation to ride the Durango & Silverton tourist train the next day - an all day trip. We stayed two nights at the Lightner Inn B&B.* * *
The owners, Mr. & Mrs. Lightner, were a delightful couple just as interested in our Foreign Service background as we were in theirs as escapees from the "Silicon Valley" rat race they used to live back in San Jose, California. Mr. Lightner was one of the top computer chip designers for Intel there. Intel begged him not to leave the company. Mr. Lightner told Intel he would continue to work for the company only if they let him telecommute from Durango, Colorado where his wife had begun a B&B. Ultimately Intel agreed.
Two years later, Mary and I were traveling through South Africa as retired tourists. We spent about a week in Cape Town, one of the loveliest cities in the world. While there we made a day trip down to the Cape of Good Hope where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. To get all the way out on to the rock, which is the southern most place in Africa, you have to leave your car in a parking lot and either walk or take a special bus the last mile. We opted for the bus ride.
Exiting the bus and starting to walk up the last hundred meters or so, we spotted a small group of American tourists coming down towards the bus. They were all wearing T-shirts emblazoned on the front with a message "Intel, San Jose, California." That caught our attention so we greeted them and mentioned how we knew a Mr. Lightner of Intel who telecommutes from Durango, Colorado. They all were amazed and responded "He's our boss!"
Small world, indeed.
The summer of 1975 Mary and I went on home leave from the U.S. Mission, Geneva, Switzerland to Green Bay, Wisconsin.* * *
The previous summer, when we arrived in Geneva, we purchased a new Volkswagen Minibus. While at home in Green Bay, one afternoon, we decided to go over to the local Volkswagen dealer and check out the Minibus models they sold for price comparison as well as for our amusement.
While walking around the VW dealer showroom, in walked Art Stillman and his wife Dorothy! Art was an economics officer at the U.S. Mission in Geneva, just two floors away from my office! Of course the four of us were astounded at this meeting.
It turned out the Stillmans, while on home leave, were driving throughout the upper Midwest that summer. That particular day they were heading up to northern Wisconsin for some time on a resort lake. Their rented Volkswagen Passat developed a problem when they were approaching Green Bay so they decided to get it fixed promptly at the Green Bay VW dealership.
Small world, again.
During my tour in Geneva, Switzerland, we lived in the small town of Tannay, 19 kms north from the U.S. Mission on the shores of Lac Leman. The Swiss train service was wonderfully frequent, plus unbelievably punctual. The train station being just a five minute walk from my house, I took it to work daily for four years. The best investment I made in Geneva was to have a Swiss Rail pass.* * *
Commuting on the train daily I got to know my Swiss neighbors fairly well, enjoying our chats during the 20 minute ride each way to and from the office.
In 1978 I was transferred from Geneva to USNATO Brussels via another home leave. While in Green Bay, Mary and I flew out to Portland, Oregon to spend a week with friends there. Arriving at the Portland airport, I left Mary with the claimed baggage while I went over to the AVIS counter to pick up our rental car. There also picking up a car was one of my Swiss neighbors picking up his car! Dumbfounded, we laughed at having this meeting almost 7,000 miles from our homes in Tannay, Switzerland! He was on a business trip while ours was pleasure. We had just seen each other two weeks previously in Switzerland.
Just about everyone knows Garrison Keillor is the founder and star of National Public Radio's very popular Saturday afternoon radio show entitled "Prairie Home Companion". It has been broadcast nationally for more than 35 years. Full of music and humor, the show always has a segment where Keillor delightfully gives "the news from Lake Wobegon, Minnesota", his fictional home town. Mary and I never actually met Keillor, but have attended two of his performances and usually listen to the weekly program. We have often visited beautiful Stearns County in Minnesota where Lake Wobegon supposedly exists (but no one can locate).
A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
Crash Landing on Iwo Jima
During my various postings in Europe, I did a lot of hiking and mountain climbing. While in Rome, Mary and I made a vacation in the Tyrolean Alps of Austria. She stayed down in the Ziller valley while I did the hiking/climbing.
One day I decided to climb up to the Krimmlerwasserfalle (Krimml waterfalls, Europe's highest) which were about 3,000 feet above the valley floor. No special equipment was required, only strength and stamina for the last sections of the switch-back path which were fairly steep. About three quarters of the way up to the falls, one had to stop every 50 yards to catch one's breath and enjoy the incredible beauty of the surrounding Alps.
At one of those stops I happened to spot a couple resting about 25 yards ahead and above me. I recognized them as Garrison Keillor and his wife! Not wishing to disturb their reverie of the scenery, as I plodded upwards past them, I casually said
"It's almost as beautiful as Lake Wobegon!" Keillor smiled broadly and nodded his head appreciatively.
By Earl C. Stubbe
This is a story of a B-29 from the 315th Bomb Wing sent to Okinawa with supplies to support an island ravaged by Typhoon Louise on October 9, 1945. The 315th was based on Guam and one of the crews designated to ferry supplies was commanded by Lt. Don Ethier. This mission occurred after the end of World War II, and personnel were being deployed back home based upon a point system. The Radar Observer from the Ethier crew had left for home and I, Lt. Earl Stubbe, was assigned to fill this vacancy for the upcoming trip to Okinawa. The following account is told as accurately as I recall it, 68 years later.
A lot of money is tainted. It taint yours and it taint mine.
Universal Soldier, ehe, make that Donor
The trip to Okinawa was uneventful. We delivered our load and started back the next morning with an additional passenger, a GI hitching a ride to Guam. Things went fine for the first couple hours. We were flying at 11,000 feet between two layers of stratus clouds. The distance between the two layers kept decreasing until we were enveloped by the cloud. Don sensed that there might be some rough going and suggested that we all fasten our seat belts. Then it struck, in what seemed a couple seconds we were at 18,000 feet. Then a down draft caused everything that was not secured, including the passenger, to go to the ceiling. I remember the fire axe, which had broken loose from its mooring, went by me each time we changed direction. The pilots reported that air speeds during downward segments exceeded 600 mph. We had another series of ups and downs until the storm finally spit us out at about 1500 feet altitude.
As we emerged from the storm, the plane appeared to be flying normally. However, when the scanners reported that the left aileron was missing completely and that the right aileron was mangled, we became aware that our problems were not over. Our passenger had crashed through the ¾ inch plywood cover over the unused gun turret well and was severely injured. We pulled him out of the well and tried to make him comfortable. The cabin resembled the neighborhood junk yard, and everything was covered with sea marker dye from broken canisters.
After consulting with the officers in charge at Iwo Jima and at Guam, it was decided that we would head for Iwo Jima. Iwo was closer and the approach to Iwo was pretty much straight in while Guam would require a 90 degree left turn, and the Guam runway ended at the brink of a 500 foot cliff. Since the plane was stable as it emerged from the storm, we were cautioned to not change anything unless it was absolutely necessary. We discussed the option of riding it on in or bailing out. The option to bail out was rejected, primarily because of our injured passenger who was no condition to put on a chute much less to be able to use it.
A Navy PBY was in the area, and they agreed to accompany us in case they could be of assistance. The problem was that our airspeed was 220 mph, they couldn't keep up and we didn't dare slow down.
Our Eagle radar worked fine. We were able to pick up Iwo long before it was possible to see it, giving the pilots ample time to get lined up with the runway. The radar also gave us accurate distance and altitude information. The plan was, as I understood it, to come in low, get on the runway, and hopefully stop before running out of runway. The first test was, however, to get the landing gear down without disturbing the planes stability. The gear came down with no problem.
The landing came off without a hitch. The plane touched down at 220 mph, more than double the normal B-29 landing speed. Brakes were applied causing all four of the main gear tires to slide for nearly two miles. As a result, all four were flat and had holes that you could stick your fist through. I talked with one of the firemen who followed us down the runway and he said that the smoke from the burning rubber obscured all except the wing tips of the plane. When we neared the end of the runway the pilots released the right-hand brakes and we did a little counter-clockwise ground loop, but didn't go off the end. The guys in the rear of the plane had trouble getting the hatch open so they could get out of the plane. Things were sprung so badly that they had to use a fire axe in order to open the door.
We were all covered with sea marker dye. One of the first priorities was to get a shower, wash it off, and get some clean clothes. This helped. However, our bath water ran green for several days. The next priority was to find the chapel and give thanks for getting all of us through that ordeal safely. I'm not sure what the odds are for a plane subject to that kind of abuse to be able to fly for several hours and land safely. Maybe it's just as well that I don't know.
By John Lemandri
A quarter to a third of the population have type 'A' positive blood (depending on ethnicity), while less than eight percent, including me, have 'O' negative, better known as universal donor. I can give blood to anyone. On the surface you would think nothing of it, but let me tell you - it can get you killed.
A midget fortune teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
In Vietnam, whenever someone was shot the call would go out, "Get Lemandri." I was the only one in the company with 'O' negative' blood, a universal donor, and the 120 Marines of Company L weren't about to let anything happen to me.
The company felt lucky, so much so that the corpsman rarely carried plasma as long as I was around. Plasma had to be kept cool and in plastic bags, and each bag had an expiration date. I on the other hand could endure 115 degree heat or the cold damp rains of a monsoon night. I like to think I didn't have an expiration date, and the Marines of Company L were determined to make sure I didn't, at least not while they were in Nam.
Nothing was going to hurt me. I had 120 buddies who were closer to me than they were to their mothers. Whenever a round came in I was jumped by a half dozen Marines, ready to sacrifice their lives so I would not bleed. I was bruised and battered, but otherwise unharmed. I oftentimes felt as though I had been tackled by an entire football team and I hate contact sports.
One night in the midst of a rocket barrage I was rushed to the surgical tent where a half dozen doctors and nurses were cutting away clothing and clamping blood spurting arteries of wounded Marines, trying to stem their loss of blood. No time to check blood types, I was stripped of my camouflage jacket, an IV inserted into my arm and my blood pumped directly into theirs on adjacent tables. In the crisis of the moment someone forgot to turn off the pump and I felt like a car undergoing an oil change, except I wasn't getting any oil.
In the A Shau Valley west of Phu Bai, a Huey dumped a five gallon carton of ice cream and a half dozen steaks for me to eat. The first sergeant said "go at it." I nearly puked my guts out. Other Marines hated me. They had to survive on year-old C Rats, but for some obscure reason steak and ice cream were suppose to enrich my blood, and no one would mess with me, unless they wanted 120 other Marines on their ass. I was, after all, their life blood, their meal ticket home.
When I left Nam I was 25 pounds heavier than when I arrived. That's a lot of steak and ice cream, minus a few gallons of 'O' negative blood.
Take care and be safe!
See you next quarter!