Louis D. Schindler


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                                Interview with Louis D. Schindler

                     Veterans Memorial Hall Oral History Program

                                        November 13, 2018  

Veterans Memorial Hall is a program of the St. Louis County Historical Society.



© November 13, 2018, by the St. Louis County Historical Society

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy and recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the St. Louis County Historical Society.


Veterans Memorial Hall Oral History Program

Interview with Louis D. Schindler

November 13, 2018

Interviewer: Cody Sinn



CS: Cody Sinn

LS: Louis D. Schindler

Track 1



CS:      This is Cody Sinn, interviewing Lou – do you go by Lou or Louis?

LS:      Lou

CS:      Interviewing Lou Schindler on November 13, 2018. I do have some questions, but really, it’s entirely up to you. When I emailed you, you sent me quite a rap sheet. It seemed like you already knew all that you’ve done. Actually, it was amazing to read. So, really, let’s start from the beginning. You were born in Duluth?

LS:      No, I was born over in Wisconsin – Washburn. Actually (I was) born in Ashland, because that’s where the hospital was. Our farm was about 18 miles from there. Went to grade school and high school there. As I indicated on my bio, I graduated from St. Thomas, worked my way through St. Thomas. My parents didn’t have any money, I wasn’t big enough for an athletic scholarship or smart enough for an academic scholarship, so I worked. And it worked. Probably couldn’t do that in 2018, but in another generation or two back.

            And then, during the time I was in college, I enrolled in Air Force ROTC. At that time, interestingly, everybody who was able-bodied and not a veteran, for them, ROTC was mandatory. So, on Friday the whole campus would turn blue. Obviously a different period of America’s history. And those of us who chose to stay then, the first two years were mandatory for everybody who was able-bodied, except veterans, and then the last two years was optional and I stayed. I graduated from St. Thomas and I got my commission from St. Thomas. Then I went active duty after that.

CS:      What was the first assignment when you went active duty?

LS:      Well, first assignments were two schools, each nine months in length. I went to officer training at Lackland Air Force Base (Texas), and then I went to James Connally Air Force Base, which was at Waco, Texas, for nine months. I went to Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento (California) for another nine months. So my first 19 months I was hitting the books. After completion of navigation school and advanced navigation and bombing school, I went to an organization which was an air refueling outfit. I mentioned in my iteration there (it was) in El Paso, Texas. I lived there for two years.

            We had older bombers, which had been converted to tankers. The original designation was B-50. And then they put a “K” in front of it, KB-50, K indicating refueling. We had KB-29s, we had KB-50s, we had KC-97s, we had KC-135s. That was the Air Force’s refueling fleet at that time. For a farm kid, it was just exciting. I went everywhere from France to the Philippines in two years. But our job was to move fighters and light bombers, usually from the United States, to Europe or to the Far East.

CS:      But how?

LS:      So, did a lot of island hopping, worked out of Bermuda, worked out of the Azores out of Spain in that direction, and then the other way worked out of the West Coast out of Hawaii, out of Wake Island and Guam and the Philippines. (I) got to see an awful lot of the globe.

CS:      What years would that have been?

LS:      1960-1962. So that was a great assignment. While I was there, I volunteered to go with the Air Commandos and I didn’t have enough flying time. They required at least 1,000 hours, and I didn’t have quite that much when I volunteered. So, a year later, they came back looking for more volunteers, and at that time, I had enough time to qualify. So, I said, “Send me, Coach.”

            We went to a special psychological evaluation at the School of Aviation Medicine down in San Antonio (Texas). Then we went to a special survival school. Survival school at that time was held near Reno (Nevada). That was kind of intense – lots of psychological aspects to it (and) lots of physical aspects to it. I kept on maintaining, I know that if you throw me out on a hillside, with only a parachute and basic rations, I’m going to be cold, tired, and hungry. I said, “I don’t need to go through school for that.” However… [laughing] However, the Air Force had other ideas. But it was very, very good because it was so complete.

            After that, they said, “You passed the test.” So I joined the Air Commandos in May of 1962 at Hurlburt Field in Florida. Eglin Air Force Base is the biggest Air Force base in the world and it has nine auxiliary fields. They all had numbers and they all had names. Hurlburt Field, Florida, was Eglin Air Force auxiliary field #9. So, I always say (it was) an entity unto its own, but that was a long time ago.

            Lots of stuff occurred at Eglin Air Force Base over the century. That’s where Jimmy Doolittle did all of his practicing, prior to the raid. Because it was so big, you could do things that nobody knew you were there. Every once in a while, you’d fly over something and say, “I wonder what that was?” And a guy would say, “If you were supposed to know, you’d know.” [laughing] It was that kind of an operation. An awful lot of things… Research and development went on there, as well as operational testing of all kinds of different systems. It was so big that you could do that. And that’s where we worked.

            At that time, Mr. Kennedy had just authorized the United States Army Green Berets to wear their hats, legally, and he authorized the formation of the Air Commandos. It wasn’t called the Air Commandos at that time. There was a little subterfuge going on: we were the 4400th Combat Training Squadron for a little over a year and then became the first Air Commando group, which kept on expanding. Now it’s an enormous special operations center. But that’s where it started, right there.

            We flew old aircraft, mostly WWII things: C-47s, C-46s, C-123s, O-1s, O-2s, B-26s, and T-28s.

CS:      What is the big difference between…?

LS:      Usually a “C” in front means cargo. So I had three different cargo aircraft. “T” usually means trainer; these aircraft had been modified from a training aircraft to a strike or attack aircraft. The “Os” at that time stood for “Observation 01, 02.” And the “B” was always bomber: B-26s, but those were WWII and Korea and then modified for Vietnam. Lots of ancient flying machines. But they were similar to those aircraft, which a lot of countries around the world used. We would go and teach them how to use their aircraft, as well as tactics for those aircraft.

CS:      During those years you’d get to travel?

LS:      Yeah. From 1962-1968, I was in Saudi Arabia, I was in Panama, I was in Vietnam twice, and a bunch of colleagues were in Mali, French West Africa, also in different parts of Africa and Asia, Thailand, Cambodia a little bit before it was publicized and in Thailand. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos – don’t forget Laos. So there was an awful lot of operations going on that didn’t hit the front page. In fact, it never hit page 8 in most cases. But they were all interesting.

CS:      So that would have been when you were working, until 1968.

LS:      1962-1968. In 1968 I went to Hawaii for three years. I mentioned that. I was assigned there for three years, but I was only there half the time. The organization that I was a part of was called a First Aircraft Delivery Group, and we were responsible for moving aircraft all over the world. Here’s an example: Four new aircraft came out of McDonell Douglas (Technical Services Company – MDTSC) at St. Louis (Missouri). They have to be moved to Thailand. How do you get them there? Well, there used to be an organization called the Ferry Command that would do that. As aircraft became more complex, you couldn’t be checked out on five different kind of aircraft. So we had a license/permission/authorization to borrow people from operational outfits, usually instructors. We’d send them a message that said, “Request that you send four pilots, four systems operators, to McDonell Douglas at St. Louis on this date for pickup of these aircraft, to be delivered to…” Thailand, Japan, wherever it might be. That was one part of what we did.

            New aircraft were moved. Aircraft that were in-theater, some of them would have to be brought back to the United States for certain upgrades – rehab. We moved whole squadrons of aircraft, particularly during that time, during the Vietnam thing. We’d move an aircraft say from Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in South Carolina to Phan Rang or someplace in Vietnam. The first day they would fly from Myrtle Beach to Hawaii with many refueling in en route. The second day they would go from Hawaii to Guam and on the third day they would go in-country, wherever that might be: into Thailand, into Vietnam, up into Japan or Korea or wherever that thing was going.

            That was kind of interesting, because you had 24… Twenty-four aircraft made up a squadron, two people in each aircraft. It took a whole bunch of tankers to refuel that, usually a flight of four on a tanker. (Made a “click, click, click, click” sound) An hour and a half later, (“click, click”). So we had a bunch of tankers. Usually we had three cargo aircraft full of maintenance guys and women who took care of the aircraft when they were on the ground. The logistics of moving that many people involved a whole bunch of beds and whole bunch of meals and lots of gasoline and lots of transportation and lots of “fix-‘em.”

            High in the sky, over this whole mess, would be a command and control aircraft, making sure that all was going well. But, like I said, three days from the time they left South Carolina, they’d be in-country, ready to go if that was their mission. So it was very, very diverse. That’s why I worked at Hickam Air Force Base (Hawaii), Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, Okinawa, the Philippines, Korea, and Japan. That’s where we were delivering aircraft to.

CS:      And you said about four different refuelings in between those first couple days. What does that entail – the refueling process?

LS:      In the air or on the ground?

CS:      Both?

LS:      [laughing] In the air, it involves some very detailed orders because tankers came out of someplace and then joined up with the fighters. And then they would stay as a group ’til they got to Hickam Air Force Base, ’til they got to Guam, until they delivered them in-country. So, part of my job was fuel management of that. Part of it was what they call airspace management. You had to have a reservation from South Carolina all the way to Hickam; this is your space for that period of time.

            The fighters and the tankers, the KC-135 Tankers (Stratotanker) was a Boeing product made… First Boeing had an airliner. Actually, they had the tanker first. They got a tremendous amount of information. But they had speed compatibility; that was what was really important. They had to fly in formation. Tanker nav (navigator) would say, “Time for refueling.” One, two, three, four, they would… They have a boom on that KC-135, which is flyable: up, down, back, forth, in and out. They have a boom operator lying on his stomach, looking through a big glass window (with) all the controls right here. Fighter comes up behind, boom comes out, little door comes open back here and go (made a popping sound). Start passing.

            The boom operator tells – everybody’s on the same frequency – tells when you’re full, full retract. Next guy comes in. So, there’s going to be a little bit of disparity between number 1 and number 4 because you’re using fuel while this is going on. (They) do an awful lot of figuring.

            Another one of the rules is “we don’t run a kamikaze operation.” So at any point in this flight you have to be able to make it safely to a base or a place that has a runway to accommodate you. Now, you get out on the Pacific, and that gets a little squirrely, because that’s 2,008 miles from Hamilton Air Force Base, which is right on the coast in Marin County (California) to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. So, lots and lots of juggling. If it’s unsafe, back you go, or stay with it and go straight ahead. But there’s always a point. It used to be called a “Point of No Return” and that was not really good terminology, so it was changed after a time to the “Point of Safe Return.” If you have not gotten on a tanker by this time, you must exit. Do you exit return or do you go straight ahead? So lots of… And this is pre-computer. This is men with what we used to call a “prayer wheel” – a calculator. So it was all done manually.

CS:      And to have to plan every aspect like that!

LS:      Every aspect of it. And like I said, when you get into food and fuel and all those creature comforts, which you have to have… I’ll tell you one funny aside. The F-4 was made by McDonell Douglas for a short mission – usually two and a half to three-hour mission. Now, we’re running these things about seven and a half, seven and three-quarters, almost eight hours. The guys, you could just see, they were just whipped when they got there, because they’d been working really hard.

             What do you do about human needs like going to the bathroom? You usually start before with a restricted diet, as far as your bowels are concerned. There was no what is called a “relief tube” built into that aircraft. And you have to do this during production, see, so… Some genius came up with a heavy-duty plastic bag that’s called a “piddle pack,” p-i-d-d-l-e, just like the name implies. And so, some guys just could not make eight hours. Some would, but you can’t dehydrate to a point where you’re like this (makes gesture) and flying an aircraft. So there’s a whole bunch of things that you have to balance up. So, pretty much everybody would have a piddle pack by the time they arrived in Hawaii.

            “What did you do in the war, Dad?”

            “I picked up piddle packs from…” [laughing] (That) comes under the contract, “Other duties as directed.” But here’s where it got dicey, because you’re flying in an aircraft with no autopilot. You’ve got a survival suit on underneath your flying suit and you’ve got a pair of underwear and usually something else. Now, try to figure this – visualize this if you will. With human instincts as you remember being a human male, that under duress, we tend to shrink up, OK? Now, all of a sudden your bladder is full and you’ve gotta do something. You’re flying this aircraft, you’re unzipping yourself and trying to relax enough to urinate and then, now you’re sitting there with this ¾ bag full of urine. Now what the hell do I do? [laughing] It had a very, very stiff wire, and you could go like this and then roll it and it would pretty much always work, and then you put that down there and you continue your mission.

CS:      Pretty much always work? [laughing]

LS:      Pretty much, all the time. Once in a while you’d see somebody with that look on their face when they’d land. But that’s one side edition of a very complicated mission. But you have to put the human element in there! And, like I said, some of these guys were just soaking wet from sweat when they got there because the aircraft took an awful lot out of you for eight hours.

            What we’re sitting on here is a little bit bigger than an aircraft seat.

CS:      How many feet wide would the…?

LS:      Hmmm… Well, you’ve gotta remember that this is also an ejection seat. So you’ve got a whole bunch of stuff down there, and you’re sitting on a life raft. So if you have to punch out over the water, you’ve got water wings on, you’ve got a life raft underneath you, you’ve got what’s called a “poopy suit,” the wet suit that you try to preserve, which doesn’t breathe. This is all either plastic or rubber or some sort of thing. So it’s hot as hell in those things. That’s why these guys were dripping wet when they got where they were going. And you’re called upon to do a pretty select maneuver. It’s very, very difficult to do that. You’re working the whole time, just everything is in little increments. So, that’s just a side part of moving aircraft.

CS:      For eight hours!

LS:      Yeah! To get them in place. And like I said, when you’ve got 24 of them, 18 tankers, three supply aircraft with maintenance guys on it. It was kind of a gaggle! Just get those guys on and look over there and there’s another one coming in in two more days, so…

            We moved a tremendous number of F-4s, F-100s, F-101s. (We) moved some peculiar F-106s to Korea one time. Once in a while (we moved) some F-102s, B-66, which was a twin-engine aircraft that we got from the United States Navy and modified for Air Force use. And F-105s, which was an enormous, single-engine bomber. They jokingly referred to it as the “Squashbomber.” If everything else failed, all you had to do was taxi it over a target, lift the gear handle and…. (made a gesture that jiggled the microphone). [laughing] Typical macabre Air Force humor, but it was just BIG, just a big, big aircraft. So those were the aircraft that we moved out of that location. I was with that for three years. Lots and lots of interesting people.

            We lost one aircraft. It was another aircraft called the O-2. It was originally a Cessna Skymaster 337, which was built as a civilian aircraft. It had push-pull operation – engine on the front and engine on the back, boom tail, and very safe. Because up ’til that time, we had O-1s, which had one engine. Nickname was “Birddog.” Very small, very light, got it from the Army. Worked well, except with one “lung.” If it’s gone, you are gone. Took these things off the shelf and modified them slightly. Built them in Wichita, Kansas, at Cessna-Wichita. After they came off the production line, they were flown down to Tucson and then up to Marin County, which gave 20 hours on the aircraft. If anything’s going to happen, it usually happens in the first 20 hours. Then we would send them over with a rescue aircraft on top. Had to have a visual contact all the time – minimum of two, maximum of four aircraft. We sent 382 of those things over.

            It was an interesting concept. “Why didn’t you put them on a boat?” Well, the United States Navy wouldn’t take a partial load – they only take a full load, so that eliminated that.

            “Why don’t you take them apart and put them in a cargo aircraft?” Because we would have had to pay airfreight, even though it was our cargo aircraft. The Congress, you know, had to have… There were about five different reasons why we came up with it. The fastest way to get those things over there was to fly them. And we lost one out of 382. The guy ditched about 250 yards from a Japanese freighter. He was going along, picking his nose, scratching his backside when he should have been flying, and the tank went dry. By the time he switched the tank, it was too late. Barely got his feet wet. We can build more aircraft; they only made one of you and me. Those are the kind of adventures we had at that assignment. It was good.

CS:      And how many countries did you go to during that stretch?

LS:      We always had a person on the ground whenever we sent or received an aircraft, so that’s why I worked at Midway. We had some stuff that came down out of Alaska, down the Aleutian Chains, down to Midway, that couldn’t make that long California to Hawaii leg, but they could make those shorter legs. Gotta look at a map sometime. Like I said, it was that 2,000 mile stretch between the California coast and the big island of Hawaii that defeated that. So, I worked on Midway and Wake. Wake was owned by the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration at that time, but we’re talking about a transition period. Jet aircraft were coming. Jet airliners were coming in greater numbers, but there were still an awful lot of propeller-driven aircraft out there.

            Same way with Guam. Guam was an enormous strategic air command base that had B-52s there throughout the Vietnam thing. They’re back. Here’s history throwing us a little curve; B-52s are back in Guam.

            And then I worked out of Taiwan and Korea and Japan and Okinawa as well. So that was good.

CS:      It was in… the graduate program…?  

LS:      Oh! The graduate program! While I was there… I had been to Vietnam twice. People were getting asked – directed – to go back a third time. I said, “Oh, I don’t want to do that.” I had three little kids. So I said, “What’s a good, stable assignment?” I used to be a teacher, I can do that. So I volunteered to go to Air Force ROTC. They said, “You can’t go because you don’t have a graduate degree.” What was happening, remember, the sociology of that time in America was that there were an awful lot of people that were very unhappy with us being in Vietnam. I wasn’t real happy about being there. They have to realize that’s a two-way street! But, that was the job.

            So, what was happening is we were getting “gas,” if you will, on university campuses because some of our faculty would come in without a graduate degree, with only a bachelor’s degree. They said, “Well, if you’re gonna be a faculty member at this institution, you have to have at least a graduate degree.”

            Air Force gets to looking around and said, “We don’t have any non-technical masters.” If you and I were in the Air Force at that time and had a background in engineering, physics, math, chemistry, they’d grab you by the back of the neck and throw you to grad school, practically, because those are the sciences that were needed. Teaching at institutions was not real high priority at that time and all of a sudden it became high priority. Then they said, “You don’t have a graduate degree but, we now are coming up with a program so you can go to school and get a graduate degree so you’ll have the academic credentials of your colleagues, peers, and contemporaries at XYZ institution, and you’ll be accepted. I said, “OK.”

            But, with that asterisk that I put on there, I did a 21-month program in 12 months. Yeah. You talk about drinking out of a fire hose! I mean, two years later I’d be reading something and I had one of those ‘aha’ moments that I missed when I was passing through that course. But it was a means to an end. Give her hell for 12 months and then that was the most stable assignment I ever had. I was home every night except during the summer time, 8-5. Usually went in early because, unlike most faculty, we were there at least 9 hours a day. In the Air Force, you get paid 8 hours a day.

            Where you went to school and I went to school, you could see your advisor every third Wednesday between 1-1:30 if you were the first guy in line. [laughing] After that, all you saw was his shirttails going out the door. Right? So, that was house rules. There was somebody always there.

            We had a real fox for a dean. Everybody’s got to be someplace and we were under this dean who realized that he had 13 faculty members that he didn’t have to pay for. The United States government paid for me and my Army colleagues. So his antennas go way up, so (he) put us all in advisory capacities, first of all, so that the students had access. Across the disciplines. I might not know much about astrophysics, but I can tell you you have to have 101, 102 and 103 before you go into 201, but some sophomores don’t realize that. [laughing]

            And he put us on some finance committees and some other very visible things, showing… Again, we never had riots on our campus because I was at North Dakota State where the riots in the winter are very, very few and people don’t sleep under bridges out there, either.

            But he was… I think the happiest two years in his life were when he was in the United States Army. He never forgot it. So he would make sure that those of us who wore a different colored suit with either brass or silver buttons, were in very visible positions, working for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. So it was a very clever maneuver.

LS:      With that background, then, we were always in the office. If I wasn’t there, my colleague was. If I was teaching, my colleague was out here. I wish we had had video capability at that time. Because this kid would come in, go around the corner and say, “Oop! I think I’m in the wrong place here.”

            I’d say, “Nope, my name is Schindler, I’m your advisor.”

            “Are you sure?”

            I said, “We’re doing academics here, we’re not doing anything else, OK?” So you break down that barrier here and then get kids talking. And the next time the kid comes in, he’s got Charlie with him. He says, “Charlie can’t get to see his advisor. Can you help him?”

            I said, “Sure.” [laughing] Another clever maneuver on the part of this dean, to expose these kids to those of us who are just normal folks who happen to wear blue suits with silver buttons. It was a very interesting environment.

CS:      The silver buttons – that’s the Air Force?

LS:      Air Force is, yeah. I’m using jargon. I shouldn’t use that. Army uses gold and Navy does too.

CS:      Interesting. There would be a boundary there, especially coming back from Vietnam. Because it was still on the tail end of Vietnam?

LS:      Oh yeah, ’73. I got there in ’71, I reported to the school and I was there halfway through ’76. I was there 4 ½ years. And ’73 was when supposedly they went like this and called it a shot.

            So, yeah, lots of unhappy folks. And, in some cases, rightly so. We didn’t do a real good job on that. Sometime I’ll take you to the first two panels of the Vietnam War wall in Washington, D.C. So we went through that transition, prisoners were released in February/March of 1973 and then came some other fairly significant events. I don’t know if I mentioned that or not…

CS:      In regards to the GI bill?

LS:      Yeah! All volunteer force. No more draft. We did away with the draft for the first time since before WWII. Everybody said, “Yeah, OK, all volunteer force.”  Then they did it with the GI bill. Well, what’s your incentive for….? Traditionally you go into the armed forces for two years, three years, four years, and you’ve got your time, our money. Where’s your carrot? What’s your incentive? What’s your reason for volunteering in one of these organizations? It was just ghastly. And then there was an ancillary part of the draft which a lot of people didn’t know, which is we drafted physicians. We drafted dentists. We drafted some other professionals. Didn’t have that source. So, then what do you do? Well, you come up with some unusual contracts. Right now, if you were a college student graduating pre-med, you could go to your Department of Defense Medical School; everything would be taken care of if you were accepted. And you, in turn, I think it’s probably a five-year active duty commitment. You are commissioned as a second lieutenant and paid as a second lieutenant and all your tuition, books, fees, instruments and laboratory fees are taken care of. But it took, as you might well imagine, about four or five years to get that established so that the Department of Defense – all five… Or, four Department of Defense and Coast Guard has always been a foster child of somebody’s. Why they don’t keep them under the Navy, I’m not sure.

            That’s one of the main sources, now, of physicians who want to get through med school and can’t swing it. But if you qualify… We didn’t have that. I knew three different physicians who were in their late 40s, had their own practice and they were…aaahhhh…tired. So, they came up with a solution to part of the problem: you have this many years of experience, you come in with a direct commission as a lieutenant colonel. Raise your right hand. You work 8-5, you don’t pull weekends, you don’t pull officer of the day, you don’t pull medical officer of the day, you work this. We needed those kinds of skills. And so, fill the gaps.

            Some of these guys said, “I’ve never had such a great job in my life! I go home at 5:00! I never heard of that!” [laughing] But that was during that gap-filling period after the Vietnam War. There was so much turbulence in America at that time. We went way, way down on people in all five services, and then… holy cripe, we can’t run this place! We gotta have people! Student that you are on history, it was an interesting period to go through.

CS:      Oh yeah. Do you have any big moments that you remember?

LS:      I got off on a different path there, but that was a very, very significant part of what was going on in America.

CS:      Oh absolutely! Do you have anything that, when you came back the last time from Vietnam, any big moments that stuck out with you from people – both good and bad? People reacting positively just to have you back…

LS:      Yeah, my wife and kids did, yeah. They were pretty reliable. All the men I flew with… We didn’t have women flying at that time. Yeah, I think it was on that second trip, went through Houston (Texas) and changed clothes. There was just… Somebody had told us, or directed us, “Put civilian clothes on.” So I went in the john – our Superman act – and came back out with a flowered shirt or something on. Yeah, and that was not uncommon, depending on where you were in America.

            To answer your question about ‘glad to have you back’: I got out of the Air Force, I retired in 1978. I joined the American Legion and I was all over. It took 20½ years before I was at a gathering. And this was an American Legion, where they said, “Would all the people who served in Vietnam stand up?” Finally, after 20 years! Again, the Legion at that time, the VFW at that time was controlled or run primarily by WWII guys. And then little by little, Korean War guys and little by little Vietnam guys. So there was a transition period. But the lack of recognition is what you’ll hear from most guys my age. That’s what was tough.

CS:      And then to have a dean who…

LS:      Yeah, in that one, brief, shining moment, on a college campus, who just had his stuff in one sock and was great, great to work for. But his recognition of this fact that these men are serving, we didn’t have any women because most of the Army and Air Force faculty came out of operational assignments to make their experience as relevant as we could. We didn’t have any women flying at that time.

            I had a friend of mine who was the project officer to get women integrated into the United States Air Force Academy. What a challenge. I mean, he had rocks thrown at him, figuratively, from all the alumni. “We don’t need these!” But it was interesting because his approach was, and mine too, it added a little couth to an otherwise vulgar gathering. [laughing] But, again, look at society, what’s going on? You have to be very careful how you lead society in the Armed Forces, or how you lag society in the Armed Forces. Some places there’s a line that you have to watch. Are they ready for that? Not quite yet, OK. We’ll put them in cargo aircraft but not fighter aircraft yet, ok? That’s one of those transitions that’s going on. And now, I was just reading about a three-star who got her start at the Air Force Academy and has gone through the ranks.

CS:      Three-star general?

LS:      Three-star general, yeah. Lieutenant general, yeah. But, that was always a juggling act that the Armed Forces has to play. (They’ve) done pretty good at it. There’s still… You can’t overcome stupidity. [laughing] Some folks take a dumb pill for breakfast and it lasts all day. When you’re in that kind of environment, it’s pretty challenging.

CS:      Did you have a few of those while you served? People that you couldn’t get through to them.

LS:      Oh yeah! Yeah! When I lived in Hawaii, it was interesting because for a bunch of blue-eyes it was the first time they’d ever been part of a minority group and it was very difficult. Oh, yeah. “What the hell is this?” you know. “Can’t stand out on this rock.” Well, if you can’t stay busy in Hawaii, you’re not trying, because there was so much to do. But, there again, this was ’68, ’69, ’70, so there was an awful lot of stuff going on all over. In America, Mr. Kennedy… Bobby Kennedy got killed in ’68, so did Martin Luther King. They both, within a couple months of each other. So, that’s the kind of stuff that was going on.

CS:      A lot of change.

LS:      I don’t like to say this, but history is throwing us a little curve. You might say we’re in another period of that. I’ve rambled. Go ahead.

CS:      No. Continue. [laughing together] Continue to ramble.

LS:      One last thing on that graduate school. It was a means to an end and it served me, personally, well. It served an awful lot of people. And the Air Force made out like a bandit. Here’s why: most of the people who were selected had been teachers – already had their degree. I was K-12 certified before I ever did this. So, as a consequence, they got some pretty capable people from a variety of career fields, ready to stand in front of an audience.

            If they weren’t ready, there was a mandatory five-week, how-to-teach program that went through Maxwell Air Force Base, which was 8-5 each day and then homework at night. I mean this was primarily an educational method, how-to. How do you stand up? How do you team teach? How do you have group participation? How do you get the guy in the back of the room – the woman in the back of the room – as part of this.

            All but a few of the guys I was with had been teachers before, but it was a great refresher. Hadn’t been at the podium for a while, what do you do? First of all, you do your homework before you ever open your mouth. [laughing]

CS:      So then you taught for how many…?

LS:      Almost 4½ years. For 4½ years I was on that tour, yeah. Came in at the semester and did an awful lot of homework and a lot of filling in for people who hadn’t had any time off for a while. And then I had three full years at that and then…

LS:      I had one other interesting spinoff of that. Air Force was trying to save money. All the services were trying to save money in 1973-75 when the budget got really tight. How do you save money? Quit moving people around so much. The single biggest expense was moving people. And there was a rationale for moving people, because otherwise the Florida peninsula would have sunk with all these deadbeats that wouldn’t move, or Hawaii the same way. Somebody’s got to man Minot Air Force Base. OK, like it or not, the place has to be staffed. So that’s part of the rationale of moving people as they did – the good, the bad, the indifferent. Somebody’s got to do the remote things where you can’t take your wife and kids off to parts of Iceland and Greenland and Newfoundland and all those other garden spots – and Korea.

            So they got a break and said, “You can keep people on a year longer if they volunteer.” They asked me, “Do you want to volunteer?” I said, “Send me, Coach; I love what I’m doing. I finally, after three years, have the same curriculum twice in a row. They kept changing curriculum. So, about the time I raised my hand, they said, “Oh, we have a job for you.”

            What we were doing was sending people out to everyplace in the states of North and South Dakota, just to spread the gospel. I was called an “admissions counselor.” I had no quotas, no numbers, nothing. Go talk. So I went to every high school, junior college, college, university, Air Force base in North and South Dakota for one year. (singing) “On the road again/I just can’t wait to….” But, again, try to spread the gospel of “You want to go to college? This is a possibility.” “You don’t want to go to college? You want to go right in the Air Force? My buddy over here, who is the Air Force recruiter, can help you on that count.” “(If you) want to go in the Navy, OK, that’s where you go. OK, I want to go to college.”

            When I was advising, every once in a while you get the kid that, you could tell, walking in the door… (grumbling). “What’s the matter?”

            “I don’t wanna be here.”

            I said, “What are you here for?”

            He said, “My dad wanted me to go to college.”

            I said, “What do you want to do?”

            “I wanna drive truck.”

            I said, “You know where the best truck driving school in the Mid-West is? Right down in Wahpeton, North Dakota. They’ve got a tech school there. [laughing]

LS:      I might not have been popular with his dad but, you know, that was that one year when I went everyplace in North and South Dakota. Learned a lot – real geography lesson. But, high school, career days, whatever you want to call them, we were there. “Just an opportunity, this is something you might want to think about.” You can’t put a hammer-lock on a kid and say, “Wanna go in the Air Force?” [laughing] But it was a chance – an exposure kind of a thing. And just tell the story. So I did that for a year.

CS:      In the late ’70s, then.

LS:      Yeah. That was all in academic year ’75-’76, when I thought I was just gonna finally get my feet on the ground, same curriculum for two years. Ever try to teach Henry Kissinger’s books to 19-year-olds? Oh man! It was a challenge.

CS:      Why did the curriculum change so frequently?

LS:      Changing face – what was going on in the world. Trying to keep up with…what’s going to be the impact? Is North Vietnam going to just sit back and kick their heels up? Probably not. We were probably going to have a different conflict. It’s going to look different. And about a year later, it sure did. What’s going on in Europe? What’s going on in the Middle East? So, where might you have to serve in the event that you come on active duty with the United States Air Force?

            It was a pretty broadening thing for those of us who were teaching, too, because I was a little – not narrow – but the majority of my experience had been in and around moving aircraft. So now, all of a sudden, I’m looking at the political aspect of it. There’s a whole bunch of that. So, anyway, that’s why I was all over North and South Dakota.

CS:      You mentioned, too, that your last assignment was McGuire (Air Force Base) in New Jersey, but you said that was the only one you didn’t…

LS:      Didn’t volunteer for. Yeah. In fact, I had volunteered to come here to Duluth. At that time, Duluth Air Force Base had a big active duty contingent here of aircraft and interceptors and… Have you ever been to the big block house out on 53?

CS:      I don’t think so.

LS:      Next time you go down Highway 53, off on your right, I’m trying to think of the agency that’s got it now. There was a series of these installations from the state of Washington to the state of Maine and they were called SAGE, S-A-G-E. It was an acronym that meant Semi-Automatic Ground Environment.  And from these locations, they could control aircraft that had nuclear weapons on them. The offense concept at that time was, “Those bastards are coming over the top at us. Well, they ain’t gonna get here.” So, the SAGE centers had the capability of directing aircraft. They could take over your aircraft and put you in position.

CS:      Really? Wow!

LS:      Yeah. Pretty interesting stuff.

CS:      Wow! Because you think, technology like that would be commonplace nowadays, but it’s been around. That’s interesting.

LS:      Pretty much “Gee whiz” stuff, it was, yeah. The walls on that building are three feet thick, solid concrete, could withstand a tactical nuclear weapon if they ever got hit, yeah.

CS:      And they made those from Washington…

LS:      From Washington to Maine – they were all the way across. There’s one out in western Washington, eastern Washington, across Montana, here in Duluth, upper Michigan, and on over to…  How did I get on that? [laughing] When I was wrapping up at North Dakota State, I was trying to get here because it would have been a nice stable assignment. I didn’t have the credentials for the job and so that’s why I went… As I mentioned in my bio there, the needs of the Air Force do come first. It wasn’t too bad for always having what I wanted to do.

            Unfortunately, I came down with something or other that caused me to get grounded. I had to change my career field at the 18½ year point – get out of flying. So, I went into public affairs/public relations information. You know that old thing – that Air Force spokesman said today. [laughing] So, I went to a really good school. It was called a “Purple Suit” school. I don’t know if you know that: Army/Air Force/Coast Guard/Marine Corps Department of Defense civilians went to this one school. So, if you mix all those colors together, it comes out purple. [laughing together] And it was “how to be an information/public affairs officer for your respective service or for the United States government.”

            I learned how to run a radio, how to run a newspaper, and how to write for that stuff. (This was) before there was automatic type setting and all that – the manual stuff. But primarily learned how to speak, learned how to represent your service, your installation. And I did that.

CS:      That was one of your last assignments? Because shortly after that…what is it, do you retire?

LS:      Yeah, I retired at the end of that assignment. I had kind of a jackass that I was working for. I cleaned that up! [laughing] Times of turbulence, times of change. All of a sudden I’ve got teenagers in the house; I had one that was really having a difficult time going to a 3,000-person junior high. OK? You talk about being a cypher or a number. My kids’ mother was unable to get a job at a time when it would have been – the kids weren’t home. We used our diapers to clean the car with, finally. [laughing]

            The combination of that and the job that I had, there was no win. It was pre-cell phone, pre-anything and you had to either be tied to a phone – and they wouldn’t spring for a brick (slang for early mobile phones). I was seven days a week, 24 hours a day on call in case something happened. So I took a real hard long look at this whole thing and said, “That’s it – I quit.”

            I had 20 really good years. Even there were parts of that job that were fascinating. But it was just that the strictures were too extreme and the gentleman for whom I was working wasn’t the brightest light in the Air Force’s Christmas tree, in my humble estimation. [laughing] So after that I said… We went home, back to Wisconsin for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and I just decided, “Hmmm, maybe I can learn how to be a civilian again.”

            (We) drove out to Fargo, bought a house. Because we had been there for so long and I had real good association at the university. Didn’t have a job, but I kinda figured, so, went back and submitted my papers and retired, and then went back out to North Dakota for another 13 years. But it was based upon the relationships that I had established when I was in the Air Force. When I went back there, they remembered who I was, and a job opened up that I could do, so I did that.

            I was an administrative officer in a field called Continuing Education. Ok, here’s what happened: The state of Minnesota, state of North Dakota, state of Wisconsin helps you through a bachelor’s degree, in some way or another, they help you. Once you’re out the door, or if you’ve never been in the door, you’re on your own. Our job was to bring the university to people who couldn’t get there. We used to run graduate programs for men and women who were teachers. If you’re going to stay in the teaching business, you’ve got to keep showing progress. Even postmasters. If you’re going to get that school board to give you a raise, you’ve got to prove that you’ve got the smarts. There’s a number of professions that require continuing education units: medicine, dentistry, law, nursing, some technical fields. You have to have so many hours a year in advancing your profession. You can’t just sit there and pick your nose and scratch your backside and say, “I got a degree.” [laughing]

             I got a license from the state and the state said, “That’s nice, you’ve gotta keep on doing it.” So, that’s the job that I did for 13 years, both credit and noncredit. Learned a lot, oh boy! All the jobs that people had, what they went through, how to get there, how to stay there, how to stay proficient. That was how I finished working.

CS:      What brought you to Duluth, then?

LS:      The lady that you met. [laughing] Each of the five armed services have professional schools which would be analogous to a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. They are called “career schools.” Armed Forces Staff College, for example, Air Force Staff College, the Navy has that. War College. Those are the three steps. If you’re gonna stay in the Armed Forces, you’re going to have to complete those courses in residence or take them by correspondence. But you’ve gotta fill those squares if you’re ever gonna get promoted, or if you’re ever gonna do your job right.

            The first one that the Air Force had was called Squadron and Officers School, held in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Air University. I got to come back from Vietnam two weeks early to go to that school! I got selected. So, when we were at that school… Like I said, there were 850 people, broken down into 13-person seminars so that you had a really good working group with those guys and women. Her husband and I were in the same little 13-person section. That was 1964. We always stayed in touch. He died, and the lady that was the mother of my children decided she had other places she wanted to go, so…

            A couple years later… We had always stayed in touch, so, my job at NDSU was just coming to an end. I was working for a former nun, PhD, who had no management experience, which is a little bit of a challenge. [laughing] I had to clean that up. So she saw that I was kind of unhappy, so we just decided we could do better than that. So, we got together. That was in 1991. Ever since that time, we’ve either lived six months in Texas or six months in Florida and six months up here. It’s all health based. One day I’m not gonna be able to jump in my van and drive 1,800 miles to southwest Florida. I’m knocking on wood while I’m doing this. [laughing]

CS:      You did mention something in the email too… That you were testing for a navigation and communication system.

LS:      Yeah.

CS:      Tell me about that.

LS:      OK, that was kind of interesting. High frequency radio, which ham operators use – you’re in that spectrum, OK – is very difficult to direction find on. If you get in a broadcast, with low-frequency radio, AM radio, you can find out where they are. HF just go all over like hell. I mean, it’s ricocheting off the ionosphere, off of everything. You used to have to have an antennae farm about the size of a football field in order to get a direction on that.

            Comes along a transistor, microminiaturization, all of a sudden you can put a whole bunch of equipment that might have taken a room before, into something about this big. And an antennae system that took a football field from the nose, wing, wing, tail of an aircraft.

            A couple of people got in their basement and started working this out. The chief of staff at that time was a guy named Curtis E. LeMay, who was also interested in radio and said, “This could work.” Went to a contractor up in New Hampshire who put the thing together, put it in an aircraft and we tested it all over the United States and…it worked. But we had to test it in the environment. The closest things we can come to Vietnam is Puerto Rico, because we worked down there too, in terms of atmospheric conditions, soils, blah blah blah, all these variables that are gonna bite you if you don’t consider them. Had to get the aircraft over and tested in-country.

            The problem was that this aircraft wasn’t very huge. Ordinarily when you ferried it, you put two, 500-gallon ferry tanks in the thing and you could go pretty much anyplace you wanted to go. The whole thing is full of electronics. It was called “bread boarding,” where everything was visible and everything was this. (gestures) Remember, this was in the ’60s, so this thing looked like something out of a Frankenstein movie. It was all operational, but you couldn’t miniaturize it because it hadn’t been proven yet, see.

            So, instead of two, 500-gallon ferry tanks, we had 1/3 of one tank – 187 gallons. Well, we couldn’t go that route that I told you about. The legs were too long, so we took off from Florida and wound up in Vietnam going the other way. Took us 17 days to get there. Yeah. From our base in Florida, to Virginia, to JFK airport, Friday afternoon, with a propeller-driven aircraft in a jet world. But that’s where Bendix Corporation who built the thing was. Get it fixed, up into Maine. And I’m the navigator on that thing and I’m figuring, This is gonna be cool! All I gotta do is sit there and watch the dials. Well that damn thing broke within 50 feet of the U.S. border, I swear. I said I got about 9,000 miles to go. [laughing] Worked my backside off on that thing because they had removed some of the other nav(igator) equipment to put this magic in. Can’t go back, because the thing’s got to get over there and tested. So I’m working with a sextant, and a whole bunch of stuff.

            Anyway, we went from Maine to Newfoundland to the Azores, two places in France, down into Italy, down into Saudi Arabia, over into the United Arab Republic, across the Indian Ocean, two places in India, Bangkok, and Vietnam. And you’re going against the flippin’ sun. The sun’s going that way and we’re going this way. We lost 13 hours going that way. Our guts were in a rumble all the time. Had to maintain security on it because (there was) really spooky stuff in the back end, so it had to be secure.

CS:      Spooky stuff?

LS:      Well, all that magic that we had. They said the aircraft had to be secured. We had a loadmaster, an engineer, pilot, copilot and navigator – five of us. Oh, I forgot Greece. We landed in Greece one time, too. But, the aircraft was a C-47, a military version of DC-3, built 1942-1943, the big numbers. American Airlines had the first DC-2, which was commercial upgraded DC-3, and then about that time the Army Air Corps started buying them in pretty big numbers.

            The one that we had was built in 1944. By then, it was almost 20 years old – 1965 is when we took that over. But it was intriguing as hell. Got it there and, based upon what we did, it worked. It was a tough environment to fly in because they’d come up, about that fast and then (sound effect) you’d get a fix on them and then you had to change your position. Ordinarily, when you do direction finding on an aircraft, you’re working on a fixed location. Here’s the radio and you’re here. No problem. This, it’s reversed. They’re here with the radio and you’re here in a moving target. So, what you’re trying to do is get what are called ‘lines of position.’ The only way you get a line of position is to move. You’ve got to move, you’ve got to change. I used to have bruises on my knees because they’d just rack that aircraft around to move it fast. I’m sitting back here at a plotting table with my goddang….

            We had representatives from Bendix Corporation represented us from the people who had built it. They were flying with us as well. It all worked. They said, “You go home now,” and I said, “Yes sir.” [laughing] But that was just… You get into a situation like that where, ordinarily I’d be at the other end and when it worked they’d deliver an aircraft. That whole evolution from working with a contractor: this works, this doesn’t, we’ve got to test this again, it’s got to repeat. If you’re going to do decent research, it’s got to be replicable. So, it was really an eye-opening thing.

            We had to be very careful because there’s an Air Force regulation that says you cannot take gratuities. That’s a no, no. You can’t go walking around with your hand out. Sometimes you get in a situation. There was always a proviso; do what you’ve got to do to get out of there and file a report. Because this guy who’s a rep for Bendix would take us out to dinner at a place that you just could never get into on your own – didn’t have the budget or the knowledge and he’d buy.

            What the hell are you supposed to do? He’s got the car keys and… [laughing]. So, come home, file a report: “Had a lovely meal at XYZ. Thank you very much. This is why…” [laughing] So those conflicts of interest things are very, very real. I had a buddy of mine, graduated from a couple schools. He was sent directly from school to Lockheed Corporation, Georgia, where they built the C-130 aircraft. He was on the Air Force acceptance team. Every aircraft that came off the production line, company people would fly it, Air Force people would fly it with a checklist that looked like a Sear and Roebucks catalog, pass it off: this needs to be fixed, and then deliver it to the Air Force.

            When he left, he couldn’t take a five-dollar Zippo lighter that they… [laughing] That’s the extreme sometimes, too, which that went. There are reasons for those because the temptations are many and manifold what you’re dealing with. Persons of big dollars, like somebody we know in Washington, D.C. [laughing] But that was just illuminating, from so many areas. Learned a lot, did a lot.

CS:      With all that traveling, do you even get jet lag anymore?

LS:      It wasn’t jet lag so much because we were so slow. The aircraft would go 120 mph, that’s why it took us 17 days to get there. Yeah. Jet lag is a disturbance of your circadian rhythms is what that’s called. But we were flying across time zones, as I said, and the food wasn’t always good, rest wasn’t always good. We’re supposed to have eight hours uninterrupted rest – ha ha ha. Sometimes you just could not do that.

            We got into India – New Delhi – one time, about 11:30 at night and I was convinced the only thing the Indians ever got out of the Brits were their paperwork. [laughing] It took 2½ hours to clear customs. Got to the hotel about two and had to get up for… There was no way you could control it.

            But, yeah, it was more subtle than… Like when we leave here on Thursday morning, we fly through four time zones. It’s four hours between here and L.A. That’s going to take a little getting used to. And the same way coming back. Coming back is even worse. The sun’s going that-a-way and you’re going this way. That’s what happened when we were going to Vietnam. Always. And it was in November and December and it started to get dark early and you’re in a strange airport and, oh, man.

CS:      Would you train in Puerto Rico? You mentioned Puerto Rico for its climate.

LS:      Yeah, we did. We took that aircraft down there… How long were we there? Almost two months, working with the United States Army – they would be the bad guys and we had to find them. So, Puerto Rico was as close as you could come, geologically, meteorologically, to Vietnam. I was in Puerto Rico (in) ’67.  And we had to do some additional testing that they couldn’t do in-country. So we met with the company reps and flew and flew and flew some more, and proved that it worked. Working with the commandos was fun. As I said, we had training teams in a lot of places in America. The mission was sometimes classified. For example, when I first went to Vietnam, I went to a place called Bien Hoa, Vietnam, which had been – I believe the French had had an installation there and the Vietnamese had a start. By the time I got there, we had 10,500 feet of concrete, 300 feet wide with taxiways and a whole bunch of stuff. We slept in what were called “hooches.” A hooch was a 10-man tent that had been converted to a wooden tent, if you will. That’s about what it was. Same dimensions. When they first got there, they were sleeping in tents, and then in came some concrete, and then finally got some money to put a roof on.

            There was one air conditioned spot on the whole base, and it was the flight surgeon’s office. The flight surgeon was a little Jewish guy named Benjamin Becker, about five-foot-five and he was all teeth. But a really good physician. But that was the only place that… It just didn’t exist.

            I’ll give you an example. In order to call back to the United States – nowadays all you’ve got to do is pick up your smart phone – there was a high frequency radio telephone system in Vietnam. We would leave Bien Hoa on a bus at night and go down and stay at a hotel, get up at 4 in the morning and go over to this facility and get on the list that, where do you want to call? Bring a book, and pretty soon somebody would say… Put you in a soundproof booth and you’d sit there and yell. [laughing] Sometimes it was like you and I talking and other times I might just as well have been on top of the building, bellowing back to America. And that was the only way we could communicate. It was just… Yeah.

            We didn’t have access to… It wouldn’t have done any good because we couldn’t have got what’s called a “phone patch.” When you talk on high frequency radio, under operational conditions, you could get a phone patch to your office. You couldn’t get one to your wife. [laughing] I wrote a lot of letters and toward the end they came out with miniature tape recorders and I bought two tape recorders. One I would send to my wife with a whole stack of tapes and we did that for a while. But, that was the only way you could communicate.

            Both times I was in Vietnam, I wrote two letters every day. Went through about almost a quart of bourbon each night, too. A pint and a half. Every night I’d always stop by the liquor store if we got home in time and get a pint. We both wrote and bullshit. That was the only communication that we had. Trying to get the time off if you didn’t have to work to get that trek down to Saigon and get in that. And I think there were only a couple days a week when they would do that. And that was our communication back then. Got good at letter writing.

LS:      I had a déjà vu moment last week. I was looking for a shirt or something. And let’s say I was in one of the clothing stores. And about half of the men’s clothing there was made in Vietnam. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that or not. I had read about that. What has happened is… When I was there, there was some very, very good tailor shops where you could… This was a coat and tie environment, where you could have those made or they would make formal uniforms for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. We used to have dress whites and all this kind of stuff, and they would make them very, very nice and at an economical price.

            Obviously, that talent for sewing goes way in the hell and gone back, but the number of people that are making clothing in Vietnam has caused a whole almost middle class to evolve and a low cost source for whoever is buying it over in this country. But you check. [laughing]

CS:      I wonder if it is, yeah. (Referring to his shirt) I’m thinking about it. That’s what it just might be. It might be. I don’t know anymore, actually. I wonder if it even… I wonder if it even has a…

LS:      Sometimes on a care and use tag, yeah. But I just throw that out as a way that it’s changing. Fifty years ago, I get my ass shot at regularly by the enemy, and now I’m wearing their clothing. What is this? [laughing together]

CS:      That is something, too, just the amount of change that you’ve seen.

LS:      Oh, yeah.

CS:      That’s amazing.

LS:      It is. And it’s… Vietnam was probably one of the prettiest countries in the whole world as far as looking at it. And it had a whole bunch going for it, even before the wall went up, because North was industry, South was agriculture. Incredible beaches, incredible mountain areas, recreation areas. The climate was a little bit warm but, you know, you just throw a seed out and jump back. That’s why it had great agriculture. They burned off fields lots of times when you’re flying, you had to be careful, because sugar cane is often burned. In Hawaii, it’s run through the mill, and the juice is squeezed out, and then the product called “degasse,” a squeezed sugar cane that is dried and then they run it back into the fire. That distills the juice down to sugar on an industrial basis.

            Well, in Vietnam they just burned the fields off, they didn’t make… That got a little squirrely, depending on the time of year that you were there. Well, you’ll see it down in different parts of Iowa, too, where they still burn fields. “Caution” on the roadside, on the interstate, on the country roads, you can still get caught on that. But they had the same thing in Vietnam.

CS:      So you’d see the plumes and everything.

LS:      Yeah, and a whole bunch of smoke. Yeah, which tended to drop visibility a whole bunch.

What else can we talk about? It was just a… Both times (in Vietnam) were completely different. The first time I was just (on an) operational assignment. I say “just” – that was a very interesting operation assignment. I think I mentioned there were 39 special forces forts throughout the country and I got to every one from the north border all the way down and way into what’s called the “delta area.” The Mekong River delta was a very, very rich area for agriculture: rice and… I’ll think of the other crops in a second.

            The United States Army had been there for a while before I ever got there, and pretty well established, so each one of those places was unique. Up in the mountains, in fact, we dropped some equipment in and watched them build a strip. It was much easier in terms of putting things in, rather than pitching them out of an aircraft if you could land there. Several of the places were on what had been French rubber plantations, so they had their own hard surface runway. Some of them were gravel runways (and) some of them were a product called PSP, Pierced Steel Planking. PSP came up in WWII. If you had a situation where you had any kind of…where you needed some sort of stability, you put PSP down, and it interlocks and you could make a runway and a taxi way out in Christ knows where, or just to the left of Christ knows where, even. [laughing]

            So we carried that stuff around to different places. The base that I told you I was stationed at at first had a PSP runway, and then in came some incredible construction capability. We used to watch… There are several overseas contractors that, when working together, can put together a capability that would blow your socks off. Vietnam probably has the best airport system in the world for a country of its size because we put in so many gorgeous installations.

            But it took… The outfit Raymond Morrison Knutson was one of the big outfits and they would come in with this incredible capability and, in under a month, could have a runway and taxiways come in. And then would come either the United States Army, the Corps of Engineers, or the construction battalions, CBs from the Navy and build administrative hangars, lodging, mess hall, theater… But you had to have the blinkin’ runway in and they were the ones who could do that fast. Impressive.

CS:      When you say “theater” what do you mean?

LS:      Theater – the theater of operation in that part of the world. When you’re talking about the Vietnam theater, it also included the Philippines because the Philippines was where an awful lot of people came from. An awful lot of the supplies came through there. We were tied up with the Thais. We had a number of installations in Thailand. We had some surreptitious operations in Laos going for a long time. If you’re interested sometime, Google Laos and see what you come up with. And Cambodia as well. That whole theater of operations is how I use that word.  Exciting times.

CS:      Wow. What other big stories or anything that you really want to share?

LS:      I was in Vietnam when Mr. Kennedy got killed. That was the first time I went over there. We had a dedicated aircraft – I think I mentioned that in my bio – that would take us from Florida to Vietnam on a propeller-driven aircraft. It still took 4½ days to get there. I was on the ground for two hours and they had what we jokingly referred to as a “bitch box.” It was a public address system, all over the base. Not always could you string telephones, but you could string a line and have a bitch box in the hangars, in the outhouse, in the lodging, and you could communicate. Obviously, it was a pretty close hold; you didn’t talk about what we’re having for lunch.

            I had just gotten there, and the bitch box goes off. I think I was having a beer, over at the club with some friends, and I got directed to get back home, put some clothes on and go back to the Philippines. We had come through, there’s a big, big Air Force base in the Philippines at that time. We came through there and spent two nights, then went on in. Went back there to pick up an aircraft that had been taken over there to get fixed. They needed it picked up.

            So my buddy and I and two guys that were already over there… That was on 21 November, and on 22 November Mr. Kennedy got killed. That was a tough one. And then two days later, the bozo that shot Mr. Kennedy got killed. Again, at the beginning of that incredible turbulence that took place in America. There was so much publicity about it, but we didn’t have television. We didn’t have daily newspapers. We had Armed Forces radio at that time. Did you see Good Morning Vietnam with Robin Williams? That was long after I left. By then, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service had a really good system throughout the country. But, not in 1963.

            When I came back… I’m still seeing stuff that I didn’t see 53 years ago (when) Mr. Kennedy got killed. I remember my mother talking about that. They were just enthralled, captivated with all – because television did a pretty good job by then – of seeing all this stuff. I didn’t get a chance to see it. But every once in a while there will be a clip and it’s something I haven’t seen before. It’s still a trip down memory lane.

CS:      How would you get your news?

LS:      Time magazine came out once a week on almost tissue paper. It was printed either in Japan or… It might have been printed in San Francisco. But there was almost no advertising and it was light because it had to be flown from wherever it was printed. So we would get that.      There was an Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes. Stars and Stripes came out later but, when I first got there, there were 18,000 Americans in the country. At the peak, there were more than 900,000. So, we were just really getting started. And, the base on which I was working, no reporters were permitted, no women were permitted. It was kind of a close hold situation. So, as a consequence…

            We had radio. I’m trying to remember where the hell the radio originated from. It wasn’t very good. That all came, once the commitment came, the bucks came and all the ancillary things. If you’ve got that many men – primarily men, there were a few women – you’ve got to do something. We had a “movie theater,” quote. It was a screen outside and it had benches. [laughing] But, as the conflict went on, they improved living conditions.

            They started doing R & R – Rest and Recuperation – flights back to Hawaii, down to New Zealand, up to Japan, a couple of other places that you could go, which was a vast improvement, because we just did not have that. In fact, when I was in Hawaii ’68, ’69, ’70, and that was a great R & R center. I think they had, a couple of times a week, flights coming in directly from Vietnam.

            (I) knew some chaplains that really had a tough job, because every once in a while, a man would make arrangements to meet his wife, and before the flight left, he got killed. So the chaplain’s got to meet her.

            Some of the other stories they told were just hilarious. Charlie left home six months ago and Myrtle says, “That’s enough of that,” and dropped about 80 pounds. So Charlie comes off the airplane and walks right by this lady, he doesn’t recognize her. Talk about a heartbreak for her! [laughing] How do you explain that?

            And then another funny thing, when the aircraft, some of them stopped at Guam for fuel. Guam had a …. American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam, you can bring a gallon of whiskey back into the United States – a “gallon of spirits” it’s called. Don’t ask me why, I’d have to look it up, but those are the rules and I think it’s still true. So, aircraft would stop in Guam and the guy would load up with all sorts of firewater. And they had these lovely little cardboard suitcases. Well, these people hadn’t seen each other in six months, and Charlie comes tear-assing across the thing, goes like this, and the handle breaks and the booze all winds up all over on the concrete floor in the terminal. [laughing] Oh! Between the heartbreak and the hilarity, it was just…

LS:      You talk about a tough job, being a (chaplain). And a lot of times everything worked just perfectly, but you had to be ready for that catastrophe, and when it occurred, you talk about “draw upon your reserves” and try to explain to this lady that her husband doesn’t exist anymore. Not a good assignment.

CS:      Did you have to deliver that news quite a bit?

LS:      I never… Oh, I did when I was in North Dakota, interestingly. The conflict was still going on when I got there. Don’t ask me how, they knew exactly where we were and we were on an assignment list. Because, under some legislation that was passed, early in the Vietnam conflict, you had to get the word to the family from a government source before it went out to the press. Sometimes it was pretty tough.

            I’ll give you an example. (The) Pentagon knew who to call, regardless of where you were in the United States: Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps had somebody that they could call and you would have to deliver that message. So, summer of ’72, I’m working on my house, smelled like a goat, I’d been up on the roof all day, just sat down and I was grabbing for a beer and the phone went off. It was the Pentagon calling. Said, “You’ve got the duty.” This guy had been killed in a helicopter accident in Korea. This was after… And you have to deliver this message now. I said, “C’mon, it’s freakin’ midnight.”

            They said, “We’ve got this law; we’ve got to do this before we release the name and the situation to the press. So you’ve got to do this.”

            I copy this whole damn letter – go over to my office where I’ve got the official letterhead and everything else: “The Secretary of Defense regrets to inform you that your son had gotten killed.”  Go home, shower, shave, put on my class-A blues and tennis shoes and I don’t know where the hell I’m going. They gave me the name and a rural route. I said, “That’s a big help.”

            So I called the sheriff of that county and I explained, “This is close hold; I’ve gotta have this information, you’ve gotta help me.”

            He said, “Yeah, I can do that.” So he gives me a bunch of directions, off I go, way in the Christ on the other side of nowhere. I found the place and I drive in the yard, this great big spotlight – floodlight – and two of the biggest dogs you ever saw come right up to my car. I said, “Oh, shit, now what am I gonna do?”

            I wind down the window and start talking to these pooches. Got them calmed down, and I got my letter and I go up to the house and I start knocking. Three days later, my hand was still sore, I knocked so hard. I couldn’t raise anybody. I gotta get this thing across. Bamidy, bam, bam, bam…! Pretty soon the light comes on, door comes open, and I’m looking down the barrel of a gun. And then I gotta tell this guy that his kid got killed. “Oh, shit, you talk about tough assignments!” The whole place…there were about three sons and a mom and a dad, and oh…. I don’t have much of a counseling background at that time. So I just kept talking, just kept talking.

            The next day, I could tell them what was going to happen: personnel from Grand Forks Air Force Base, personnel from finance from the chaplain’s office, etc. would all be there, which isn’t too much solace at 2:00 in the morning when everybody’s crying. That was probably one of the toughest jobs I ever had. It just really… There was no answer. His brother talked about the kid wanting to fly his whole life, and finally qualified and winds up dead in Korea. Aaahh! Tough one. And I had to tell them.

CS:      You’re right, though. There are extremes. It’s difficult.

LS:      Yeah. And there’s always a reason that it has to be done. Because so many people, before that law, or before that agreement or whatever you want to call it went in, they’d be looking at the flippin’ television set and found out their son got killed. Well nobody told them. So Congress and the Department of Defense came up with this agreement that before we would release the name to the press, the person has to be notified, and it has to happen within this amount of time. That’s why I’m out there at 2:00 in the flippin’ morning, to try to beat this deadline. And then get back and call them and say, “Done.” There were no cell phones – nothing. I had forgotten about that, but that was a tough job.

CS:      What time did you end up getting back home that night?

LS:      Oh yeah, between me crying and them crying, it was just a hell of time. So, I didn’t let them see me, but… Oh, yeah. That was just a no-win. But, usually there is a reason for that and I explained it to you. Your answer is, “Yes Sir. I can do that.”

CS:      What’s another funny story that you have?

LS:      Let’s see. Oh, I’ve got to think about that for a second. There were enjoyable times, yeah. When I was in the Commandos, in particular. At that time it was all volunteers, guys that come from all sorts of different operations with all sorts of different capabilities. There were organizations that were being phased out because the propeller-driven airplanes, older ones, and so these either saw the “hand writing on the wall” and volunteered before they got assigned. If you volunteered, you had a pretty good chance of making it.

LS:      When I was in tankers… Remember, I told you we went from France to the Philippines and everyplace in between. There was a funny little guy, his name was Maguziak, I think he was Greek, and he always sat at the end of the bar. Never got drunk, just drank. Many times we would be together with the pilots that we were escorting. They would get there first, of course. And over the period of about six weeks, we had taken people here and back and every time we were at the officer’s club, Maguziak would be at the end of the bar.

            This fighter pilot walked in one night and he said, “You’ve got to tell me what the hell is going on here. Every time I come down, there’s this little guy standing at the end of the bar. Is he with you?” [laughing] You go 10,000 miles and here’s this guy sitting at the end of the bar and he just left him there.

CS:      Not a bad place to be.

LS:      No. That was always strange hours, because under the rules, you had to try to take off in daylight and land in daylight, particularly with fighter aircraft. Now that got real twitchy when you’re heading eastbound and the sun’s going that-a-way in December. The purpose was safety. Even your home base looks like a strange field if you haven’t seen it in six months. So, you’ve got to try to do that. Oh, man, sometimes it’s just a real stretch of making sure that they’ve got…. Is dawn and dusk daylight? Yes.

            I almost got killed with kindness one time. My wife and I and our three kids were going to a…. There’s a very nice military rest camp on the big island of Hawaii. Too long of a story to tell, but we finally got reservations for the thing and I had a little guy who was six (or) seven (or) eight months old. I was at the BX, the Base Exchange, buying diapers for this guy, and my buddy comes tear-assing in and said, “We just had an accident way up in Newfoundland and the general says anytime we have an aircraft arriving or departing at base, we have to have a person there. You go to Wake Island and I go to Midway and we go tonight.”

            I said, “Oh shit.” Just what I didn’t need. Pack everything, jump on an ancient flying machine and off we go at this really busy time. We were running stuff back and forth and through there in great numbers. All the services on that island were conducted by Filipino contract employees from the greater Manila area. There was an outfit out of L.A., name doesn’t matter, that would go over and contract. And some of them were skilled and gifted mechanics. Lots of housekeeping capabilities, lots of grounds, but mostly mechanical stuff. They had an aircraft that would leave L.A., come through Wake, pick up the men and women – there were a few women workers there who had been there for a year and they got a month home leave. Get over to Manila, load the aircraft back up again, come back to Wake, drop off the new ones and go home. So this was a monthly ritual. Christmas is a huge celebration in the lives of the Philippine people. By tradition, every section on the base had its own Christmas party. And I worked with most of the sections. The Christmas party consisted of luau pig, all the fixin’s and all the booze. (That was) the one day that they could really “let it all hang out.”

            Well they damn near killed me with kindness there, because, in order to stay in good relations you couldn’t say “no” because these little people – I don’t mean that derogatory – they just were not large in stature, had been waiting all year for this party. So, from about 1 December to 24 December there was something going on. Sometimes I would just have to say, “I can’t because I’ve got to get up at 4:00 and launch an airplane.” It was really an education for a farm kid. I didn’t know about this. But, wonderful, wonderful fun. And then, here they come again.

            A long time ago. My son was born in Hawaii in 1968. There’s a big hospital run by the United States Army. It’s a joint facility; everybody goes there. It’s called Tripler Army Hospital and it’s pink, which is a little unusual for the United States Army. But it sits up on a hill overlooking Honolulu International Airport. That’s where my Polynesian Prince was born. [laughing] I’m going to try to go there next week and go down memory lane where he came from.

CS:      That will be a good trip. Because this is for the trip you’re going on Thursday for the….what is it called? The re-interment?

LS:      The re-interment took place here. It’s not a celebration – (it’s) a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa which occurred 20-23 November, 1943, at which James Joseph Hubert was killed. Did Jay give you this?

CS:      Gave me one of these, yeah.

LS:      Well, you can have that. OK, you’ve got that. So, I wrote this, Jay cleaned it up, and a friend of ours formatted it. It tells pretty much the story of James Joseph Hubert from the time he was a little guy until they found him on Tarawa. So that’s… there’s a collection of families, and I can’t tell you how many, that are gonna go to that commemoration of that battle. Now, this was kind of unusual because there’s 20 years between the lady that you met and her brother. She was two when he was killed; maybe Jay told you that.

CS:      Yeah, I read that in the…

LS:      In the dialog there, yeah. So, working with a living sibling is very unusual for the people in the Marines Graves and Registration office because now, if James Joseph Hubert were alive, he was born in 1921, so he’d be 97. There’s twenty years between him and his sister. He never saw her. The other people who are there are family members, but it’s probably great-nieces, great-nephews, great-great, maybe, depending on the affiliation. So those of us who have chosen to make this journey will meet at the laboratory that identified him. There’s a laboratory in Hawaii and there’s another one on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, run by the Department of Defense. Men and women who have been found are identified there using DNA. In his case, they found his dog tag with him. There’s a replica up there of his dog tag. Come here, I’ll show you that.

            (continuing after the break)

           On a series of walls in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the Punchbowl (Crater in Honolulu, Hawaii) where we’re going, are thousands of names of men who are still MIA from WWII – all the battles, and there were many of them in the Pacific. James Joseph Hubert’s name is on one of those walls. When he has been identified, then they put a little rosette, a little flower next to his name, indicating change of status from MIA to KIA. So that’s the second part of that. That was really an adventure. Did a tremendous amount of work on that. And Jay is just superbly organized. It wouldn’t have worked without him.

CS:      James would be Jay’s uncle?

LS:      That’s right, yeah. Mary K. had two sons. Her sister had five daughters. Mary K.’s mother died when she was eight, so she died without ever knowing what happened to him. Her dad died not too long thereafter. When her mother died, she went to live with her sister. She went from being practically an only child to the oldest of six. [laughing] And that was what was difficult for the Department of Defense, because they didn’t know she existed. Did Jay tell you about this?

CS:      No, that’s what I read in there.

LS:      Yeah. She slipped through the cracks because her mother died, so she missed the 1940 census because she was born in ’41. In ’50, she was in a household whose name was Dunphy. They come knocking on the door, “How many kids you got?”

            “Well, we got six.” Didn’t bother giving names of the children on that census, see? So she was unaccounted for. So when the DOD started looking for relatives of James Joseph Hubert, they had Jay, they had a cousin, they had a whole bunch of her nieces, but they didn’t have her. But when it came DNA time, Mary K. and Jay and another cousin gave DNA from both sides of the family. That cinched it up, yeah.

CS:      That’s amazing.

LS:      It was, just a hell of a time.

CS:      I wonder, too, because now we’re at a day and age where it’s difficult to slip through the cracks.

LS:      Oh yeah! [laughing]

CS:      What does it cost when you fall off the grid?

LS:      They know what prescription meds you got at Walmart this morning, yeah. But the combination of… This was pretty good evidence and, interestingly, he was found 89 percent intact, which was a whole bunch. It was kind of unusual. That whole Tarawa thing was ghastly. More than 1000 people were killed in three days. That was 1000 Americans – 5500 Japanese and conscript workers were killed in the same amount of time. So, kind of brutally, what are you choices? You burn, you bury at sea or you bury. If you do nothing, everybody dies. That’s a given, so you have to make these ghastly decisions.

            So they got some bulldozers on the island and just dug a trench… When they found the guys, they were like this. (Gestures) The corpses were just put like that. The guy that found him gave us a briefing last year when we were down in Minneapolis. He was a retired United States Army Special Forces medic, working for an organization called History Flight. History Flight has got archeologists, they’ve got him for a medical person, some very gifted and talented people. But when they found them, they were stacked – they only had a limited space on an island. Buried them, and then lost them for 73 years.

CS:      That is nothing short of miraculous that…

LS:      It was. Because for her he existed only in pictures and stories – didn’t have a clue. And she gets a call, she and Jay got this call for DNA and then a couple months later get a call saying, “We identified your brother; when can we come and brief you?” It was really an emotional time.

CS:      Were there any other stories that you want to get recorded?

LS:      Well, let’s check and see. We talked about mostly everything. The assignments that I had were good. As I said, I was very lucky over that 20-year period of having most…all of the jobs that I wanted, and one that I didn’t want. Travel, learning, (and) watching the changes that took place in American society over that time. Watching as women’s roles increased at a rate that was maybe not as fast as some people would like, but – again – like we talked about, do you lead, or do you lag society? So you have to be careful.

            The places that I went to, a lot of people didn’t get to go there. I’m not sure I would have. It was a good career, a stepping stone into a civilian job, the last job I had in the Air Force. Being a public information/public affairs person kind of segued into going back to the university in a non-teaching capacity – an administrative capacity. All in all, I’d have to give it about an “A-,” if I were grading the exercise.

CS:      What an amazing career!

LS:      Yeah. And I walked away from an airplane crash – that was fortuitous. Had an afternoon off, and I flew from Bien Hoa down to Saigon. We had an administrative flight every day that we down for paperwork and people. I had some money coming, so I went down and filed a voucher. While the aircraft was there, the crew chief said, “The damn thing needs a plug change and I got some help, so we’ll do that.” Changed the plugs on both engines and, as it turned out, put in the wrong plug.

            We got 24 people on the aircraft that were tear-assing down the runway, and all of sudden, just at about liftoff, (sound effect… puckatah, puckatah, puckatah) one of the engines starts going. Too late to drop back down. So, feathered that one and just gave her hell and we’re coming back around, trying to land, and the other engine goes. It burned the plugs out, is what happened. Too much heat.

            The pilot follows the rules, wings level, straight ahead. The only tree in about 50 miles was right straight ahead, so we hit it. It spun us around. Nobody died. All you’ve got to do is dip a wing and that thing cartwheels and you just repeat after me, “Our Father…” because everybody’s gone. Did not…

            The seat I was sitting on collapsed and I broke three ribs from the gall-damn seatbelt. Crew chief was trying to lash some stuff down and he went tear-assing through the outhouse door, skinned him up, but nobody got badly hurt. It was just amazing! I’m following all the rules: sit there, put your head down, when the motion has stopped, put your head up, look around, make sure that you’re fully stopped, get your seatbelt off and get the hell out of there. That’s exactly what I did, and I got about 30 feet out and I said, “Well, shit, there’s still people in there!”

            So I went tear-assing back. First instinct is flight or fight and I got the hell out of there, just like the rules say. But then, I went back in and helped somebody else out. But I tore the heels off my boots getting out of there. Nowadays they’re all molded, but this had… And I couldn’t find the goddamn heels. Of course, Mr. McNamara, who was the Secretary of Defense at that time, said we didn’t have any shortages. Well that was so much hooey. [laughing]

            I can’t go around… I only had one pair of flying boots. I can’t do that, so, I knew somebody that worked at the morgue. Now, this is kind of morbid, but they stripped all the boots off. And I said, “Can I get a pair of boots?”  Yeah, I’ll get you some. So I flew with Army boots for about two weeks until Air Force supply lines took care of me. [laughing] But the big thing was, I walked away, which was… I couldn’t fly for about two weeks. Last story. I’m keeping you… This was kind of interesting.

            That place where we worked, Bien Hoa, was pretty remote at that time. I looked up one day and in came two very large Air Force cargo aircraft. They just called in at the last moment, “Landing now.” It was all full of sky cops and other officials, and they took over the whole base – our base. These guys are wearing blue suits and silver buttons like we are. I said, “What the hell is going on?”

            Well, got the base here and all of a sudden, ching, ching, ching! There are three U-2 photo aircraft (that) arrive. When they took off from Guam, they didn’t know where they were going, either. It was just like something out of a movie. “What the hell is this?” Because we’re out in the boondocks with a real good operational mission, but no publicity. (They) took over everything except the only thing they didn’t take over was that air-conditioned office I told you about that this little feisty flight surgeon. He said some things that my mother wouldn’t have been proud of. He said, “This is my office – you can’t have it.” But everything else they took over. And, as it turned out, later, they were a bunch of really nice guys.

            Every day these aircraft would take off and they would go up over North Vietnam and take a lot of pictures, and then come back. We didn’t have the photo capability in-country at that time to process this very… It was all film stuff at that time, this is ’64. We couldn’t process that in-country. It was a thousand miles away. So, on the island of the Philippines, at Clark Air Force Base, at 8:00 every morning an aircraft would take off. If number one didn’t go, number two did, number three did, but that was a Department of Defense dictated mission. They had to have that kind of stuff. So they’d go with film packs over to our base, wait until the last aircraft came down, throw these film packs into the aircraft – Bam! Off it would go and get processed and then transmitted to Washington.  

            So, I break my ribs in this crash and I can’t fly. But I can go out on R & R, which is weird, because I’m walking around like this. Well, if you’re going out of country, everybody’s got a list, because they always refer to the “land of the big BX.” And Clark Air Force Base had a BX that was about the size of a football field. It was just a gorgeous place. Electronics were starting to come out at that time – some gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. So I’ve got a whole list of stuff.

            I’m guaranteed transportation, because this thing leaves every day. You’ve got to be there on time, but you’ve got a seat. Takes me over there, so I got this whole list, and Philippines is pretty much like Vietnam, average day is 90-92-94, humid. I got these busted ribs. And the taxis are on strike. And I got this list that I’ve got to… (Otherwise it would be) “You ass, you didn’t get my stuff?!” So every day I’m going to BX and I’m picking up this stuff and I’m taking it over to the post office, wrapping it up, and sending it to Charlie and Joe’s wife in the old country or taking it back with me. Damn near killed me! I was supposed to be on Rest and Recuperation! [laughing] But I did, that was the one time I got out of the country for about five days. At the end of the day, you could get a cold beer at the Officer’s Club.

CS:      Three broken ribs and they made you a pack mule. (laughing)

LS:      Yeah, exactly. It was one of those things… And, as it turned out, the guys who took over our base, the guys relinquished – they got office space, they got operations space. But they had a priority of 1-1. I mean, at that time, that was kind of a squirrely mission. As I said, they didn’t know where they were going until they got in the air and they said, “Here are your coordinates.” And at the end of their coordinates were the end of our runway. And in they come and they had a big, big support element to make sure that everything went well for that very, very interesting machine that would go, Christ knows how high and get the pictures and then get them back and get them taken.

CS:      How long were they at your base?

LS:      About three months. But at that time, they had just taken some of the wraps off of the U-2. When I got in the Air Force, I heard about it, but you just didn’t talk about it. It was just kind of super secret, and I’m sure there’s stuff out there right now (that is) the same thing. It just wasn’t discussed, and then little by little. Frances Gary Powers got shot down over Russia. First Mr. Eisenhower said, “What aircraft?” [laughing] Finally had to acknowledge. And if he hadn’t had engine failure, he would not have been caught. They were working out of Pakistan, overflying Russia and getting all sorts of wonderful stuff, and he had engine failure. They claimed to have shot him down. Well, the only reason they shot him down is because he was down in altitude. They couldn’t reach him at his operational altitude.

            After that incident if you want to Google that sometime, find out what happened, then the wraps came off a little bit. Still didn’t talk… There were some standard lines: the Air Force does not ordinarily discuss the location, disposition or transportation of nuclear weapons. What’s your next question?” [laughing] You’re talking to an information officer. That was the situation with U-2 for a long time. “What aircraft? We don’t know anything about that.” And then, all of a sudden, there they were on our patch. As I said, some really nice guys but, first impression wasn’t too swift.

CS:      Well, thank you so much…

LS:      Do you think we covered most of it?

CS:      Yeah! [laughing] Unless there’s any…

LS:      You’ve got my card if you’ve got any questions.

CS:      Certainly, yeah.

LS:      Ok.

CS:      I’m going to stop the recording…



End of recording

Track 1



Transcribed by Mary Beth Frost

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