Visit the Rest of The PPDRDG by Returning to the Site Map and Picking Another Page!

Ted's Overnighter to Fantasy Island
The Future President for Life of the PPDRDG Visits Diego Garcia, 1982

Wherein the author tells of a journey to the most isolated island on the globe, and of his safe return to his loving family, on an expedition for the government of the most powerful nation on the earth, and in which the Author has the unique opportunity to circumnavigate our great sphere, meet many strange and wonderful people from several races and nations, to witness the strangest rituals and rites of passage known to civilized man, and to see oddities about which he will regale his grandchildren on his knee, in his waning years.

Actually, I'd rather not read this intimate, first person account - take me back to the links page.
Tell you what:  I'd rather  see where "Bottled Beer" is made illegal on Diego Garcia!

OK - Don't give up hope - there are some photos in the text.
ALSO, HERE ARE SOME TARGETS ON THIS PAGE:

Go straight to the paragraphs on the War in the Aleutians
 I want to go directly to the first entry about the problems with the Mauritians
Beam me down to the description of the Chief's Initiation Rituals
 What about the Brit Navy's Arrival and all the Homosexual Behavior?

 ITINERARY - September-October, 1982
All dates and times are in "Coordinated Universal Time," also called "Zulu," or "Z" time,
Followed by the "Local" day, time on a 24 hour clock, and the year.

Arrival at the Location   Airfield of Operations              Departure from the Location

  ORIGINATE               HOME IN OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON, USA    09/1630ZSEP82 09/0930L
 09/1745ZSEP82 09/1045L   KSEA:  SEATTLE-TACOMA IAP, WA.      09/2000ZSEP82 09/1300L
 09/2145ZSEP82 09/1445L   KSFO:  SAN FRANCISCO IAP, CA.       09/2300ZSEP82 09/1600L
 10/1600ZSEP82 10/0900L   KSUU:  TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CA.   10/1730ZSEP82 10/1030L
 10/2300ZSEP82 10/1300L   PHIK:  HICKAM AFB, HAWAII           12/0335ZSEP82 11/1735L
 12/1205ZSEP82 12/2205L   PGUA:  ANDERSON AFB, GUAM           12/1430ZSEP82 13/0030L
 12/1835ZSEP82 13/0235L   RPMK:  CLARK AB, PHILIPPINES        14/0450ZSEP82 14/1250L
 14/1250ZSEP82 14/1750L   FJDG:  DIEGO GARCIA NAF, BIOT       15/0615ZOCT82 15/1115L
 15/1725ZOCT82 15/1425L   HKNA:  NIAROBI IAP, KENYA           15/1445ZOCT82 15/1745L
 15/1815ZOCT82 15/2015L   LICZ:  SIGONELLA NAS, SICILY        15/2340ZOCT82 16/0140L
 16/0315ZOCT82 160415L    LETO:  TORREJON AB, SPAIN           18/0100ZOCT82 18/0200L
 18/0800ZOCT82 18/0400L   KDOV:  DOVER AFB, DELAWARE          18/2130ZOCT82 18/1730L
 19/0315ZOCT82 18/2015L   KSUU:  TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CA    19/0515ZOCT82 18/2215L
 19/0715ZOCT82 19/0015L   KTCM:  MCCHORD AFB, WASHINGTON      19/0815ZOCT82 19/0115L
 19/0915ZOCT82 19/0215L   HOME IN OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON, USA    END OF MISSION

8 Sep 82, OLYMPIA WA

     Tomorrow I leave for 30 days TDY to Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, with 5-6 days travel time out and the same back.  I've got TDY orders for traveling out and also Auxiliary Crew Orders which Lt. Col. Dausel (Ops Officer) had the squadron cut for me so I don't have to travel via MAC passenger service, which is the worst in the world.  The most interesting thing about the orders is they tell me I can't take bottled beer out to Diego!

Here's what I'll take with me, in two B-4 bags:

This book
Paper, envelopes, and stamps
Pens and pencils
3 fatigue shirts
2 fatigue pants
1 set short blue uniform
1 pair combat boots
1 flight suit
3 OD T-shirts
2 white T-shirts
6 pair underwear
3 pair white socks
3 pair black boot socks
Fatigue belt
Blue's belt
Hangers
Rain coat
Various T-shirts and ones with collars
Shorts/swim suit (only one I've got - buy more)
2 pair sneakers (one old, one new)
1 pair blue jeans
1 pair slacks
Belt
Shoe shine stuff
Towel
Swim masks
Cigarettes
Some books to read
"MAC Purse" w/check book
$300.00 cash
Shaving kit
Orders
Glasses
Airline ticket (to SF Intl)
Knife and stone and oil
Camera/film/telephoto lens
    Today Cathy and I hauled about 4 cords of wood down to the side of the house for me to split when I get home.  Tonight she's having a Tupperware party.  The kids and I will stay out of the way downstairs.

    Incidentally, DG is about as far from here as I can go - 12 hour time difference.  Its also 7 degrees south of the equator.

    Books I'm taking - "Letters from the Earth" by Mark Twain, "Celtic Myth and Legend" by Charles Squire, copyright 1905, and "Ecotopia" by Callenbach, to which I want to write a "rebuttal novel" someday.

 
 $284.00
 -10.50 Dinner PHIK
 - 4.50 Room PHIK
 - 3.50 Meal PHIK
 - 3.00 Meal PGUA
 - 3.00 Meal RPMK
- 13.00 Pants RPMK
 246.50
 - 3.00 Misc. Coffee, etc.
 243.50
 - 3.00 Beer
 - 3.00 B'fast RPMK
 237.50
+100.00 O'Club RPMK
337.50
- 36.50 Jacket-2 shirts-gym shorts at Diego
- 12.35 Detergent, cookies, solarcaine, cigarettes
- 27.75 4 T-shirts, film
        Jacket for me and Cathy
        Shirt for Dad
        Shirts for kids
384.00 total brought with me.
10 SEP 82 Hickam AFB, Hawaii

     Flew to SF International on United AL and called Stan Nowak at work to come pick me up.  We went directly (through town, across the Golden Gate Bridge and up the freeway) to his house in Marin Co.  Barb met us with a pitcher of margaritas.  Their baby girl Alexis is really cute and looks alot like Stan with blond hair.  Their house is about 1500 sq. feet with a small 20' X 10' pool and about 20 years old.  The freeway is right behind them but not as loud as I thought it would be.  However, the cars and bikes can look down into the back yard.  The house basically requires lots of fixing up, painting, etc.  The front of the house is nicely fixed up for street side "sales appeal," but, for example, the gas furnace needs replacing, as does the hot water heater, etc.  Also, the pool has a solar heater that's pretty primitive and takes several hours to heat up.  Considering the house cost $150,000, I was shocked at how closely the house compared to the one I owned in Sacramento (that cost $30,000 in 1977 and was sold in '79 for $45,000).  They have 4 separate mortgages and a $7,000 loan to repay to Chase Manhattan bank.  Their payments are $2,500.00 per month until November when the bank loan is paid off, then its only $1,500/mo. forever!  Although salaries are higher in the bay area, I can't believe they're significantly higher than the Puget Sound and the benefits of living near SF significantly better than living near Seattle.  I think he's crazy to live there.  Barb has to work on call as a nurse at night, and they are working their fingers to the bone to pay for the house, etc.

     Cathy called shortly after I arrived.  It sure was good to talk to her.  I'll miss not being able to from Diego, as they only have one AUTOVON line to service the whole island.  She said Gregory cried when I left and was still upset at 5 p.m.  First time one of my kids cried at my departure.  I really miss them all.

     Barb and Alexis drove me over to Travis and I caught the 807 mission to here.  I checked in to the BOQ and went over the PALCC (Pacific Airlift Control Center) to get my scheduled briefing.  What a waste.  Maj. Bishop showed me the operation and exhorted me to make sure I communicated with them and added explanatory notes to any delay codes crews might incur in Singapore, Masirah, Diego, etc.  About 2 minutes of information in 30.  I also saw Capt. Ammons, who I first met at Altus who subsequently went to C-9s at Clark and to the Command Post there and is now here.  There is an alternative to an Altus tour for career progression after all.  However, all I really want to do is homestead at McChord by going remote and returning.  I wouldnít want to beat myself bloody in the fight to become a Colonel.  My ambition is gone I guess.

     I would like to build a hot tub at the house.

     I wrote the above about 1700, then took a nap.  The time difference here is 3 hours, plus having stayed up late talking with Stan and Barb, made me very tired.  I got up about 1930 and went over the club where they were having a seafood buffet -- all you could eat for $10.50.  There was Mahi-Mahi (dolphin fish), king crab legs, oysters (which I don't care for), shrimp, scallops (there were obviously ray wings), and a shellfish chowder.  It was delicious.  However as I am trying to loose weight, I only stuffed myself to the gills, instead of to overflowing.  It was the only meal and only expense I had today.  I need to watch the expenditures closely as the per diem rate at Diego is very low and all will be spent on food there.  Its the same situation as at Squadron Officers' School.

     Over at the club I noticed what must be retired Colonels.  They were pushy and obnoxious and ordered the wine steward, waitresses and barmaids around.  I guess if you're used to ordering people around and dispensing summary judgment and punishment, you never stop.  Although I realize dad must have had to punish people under the UCMJ, he has never shown that sort of behavior when I'm around.  When he is dissatisfied with the service in someplace, he never goes back.  Likewise I don't leave a tip.  But to treat "help" as sub human is disgusting.

     Also I noticed alot of wives who appeared to revel in the social aspects of the evening out.  I'm so happy Cathy is not pretentious.

     I'm watching a movie called "Gorgo," kind of an English Godzilla.  I remember seeing it when I was younger.  It's fairly good, especially the English Navy vs. the monster's mother.

     I also want to note that I bought the book "The Origin" by Irving Stone - a biographical novel about Charles Darwin.  Actually its fairly stilted stuff, but I've never read a biography of Darwin and am very interested.

13 Sep 82, Clark AB, Republic of the Philippines.  0400L.

     Deadheaded from Hickam via Anderson AFB, Guam on the 807 mission.  The first leg was with Capt. Kernstead from the 53rd {Military Airlift} Squadron (also flew the leg from SUU - HIK; The 807 is flown by crews from Norton {Air Force Base, California})  He is a former Army helicopter pilot and knows Dan Frazee, who is also at Norton now and also a former Army chopper pilot and also flew T-43s with me at Mather.  Dan's brother Phil Frazee was in the class behind me at Moody for pilot training.

     The second leg was flown by Capt. Dickensen and a female 1st Lt. copilot whose name I didn't catch.  She's in the 15th {Military Airlift} Squadron.  Dickensen is a reservist and otherwise unemployed, though he's trying to get hired by Southwest AL, where almost all the other T-43 pilots I served with are working.  The lieutenant told me that Maj. Ernie Skiver, who was a friend of mine at Mather may be FEB'd {undergo an administrative investigation called a Flying Evaluation Board, which could remove him from flying status - what we called "taking his wings away") at Norton.  They were flying SOLL {Special Operations, Low Level} and on climb out {after the low level portion of the mission} Ernie lit a cigar.  The jump seat occupant put on his O2 {oxygen} mask.  Skiver reached up and pulled it away from his face and blew smoke in his face.  Unfortunately, an ember from the cigar fell inside the mask which started an oxygen fire, filling the cockpit with smoke and burning up the mask.  The {flight} engineer tried to depressurize the aircraft to ventilate and managed to turn off all electrical power (at night - now no lights for instruments, etc.).  They tried to depressurize using the T-Handle release for the #2 hatch, but that didn't work.  They got emergency vectors to Vance {Air Force Base, Oklahoma}, which was closed {for the night} and landed {anyway}.  Ernie is a flight examiner as I guess were several other crew members, instructors, etc.  Ernie was always very know-it-all and had a superiority complex at Mather, but we got along OK.  I hope he doesn't get FEB'd.  Mistakes caused by clowning around are almost foregone activities, but he'll never do it again.  FEBs should be reserved for unskilled or incompetent pilots and for irresponsible aircraft commanders who don't care for the health and welfare of their crews or who don't understand their position in the scheme of things (i.e., worker bees, not the prima donas of the system).

     I believe ACs {Aircraft Commanders} should be like ship Captains:  Totally responsible and with total authority for the successful completion of the mission as assigned.  Unfortunately, the authority has been stripped away but not the responsibility.  Also, planning should not place so many time and physical restraints on a mission as to make it impossible to accomplish or beyond the AC's ability to see the big picture.

     A classic example is a recent attempt to airlift into the Aleutians {an exercise called BEAD CRYSTAL}.  The weather there is terrible, going from clear to W0X0F {pronounced walks off, as in "everyone walks off the flight line because no one can fly in weather that bad," and meaning the weather [W] has a ceiling estimated at zero [0] feet, sky totally obscured [the X], visibility zero [0], with fog [F]}.  But it changes hourly.  Current MAC policy is not to launch to an objective unless weather is forecast to be at or above minimums for the approach to be flown.  In this case that meant 3000' and 3 miles or 1500 broken and no more than broken conditions to FL 200 (20,000').  Fuel on board was to be enough to go to destination at 20,000 and either descend and land or divert to Adak NAS or Shemya AFB.  As a result, few missions took off and fewer still got to destination.  They could have if crews could have put on an extra 2 - 3 hours of fuel to hold over destination and launched regardless of weather at destination, using weather at the alternates as the determining factor on whether or not to launch.  Whoever planned the operation apparently failed to study the history of military air operations in Alaska, or climatic records closely.  For example, the weather at destination was historically at the above minimums 18% of the time, but it was intermittent during the day, not 18% of the days, as is normal in more temperate climates.  The exercise was a total failure, but could have been totally successful had crews only been allowed to carry the extra fuel!

     This example is typical of non-standard MAC operations.  I don't believe there is any original strategic thought going on in the Air Force today and we are not flexible enough in operations or in the acquisition of equipment.  The Air Force is uncomfortable with small specialized units, preferring large numbers of aircraft and personnel all trained to do some major strategic or tactical task.  For example, instead of creating an elite SOLL (special operations low level) unit, they have SOLL crews scattered throughout MAC.  Or instead of stationing a squadron of C-141s in the Pacific to do the intra-theater large cargo hauls, they spend millions on per diem and empty cross-Pacific cargo space in aircraft.  Also, instead of buying some 737-300s (for example) with 6 pallet positions to fly the FEIT (Far Eastern Intra-Theater) mission, they use 141s, half empty and costing 2X as much to operate.

     Before leaving Hickam, I polished my new jungle boots (canvas sides & steel shanks).  Also I unwrapped the poncho I was issued to find 2 of them there, so I guess I get one for me for free!  To be honest, I should return them both, but I have too much larceny in my heart.

     I forgot to mention that before leaving TCM I got the Combat Readiness Medal.  This is a kind of "Perfect Attendance" award for being qualified in a weapons system for 3 consecutive years.  One applies for it with a form letter and its granted.  A medal for that!  Sort of cheapens the whole idea of awards and decorations.

     This deadheading alone is very lonely stuff.  No crew to share BS or problems with, no situations to resolve.  Just keep out of the way and sit quietly or try to sleep sitting up.  Boy does the old ass get sore.  Aircraft seats have no lumbar or thigh supports so the entire weight of you body rests on your butt on a 2" pad of foam over a metal seat.  Why can automotive manufacturers build a seat you can drive in for days on end without discomfort, and Lockheed can't?

     It's now 0515 and I need to call and get a briefing this morning after 1000, so I think I'll take a nap.

15 Sep 82, DIEGO GARCIA

     Well, here I am, having completed my first day here at Diego Garcia British Indian Ocean Territory.  I will try to catch up.

     Went to the briefing, which I got from Major Tedreaux, CINC CP {chief of command post, CINC being a generic term for guy in charge, but actually standing for "commander in chief"}.  It was very thorough and professional.  In fact, at the end, he mentioned he'd never been here, and I was surprised, his knowledge is so extensive.

     Then I went to visit my old friend, Dave Wagner, who is acting chief of wing training.  His boss is here now as the mission CO (I am his deputy).  Wags and I sat in his office and talked for a while and he invited me to his house for dinner.  His roommates are 2 black female nurses and the house is beautiful, in Carmenville.  About 1800 sq. ft, stone floors (polished), mahogany wall panels, filigree on the ceiling, etc.  About 8 he & I hit the bars and got drunk and he got me back to the BOQ about 2 am.

     One interesting thing, at the Port Orient Bar, I met "Tim," who owns that bar, several others, and the Hotel California where I usually stay in town with my crews.  He is an ex-GI who took his discharge after Vietnam in Angeles City and with another ex-GI and an Englishman has built his little empire of bars, booze and whores.  His plans to retire at age 40 (he's now 36) and travel around the world.  He bought us some drinks, only the second time in my life a bar owner has bought me a beer.

     Here at Diego I spent the night last night in the aircrew room 203, but now am moved into the MAC rep room since the guy I replaced (1Lt Bob Strnad left to go back to Travis via Nairobi, Kenya.  He just decided to go back that way, an idea I might try if I can get the balls to do it or to call the squadron for permission.

     Today we received 2 C-141 flights and a C-5 with 2 departures of 141s (one of them the one I rode in on).

     I will reserve my impressions of the people, etc., for later.  Right now I'm kind of burned out, having been up since 7 or so and only having about 12 hours sleep in the last 3 days.

16 Sep 82.  Diego Garcia

     Today Maj. Hill and I were invited to attend the investiture of Master Sergeant Du Bose into the Navy Chiefs organization.  The "ceremony" consists of a Kangaroo Court that fines the jury (the observers) $2 and up for speaking etc.  The inductees have to wear silly costumes and put up with continuous indignities.  Raw eggs are smashed into their hair, down their pants and in their mouths.  They are "sentenced" to jail, a tiger cage, to be hanged, electrocuted, etc.  They are, of course not actually hanged but rather blindfolded, a substitute noose (unconnected to anything) affixed to their necks and forced to jump off a chair, etc.  They are also forced to drink "truth serum" consisting of hot sauce, oil, vinegar, raw shellfish, etc., and made to eat balut (pronounced bah-loot) which is a partially developed chick embryo in the egg, buried for several days to ferment.  I think its all disgusting.  Demeaning another human being even in jest, is wrong and leads to more serious violations and a numbing of sensitivity for others feeling, etc.  Its also bad because to succeed in a closed society like ours in the service, you have to do the socially acceptable things.  If those things consist of degrading things, then what does the society become?  If you refuse to join in, you are ostracized and ineffective when dealing with your contemporaries.  For that reason alone, the service academies should be closed and the ROTC system expanded to provide intelligent individuals who are not social robots.  But as Ed Brown says, you've got to be into robotics to be in the service and succeed {after all the word Robot is Czech for "worker"}.

     At the Chiefs' Club I met CMDR Libbey, the British Commander of the Island.  He is very proper and "English."  Very formal, tall and thin, balding with carefully parted hair to cover his head and with a small, serious mouth and very bright blue eyes.  He did not seem impressed with the proceedings, although he put up with the abuse and comments about England and himself that accompanied his men's initiation.  He sort of rose above the proceedings, very much like innumerable British commanders in books and films.  I'm impressed.  We really do seem like a bunch of provincial bumpkins compared to his example.

      I've also met the Aussie rep, a young LT (JG) {actually a sub-leftenant, an officer rank but below our ensign rank; almost a midshipman}.  His name is Steve Swain and is also tall, thin and very soft spoken.  I gave him a squadron patch sticker in return for the Australia Day sticker in the front of this book.  He lives in another barracks, but watches TV in our day room (next door to our room) and I expect we'll get to know each other better as the month passes.

     Tonight a 141 leaves for Singapore, so I'll close to get ready to launch it out of here.

SEA Huts on Diego Garcia, 1982
Our Enlisted Guys had To Live This Way - SEA Huts on Diego Garcia, 1982.  Usually 8 men per hut, but they could fit 16.  These huts are actually the same size as the Army's "GP Medium" tents, and today's "Temper-Tents" that they use in the middle-east.
17 Sep 82.

     Today there was a change of command ceremony for the CO of the Naval Support Facility, but I begged off & escorted the enlisted maintenance personnel over to our building to wash their clothes.  They live in a SEA Hut - a 16í X 32í plywood shack.  SEA stands for "South East Asia" because these were what the SEABEES built in Vietnam.  The hootch where they wash clothes is locked & they donít have a key, and the Chief who controls the keys was tied up for two days with the Chiefís initiation and the officer, Lt. Cmdr. Schmidt has been busy & is normally unavailable anyway.  Also Maj. Hill doesnít seem too interested in the health and welfare of the enlisted men, so I took over & so missed the ceremony, which I didnít want to attend anyway.

     I did, however, see the major participants, dressed in their whites.  CMDR Libby, RN, was carrying a simple black cane!  The new CO, whose name I didnít catch, seems to be a very hard, unforgiving and harsh man.

     MSgt. DuBose also admitted he didnít eat the balut, but instead hid it in his palm.  Iím even more impressed with his ingenuity!

BOQ 4 - Officers'
        Quarters on Diego Garcia, 1982
BOQ 4 - These were the Officers' Quarters on Diego Garcia, 1982.  Later they became Chiefs' Quarters after they built new buildings for the Os.
     I may as well describe our quarters.  Its an L shaped room with a bath, and windows at both ends of the room.  Its on the second floor of a 20 room barracks.  The aircrew quarters are identical, but with three bunk beds & less furniture.  C-5 crews (9-15 men) get three of the five rooms we have available for MAC crews, and C-141 (6-9 men) crews get two rooms.  Women stay in the female quarters.

     We eat at the Officersí Mess.  The food is pretty good, and meals cost $1.80 for Breakfast & $3.75 for dinner and supper, which includes surcharge for TDY personnel.  Its also all you can eat.  I try to eat lunch only one day, breakfast and supper the next.

The
        Officers' Club Ocean-side Deck, Diego Garcia, 1982
The Ocean-side deck at the Diego Garcia Officers' Club, 1982
     I bought a light weight jacket and two shirts today (one for dad) and a pair of shorts at the Shipís Store.

     The weather has been cloudy and windy all day, and so I did not sit out in the sun today.  Iíve still got white legs and need to get a tan!

Madagascar Fody in Mating Season Plumage,
      Diego Garcia, 1982
18 Sep 82.

     Today Maj. Hill and I are starting ďshift work.Ē  He worked the morning shift, Iíll take the two airplanes that will arrive tonight.  I slept in Ďtill 0700, went to eat, then came back to the room and slept Ďtill noon.  Although the day is again windy and rainy, there were a couple hours of sunshine, so I went down to the beach (about 100 yards from the room) and sunbathed in a deck chair - 20 minutes on each side.  The water in the lagoon is still too choppy to swim in and too full of suspended particulates to see the reef with my face mask.  Lying there, I noticed there were dozens of hermit crabs all around.  They are obvious if you look because they have appropriated undamaged shells for their homes.  All the other shells on the beach are damaged with holes or broken.  The little crabs were up in the sand and mangrove and what looks like morning glory flowers but is something else, above the high water mark.
 

     As for other natural things here, Iíve seen frigate birds, egrets, a sparrow that is bright red in the body (males).  Females are typically sparrow colored.  Also there are terns that appear pure white and half way in size between fairy and common terns.  They sit in trees, particularly the Australian Pines.  This is very strange as Iíve never seen sea birds sit in trees.  They also fly about the area of the tree at night.  There are also small doves that appear identical to the ones in Hawaii.  Also Iíve seen pictures of ďHectorĒ - a 20í hammer head shark that hangs out around the mouth of the lagoon and also inside.  Iíve also seen a bee that resembles the honey bee, but is almost black.  Also tiny ants.  Unfortunately there are no books on fauna or flora of the island in the bookstore.

     Despite the lack of entertainment here, my depression on the trip out has passed and I feel pretty good.  I do wish I could loose some weight and motivate myself to physical exercise, but I canít.  I sure do miss Cathy and the boys.  It would be so nice to sit on the beach with Cathy and watch the boys playing in the surf.

19 Sep 82.  2200L

     Last night I took the late launches so Maj. Hill could go to the Hail and Farewell for the departing Captain of the NSF and this morning took the morning launches so I could have the afternoon off and so Maj. Hill could supervise the launch of a C-141 taking Cmdr. Robb, the departing NAF CO and a Rear Admiral to Clark.  Maj. Hill is intensely political and enjoys the social and formal part of the service.

     I slept for four hours this afternoon.  The weather is still cloudy and rainy.  I have a slight sunburn from yesterday - after only 20 minutes on each side!  Tomorrow Iíll go out if the sun is shining, but will use suntan lotion.  Sent a letter to Cathy today.

     I went down to Ops tonight to run out a fuel plan for a mission tomorrow and the duty NCO, AC1 Cartwright, told me I could use the phone for an AUTOVON call to the states, so I called Cathy.  It was 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning McChord time.  Everything is O.K., except Eric is falling behind in school again.  I feel so sorry for him.  If he aspires to follow in my footsteps, it may be denied him by his disabilities.  I hope he doesnít turn sour on life.

     I finished ďThe Origin,Ē and am now reading ďGorky Park.Ē

     Yesterday morning the maintenance guys worked their tails off, and so Maj. Hill bought them a case of beer.  That was real nice of him.


Captain Ken Gill, Royal Marines,
        Diego Garcia, 1982

22 Sep 82.  1200L

     I havenít written in a couple of days as I have been too busy and or tired.

     I borrowed a couple of publications from Ken Gill, the British Executive Officer, about the flora and fauna here.  The most complete and scholarly is Atoll Research Bulletin No. 149, August 27, 1971 from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, titled ďGeography and Ecology of Diego Garcia Atoll, Chagos ArchipelagoĒ edited by D.R. Stoddart and J.D. Taylor.  It has 237 pages and is very complete.  The second is the Natural Resources Conservation Land Management Plan prepared by Pacific Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, December 1973 (USN).

     The islandís ecology is totally changed from its pre-human one.  Cats, rats, and man have destroyed nesting seabird populations.  Donkeys abound on the south and east parts of the island.  All land birds were probably introduced by man.  Great broadleaf forests were cut down and planted with coconut.  Feral chickens are the most noticeable bird.

     It would be interesting to come back in five years for my next remote and do an ecological monologue on the island and the results of manís activities.  The coral reef appears untouched and of course, the growing part is on the seaward side.  But the Navy is building a huge deep water pier out of dredging from the lagoon (it will be large enough to dock two aircraft carriers simultaneously) and this may cause some damage.

     Anyway the current ecology on the land was created by man anyway, and so its irrelevant what else is done in my opinion.  They could, however, reintroduce the seabird population if they could kill all the rats and cats on the east arm and cut a dike or otherwise build a barrier from the rest of the island - create a kind of wilderness area, cut down the coconut and replant with broadleaf woodland.  Of course that costs big bucks, and will never be done.

     However, the east arm is kind of a wilderness area now.  The Brits only allow escorted groups of people over on weekends, but will make exceptions.  We went over yesterday in a 12 passenger van and a small pickup truck.

Missy The Beer Drinking Donkey, Diego
      Garcia, 1982
     We saw about two dozen donkeys, the largest group was 12, with one colt.  There is also a donkey named "Missy" who used to be the base mascot and now has been banished to the other side and hangs around people who might be over there.  She drinks beer from a can or bottle and will bother you till you give her some by nudging you with her head.

     There is a ďdonkey gateĒ with cattle guard and fence that runs into the water a couple miles south of the runway that keeps them off this end.  That was done because they congregated on the airfield and would sleep on the runway at night.

     The plantation itself is a wonderful place, with an air of vanished greatness, like an ante-bellum mansion in disrepair.  I only took a few pictures and plan to go back before I leave and take some more.  There is a wrecked PBY half buried in sand on the beach about 100 yards south of the East Point (plantation) dock, which is also in disrepair.  We went to the ďR&R CenterĒ that the Seabees are building - its an old building with four rooms they are repairing for a picnic and camping out area.  Its right on a beautiful sand beach with a nice reef about 50 yards off shore.  Four or five of us went out snorkeling and saw many beautiful fish and giant clams 12 inches across.  After we returned to shore, a three foot barracuda jumped three times through the water about half way out to the reef!  The water is too shallow at that end of the lagoon for big sharks, and the barracuda have plenty to eat so they havenít attacked anybody yet, but it was thought provoking.

     The drive back was interesting - high tide cut rivulets across the road in two places and we had to plow through.

24 Sep 82.  0900L

     Hereís a list of positively identified birds:  Madagascar Fody (the red sparrow-type bird), Indian Myna, Barred Ground Dove, Madagascar (possibly Indian) Turtle Dove, Common Curlew, Turnstone, Sanderling, Domestic Fowl, Cattle Egret, Little Green Heron, Sooty Tern, and White (or Fairy) Tern.

Yesterday was interesting.  I wound up getting up at 0400 to launch a C-5 and C-141.  After they arrived a 707 came in and there was some confusion on my part about whether we took care of it since its a MAC Charter, or the Navy because it was carrying Military Sealift Command replacements.  Anyway, then I went to lunch and Steve Swain and I decided to go snorkeling.

     Maj. Hill was called by his Wing Commander and told he made Lt. Col., about 3/4 of the way down the list, but decided to hang around the room and compose some letters and official letters.

     Steve and I picked up the enlisted maintenance people who followed us in their truck.  After several disappointing attempts at this side of the island, we went down to the lagoon side of the south end of the island and found a beautiful sand beach waist deep for 200 yards out.  There were four inch fish living in holes dug by shrimp on the bottom and some sea cucumbers but that was all besides minnows.  It was beautiful, but I got a slight sunburn on my back.  My legs are getting tan so I donít look so much like a new guy now.

     Anyway we plan to go there whenever we get a break.

     Yesterday was the weekly officersí picnic over at the head honchoís BOQ.  Three officers are selected to buy the food and beer and supervise the operation.  Maj. Hill presented Captain Biliki a plaque for assistance and announced his promotion and that he would buy everybody drinks at the club later.  Over at the club I started playing darts with a guy I pictured as a terminal Major - suntan, gold bracelet and necklace, cigarette smoker, grayish hair and glasses.  Very lively and easy going and an excellent dart shooter and pool player.  Turns out heís a Navy Captain on the Admiralís staff at Cubi NAS.  He seemed so human, compared to the roboticized Colonels the AF has.  It really surprised me.  His name was Harry something.  Heís a good character to put in my book about this place.

     Steve Swain plays pool & darts, etc., by Australian rules - for example, a scratch by me gives him two shots.  Makes you realize the rules are not universally necessary to the enjoyment or orderly progression of the game.

     I would have enjoyed an assignment here.

     I really wish Cathy was here to enjoy this with me.  The boys would have a blast, but Christopher would require watching - heíd probably try to swim to a ship or play with a coconut crab!

     I though Iíd have more to say in this book - concepts, ideas, etc., but I find I slip into an existential type existence when Iím TDY and have a hard time concentrating on anything.  I just enjoy sitting and feeling the breeze and the heat and seeing the lagoon and sand.  I doubt Iíll ever write much worth anything.

     Once I started writing a series of essays on what I believed and how things should be done.  Maybe one day.

26 Sep 82.  1320L.  Sunday.

     Yesterday about 2100 got interrupted by our enlisted troops who came over to use the laundry room in our building.  They have a laundry over in Splinterville, but it has a padlock and they donít have a key.  They are justifiably pissed off as they see Filipino civilians using it all the time.  Maj. Hill has tried to get them a key for the last eight or nine days to no avail.  It seems incredible to me that they are authorized to use a facility but denied the means of access.  It shouldnít take Maj. Hillís intervention to obtain a key for them.

     Yesterday, Steve, whoís last name is spelled Swayne, and I went snorkeling out behind the barracks.  The wind was almost calm, and there was no turgidity in the water.  The reef here is perhaps 20 yards out from the high tide line, and at low tide, as it was yesterday, the sand outside the reef is about fifteen feet deep.  Its a large and beautiful reef with many kinds of coral and dozens of kinds of fish.  The most beautiful was an angel fish about nine inches in diameter with about a 12 inch top fin.  It was black and electric blue and yellow.  We also saw three 40-50 pound jacks, each about three feet long, as well as lots of other reef fish and parrot fish and snapper.  We have not seen any sharks, rays or barracuda in the water.
 I used suntan lotion and lay on my back for 40 minutes.  We were snorkeling for maybe 30 minutes.  I burned my back and the back of my legs fairly well.  However, it doesnít hurt too bad now, and I should be able to get back out in the sun day after tomorrow.

     Maj. Hill and I have worked out an unspoken contract on duty schedules.  He likes (and it is his responsibility) to make all the decisions, interpret all the messages, make all the phone calls, etc.  So, he works the morning and sometimes early afternoon shift so he can talk to Clark, and I work the evening and any late night, early AM launches and recoveries.  For example, two nights ago there was a C-5 that arrived at midnight and a 141 departed for Nairobi at 0345.  So I took those.  Today however, the ex-Captain of the NSF left late due to the late arrival of the aircraft from Nairobi and another Navy Captain unexpectedly arrived on the 1530 flight from Clark, so Maj. Hill wanted to supervise those flights.  He always does that sort of thing and I donít mind, not being too political myself.  So I think tomorrow Iíll take the whole day in exchange.


The "QUARTERDECK" in 1982 - Headquarters for both the British Naval Party 1002 and US Navy Support Facility.
There is an interesting situation developing here.  The island country of Mauritius claims these islands.  The former residents here, mostly the descendants of slave brought over from Madagascar and Mauritius by the French in the late 1700's, were rounded up and shipped back to Mauritius in 1971 and have been paid almost five million English Pounds in compensation.  However, they are dissatisfied and have a flotilla of small boats and are preparing to come back.  There are a couple hundred Mauritians here as construction workers.  Three or four days ago several of them got drunk and tore something up and were arrested by the Brits and transported off the island to Nairobi on our 141 flight.  The rest of the Mauritians went on strike.  Three negotiators flew in from Nairobi today to talk things out and the situation has heavy political overtones and continues.

     I wrote a letter to Cathy today and will mail it tomorrow.

28 Sep 82.  Tuesday.

     Yesterday I worked all day in exchange for Maj. Hill working all day the day before.  We went to the movie last night and saw Coast to Coast and Sharkees Machine, both of which werenít very good.

     Today Steve Swayne got a truck, so he and I and the maintenance troops went to the other side of the lagoon, but the wind has shifted 90 degrees and so the water was choppy and murky.  So we played Frisbee 500 and I believe I got a sunburn on my chest.  So I just went to the Shipís Store (the little store theyíve got here) and bought some solarcaine if it gets too bad.  I also got some laundry detergent and a box of cookies to replace what Iíve used.  Tomorrow I have to pick up a case of beer and one of cokes since its my turn (although I havenít drank that much yet).

     A sailor died on the USS FORRESTALL about a week ago.  Nobody seems to know exactly what to do with the body except eventually to get it to the Naval Medical Center at Subic Bay.  The Navy had planned to just throw it on the Oman flight [the C-141 Diego - Masirah Island, Oman - Diego mission supporting fleet operations in the Arabian Sea] a couple days ago, but when they found out he had to be in a coffin or box, they flew him down in the bomb-bay of an S-3 (sub hunter aircraft) in a body bag.  Since we [MAC] have such stringent rules about carrying human remains, the Navy now intends to send him to Cubi Pt. NAS in a P-3.  A Lt. Cmdr. Bock just called asking how to transport the body.  I told him about how it has to be loaded ahead of any cargo with the head at the most forward point of the aircraft possible and how it must be accompanied by a courier.  But to the best of my knowledge those are MAC rules and he can continue to carry it in the bomb bay in a body bag for all I know.  I think they are taking him to the hospital for an autopsy since the circumstances surrounding his death were mysterious.

29 Sep 82.  0940.  Wednesday.

     I spoke with the senior medical officer last night at dinner about the body.  The man fell five stories to the hangar deck and landed on his head.  His co-workers said there was the smell of strange gases where they were working and so that may have caused dizziness, etc.  The medical officer though has another worry.  The man has been dead for eight days and his next of kin have written their Senator to find out why his body is not yet home.  The delay was, of course, with the Forestall, but now he has to answer the Senatorís queries.

     My sunburn is not very bad.  Steve was pretty humorous trying to drive the truck they issued to him.  Heís used to Australian vehicles with the steering wheel on the right and the gear shift on the left of the column.  Also he hasnít driven a manual transmission for several years, so he popped the clutch and had trouble judging stopping distances, etc.

     Today, we have held two crews and aircraft here awaiting developments in the Mauritius affair.  At least some of the Mauritians will leave, possibly all of them, and a 141 will carry them.  So we have a Travis crew who has to fly a McChord airplane (because its painted white & gray and the Mauritians wonít allow a camouflaged aircraft in country) waiting to start the movement at 0800Z (1200L).  Pacific Airlift Control Center (PALCC) just called and directed the operation.

     The thing is, in this situation, that this is the perfect pretext for Mauritius to attempt a Falkland Island Operation.  After the Falklands War was started over the removal by the Brits of an Argentinean Flag raised over the South Sandwich Island by some Argentine workers.  Yesterday the Brits were in battle dress during the morning and practicing pistol shooting at the range.  I just wonder if we (the U.S.) would assist in a repulsion of an invasion force.

6 Oct 82.  1030.  Wednesday.

     I havenít written because so much has been going on.  Of course, thatís precisely when I should write, to ensure the details and chronology are fresh in my mind.

     We ended up providing the aircraft that took the Mauritians - 69 of them - to Mauritius with the Travis crew in the McChord aircraft.  The AC was extremely helpful and positive in his approach to things and Maj. Hill sent a message of commendation about him to Major General Bennet, the 22AF CO.

Major Ed McClure, MAC Mission
      Commander Diego Garcia, 1982
     Maj. Hillís replacement arrived on 30 Sept. after the inbound C-5 air aborted back to Clark on the 29th.  At first he seemed very staid and professional, but has proven to be a good guy and easy to work for.  Heís Maj. Ed McClure, a C-130 pilot from Clark.  He was stationed at McChord once in C-130s and was promoted to Major two years below the zone and went to work at the Military Personnel Center.  He then got out and worked as a simulator instructor for Texas International Airlines and is now back on active duty after two years with them.  He has a professional dedicated air about him, and if he can survive the two years out of the service being on his record, should go far in the AF.

     Maj. Hill left on the 2nd after giving Ed the basic incoming tour and show and tell and rounds of introduction.  Maj. Hill was easy enough to work for, but continually lost track of time - worked too long, made three phone calls in half an hour when one with three questions at the end of the half hour would have sufficed, etc.  Of course it could have been your basic navigator syndrome - unable to make decisions and organize work after 16 years of being told what to do and when to do it.  He also had basic problems at home, with discouraging letters and problems he could not resolve being here.  I sure am glad Cathy doesnít do that to me.

     Friday, Ed and Jim decided to work the afternoon shift and so Steve, Sam, Jeff (the MX guy) and I went to Four Corners and on down the road to what I call Seabee Point.  The water was smooth and high tide.  Iíll write more after lunch.

     1700L.  The area has a barachois (a French word, and who knows how to pronounce them) which we call Shark Cove of several acres with a narrow outlet to the lagoon, about 20 feet across.  At high tide the barachois is completely under water, and at low tide, completely dry.  We played more Frisbee in the shallows on the beach as the tide went out, the water, which had heated up in the barachois for several hours, was about 95 degrees.  Standing in the gap was like standing in a hot river, or a flowing hot bath.  I took some pictures of some small terns which I think are fairy terns, but might not be.  We also watched a two foot sand shark come swimming out of the barachois.


HMNZS WAIKATO and HMS ALACRITY, Diego Garcia Lagoon, September, 1982
Saturday two British ships, the H.M.S. ALACRITY, a Type 21 Frigate, and the MV GRAY ROVER, a contract ship for support, and a Royal New Zealand Navy Frigate, the H.M.N.Z.S. WAIKATO, arrived.  Ed and I dressed up in our blues and went to the welcoming party at the officersí club.  We started drinking lots of beer.  The RN and RNZN know how to enjoy themselves.  None of this boring shop talk, etc.  When things began to wind down, we were invited to go to the Brit Club to continue the party.  We were invited primarily because we had our truck and could give a bunch of guys a ride.  The rest of the evening is lost in an alcoholic haze, except for vivid memories of Zulu Warrior.  This is a game engaged in primarily (possibly exclusively) by the enlisted ratings.  It consists of the crowd starting to chant ďHey you, you Zulu Warrior, Hey you, you Zulu Chief, Chief, Chief, Chief,Ē then the chorus of the word Zumba repeated eight times and preceded and followed by the word Hey.  They then point to someone and chant all the while.  The victim has to climb on a table and do a strip tease and moon the crowd.  The Brits seem to be very sexual, almost homosexual.  They piss in front of each other and expose their genitals and dance around naked.  The New Zealanders on the other hand are very macho and just get drunk and fall down.  Ed lost one of his epaulets from his shirt to some fast talking sailor.

     Sunday night I worked the night shift to recover the Masirah flight.  Just before the aircraft arrived I got a call from the Security Police that TSgt. XXXXX had been picked up for driving while intoxicated.  XXXXXX is here to maintain SACís equipment, their trucks and aircraft support equipment.  So after the aircraft arrived and I got the crew taken care of, I went and got him out of detention.  I tried to get the ticket pulled, but the 2nd Class Petty Officer in charge wouldnít take the responsibility.  I put him to bed and he was fairly drunk, but not too bad.  He was effusive in his thanks and promised anything if I could get him off.  It was embarrassing.  I was trying to get him off the charge because of the special circumstances of merely being on the island.  Heís here monitoring equipment thatís not in current use, thereís no children or old people or anybody else to hit.  He wasnít speeding or driving recklessly and was driving about six blocks back to his hootch.  If this were to occur in the States I would want his license taken away for a year and throw him in jail for a couple of weeks to teach him a lesson, regardless of the effect on his career, etc.  There are 25,000 Americans killed by drunk drivers each year and thereís no excuse for it.  But here, the circumstances are different, to my mind.  Also Iím trusting him to not do it again.  So, Monday morning I went over to talk to the Warrant Office in charge of security, a Mr. Monasala (a Filipino).  He explained the report would not go off island, but that he might loose his driving privileges completely.  I asked he be allowed to continue to drive in performance of his duties, since he would have to be replaced and his career ruined if he were not allowed to drive (he would be sent home to a very unwelcome reception).  Manasala said the XO would help make the decision, so I went over and briefly stated my case to him.  Traffic court is tomorrow, so weíll see what happens.

     Tuesday we went down to the seabee Point and the tide was out.  It was also overcast and intermittently rained heavily.  We waded in the water and played some Frisbee and walked down along a coral conglomerate ledge which is about three feet above the surface of the sand and underwater at high tide.  We found two dead baby sharks (about two feet long).  While wading along the outside of the ledge, I almost stepped on a six foot shark resting on the bottom in waist deep water.  I realize sharKs arenít supposed to sleep, but I believe this one was.  We got out of the water fast.


Hawksbill Turtle, Diego Garcia, 1982
     Then we saw Hawksbill Turtles swimming along the edge of the ledge.  Ed counted seven.  They seemed entirely oblivious of us.  Eventually we all were there and on the way back we watched a large shark (maybe four or five feet) swim into the gap and we lost sight of him.  Steve and I put on our masks and lay down in the shallows and tried to see where he went, but the water was too murky.  So we bunched up in a group, and screaming and yelling, ran across the chest deep water in a group.  It was exhilarating.

     Then, Tuesday evening we went to the Brit Club again.  Ed had bought a chit for $10 that was good for 20 drinks, and had only used three of them.  Steve told us while we were swimming that the chit was only good for the period while the Brit ships were at anchorage.  Anyway, it was my turn to stay sober, more or less.  We were in our fatigues and were quickly besieged by British and New Zealand sailors wanting to trade tee-shirts for our fatigue shirts.  Leading Surgeonís Mate Bren Coulton promised a Union Jack for the Majorís shirt.  Leading Steward Harry Holmes promised me a white ensign for mine.  The basic difference was that Ed gave his shirt to Bren, while I promised to bring mine out to the ship in the morning.  Things were much more reserved Tuesday.  I guess a couple days of hard drinking calmed everything down.  Just before leaving I ran into Leftenant Simon Howard, whom Iíd met Saturday.  Heís the navigation officer on the Alacrity and all the flags are signed on his chit.  He also wanted a shirt so I promised to bring one out in exchange for a Union Jack.  We then ran a shuttle service back and forth to Harbor Ops for drunken New Zealanders and Brits.  Cmdr. Craig was there in just his blue jeans and sneakers.  Heíd traded his shirt for a song from the Brit helicopter pilot.  He was standing drinking a beer with Mr. Blankenship, the Weather W.O.  A fight developed between Kiwis and British Police.  Cmdr. Craig just looked disappointed and said ďIsnít that a shame.  Those guys will get a Captainís Mast because theyíll miss the boat because theyíll be in jail, or possibly a General Court Martial.Ē

     The next morning I went over to Harbor Ops and stood around in the rain for an hour and caught a boat out to the Alacrity with a couple of shirts in a bag.  Simon met me and gave me the Jack in a plastic bag.  After hanging around for a while, during which I gave my hat to Bren and got some stuff for Ed from him, but of course, no flag, I went up to the helicopter deck and was shown around by P.O. Reed, the weapons and electronics technician.  They have a Lynx Helicopter they use for anti-ship warfare.  Then I caught the boat back to the shore.  The flag is 12í X 6í and still has the brass cleats for attaching it to the bow flagstaff.

     The Alacrity was the first ship to reach the Falklands.  She sank an Argentine supply ship, and was under air attack 10 times!  Bren showed me his war diary.  That kid is from Lancastershire, and he is smart.  Heís really wasting his time as an enlisted man.

     Iím using the Jack, folded in half the long way as a bed spread.  Its easily worth a couple hundred dollars.

     Lt. Col. Cordera (from the 8th MAS, my squadron) and crew went to Oman yesterday.  Of all the crews weíve had, they were the most uncooperative, particularly Harris, the loadmaster.  I am embarrassed for them as everyone here noticed it.

     Ed says he heard Jim Hill was chewed out at Clark by the Assistant DO for leaving too soon after Ed got here.  Jim did have get-home-itis pretty bad.

     Our position here has been hurt by a Maj. Hansen, a C-9 pilot from Clark, who Maj. Hill replaced.  Hansen provided the crews with very personal service and spent the rest of the time on the beach.  He then stayed about four days to provide an ďchangeover continuity,Ē but in reality did nothing.  All he did was look good.  There was no substance to his work and no progress in the other duties of providing training and instruction for the Navy.  His accomplishments were shallow, but looked very good on the surface.

     I was very surprised to learn the RNZN is about 1/3 Maori, the original Polynesian inhabitants of the islands, even though they are less than 5% of the general population.  Also they only have four ships (they do have gunboats, etc.) in their Navy.  The Kiwi Captain was the senior officer in the task force, and so led the task force, very much to the chagrin of the British Captain, who looked about 30 years old, but was certainly much older.

8 Oct 82.  Friday.  1100L.

     I did absolutely nothing constructive yesterday as the C-5 arrival in the afternoon was canceled.  It rained miserably all day so I was unable to get any sun or do any snorkeling (without sunlight the turgidity of the water makes it difficult to see beyond six feet or so).  Yesterday afternoon was the weekly picnic.  It was poorly done, with little beer and poorly attended.  The Southern Baptist Chaplain was in charge - I guess that explains the lack of booze.

     Today I laid out in the sun for an hour and 15 minutes and finished reading a book.  This afternoon I get to work!  The Nairobi bird is four hours late so everything will be happening this afternoon - three aircraft on the ground within 45 minutes of each other.

10 Oct 82.  2100L.  Sunday.

     Yesterday I saw a bird that looked like a frigate bird, but instead of a red chest, it was white and much bigger than frigate birds I remember.

     Yesterday, Maj. McClure went up to Oman on the last flight for this battle group (headed by the Forestall - TG 70.8).  Last night after dinner, Jim Dufus, the Captain in the Royal Engineers, Captain Ken Gill, and Steve invited me over to the Brit Club for a couple of beers while I awaited the return of the Masirah flight.  Ken is the XO here.  Heís been in the Royal Marines for 21 years, 15 as a warrant officer (possibly as an enlisted man).  He drinks alot when he decides to, and he decided to last night.  He is the first person Iíve seen who can slap box without flinching or blinking.  Of course, in the Air Force, if someone got as ďpissedĒ (as the Brits call getting drunk) as he did, he winds up in alcohol abuse programs.  I spoke with Cmdr. Libby for a half an hour.  He is also a pilot and flew Buccaneers, A-6s and F-4s.  I asked him about recent court actions.  He is the BIOT judge and jury here.  He recently sentenced several sailors and WAVES to 100-200 pound fines for smoking marijuana.  What is truly incredible is that they were convicted based on accusations and signed confessions of events that happened last April!  He readily admits the convictions would never have stood up in any court in the UK or the US.  What I couldnít get from him was why did they bring the cases to court, etc.?  It would seem to me that unjust verdicts are as prejudicial to good order and discipline as the need to stop undesirable behaviors.

     Last night a two-masted Norwegian yacht anchored out behind the BOQ here.  This morning the Brits woke up and discovered it there and went ballistic.  They commandeered the American yatch in the small boat basin and went out to check to see if they needed food or water and gave them Ďtill night fall to clear the area, as this is a restricted area on current charts and in the Notice to Mariners.  I took some pictures of the boat.

     Today I laid out in the sun for two hours.

     Tonight there was a DOD show (since USO no longer puts on shows), the Moonlight Bay Company Band.  The crowd response was nowhere near as enthusiastic as the show I saw here two years or so ago.  Now that thereís women on the island, the sexual innuendoes werenít that meaningful.  Half the crowd were Filipino and a quarter of them were merchant mariners or seamen from the Military Sealift Command.  The jokes and audience participation stuff just didnít go over.

     This place is just getting too civilized.

     Steve and I almost beat some Brits at darts.

12 Oct 82.  Tuesday.  1130L.

     Today is really Columbus Day, but yesterday was a legal holiday.  However, work here went on as normal.  The only holiday reminders were that the EDF (enlisted dining facility) and Shipís Store, etc. (i.e., all the conveniences) were on holiday hours.  Ed got up early yesterday and launched the C-5 at 0445L, then came back and went to sleep.  We got up about 0900 and got ready and went to the plantation (I went over and got a permit from Ken Gill).  Ed dropped the truck off for periodic maintenance at I Site South (and naturally it wasnít ready when we stopped to pick it up on our return from the plantation and has to go back today).  We wandered around the plantation for a while, then went back to the R&R center.  The water was smooth and crystal clear - at least 30-40 feet visibility.  Steve, one of the MX guys and I went out snorkeling to the reef which is a hundred yards off shore.  It was certainly the most wonderful day of snorkeling yet.  It is a much more complete and beautiful and lively reef than the one out back of the BOQ.  There were fish of every color and description, dozens of species.  The giant clams - 12-14 inches across were extruded and looked like lovely purple flowers.  We saw no dangerous fish.  The Seabees who are working the area, preparing it as an on-island R&R site, have a big Styrofoam ball anchored to a concrete block at the outer edge of the reef and attached to shore by a long steel cable.  Its their bobber for fishing for sharks.  They kill a chicken and use a huge hook and the biggest theyíve caught is about five feet.  Missy the beer drinking donkey is still there and some of the guys took several pictures of her swigging cans of beer.

     I took several more pictures of the plantation - of the church and jail, etc.  The church still has the old confession box in it, and the receptacles for the holy water are old clam shells, now filled with rain water and mosquito larvae.  It was too dark inside the church to take photos.  The jail was apparently two separate buildings - one a three cell building, the other a large holding cell type building.  We also stopped by the old cemetery.  Again, the thing that was most disturbing was the number of childrenís graves.

Church at East Point on Diego
        Garcia, 1982
Old Jail at East Point Plantation, Diego
        Garcia, 1982
     On the way out to the plantation I saw a bird the size and coloration of an immature Redtail hawk, but with a shorter head and tail.  It was in the company of a bunch of terns and was flying through the trees in one of the barachois.

     I spoke Sunday night with Cmdr. Libby about the ecology of the island.  He more than welcomes, he practically encourages the introduction of plants to the island, particularly flowering plants.  He opposes the importation of animals, however.  I believe insectivorous reptiles and birds should be welcome.  I also think the introduction of certain species of threatened or endangered animals should be welcome, for example primates or reptiles (giant tortoises).

     Steve and I went down to go snorkeling behind the BOQ and the water was full of tiny (no bigger than this X) jelly fish which stung us all over.

     My replacement is at Clark right now and plans to come out on the Singapore bird tomorrow.  His wing (where else but the 63rd at Norton) failed to request an area clearance for him so I did it all over the phone today.  With his arrival, I plan to leave Friday the 15th for Nairobi and on around the world.

     Oh, yea, the other day, Ron Troutman who was an IP for the other section of our class in T-37s at Moody came through.  He got an uncontrolled 2 on an OER and so is getting out with 10 1/2 years service.  He said Micky Tramontana got an Article 15 and got out and is now flying for Peopleís Express.  Seems he was an IP in 135s at Wright Patterson and while taking off with the wing commander, they rejected the take off because they left the pitot covers on.  The airplane ran off the runway and Micky got out and took the pitot covers off and was given the Article 15 for altering the scene of the accident by the wing CO who had run off the runway.

13 Oct 82.  Wednesday.  1630L.

     Today my replacement arrived - a 1st Lt. from Norton.  Four months ago, Clark sent a message requesting Captains and Majors only.  Naturally, Norton never got the word.  They are absolutely the least dependable wing in MAC.

     I ran around and took pictures of various people today.  I also bought Cathy and the boys T-shirts.  I had hoped to get Cathy a windbreaker, but they had only Extra-large.


Captain Jim Dufus, Royal
          Engineers, Diego Garcia, 1982Color Sergeant Terry Crown,
          Royal Marines, Diego Garcia, 1982Sam Miller, Electronics
          Contractor, Diego Garcia, 1982
Left to Right - Captain Jim Dufus, Royal Engineers; Color Sergeant Terry Crown, Royal Marines; Sam Moore, Contractor for NCS.
LCDR Preston Moses and ENS
          Jeff Hebig, TF70 Det, Diego Garcia, 1982

CDR Preston Moses and ENS Jeff Hebig, TF 70 Beach Det - they chose what cargo and people flew from Diego Garcia to the Battle Group off Masirah Island, Oman.
15 Oct 82.  0630Z.  En route to Nairobi

     We took off about 1/2 hour ago from Diego.  Iím going home by completing the circumnavigation of the earth.  Today Iíll go as far as Torrejon, Spain, about 20 hours from now.

     Yesterday we spent the whole day over at the plantation and R&R Center.  Larry Hawkins, my replacement got badly sunburned, even though we warned him frequently to cover his back, legs, etc.  I got a little sunburned myself, but its just a tinge compared to him.  We snorkeled extensively at the R&R Center and at the jetty at the plantation.

     A Navy veterinarian from Subic Bay was out to give the narcotic sniffing dogs their annual checkup.  He also showed the Brit medic how to castrate cats, in an attempt to curb the population.  He told us Missy, the beer drinking donkey, has chronic founder of the hooves, her liver is broken down and will probably be dead in a year.  Sheís only 10 and normally could be expected to live 30 years.  So much for the good intentions of the Seabees in raising her from a colt on beer.

     I saw a Lion Fish in the hole just off the beach at the R&R center.  It was easily a foot long.


Leftenant Steve Swayne, Royal Australian Navy, Diego Garcia, 1982
     Steve showed me the old road, which used to run along the beach on the lagoon side.  Its old and falling apart now, but thereís a concrete bridge over the entrance to a barachois and I took numerous pictures there.  We watched lots of small sand sharks (three feet or less) swimming very close to the shore.

     Last night the picnic had baked potatoes and NY Strip steak!  First steak Iíve seen on the island during this TDY.  The only non-ground meat Iíve seen is pork.  Ken invited us over to the Brit Residence for a couple beers afterwards.  I really like him and Jim Dufus also.

Brit
        Residency, Diego Garcia, 1982
The Brit Rep's Quarters, 1982.
     Oh yes - yesterday we had to rescue the vet and the Brits he was with because their starter solenoid failed.  Once we got their truck started, we drove off after them (we were down a track by the ocean side over by the plantation) and left two of our guys there.  We didnít discover they were missing for about five minutes and finally went back to get them.  Theyíd wandered off down the beach.

     Today I wrote a letter of observations and recommendations for Ed to send back on the next Clark flight.

     I donít miss the island, but I did meet some very interesting and good people and will miss them.


16 Oct 82.  Torrejon AB, Madrid, Spain.  0600L.

     Well, Iím well on my way now.  Iíll catch a C-5 for Dover tomorrow morning, if it doesnít break down like they usually do.

     I want to note what Iíve carried with me from Diego.  A jacket and shirt for me, a shirt each for Cathy and the boys and a shirt for Dad.  My British Flag and finally, two half gallon Clorox bottles full of beach sand.  I intend to put the sand in a clear glass lamp.

     On the expedition to the other side of the island, Steve and I and Sgt. Tanner saw a swallow or a swift, the first noted on Diego Garcia, but I havenít got the slightest idea what species it was.

     I would sure like to be sitting around having a beer with the guys back on Diego!  I really dislike leaving a place Iíve gotten established in, never to return.  By the time I get back to Diego, most of my friends there will be gone.  Thatís why I donít want to leave Olympia - Iíve moved around so much in my life, Iíd like to be able to settle down.  I know Cathy feels the same way.  I love to travel, but always to return home.  Thatís why I like flying in MAC so much.  I like the movement, but always thereís the return to my loved ones and home.

     Its cold here - about 40 degrees - the coldest Iíve been in months.  It feels very odd to be wearing long pants again after wearing nothing but shorts at Diego.  Also, Iíve gained some weight, as my flight suit is very tight around my belly!

     I would have liked to have staged in Nairobi for a few days, but now just want to get home fast.  Also, of the $384 I started this trip with, I now have only $40 left, and very little in my checking account, so would have been strapped for money since the next airplane doesnít pass through until Monday.

     I slept a little in the airplane, but its not very restful sleep, so will probably sleep alot today.  I would go into Madrid, but donít have anybody to show me around and so would be lost!  Also, I just like the traveling.  Seeing some thing alone is not enjoyable to me anymore.  Iíd rather be with Cathy or friends, preferably Cathy, of course.

18 Oct 82.  0700Z.  Preparing to descent to Dover, DL.

     Well, the C-5 finally got off the ground at Torrejon.  A steel pin, about the size of a CO2 cartridge for an air gun sheared for the rear doors and had to be replaced - first it had to be flown in from the States.

     I did sleep alot and watched some TV and talked with various crew members in the lounge in the Q.  I tried to get in touch with Stan Nowakís mother, who works at Morale, Welfare and Recreation there in Torrejon, but it was the weekend and she wasnít at work and has no home phone.  There were some photographs on display at the Officersí Club of a recent party there and she was in one of them, which reminded me she was working there.

     Since leaving Diego, Iíve read the Celtic Myth and Legend Book.  Its quite interesting, but written in late Victorian English and sometimes difficult to read.  The C-5 is a very comfortable aircraft to fly in, but I still think its a turkey.  Lt. Col. Nelson, who is the 709 MAS Ops Officer is one of the navigators and he offered me a job with the reserves there at Dover!  That makes three offers Iíve had in the last five years - F-100s at Burlington, VT, A-37s at Youngstown, OH (about four or five years ago when I was thinking of getting out).

     One of the pilots works for Piedmont Air Lines and knows Mike Crump who is now flying 737s for them.  Also I heard from Charleston 141 crews that Mike Stampley and Buddy Gammon (from my UPT class) are both in the reserves at Charleston.

     At Torrejon ACC I met the duty officer, a Capt. Scott.  He was at Osan with Dave Feigert and we talked for quite some time.  He was just passed over to Major for the first time and is thinking about going to Air Saudia.  He also showed me a report of a UFO seen by PAR controllers a couple months ago.  It followed a C-5 through the pattern and final approach, though no noise was heard and the C-5 crew saw nothing.  I also asked at Base Ops about Operation Bahari, the falconry program there.  They showed me the log book - the falconer (a Spaniard) shows up about 0900-1000 each day and goes out and chases any birds for about an hour.  In the last couple days he killed a magpie each day.  The airfield is virtually bird free there.  I wish Iíd been able to see the Spanish Peregrine in action.

22 Oct 82.  Friday.  0630L.  Olympia, WA

     Got home shortly after midnight on the 19th and have been spending the last couple days getting to know the family again.

     Of course, I had to go to a meeting of the squadron yesterday and today have some BS to take care of and another meeting, this one an IP and FE meeting at wing.

     I got the pictures I took at Diego back - they are O.K. but I definitely need my lens cleaned.  Also Iím rather embarrassed about how fat I am as revealed by my photos.  So, Iíve started a weight control program - as best I can.  Cathy and I went to Moctezumas for dinner Wednesday night and met for lunch at the Black Angus in Tacoma yesterday.

     Everybody here is fine, except that Chris burned his left hand pretty badly on the wood stove playing around.  Some 6th grader has been beating up Eric in school, but was caught and hopefully thatís over.  Eric is also doing much better in school and knows most of his letters and can add and subtract sticks but not in his head yet.  He really has progressed alot in the last month and 10 days.

     Cathyís going full bore with the Campfire Group - has eight kids in it and has taken them on field trips to the Pioneer Museum near Eatonville and a fire station.  Sheís also done pretty well keeping the house in order and her mind in one piece.

     Greg didn't recognize me when I got off the plane, but now climbs in my lap whenever I sit down!  He is talking much better and is playing with his little toys in a complicated way.  It fortunate he and Chris do not share Ericís disabilities.

     Anyway, it was a good trip and Iím glad to be home.


Visit the Rest of The PPDRDG by Returning to the Site Map and Picking Another Page!
Want to use something from this site?  See the TERMS OF USE.
This, and everything else I write and every photo I produce is copyrighted by Ted A. Morris, Jr.