The Send Off | Haitian War Story

In October of 1977, the “OC Bandits” (inspired by the movie “Smokey and the Bandits”) gave me a send off regarding my impending assignment at Am Consul Karachi, Pakistan. The radio group chose the pizza restaurant near Springfield, Virginia to allow our boss Norm Bates to call his wife when his gout flared up. I could…

The Aspen Detail | Home Leave in L.A.

In late September 1977, with my assignment to Karachi, Pakistan looming in the near future, the department approved a week of home leave to return to Southern California. When I arrived back at the radio shop in Springfield Norm Bates had handed me my official travel orders for my assignment at the Am Consul Karachi,…

A Mystery Visitor | King Hussein of Jordan Detail (Part Two)

The King Hussein of Jordan security detail had been stricken by the reverence of the Magic Kingdom. The State Department Security agents–S.Y.–had already made up radio call signs for everyone. The agent-in-charge answered to Captain Hook. His cadre had taken the monikers of Blackbeard, Bluebeard, Cannonball, Peg Leg, and Gunpowder after they had visited the Pirates…

The King Hussein Protective Detail (Part One)

April 1977 King Hussein of Jordan could have qualified as the “the world’s most interesting man.” His Royal Highness knew how to connect to people at all levels. King Hussein, call sign “JY1,” was an amateur radio enthusiast. HAM radio operators around the world regarded him highly. The term most used to describe him was,…

An Alternative Foreign Service Orientation

Our tech supervisor Norm Bates, a Foreign Service veteran notified me that I would accompany him on a road trip to Philadelphia and Boston. Little did I know the trip would be an alternative Foreign Service “orientation.” Bates (whose last name wasn’t Bates) had serious goiter problems that were exacerbated by his beer drinking. Nevertheless, Norm…

Foreign Service Beginnings | The OC Bandits

October 1976 My Foreign Service beginnings commenced on a Monday morning. My first day on the job with the State Department I zoomed down the I-395 from my Arlington motel to Springfield. When I saw a Denny’s off to the right I stopped for a “Grand Slam” that the restaurant chain had been advertising since…

Swearing-In | The U.S. Department of State

October 1976 Mom called. The official confirmation letter from the U.S. Department of State had arrived. On a Thursday I took off work at noon and a buddy took me to a used car lot on Manhattan Beach Boulevard. I bought a used red Fiat sedan for seven hundred fifty cash. Then I swung by…

Foreign Service Appointment | An Accident Waiting to Happen?

On a Saturday morning in September of 1976, an official letter arrived at my parent’s house in Southern California. I was staying the weekend and answered the door. The mailman handed me the envelope. The old guy (he was well over forty) had been delivering to our mailbox for years. I had waved to him occasionally…