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…

Asmara Redux | Senza Fine

The Antebellum Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone With The Wind,” and the subsequent movie captured the soul of the American South before the “Antebellum,” the onslaught of the Civil War in the 1862. The Confederate Army sacrificed thousands of lives before the Union, under President Abraham Lincoln eventually swept the Old South away. Asmara, Ethiopia experienced a…

Massawa, Ethiopia | Down the Escarpment and Into the Kasbah (Part Two)

My excursion from Kagnew Station Asmara, Ethiopia down the mountain on the escarpment road had endured harrowing hairpin turns, misguided camels, and passenger Eric hurling fresh oranges at anything that moved, including baboons. However, negotiating the winding road was harmless compared to my initiation into Massawa’s strange inner sanctum… For the past few hours we sat at…

Massawa, Ethiopia | Down the Escarpment & Into the Kasbah (Part One)

All personnel assigned to Kagnew Station, Asmara, Ethiopia yearned for the adventure down the escarpment road to the port of Massawa on the Red Sea. However, the road was often closed to military personnel due to “Shifta” bandit or Eritrean Liberation Front separatist activity in the area. In the spring of 1971, the Kagnew brass had…

Once Upon a Time in Ethiopia (Part Two)

In 1971 Kagnew Station Asmara, Ethiopia thrived despite its location thousands of miles distant from other military posts overseas. Kagnew depended solely on the welcome of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie who had ruled the country for forty-some years against much opposition both within the Ethiopia government and outside powers. Consequently, the military kept a low…

Once Upon a Time in Ethiopia (Part One)

In 1971, if I were to have written a fictional account of Kagnew Station, Asmara, Ethiopia it might have begun… “Once upon a time on an island above the clouds in a land far, far away…” After seven months into my assignment at the U.S. Army installation at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Ethiopia the rest of…

Three Black Kings | The Greatest, The Conquering Lion, and The Genius

During the 1960’s and ‘70’s decades three famous black men helped me make difficult life decisions. Getting help from a trio of black men may sound odd coming from a middle class Caucasian guy. I grew up in a white family transplanted from Missouri to Southern California via short detours to Detroit and San Antonio….