My Kagnew Station Call Sign as Issued by Fat Herb, USN.
What follows on this page is my annotated military history. Since it's somewhat long, tedious and boring, I therefore strongly recommend that you go back to SPOOK'S ALLEY. I for some reason, known only to God, felt compelled to add this section to this Home Page. If you feel the NEED TO KNOW continue reading.
January 1966 - No longer in school, I received an invitation from my Draft Board to take a pre-induction physical.
February 1966 - Armed with my medical records and X-Rays (I had major knee surgery in November 1965) I reported to AFEES on Van Buren Street in Chicago. I was feeling confident that I would and should be rejected for military service.
March 1966 - I received notification that my Draft Status had been changed from 2S to 1A and that I had passed my physical. I panicked, a few of my High School buddies who hadn't gone to college were drafted and already serving in Viet Nam. Therefore I went to see my friendly Recruiter to assess my options. I had taken ROTC in school and was awarded a Brevet commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Illinois National Guard. This piece of paper and 10 cents would get me a cup of coffee in just about any cafeteria in Chicago. The Illinois National Guard had a 10 month waiting list for enlisted personnel and a 2 year waiting list for Brevet 2nd Lieutenants.
After taking a battery of tests that almost any Chimpanzee could pass, my Recruiter informed me that I had qualified for any school that the Army had to offer. My question to my friendly recruiter was "what Army job will keep me out of Viet Nam?" His answer was ASA (a Top Secret Organization within the Army). But I had to see an ASA Recruiter and pass an interview with him. Of course it would be a 4-year enlistment instead of 3 years. But I would have a guarantee of schools and would probably get overseas duty in an exotic place. I'm thinking Fiji, Tahiti or the Caribbean with semi naked women serving me cocktails (shaken not stirred) on the beach! Sounds good to me, where do I sign up!
My ASA Recruiter was located at AFEES in downtown Chicago. He had the largest office there, tucked away in a corner of the building. With just desk lamp light and no standard fluorescent lighting the room was dark in comparison to rest of the induction center. Visions of being the next James Bond danced through my head. I had to pass this interview.
Before I knew it I was signing every paper imaginable. On March 13, 1966 I raised my right hand and joined the Army for four years of active duty. Under the 120-day delay program I could chose when I wanted my active duty to begin. I chose June 28, 1966.
June 28, 1966 - More paperwork and another swearing in. Most of the inductees at AFEES were going to Fort Polk, LA, some being drafted into the Marine Corps and going to Camp Lejune, and the four ASA assigned personnel were off to Fort Leonard Wood, MO. We were told that our train to Fort Leonard Wood from Union Station was not leaving until midnight. We had six hours of freedom to roam the streets of Chicago. The four of us; Greg Mayo, Jay Tucker, Bill Heimdahl and myself decided to go to the movies. We went to the State Lake Theater to see "The Battle of the Bulge", how appropriate!
July 1966 /August 1966 - Company F, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Training Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Better known as F-3-3, Fort Lost in the Woods, Misery.
Welcome to the Army! At this time the military was building up faster than it could billet troops. Names beginning with T through Z in F-3-3 were billeted in tents. This had a definite advantage over being in the Barracks. No floors to wax and no latrines (our shower was in a tent and we had outhouses) to scrub. With a minimal effort we could pass inspections. With my name beginning with Z, they never got around to me on the KP Roster (in fact, in 4 years of military service I never once pulled KP duty).
I learned a lot of valuable things in Basic Training: 1) Never volunteer for anything! 2) Play dumb and never let the Cadre know that you are smarter than they were. 3) How to throw a grenade. 4) How to sleep standing up or sitting in the bleachers without snoring. 5) How to low crawl under barbed wire. 6) How to spit shine footwear using a cotton ball and urine. 6) That using clear finger nail polish would keep your Brass from tarnishing. 7) That there are only two types of soldiers; "the Quick and the Dead". 8) Running in Combat Boots slowed you down by at least 20 seconds per mile. 9) Take all that you wanted to eat, but make sure you could eat all that you took in 8 minutes or less. 10) Never volunteer for anything!
It was rumored that they were mixing salt peter into the food at the mess hall, but I didn't believe it. I awoke hard every morning with no place to put it. At night, while we polished our boots and brass we listened to Dick Bionde on WLS Chicago. "Paint it Black" by the Stones, "Wild Thing" by the Troggs, "Along comes Mary" by the Association, "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James and "Paperback Rider" by the Beatles were the hot hits in the summer of 1966. We did not have a day room or television in "Tent City". I was able to attend only one movie on post in July 1966. "What's New Pussycat" starring Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen. In this movie I also saw the girl of my dreams, Francoise Hardy. The only other movie that I think she made was "Grand Prix" with James Garner. I decided that I must learn the French language, so therefore, my first choice of ASA schools was French Language School at DLI. Besides, every spy knew more than one language and I was going to be the next James Bond.
After 8 weeks of intense training, I proudly marched in my graduation parade. I had orders to report to Fort Devens, Mass. (my second choice) for my AIT. Mayo, Tucker, and Heimdahl all had orders for DLI, probably their second choice. I learned a valuable lesson; never chose where you really want to go as your First Choice of assignments.
September 1966 - I arrived at Fort Devens, Massachusetts on Labor Day and was assigned to ASA Company C for pre-school processing. Pre-school processing consisted of pulling shit details, called casual labor, vital to post operations while waiting for your classes to begin. The 98C's, 98B's and 98J's had the longest waiting period and were usually assigned as permanent KP's. I was waiting for 05 series training and assigned to Rations Breakdown. I was sent to the KP Barracks since I had to be on the job at 4am. Some of the guys had already been in the KP barracks for 3 months while waiting for school. No wonder we had a 4 year enlistment! Hurry up and wait!
October 1966 - After weeks of loading and unloading food supplies for the Post's Mess Halls, I was transferred to Company D and on my way to Morse Intercept School. Company D was the home of Danny Dog( PFC Daniel VonAlpenhoof), the affable, slobbering Mascot of the USASA TC&S. It was also the home of the "Honor Guard". The Honor Guard was an OCS prep unit. If for some ungodly reason you wanted to become an ASA officer, this was the place to go; a mini OCS. I had one close friend in the Honor Guard, Mike Benson from Haywood, CA. Mike was an amateur hypnotist and put on one hell of a show at the Rec. Center. Mike and I shared a trip to NYC, staying at the Manhattan Hotel on 8th Avenue. My barracks buddies and classmates were Harry V. Osteen, Patrick Maupin, George Strickland and James West. We also had several Menehunies in our class; two names that I remember are Takaki and Wananobi. I remember them dancing outside of the classroom on the first day that it snowed. There must have been one hell of an ASA Recruiter in Hawaii.
Classes were held, in temporary WWII barracks that had been convert into classrooms, a short march away from Company D. This area was lovingly referred to as "Ditty City". After a hardy and somewhat tasty breakfast at the Con 4 mess hall, we had roll call and were marched off to our classes. Classes in Ditty City consisted of learning Morse code. Dit Dah, Alpha. Again, Dit Dah, Alpha. Again, but louder, Dit Dah, Alpha. After 3 or 4 weeks of school I was hearing Morse code in my sleep. Fortunately, school was only 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with weekends and holidays off. This gave us plenty of free time.
I spent a lot of my free time watching television and going to movies at one of the several Post Theaters. I took several trips to Boston, visiting many historical sites as well as the "Combat Zone". I attended one "pig push" at the USO and visited the "Little Klub" in Ayer on several occasions. I took many weekend day trips to Leominster, Fitchburg, and Worchester in search of sweet young things. Of course, I stayed chaste while stationed at Fort Devens since I was semi-engaged at the time.
December 1966 - I reached 20 GPM in less than 10 weeks and was given my choice of 05 diversions. My instructor suggested that I stay with Morse intercept (058). By this time I realized that the ASA (contrary to what my recruiter said) was in Viet Nam. Most of the guys that I knew, with orders for Nam were either 05H's (Morse Intercept) or 05D's (Radio Direction Finders). I immediately removed these two options from my list. The main reason that I joined the ASA was to stay away from Southeast Asia. My other options were 05G (Communications Monitor) and 05K (Teletype Intercept). 05G's were also called "Buddy Fuckers" so I scratched this school from my list and decided to become a 05K. In December I was also automatically promoted to PFC E-3 receiving a $30 per month pay increase. A subsequent review of my military records 2 years later found that I should have been promoted on September 13, 1966. I received back pay at that time. With the PCSing of PFC Champagne I took over the position of Dog Handler for Danny Dog. Duties consisted of feeding and grooming my fellow PFC (later promoted to CPL by COL Lewis Millett).
January 1967 - Finished Morse school increasing my speed by only 4 groups per minute during the last 4 weeks of classes. The two-week Christmas break must have slowed me down. Actually it was my inability to type that kept me from increasing my speed. Looking at the keys on the Mill while taking code is hard to do with speeds over 20 GPM. I think that I must have slept through the part of our training that taught us how to type. More than likely it was my Macho attitude that prevented me from learning to type. The only guys that took typing in school were fags!
February 1967 - Teletype (also known as non-Morse) Intercept school was held at Revere Hall, a real brick building. I hadn't been in a brick building since leaving Company C, four days after arriving at Fort Devens. It was a strange feeling not to hear the wind whistling in the classrooms. Revere Hall was quite a bit further away from Company D than Ditty City. Marching to school in the Massachusetts' winter was not very enjoyable but somehow we persevered.
March 1967 - It was time to fill out our Dream sheets for post school assignment. We were told that the top 3 in the class would definitely get their first choice of assignments. Tired of being in a cold climate my choices were 1) Asmara, Ethiopia, 2) Bermuda and 3) Bangkok, Thailand. I don't recall anyone ever going to or being station in Bermuda, I think that it was just put on the dream sheet to make it look good. One of my instructor's SSG Roy Duck had been to Asmara and said that it was a great duty station and that I would probably like it there. Besides, it seemed to be the farthest place from Viet Nam.
A week before our classes ended we received our orders for overseas assignment. They must have been using Psychics. How else would they know that I would finish second in my class and give me my first choice of Duty Stations.
April 1967 - With school completed and my orders for Asmara in hand, I took a 2 week leave to say goodbye to my family and friends in Chicago. Returning to Fort Devens on the 19th I was once again assigned to Casual Labor. This was my second tour of duty on Rations Breakdown, but I now was a seasoned vet, a short timer!
May 1967 - On May 1st Harry Osteen, Ted O'Flarety, and myself were at Logan Airport in Boston preparing for our long journey to Africa. Ted was designated as our team leader for the trip to Asmara. Ted was married and had lived off Post while we were in school. He was a lot more military oriented than the rest of us. The other guys in our class had a derogatory nickname for him and needless to say he was not a very popular person. Harry and I immediately detached ourselves from Ted.
June 1967 - While training in Non Morse Search and Development I reached a milestone in my life, my 21st Birthday. It was June 5, 1967, D trick's last Eve shift before break and I was given the night off to celebrate. I started out at the Oasis Club and headed downtown shortly after dark. We had just gotten paid and I had a pocket full of Ethiopian dollars. By 11pm I was in the Fiore Bar negotiating a place to bed down for the night. Shortly thereafter the MP's came and told all of the GI's that we had to report back to our Company immediately. Happy Birthday! The 6-day war had begun. Being the break shift we were assigned to other tricks for the duration of the twitch. John Hurtebese (who was both my mentor and my nemesis, originally nicknamed me Daffydill) and myself were assigned to A trick (12 hour Day shift). I guess I did a proficient job in NMSD during the crisis. Chris Bogart, the straight day NMSD section chief asked me if I would like to continue to work in this area. There were no NMSD openings on D Trick and I would have to transfer to A Trick. Having worked with A Trick for the past 22 days, I readily agree. I spent one more week with D Trick and transferred to A trick on July 7, 1967. On June 27, 1967 I was automatically promoted to SP/4 E-4.
July 7, 1967 - October 18, 1968 - Worked NMSD on A Trick with Claude Barton, Chuck Fairless, Steve Popko, Bill Hunt, and Mike Andersson. I replaced Chuck as A Trick NMSD room supervisor in May of 1968 and passed the torch on to Bill when I PCSed in October. I was promoted to SP/5 E-5 on June 21, 1968.
On October 18, 1968, I bid farewell to Company A, A Trick, and the 4th USASA Field Station (Kagnew Station), Asmara, Ethiopia, giving the traditional "get on my bag" sign before boarding a Ethiopian Air Lines flight for Athens, Rome and Home.
Stories from this phase of my military career will eventually be posted to the Spook's Alley section of the Homepage.
November 1968 - After a well-deserved leave, I reported to the USASA Support Group, Fort George G Meade, Maryland on November 11, 1968. This was my second choice of CONUS assignments, my first being the 2nd USASAFS, Two Rock Ranch, Petaluma, California. Being in the rarified mountain air of Asmara I had forgotten the "Second Choice Rule" when filling out my Dream Sheet!
I was assigned to B Company and billeted in a 24-man bay. Talk about lack of privacy. Welcome back to the real Army. Unlike Asmara, we had to make our bunks, wax and polish the floors, and clean the latrines. I even considered putting a 1049 in to go back to Kagnew.
My clearance to work at NSA had not been processed and I was once again assigned to Casual Labor. This time it was painting detail. I spent my first day white washing rocks in the courtyard and was rapidly promoted to painting doors. While working on doors, I met one of my future roommates George Harter, a short timer fugitive from the Harrogate closing. He lived off post with two former ASAer's John Stracka (who also did time in Asmara) and Phil Menges who had done time in Turkey.
The B Company clerk was Martin Argo. Marty had been in Asmara and worked for the OPS Commander LTC Richard Doer at Tract C. Leaving Asmara as an SP/4 he was not able to ship his POV (a Honda 305 motorcycle) back to the States at government expense. I was not shipping a vehicle back so I agreed to ship his as mine. Unknowingly at the time, this was one of the smartest moves I made while in the Army. Marty talked the CO, CPT Kent Warneka into temporally assigning me to the A Company orderly room while I was waiting for my clearance. The A Company 1SG, Harold Quillen, assigned to me the position of Day Room Orderly. This was a job almost worth re-upping for. Marty also talked CPT Warneka into allowing both of us to live off-post in nearby Laurel, Maryland. Thereby freeing up much needed space in the barracks.
Living off-post meant getting up about 15 minutes earlier but well worth it. My job as Dayroom Orderly required that I be at the barracks at 0700, give or take a few minutes. After one day on the job, I had it mastered. Turn on the radio, throw away old newspapers and put out new ones, straighten out the magazines, turn on the television, wipe down the pool tables and the shuffleboard, repair the cue sticks if necessary, and empty and clean the ashtrays. The Company A, off-post platoon was responsible for the dayroom clean up; vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, and buffing daily. I was usually finished before 0720 hours. Spending the rest of the day helping the Company Clerk, James Evans Thibodeau and 1SG Quillen pass time.
March 1969 - I was still waiting for security clearance to go into the NSA Building when Thibodeau got orders for Viet Nam and 1SG Quillen asked me if I would like to become the Company clerk. Quillen figured that I had hung around the office long enough to assimilate what was going on and that Thibodeau could teach me enough to get by in 2 weeks. Besides, he was retiring at the end of the month and I would be some other 1SG's problem. 1SG Quillen had SSG Chelini (MILPERS NSA) pull my records from NSA and the CO, 1LT William (Wild Bill) McGrane had CPT Warneka transfer me from Company B to Company A. I was meritoriously awarded the secondary MOS 71B20.
April 1969 - MSG Charles Cline became my new 1SG. MSG Cline had just returned from a tour at Phu Bai and was a little too military oriented for my liking. 1SG Quillen had been very laid back; 1SG Cline was a gung ho, lets get to it now type. After watching me type the Day Report, he threw his hands into the air saying "My God, I have a Company Clerk that can't type!" and ran into the CO's office screaming. LT McGrane (whom I partied with off-duty) calmed him down telling him of my value to him and the Company. 1SG Cline immediately had me put in a requisition for a real 71B to aid me with my duties. In two weeks I received a warm body named SP4 Harry K Johnston. Harry K was not the most astute person that I had met, but he could type.
June 1969 - After 2 months, 1SG Cline realized that I did have some redeeming qualities. I had a knack for getting things done by circumventing the military system, I knew the right people, I could bullshit with the best of them, and I played one hell of a game of pinochle (winning the Support Group tournament with SSG Paul Waters as my partner). My off duty hours were spent hanging out with LT McGrane, 2LT Bill Moogan, and partying at John Stracka's apartment with him, George Harter, Phil Menges, SP5 Robert Rhuman and SP5 David (the SOT) Canby.
August 1969 - 1LT McGrane got orders to ship out and was replaced by CPT Bradley W Smith. Results of the 71B20 pro-pay test placed me number one in the Support Group and in the top 10 on Post. I, of course, had the advantage of never going to Clerk/typist School. The only area of the test that I had problems with was Mailroom operations.
October 1969 - By this time I was actually administratively running Company A. 1SG Cline was OPS oriented and not a great administrator. Likewise with CPT Smith who would have rather been in the field than behind a desk as a Company Commander. I took a one-week leave to visit family in Chicago and spent the next two weeks straightening things out. Harry K was a great guy and good typist, but he had the reverse Midas touch, everything he touched turned to shit.
This is also the month that I met my future wife, Patricia Ann Morrison, daughter of MG John E Morrison Jr. USAF, Deputy DIRNSA.
April 1970 - I was eligible for the E-6 board, 1SG Cline told me that I would have no problem in passing it. They were dangling the re-up carrot in front of me. I declined and got married to Pat instead.
June 27, 1970 - ETS