The Author’s Message

“What did you do in the war, Daddy?” This best described my kids less than subtle message. To this day my daughter believed the CIA had employed me. When my son said, “Dad, you ought to start up a website about your past adventures,” it gave me pause. Did I really want to unearth my…

American Embassy Damascus | The Skinny on Elephant Skin

March 1978 Perhaps it was the numbing effect of my in-flight epiphany (see previous message). I have no remembrance of what Damascus International Airport looked like. A cohort had told me that every Middle East city had a character of its own and the chameleon-like American embassy changed the color of its skin to blend…

Middle East Travel | The Road to Damascus Ends at the Emerald City

March 1978 (Aboard a Jet Airliner 33,000 feet above Syria)  In biblical scripture the “Road to Damascus” referred to the sudden turning point in the life of the apostle Paul (when God shined the light on him) while literally on the road to Damascus from Jerusalem. Prior to that moment, he had been called Saul,…

American Consulate General Karachi | The Return of Tony the Tiger

March 1978–Karachi, Pakistan After several days of fighting “Karachi’s revenge” I awoke in a pool of sweat sans a fever. My steadfast servant Basheer smiled. I asked him what day it was. Friday morning hearkened the beginning of the weekend in Karachi. For the first time since before I got sick I felt hungry. Basheer…

Flashback—1959 | The Abalone Cove Field Trip

Portuguese Bend, Abalone Cove, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California As the bus left the Point Vicente Lighthouse I made plans to check out both Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mysterious Island again from the Walteria Library. Also, I wanted to learn how the Fresnel lens was made. Mrs. Shoulder’s brows wrinkled but she said…

Flashback—1959 | The Unforgettable Point Vicente Lighthouse

Portuguese Bend, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California The yellow-orange school bus labored up Hawthorne Boulevard to the top of Palos Verdes. Near the very top the bus driver changed gears and for a brief period the bus remained motionless as the engine struggled to obey the transmission’s command. <feature photo of the Point Vicente Lighthouse The…

Flashback—1959 | The Farmer’s Market Field Trip

Looking back I think the elementary class field trip to the Farmer’s Market was another small but important step of my coming of age in the world outside Torrance, California… 1959—The Farmer’s Market, Los Angeles, California The bus driver let out the Walteria Elementary school fifth grade class in the parking lot on the corner…

Flashback—1959 | The Fifth Grade Class Field Trip

While I was fever ridden in bed at my American Consulate General Karachi apartment oddly enough I dreamt of my childhood, beginning with a field trip our fifth grade class had made to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles… 1959: Walteria Elementary School—Torrance, California Field trips were the neatest things that could happen in…

Flashback | 1959—The Year Began with a One-Eyed Dog

While I was fever ridden in bed at my American Consulate General Karachi apartment oddly enough I dreamt of my childhood. In particular 1959 featured many events, some which could be described as trivial, but nevertheless would affect me for the rest of my life… <feature photo of George Reeves (Superman) and his beloved one-eyed…

American Consulate General | The Karachi Curse

February 1978 After my botched date with CIA Agent Allison I returned to Am Embassy Cairo to fix the radio repeater that had mysteriously ceased to function just hours after I had boarded a plane for Karachi. I had attempted to have the crypto tech Bill H at Am Embassy Cairo look at the problem…

Caught on Film | The CIA Girl Who Waitressed at a Virginia Disco

[Part Three] February 1978 Looking back the CIA girl incident unfolds as a series of scenes, like a one-reel wonder. To bring the reader into the fold I will treat this message as such… <feature photo by lightbulbs.com Scene One—Rewind: The American Consulate General Karachi fourth floor hallway. I first meet the CIA girl… When…

The CIA Girl Without a Name

[Part Two] American Consulate General Karachi | February 1978 I stood in the middle of the fourth floor hallway at the American Consulate General Karachi with mouth agape. I had stopped the new girl in the hallway and hadn’t even bothered to introduce myself to her. She said that she worked, “Upstairs.” During our brief…

The Pharaoh’s Curse Reaches Out | American Consulate General Karachi

February 1978 [Part One] After an arduous two weeks in Cairo trudging over one sand hill after another (not literally) I packed up and returned to Karachi. The majority of my time at the “sand pile” had been waiting on a radio repeater that was intended to extend the radio network coverage from Am Embassy…

Am Embassy Cairo | TUMS (Not a Remedy for a Stomach Ailment)

Late January 1978 Secretary of State Cyrus Vance spent less than twenty-four hours and a handshake with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Cairo. I would spend three weeks at post… <feature image of microwave radiation effects on US Embassy Moscow by abovetopsecret.com Before Regional Security Officer Childress left to join his family in Rockville, Maryland on…

The Cyrus Vance Cairo Detail | Radio Interference of the Third Kind

January 1977 At the Cairo International Airport ARRIVALS hall I looked out for the embassy driver dressed in dark trousers, blue cotton long-sleeve shirt with perspiration patches in the armpits, and a well-worn black tie (the drivers all seemed to wear the same uniform). <feature photo by ghettyimages.com When the American Embassy Regional Security Officer Childress…

Rome Fiumicino International Airport | Security Lapse

January 1978 I sipped coffee in a departure lounge café at Fiumicino airport. The New Year had afforded me about two weeks at Am Consul Karachi to get my shit together. My partner Al (a fellow tech out of the Office of Communications in D.C.) and I had figured out each other’s strengths and weaknesses….

Flashback: US Army | The Road to Donnersberg and Beyond

January 1970 I finished the Microwave Radio AN/FCC-18 Multiplexer Operations & Maintenance course at U.S. Army STRATCOM headquarters in Mannheim, Germany in mid-January. My classmates and I were immediately given temporary travel orders to proceed to our various assignments at STRATCOM microwave radio stations across Germany. I received a railroad ticket that would take me…

Flashback: US Army | The Night Train to Heidelberg (Part two)

January 1960 Looking back, I have to believe the high alcohol content German pilsner beer at the Nairobi Bar might have saved the three PFC’s that frigid night in Heidelberg… PFC Wertz, who had imbibed more than PFC Duggan and me, had become more coherent after falling on his wallet on an icy strasse (German street)….

Flashback: US Army | The Night Train to Heidelberg

January 1970 I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany after a major snowstorm. Several of us soldiers were being ferried from Frankfurt Am-Main Airport to a processing center downtown. I had learned to negotiate slippery sidewalks the hard way (I had fallen on my butt twice outside the airport). <feature photo by pinterest.com I learned that I…

Flashback: US Army, Ft Monmouth NJ | Freedom & Foreboding

Oceanport, New Jersey 1969 The importance of FREEDOM cannot be overstressed. My first true understanding of it occurred when I climbed out of the rear of a deuce-and-a-half truck wearing my US Army dress uniform at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. I stood alone with my duffle bag in tow as plumes of smoke puffed out of the…

Flashback US Army | Basic Training Blues II

June 1969 I had heard that it always rained in Seattle. Standing in formation inside the back gate at Fort Lewis, Washington at close to three o’clock in the morning it began to drizzle. Since most of us raw Southern California recruits didn’t bring a raincoat or jacket the rain and lower temperature got uncomfortable…

Flashback US Army | Basic Training Blues

June 1969 “You’re in the Army Now!” was beginning to register with me as the olive drab bus took us from the L.A. induction center out to Los Angeles International Airport where we flew a commercial airliner to Seattle. <feature photo by aahabershaw.com It was the first time I had ever flown on a jet…

Portrait of a Foreign Service Secretary | Welcome Aboard!

January 1978 | Am Consul Karachi—Stuck in an elevator (continued) After claiming she had accidentally sat on LBJ’s ten-gallon hat as an eight-year old youth BJ waited for the smile to melt off my face. Then she continued her autobiography while I fought to keep the elevator walls from inching closer … <Feature photo of…

Portrait of a Foreign Service Secretary | The Early Days

January 1978 | Am Consul Karachi (stuck in an elevator) My cohort Al had said to me on day one: “Watch out for BJ. She’s paddled around the world in a boat with one oar for the past thirty years.” When I got stuck in the Am Consul Karachi elevator with her I cursed myself…

Portrait of a Foreign Service Secretary | The End of a Career

January 1977 | Karachi, Pakistan The Saudi Air flight from Riyadh touched down at Karachi International Airport at close to eleven p.m. The Pakistani embassy driver smiled and took my luggage. It was too bad that I hadn’t stayed here long enough to meet more Pakistani people, but I enjoyed traveling. From what I had…

President Carter/Secretary Vance Joint Protective Detail | The Wrap Up

January 1978 | At the American Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia From my point of view as a radio tech the Carter/Vance S.Y. protective detail was all about the arrival and the departure. What happened in the hours in between were the harmonic byproducts of the constant chatter coming out of the base station’s speaker mixed…

President Carter/Secretary Vance Joint Detail | The Arrival

January 1978 | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia The second wake up call rousted me out of bed at 6:30 a.m. (instead of six a.m.). Thanks to our late engagement at the gold souk last night I would miss the breakfast buffet at the Hilton Hotel. But today was the big day–President Carter and Secretary Vance would arrive on…

1977 in Retrospect | An Incredible Year

January 1978 I began the New Year in the air. Ironically, the Thai International flight from Bangkok terminated at Karachi, Pakistan my home base where our Regional Communications Office resided in the American Consulate General. After a two-hour layover at the airport I changed planes to Saudi Arabian Airlines. I was surprised to see foreign…

A New Year’s Gaze Ahead | One Fearful Yellow Eye

Bangkok, Thailand New Year’s Day | January 1, 1978 On New Year’s Day, it wasn’t my intention to sit around and worry about what was going to happen in the future. I would play a small role in the upcoming Middle East Peace Initiative in three days time when U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance…

A Not So Merry Christmas | Bangkok, Thailand

Arrival: December 24, 1977 The Boeing 727 Nepal Airlines flight from Kathmandu had played like an accordion through the frigid Himalayas before the heavy aircraft plopped on the runway at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport. The stewardess opened the hatch. It was late morning in Bangkok, but the heat didn’t care, nor had it paid attention…

A Christmas Memory | The Magi’s Coins

<feature photo of O. Henry by online-literature.com Excerpt from The Gift of the Magi, a short story by O. Henry: ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS. That was all. She [Della] had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three…

American Embassy Kathmandu | Mystery of the Himalayas

<Feature photo Kathmandu by hinducosmos.com Late December 1977 My flight to Kathmandu, after brief stopovers in Athens and New Delhi, was uneventful until a spectacular view of the Himalayas grew visible outside my window seat. Over the intercom, the captain praised the famed mountain range along with the weather. He said December normally began the…

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance Arrives | The Middle East Peace Initiative Begins

December 1977 The Author: Perhaps Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat didn’t get the memo when former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had stated: “You can’t make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can’t make peace without Syria.” Unbeknownst to the world Sadat had decided to bypass the influence of the Russians, Americans,…

The Jerusalem Advance Detail | An Overindulgent Sgt. Pepper

December 1977–Preparation for the US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance Visit to Israel | The Middle East Peace Initiative Our driver Ben sped along the downtown avenue in the center of Tel Aviv on his way to Jerusalem. S.Y. Agent Halliday, not in a talkative mood this morning, sipped on his coffee. <feature photo by…

Middle East Peace Initiative | The Jerusalem Advance Team

December 1977 When I left RCO Karachi the repair bench was clear of radios. My cohort Al was happy. After returning from Riyadh next week Al hadn’t planned to go anywhere during the holidays other than attend a Christmas Thai dinner at the Thai Consulate General. I gave my servant Basheer a couple of hundred…

From the Middle East to Karachi | The Deep Blue Goodbye

Late November 1977 After completing my first Middle East trip I headed back to my home base of Karachi, Pakistan on the Thai International flight. It had only been about two weeks, but it seemed like two months. As the flight ascended to its thirty-some thousand feet cruising altitude, it forsook the stark blue of…

Political Wars and the Middle East Peace Initiative

Late November 1977 Late in the afternoon Am Embassy Amman Communications & Records Officer Paul Messenger handed me a heads-up confidential message from my boss in Karachi, RCO Roberson. Basically, it stated that my partner-in-crime in Karachi, Al, and myself would be supporting the Secretary of State Cyrus Vance detail during the Middle East peace…