Friday, December 14, 2012

Fate May Come With Turbulence

Chapter 8

Fate May Come With Turbulence

Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death.  ~Alexander Chase


It was the middle of March and Niklas was reaching his boiling point.  Since the spotting of the atomic cloud and the trip to see Michael, he had not left the ground.  So, thinking quickly, he found a way to rearrange his schedule, in order to get two days off in a row.  Then, he found a ride to Vietnam.

The plane that would take him on the trip was nicknamed the Gooney Bird and it was the transport version of Spooky.  Niklas had heard rumors that the North Vietnamese soldiers were instructed never to fire at Puff the Magic Dragon, because otherwise he would be angered and spit flames of death.

It doesn’t seem so deadly, when you ride in it, thought Niklas as the plane bumped and jumped along its flight path.

“DaNang is receiving enemy fire.  We may be here a while,” called out the Pilot at one point.  He wasn’t lying.  Niklas watched time tick by for more than half an hour before they were provided clearance to land.

When finally on the ground, Niklas wasted no more of his precious time off; he hurried toward the tent of his good friend.

“Hey man, wake up.  There is much to do and much to drink,” he joked, when finding Michael still in bed, but when the other man didn’t even stir, Niklas thought it best to leave a note.  So, he did and headed to the Beer Garden to wait.

At about 1400 hours, Michael stumbled into the place, still looking rather exhausted.

Must have been a long night, thought Niklas.

“Hey,” he said with a smile.  “It’s great to see you, but kinda sucks because I’m on duty for the next few days.”

Then maybe I will get to climb aboard Spooky again,  Niklas thought and smiled widely at his friend, as if to say, ‘no big deal.’  He offered Michael a beer and they sat and drank for a few minutes.

“Do you mind walking to the chow hall?  I haven’t had anything to eat since lunch, yesterday,” Michael said and they both rose and headed in that direction.

“Is everything all right,” Niklas asked.

Michael just nodded.  “Yea, it’s fine.”

Three more times Niklas asked and finally Michael came out of his shell.

“It’s nothing really.  We just lost an AC-47 over Thua Thien a few days ago.  I didn’t know any of the men well, but… well, it just… I don’t know.”  Niklas tried to change the subject, in the hopes of cheering his friend up, but now Michael couldn’t let go of what was bothering him.  “I think I believe you now… you know?  Like… fate.






That night, after Michael got himself ready to go, both men headed for the flight line.  When it was time to take to the air, Michael helped with the quick, last minute checks and then came back over to Niklas. 

“You can’t ride with me this time!”  he yelled over the sounds of the tarmac.  “But, there is a second AC-47 going up!  They are a gunner short…”  He didn’t need to say anything more, Niklas was ready.

Seated behind he guns, Niklas awaited instructions and they soon came.

“Ready to fire,” called out the pilot.  Niklas did his best to recall everything he was supposed to do.  When the plane fell into a familiar left turn, the guns opened fire and Niklas watched the tracers shooting off toward the land mass below them.

A huge noise shook the plane as something below was blown to smithereens. Niklas assumed a fuel storage or ammunition storage facility had been struck.

I have to ask Michael how to tell the difference, he told himself, while his adrenaline continued to pump at a fantastic rate.

For a long time, they continued to fire, until the pilot called out, “we’re outta ammo.  Time to head back.”  Quickly the plane was turned around and put back on the path to DaNang base.  After the reload, the plane took to the sky again, and even more fire was dropped on the jungle below. 

Don’t anger Puff, thought Niklas.  He had once been told that it was the deadliest of all aircraft.  It couldn’t drop as much as the B-52, but it wreaked havoc on the enemy troops.






The next morning came quickly and finally the plane careened down to meet the runway.  After a quick inspection to find no damage from enemy fire, Niklas hurried to the Base Operations.

“Excuse me, do you know the location of Spooky 70?”

“Uh… no.”  Answered the other man, looking down at something on the desk before him.  Then looking up to Niklas, he said, “No, they are overdue.  Haven’t had communication for the past two hours.”

So, Niklas decided to wait there.  He found a comfortable, oversized settee and laid his head back.  He actually appreciated the time to rest after the long flight and started to doze, but commotion coming from the radio brought him back to the real world.

The extra plush settee had all but swallowed him whole and it took some effort to get his weary legs up again, but once standing he hurried for the counter.

“What’s the commotion,” he asked.  There was no response.  The same man, who sat at the other side of the desk simply ignored the question.

Clearing his throat, in order to make a point, Niklas asked again.  “What’s the commotion on the radio about? 

“Hey man, I’m really busy at the moment…”

“Listen,” Niklas said, thinking on the spot, “I am Agent Thumper and, if you know what’s good for you, you will respond now!”  His tone was hushed, because he knew damned well that it wasn’t information to be given out to just anyone, but he was beginning to get nervous and felt it appropriate.

The man gave a surprised look, but only stood and walked away.  Niklas stayed planted to the floor.  Frustration was growing within him.

“A possible signal has been received,” the other man started, when back at the desk.  His voice too was barely above a whisper.  “It is thought to be Spooky 70.  Search and Rescue are trying to triangulate a position.”

“Does that mean a possible rescue mission?”

“Yes.  It does.”

“Where is the mission being formulated?” he asked.  The blood was now rushing through his veins and beads of sweat formed on his forehead.  He brushed them away.

The man shot back information about the location of the helicopter and Niklas was instantly on the move.

Explaining again his special clearance, Niklas was told that he better get himself dressed appropriately, if he wished to play any part.  So, off he went again.  At top speed, he made his way to Mission Control where he was supplied a bullet proof vest, helmet, full ammo belt, and an M-16.  He took a moment to look at the gun and then rushed off again.

Orders were radioed and Niklas, along with a group of other airmen took to the air in the helicopter.  They flew low and the trees were so thick that Niklas actually felt his heart trying to pound out of his chest.

Gunnery Sergeant Lopinger gave him a look that could kill when he tried to move from his seat to get closer to the man.  Lopinger sat in the open doorway, with his feet on the runner.  Niklas did as the man’s eye’s had instructed. He was too consumed with fear for his friend to be concerned with anything else.  So, he sat back against the seat, closed his eyes and said a silent prayer.

“Approaching location.  Keep your eyes peeled.”

At that, Niklas’s eyes shot open again and scanned the ground.

“Seeking a good LZ…” the Captain said and then there was so more chatter between then men.  “…that’ll work.”

The small clearing that they came down on was surrounded on all sides by jungle -- jungle that was likely infested with people who would like to see him and the other men dead.

Lopinger’s feet were on the ground immediately and he moved quickly, stealthily, surveying what they hand landed themselves in.

Niklas hit the ground.  It was plush under foot and blades of grass tickled his pant legs.

“Path,” Niklas called, having reached the opposite side of the giant metal bird.

Lopinger ordered them all to follow it.  Thick rows of trees grew high above them on either side of the narrow path.  Niklas was ready for a lot of walking, but within fifty feet of leaving the clearing, shots rang out from every angle. 

“Hit the deck!”  The command cut through all other sound and Niklas’s vest hit hard against the ground.  Instantly, he had the gun pointing out in front of him, while his body stretched out against the warm earth.

Thirty yards from where they laid, several Vietcong soldiers took off running.  Niklas climbed to his feet and started to advance in the same direction.

“Stop!” Lopingers loud voice called after him, but Niklas could barely hear it.  He continued onward, following the back of the native soldier at the rear of the pack.  Suddenly, the man turned.  Niklas was staring down the end of a barrel and like a deer ready to meet his fate, he froze.  The sound of the bullet was deafening. 

But, it didn’t connect, he thought, thrust from his shocked state.  Then, the man before him dropped his gun. Just as it hit the plush jungle floor, the soldier collapsed and when his body landed, Niklas saw the back side of the wound.  It hadn’t been the enemy’s gun that had fired.  The bullet was that of Lopinger, who had just saved Niklas’ life.

The bloodied hole was at least three inches in diameter.  It continued to ooze, as Niklas stood there transfixed, until something caught his eye.  This time he was ready and acted fast.  Looking up, he smoothly raised his gun to find another Vietcong soldier at the other end.  Except this was no man. 

I just killed a woman, was the only thought he had, as her body fell forward on top of the gun she had been holding.  Behind her was another, ready to take aim.  The boy was no more than ten years old.  His emaciated figure looked too weak to wield the rifle, and yet he raised it with relative grace and pulled back on the trigger.  Nothing happened.  The gun was out of ammo or had misfired, but nothing came at Niklas.  At once the stick thin legs of the child took off running.  Down the path he cruised and then around a corner.

“Do not pursue!” 

This time Niklas heard and obeyed the command from Lopinger.  He watched as the boy disappeared behind the thick brush.  His nerves were so amped up that the scream from within the jungle made his heart race even faster and every hair on his body was on end.  Niklas looked to the man, now standing beside him. 

“He got the trap,” the Gunner Sergeant said, as if answering an unasked question.

 Stories Niklas had heard of Vietcong traps instantly circled his brain. 

“Man, I hear that it’s insane.  Those guys are crazy.  They booby-trap everything!  Large shaved bamboo sticks, threaded with razor sharp spikes can come out of nowhere, if you accidently come in contact with invisible trigger wire. BAM!  Just pierces through you.  You better hope you die,” told a friend, “because otherwise, the feces that they use to cover those spikes… well let’s just say, that ain’t gonna be a good way to go!”

He thought of the young child succumbing to such a fate and his heart ached.

“Stop dwelling.  Kid was short.  That thing would have made contact with his head.  Dead instantly. Now come on!”  Lopinger commanded.

Niklas shook the thoughts and the guilt, leaving it on the ground behind them, as they carefully maneuvered up the path and into another clearing.  Once more, his heart sank to his stomach. 

The bullet hole was huge.  It had nearly destroyed every inch of the head.  Niklas felt sick, but then the rage took over.  On the ground were two men, both donning matching bullet wounds, which exited straight through the temples.

I will kill them!  I will KILL THEM ALL!  The anger consumed him; threatened to eat him alive.  He heard again the voice of his step-father.  “When the enemy is armed and intends to cause harm to you or your fellow soldier, show no restraint!” When that voice vanished, another filled his mind.  He was unarmed!  Those sons of bitches killed him and he didn’t even hold a weapon.  I will kill them!

Lopinger was at his side instantly.  Like a mother holding a child, the man tried to calm Niklas.  Yet, Niklas didn’t want to cry.  He didn’t want to think.  He was numb, except for the anger. He could not control the pure, raw hurt.

“That’s enough,” Lopinger said, taking control again.  “Take these soldiers to the helicopter and let’s get outta here before we join them.”

Niklas, always the soldier, took the order.  Dropping his weapon, he dead-lifted the body of his friend and laid him gingerly over his shoulder.  Then, squatting, he retrieved the weapon.  Looking like a true mad man, he pointed the gun straight ahead and began to walk with purpose in the direction of their aircraft.

“Can I give a hand, Sergeant?”

Niklas looked at the man, but could not see his face.  “No.  Thank you, Sergeant.  He ain’t heavy…” he sighed, and then thinking back to happier days, added, “He’s my brother.”

So, the group marched forward and boarded the helicopter that would take them back to base.  The ride was to be silent and even if another man had uttered something directly to him, Niklas wouldn’t have heard it.  Seated on the cold, hard floor of that helicopter, Niklas held the head of his friend in his lap.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

My favorite time of the year.

December, my favorite month of the year. December 6th- Saint Nickolaus day, December 25th -Christmas day, January 1st - New Years, January 6th - Three Kings day and this year we have one more important day: December 21st - end of the 4th World.

Since I was born in Germany and we were always a generation behind America, I grew up like your grandparents did in this country. On December 6th, St. Nickolaus would make his rounds to all the children on the street. He would be accompanied by a helper  dressed in old fashioned garb.  He would carry a large book and when he entered your house he would open the book, look under your name to see if you were naughty or nice and then ask you to reach in the burlap sack and get your gift. If you were on the naughty list he would grab you by the seat of your pants and stuff you in the bag and off you went to the next house. There he would release you, have your moment of embarrassment and run home. You would usually only make the list once in your early years. Because of the not so long ago World War, gifts were hard to come by so much regifting was done. I can remember getting a hand-made wooden truck, painted red for my first gift. By March or April I would have stopped playing with it and it would disappear. The following Christmas it would become a gift again, mine that is, with a new paintjob. On December 24th we would get our real Christmas Tree and put it up on Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated with hand-blown glass ornament that were beautifully painted. Since the Christmas tree is a spin-off of the Festival of Lights our pagan ancestors celebrated, we placed real candles on the tree.  Today we can’t even place electric lights on trees without sometimes causing fires. Yet in my 13 years of living in my home town I never once heard of someone starting a fire on Christmas Day by lighting the candles. My Oma (grandmother) would cook a very festive meal for Christmas day. Usually a nice ham, potatoes and a vegetable that she would have grown in the summer and canned herself for a later use. Her claim to fame was her baking.  As I began school she thought I was old enough to help her make cookies for Christmas. And cookies we made, by the hundreds. Then came the cakes. We had cakes that looked like pies but the dough was like a sweet pizza dough. She would use apples, cherries, pears or berries for filling these pies. Then came her specialty: The Torte.. a three or four layer cake with home-made jams and whip cream between the layers. After dinner on Christmas day we would retreat to the “Wohnzimmer”, our living room, start a fire in the potbelly stove, ate some sweets, drank some schnapps and sang Christmas Carols. What was there not to like about December? The day after Christmas was just as much fun for me because now I went into town to visit my God Parents. I had four of them, two males and two females and the gifts would flow again. I especially liked one of my female God Parents. She owned a jewelry business and she was always to busy to get me anything for the holydays, so she would give me cash and told me to get what I wanted most. You never had to tell me twice.

I miss those olden days, when things were simpler, not hectic. When I was a generation of latch-key kids that did not have to worry about going home after school to an empty house. I learned early on to respect my elders no matter how screwed up they were. At least they were harmless. As a boy, I always wore a cap when I went into town and if a lady came the opposite way I was taught to step off the sidewalk, let her pass, and remove my cap to greet her. I could go on and on about those days but we have to live in the present,  not the past, not the future. So to all my friends, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and here is to all of us coming through the 4th ending of the World.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spy Planes

I know I have been silent for a while now. Nothing seems to be going my way or any way to guarantee the publication of this book. Then yesterday some strange things happened. I received a video clip from someone I knew a long time ago. The clip was not much new to me but it touched upon the subjects of my book and left me with the feeling that what I'm doing is right. It also shored up my believe that I am not giving away any secrets. Believe me I was shocked to find that their are still secrets out there and by all accounts will be there for a long time. The video dealt with spyplanes and began with the converting of the the P2V-7 into the RB-69A. The purpose of the change of designation was that the Navy wanted nothing to do with the missions of the P2V-7 by the CIA but the Air Force took a chance and allowed its designation. The P2V-7 operated from 1955 until 1964 beginning their missions in Wiesbaden, then West Germany and ended their missions with the ROCAF/Taiwan Black Bat Squadron. Most of the 34th Squadron's Black Op missions still remain classified by the CIA, although a CIA internal draft history, Low-Level Technical Reconnaissance over Mainland China (1955-66), reference CSHP-2.348, written in 1972 that covers CIA/ROCAF/Taiwan 34th Squadron's Black Op missions is known to be in existence but would not be declassified by the CIA until after 2022. (As written in The video further showed President Eisenhower making it his main mission to assure full reconnaissance of the Soviet Union and Communist China. No mention is ever made of President Johnson. It is here that I have first hand knowledge that President Kennedy wanted the secret reconnaissance missions stopped. When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, President Johnson reinstated the missions immediately. Because of the lack of a qualified aircraft, several penetration missions into the Eastern Block countries were performed by the British B-57 Canberra. This led to enhancing this aircraft into the RB-57D by the Martin Corporation. The redesign allowed the aircraft to travel 2000 miles at altitudes of 65,000 feet. Two or three RB-57D were flown to Taoyuan AB, near Taipei, Taiwan in early 1959. Taiwanese pilots had been trained to fly this aircraft and they began penetration missions over Mainland China in 1959. RB-57D "5643", piloted by Capt Ying-Chin Wang, was shot down and killed on October 7, 1959 by a People's Liberation Army SA-2 Surface to Air missile which was the first successful shoot-down of an aircraft ever achieved by a SAM. Some 23 years later I was very fortunate to meet Capt. Wang's widow while on assignment to Taiwan.

 It was the subsequent losses of another aircraft that allowed our once in a life-time mission over China in a General Dynamics modified WB-57F. Of all the faces in the video I actually recognized one individual. As I stated in my book, it was customary to only know the contact below oneself and the contact above oneself. Because of a fluke in timing I reported to my superior just as another gentleman was leaving his office. By recognizing him on the videa I can only surmise that this gentleman was my handler's handler. (Talking about talking out of both ends of your mouth, but such were the times) What stuck with me was the words this man spoke on the video. Although he never actually referred to our mission, he did note that our altitude, which is still classified, prevented any further loss of life.

And so the waiting goes on. The second book may be finished before the first one is published. Thanks to all those who stop by and read and comment. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day - One of our precious freedoms.

Election Day! Glad it is here and by tomorrow all these senseless ads will be gone. May the best man win. I have my fingers crossed, for what, I don’t know. I can now concentrate on what matters to me.

Today I want to take a piece out of my book and explain it a little further. At the beginning of each chapter there are quotes by famous people. The quotes relate to the material in the chapter, for the most part. Chapter 6 has a quote from The Wall written by -Roger Waters

 “Mother's gonna keep you right under her wing, She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.”

These words have a great meaning to me. Throughout the beginnings of the book, the reader will notice that within the family circle, we used music as our crutches. A way to pick us up and turn the spirits back to happy. I really enjoyed what music did for me, it was an escape, it soothed my feelings and certainly it was pleasant to the ears. I sang with my mother and my Oma. When I finally attended the Volksschule    ( Public School) music came into life again during 6th grade. I must explain that I was more a “shower singer” even though we did not have showers, let alone hot water in Germany at that time. So I made sure that I did not have to choir practice and when I was found out and had to make that climb to the 4th floor, I flunked out.

Now that I am in my sunset years and I look back I can understand much better. My surroundings mattered to me to be able to sing. I was a loner. The public made me nervous. No wonder I was perfect for my job in the USAF. They were looking for a loner, one who could survive being alone. You cannot be more alone than flying at altitudes where the air is so thin that if you sang no-one would be able to hear you. But I was not alone, I flew with a pilot. Believe me most of our 10 hour flights were 90% silence.

So know I look back on my life and I have to say that ‘ my life was not music but music was my life’. I became a listener. No one genre of music was really my favorite. Music, in general, was my enjoyment. During my service days one thing was altered, and that is that I felt comfortable around my comrades that I once again began to participate in making music. Could I ever succeed on America has Talent? NO, I’m not that brazen. In the sixties music was different and we , as GIs, blended our talents in such a way that what came out was acceptable. My one shining moment during this time was omitted from the book to save trees. During my stay at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi, my friend and I ended up at the University of Mississippi when they had a talent show. Since not all the acts that signed up showed on that evening, the show was scheduled to be cut short. Some good friends of ours convinced the professor in charge that we might be able to fill in some of that time. Certainly not my idea, but my friend was a born ham and beamed from ear to ear. By the time we finished our second song the place was going nuts, so we did one more. It was this impromptu performance that later in the book leads to my revisit to the university.

So I did not listen to momma, I choose flying over singing. I do not regret it one bid. The only thing I regret is that I crawled into my shell deeper and it has taken me 40 years to stick my head back out.

On another matter, still working on the final phases to my book. The writing is complete. is all set up to try and obtain the finances to publish. Still waiting for the video trailer. is set up to publish both paperback format and eBooks. I spoke to my filmmaker son and he says that perhaps during the Thanksgiving visit we can complete the video and finish the whole project.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please leave a comment.
New Cover of Book, work still in process. Createspace artists will work with this to actually come up with a workable model.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another day and more questions than answers

Every day brings something new. As I mentioned a few months ago, I am new at this, by that I mean communicating through blogs and twitter.I have given up many years ago to attend schools in order to learn something new. I buy gadgets and when I get them home I assemble them without looking at the instructions. Why, you ask? Because that is me. I continue to learn every day without formal training. One of my occupations I practiced for a number of years was cooking, but for me it was not just cooking. It was creating dishes that looked good and tasted out of this world. Many times I was asked where I received my formal education in the culinary arts? My answer was always: OJT - On the Job Training. I worked with some fantastic people and I watched and I learned. I am still that way.
So here I am some 4 months into my blog and I learn every day. Blogs contain so many secrets that it hard for me to take them all in at once. When I was in my hay-days, I would usually worked on one secret at a time. Yesterday I found a shocking example of how my blog keeps track of who looks at my pages. Now it is not unusual to find that most of my viewers are from the USA. Then I have some from the UK and Australia but the most shocking was that my second highest hits are initiated from China. (Perhaps they more more about my adventures than I thought they did. Maybe I should have my book translated into Mandarin and see how many copies I can sell there.
As I previously mentioned, I will use to raise the funds to publish the book. If any of you have looked at this site you will notice that it is ordinary people who fund these projects and they receive a reward associated with the project. I'm currently working with a company in Vietnam (yes, Vietnam, it has been many years and we must all forgive and forget - or not) to produce a mahogany desktop model of a WB-57F. I also am working with a company in China (because no one here is doing this kind of work here yet) to produce the model from crystal. I am really looking forward to seeing the prototypes arrive stateside. In addition to these great rewards, there are 10 original drawings contained in the book and some of my contributors will receive lithograph copies of these drawings. I will keep everyone abreast of the progress we are making.
I have started to pen my notes for book two, the years 1968 to 1982. I don't want to get into any of the details until "Number One" is out there and reviews come back in.
 Just a couple more photos from my collection. Top photo is of the "Felsenkirche" Church in the Rock with the Burg Bosselstein sitting on top of the rock. The lower picture is of Schloss Oberstein. Perhaps some day I can get into the story of the Church in the Rock.
On a totally different note, I am proud to have been a Lane Goodwin follower and supporter and I am saddened that Lane lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday.Lane should be an inspiration for all of us who have had a family member or friends taken from us because of the decease. Lane knew his chances were not good but he never lost faith. He smiled 'til the end. He now has his angel wings. I have asked my two best friends in heaven to look out for him and take him under their wings.

Monday, October 15, 2012

3 World Records set in single jump.

Yesterday I was glued to the TV almost all day. Felix Baumgartner finally had his opportunity to go higher in his helium balloon than any man (or woman) had ever done. He would jump and fall, or dive, from 128,000 feet at speeds up to 729 mph. That is 39 mph faster than the speed of sound at that altitude. What made me so interested that I would sit there, cursing at the television when they would not show a live feed?
46 years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. We were flying at altitudes no man had ever achieved. Months of training had prepared us mentally for the task, but physically we had to wait until it actually occurred. We were told the good news, that the aircraft and its contained environment would make us save and comfortable. Although the space suits of the day were very cumbersome compared to that worn by Baumgartner. We were told what possible might happen to us if we had a malfunction and had to bail out and of course worst case scenario what would happen if we were shot down. Yesterday I received my answer. We could survive if our egress was successful and perhaps spend the rest of our lives in a foreign prison camp. In my book "Force of Fate" I go into more detail about the harshness of space at such an altitude.
If all that what is going on these days with the still flying WB-57F and the recent movement of the last one from Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona I can only speculate that much more is to come and NASA took a very close look at yesterday's events. The information gained will certainly benefit the WB-57F program but also future space launches by giving us the knowledge that we can still abort during assent and descend and survive.
People are chastising the government for not doing projects such as these and that the private sector is now doing more for space exploration than NASA. What is wrong with that? It costs the taxpayer less. People are still being employed by the companies who design and build these machines. Last, let me make it perfectly clear, Red Bull did not build anything for this mission. Their advertising fees payed for it and I thank them for having the foresight to do this. Just like we would not have NASCAR if it was not for the advertising.
Not to be forgotten , where in the world did this take place, here in our country using our men and women to provide the expertise. Yes Felix is Austrian and if we shared all of our endeavors with the rest of the civilized world we would be much further ahead.
For comparison I have inserted photos of the suit worn by NASA pilots and the photo of Baumgartner exiting the capsule.

Notice the curvature of the Earth behind him.
Note: Step down, pick up my soap box and head home to my friends, Koko, my Black Lab and Maggie, my Dingo.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fate - To believe or not to believe

In the first chapter of my book, my Oma referred to my Fate to be something other than what my birth dictated I should be as "Schicksal". All my life I have taken this single word and believed in it. It drove me to be what I am today. It gave me characters I should not have been and it gave me characters I did not want to be. A single word spoken by my maternal grandmother made me believe I was invincible. I have stared death in the face more often than a cat with nine lives and I am still here. So I believe in Fate. What has me perplexed is that fate has no time restraints attached to it. I have finished writing my book after twenty years of living it, after waiting forty more years to write it and then finally taking two more years of putting it on paper. Now that it is finished, I am paying the waiting game once more. One of the good, yet bad in my mind, traits fate has given me is the " to be organized" at all times. I am not superficially organized, so you can cannot see my organization within the mess that surrounds me, but I am organized in my mind has to how events must occur in a certain order to be successful. So now the book sits and waits for certain things to fall in place and I have no control over those events. Bummer.... I sit here every day and I am going nuts. Well, at least I feel that I'm heading in that direction. Some people will tell you I'm already there. I truly hope by the time I make my next entry into my Blog things will be moving forward again and I can get out of this funky mood I'm in.

50 Years and counting, the WB-57F are stilling flying high. The way it looks they may around for another 20 years. Usually planes are replaced because they are obsolete or new models are developed that can do the job better, faster and sometimes a little cheaper. This plane was so far ahead in its field that no design have been necessary and even when there were new designs, they came and went while this "Blackbird" is still flying. The SR-71 was one example of that. A great airplane but very expensive to run.
So to all my friends who are anxiously awaiting the book, please be patient. We are getting there.

Friday, September 7, 2012

To publish or not to publish?

"No Easy Day" competition or writing on the wall?
With the release of "No Easy Day" questions have been raised and answered by many. As long as mankind has a mind, opinions will vary like the shades of flowers in a field. As a member of the American Legion I received my monthly email and lo-and-behold even the Legion chimed in on the subject. They conducted a survey as to how their members felt about the book. The survey gave 5 or 6 options and the last option was "Other" which allowed you an opportunity to write a short opinion. I never have been known for keeping my opinions to myself I wrote a reply as follows:
As with all my fellow Legionnaires, there are many opinions on this matter. Mine is just as confused. I have been carrying secrets in my mind for the past 40 years. I could have gone for the gold and published a book, but then I would have labeled myself a traitor. Over the years more and more of our achievements have been released and I hope that before I die they all will have become part of the Freedom of Information Act. Then I can put my words on paper and have my family, my children and my grandchildren read about where and why we spend so much time apart from our families. As to the argument that so much was already released before the book, may I remind you who released it. POLITICIANS... what they released was nothing but political fodder. If their words were the same as Mr. Owens, he would sell very few copies. They are in no way alike and his book will sell through the roof. Remember this little information my dad left for me: POLITICS comes from them Greek words POLI = Many , TICS = Bloodsuckers. How true that is.
To my surprise as of today I have had 9 "Likes" attached to my rambling. Moving on from this, it made me rethink what I was doing. Yes, I to had pledged secrecy and being a man of honor I held that secrecy within my head to the point that at times it would nearly drove me crazy. What I did different than Mr. Owens was that I got in touch with my comrades in arms and asked their opinion about me writing a book. They gave me sound advice and to a man told me to write, write, write. My story is aged, I realize, but some things are still secret (for now) The names of my team are never displayed or given in any way. Personal descriptions of the men have been altered in order to not give any information to anyone. What I did give away is the mission, but by now many people know about this just like we all knew about the mission Seal Team 6 was on. The details are what must be kept from our enemies so that they cannot prepare themselves should we ever have to do it again.
Bottom line is . . The book will go on. Hopefully within a couple of weeks we will be on to raise the funds to publish and with the help of others the book can be published by end of October. I still count on the help of many people and I hope they will step up and lend us a hand.
If you happen upon these pages and find them interesting, please pass them on to your friends. I need the word out there if I am to succeed with this project. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To my knowledge there are no pictures available of the aircraft we flew. Someone was kind enough to change an existing photo of a WB-57F with the black paint applied.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Force of Fate Time Line

Force of Fate - Letters to Oma Time Line

Finally figured out a way to have others know about my blog. As I said, I'm a fast learner. By joining other blogs I get to advertise mine as well. There is hope after all.
Today I wanted to ad something to my story in the form of a timeline. I had never given this a thought in the past but recently some events occurred to me that gave me back some of my life and this led me to thinking. So here goes the timeline of my life:

1945    I was born in a small war ravaged town in western Germany.
1951    First day of school and an education that would lay the world at my feet.
1958    Journey to America, "Land of Opportunity".
1958    My travels across America began. Youngstown, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, Portland, Oregon,
            Yelm, Washington, Sacramento, California, Florissant, Colorado, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
            Aberdeen, Maryland, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, Jamison,
1963    Pennsylvania.
1964    Enlist in the United States Air Force in Philadelphia, PA Off to Lackland AFB, San Antonio,
            Texas for basic training.
1964    Assigned to 3404 School Squadron, Keesler AFB, Biloxi MS
1965    Assigned to 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Hunter AFB, GA
1965    While assigned to 53rd WRS received SECRET clearance.
1965    Applied for US Citizenship
1965    TDY, Task Flight Delta in support of Operation Arclight, Clark AFB, Phillipines
1966     Received TOP SECRET clearance, Sheepdipped
1966     Returned to 53rd WRS, reapplied for US Citizenship
1966     PCS to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico
1967     TDY to Eglin AFB, FL, TDY to Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal
1968     Discharged honorably from US Air Force, assigned to Air Force Reserves.
1968     Applied for employment at AEL Laboratories, Lansdale, PA denied because of lack of          
1968     Obtained employment at Fabri-Tek, Fort Washington, PA
1968     Recruiting began by agents of federal government.
1970     Fabri-Tek closed Ft. Washington office forcing me to find other employment.
1972     Came to an agreement with federal agency.

What I have laid out here is basically the time line for my first book. Book One is complete but awaiting publication. Book Two begins by slightly overlapping the time line beginning in 1968.
Once Book Two is ready for publication I will write a time line for said book as well. To most novices in the field of Black Opps and Spies some of the jargon may seem alien. Believe me it was alien to me for many years until the government explained it in more detail. As an example: 1966 sheepdipped. This a word used sparingly because of its meaning. When one becomes sheep dipped all information available about this person is expunged. The person assumes at that point a new identity. Being married makes this very cumbersome since you are living two lives at once. My second book addresses this in more detail. I can tell you this much, it took until 2012 for me to get back my real identity with many blacked out events on paper.
I hope having given this information will give me some feedback or questions from those who visit my blog. If you visit and let me know of it I will look and follow your blog as well.
Thank You.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

PCS Hunter AFB, Savannah, GA 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron

I'm getting the hang of how things work in this place called cyberspace. I have started my blog (here) signed up for Twitter, joined groups all over who deal with books such as authors, readers or critics. I feel I need it all. So I think what is needed is another installment of the book. So here it is, a portion of

Chapter 6 The First Day of Tomorrow
A few days later, Niklas woke in the small studio apartment and planted a kiss on his wife’s forehead.  She muttered something in her half-asleep state and he smiled at her.  It was still very early, but he was excited; he was ready for the day ahead.

Niklas nervously fidgeted with his shirt, ensuring that it was smoothly tucked before exiting the car and heading for the squadron.  He could barely contain the excitement within him as it bubbled and swelled. 

“Hello. I am reporting for my first day of duty.”  Niklas told the other man his name and after a few seconds of flipping through papers on a clipboard, the man looked up at Niklas.  The tag on his chest read A1C Jacob Riley.  He had very fair skin and hair that was so red it was almost orange.

“Report to hangar eight.  The Staff Sergeant will give you direction from there.”  He nodded at Niklas.

“Thank you.”  He was on his way.  He did his best to control his pace, though he wanted to run the long distance leading to his station.

Just inside the door was another airman holding a broom.  The man smoothly spun the brush, knocked the head of it on the floor, and caught it as it came up at him.  In a millisecond it was hanging in its designated spot.  The man smiled at him.  “Name’s Harold.  They call me Harry.”  He stuck a hand out at Niklas.  “What are you up to?”

“Oh, um,” Niklas shook the out-stretched hand. “I was given instruction at the squadron to report here.  I am supposed to see the Staff Sergeant…” Niklas paused as a smile tugged at Harry’s lips.  The other man turned his back on Niklas.

            “Hey Sarge!”  Harry yelled as he knocked on the door to the Nav Aids Room.  A moment later it swung open.  “Got a rookie out here for ya.”

            “What’s your name, airman?”

            “Niklas, Sir.”  Niklas stated his last name and the man nodded. 

            “Yes, I was expecting you.  Come in.”  The man walked back to his desk and, out of the corner of his eye, Niklas saw Harry take post just outside the door.  He thought for a moment about closing it, but thought better of it.  The room was not what Niklas was expecting.  It was large and he and the sergeant were not alone.  “Niklas, this is Rodney.  He is our Tech Sergeant.”  The two shook hands and after the Staff Sergeant was done saying his spiel, Rodney addressed Niklas again.

            “Come on.  I’ll show you around.”  The tour indoors was short-lived.  The space was mostly open and easy to navigate.  There were a few cubicles reserved for the sergeants and a few desks in an area of the larger room.  “One of those will be assigned to you soon, but for now let’s head out to the flight line.  You can take a closer look at one of the planes.”

            “Wonderful!” Niklas felt like a kid in a candy shop.  This is was made all the crap at Keesler and Lackland worthwhile.  This is what he had been waiting for.   They exited at the opposite end of the building onto the tarmac.  Several planes were parked down the length of the blacktop.  “What type of aircraft will I work on?”

            The man pointed in the direction of large planes.  “The WB-47E.  Are you familiar with them?”

            Hearing that, Niklas was able to pick it out of the lineup and nodded.  Yes Boeing 6 engine bomber, first swept wing aircraft."  The man nodded his approval of Niklas’s statement.  Niklas smiled.  Life was good and he was right where he was meant to be. “What are the lines designating,” Niklas asked, pointing to a series of colored lines which ran long distances across the tarmac.

“You know, I don’t really know.”  Rodney furrowed his brow in thought and then shook his head as if to dismiss the thought.  Niklas made a mental note to look it up or ask someone else later in the day.  Just as the thoughts were passing through his mind, his head lurched forward and then came back hard against the seat.  He put a hand to the back of his head and looked to his companion.

            “I’m sorry.  I almost forgot.”  The man shook his head, looking a bit distraught.  “I have to call Operations.  Oh man, they are going to wring my neck.”  Niklas just nodded, happy that it wasn’t anything more serious.  “Just take a look around for a minute or two.  I will be right back to take you on a tour of the interior, okay?”

            “Yes, of course.  Take your time.”  Niklas smiled at the man reassuringly.

            “I’ll be right back!” Rodney yelled the statement as the vehicle shifted into gear and sped away in reverse.  Niklas began to follow the white line, one foot carefully planted in front of the other, as if walking across a balance beam, and then, after a short distance, he hopped onto the yellow line, moving closer to the magnificent machine.  He paused and stared up at all one hundred-seven feet of it.  The wings, which stretched an even more impressive one hundred sixteen feet, filled his field of vision.  “This is amazing,” he said aloud in awe.

            “Hey!  Hey!  Stop right there!”  Startled, Niklas turned around to see a member of the Air Police glaring at him.  The man began to move toward him, quickly.

            “Wait, I’m…”

            “Get down!  Down right now!  On the ground!”  Niklas gave a look of shock and then did as the man said without another word.  What the hell? It’s my first day and I am going to be arrested just before it gets interesting.  A foreign sound pulled him from his thoughts.

            “…gets better every time.”  Niklas sat as he heard the comment mixed with bouts of riotous laughter.

            You have got to be kidding me!  All around him men were laughing and Niklas wasn’t entirely sure that being arrested would have been the less desirable outcome.

            Rodney climbed from the van and walked up to him, reaching out a hand.  Niklas ignored the gesture and stood without assistance.  He wiped the dust from his uniform.  “Don’t worry man.  We do it to all of the rookies.”  He laughed again.  “You will get your chance soon enough.”  With that, he slapped Niklas on the back.

            “But damn, you should have seen your face!”  The comment, which spurred more hilarity, came from a tall lanky AP who could barely control his movement as he laughed. 

            Seeing anger in his comrade’s eyes, Rodney started to speak again.  “Come on, it’s time for the real tour.”  At that, the rest of the men left and Niklas followed his guide in the direction of the plane’s tail.

            There, in large black font were the numbers 51-2366.  Rodney began to explain, “this means that it was built in 1951…”

            Niklas cut him off, speaking as if saying his thoughts aloud, “and that its call sign was 2366.”  The other man looked at him with a face that said he was impressed, but it was just a flicker and then it was gone, as he moved to open the hatch and pull down the ladder that would provide them access to the interior of the giant machine.  Niklas felt a bit like he was taking a step toward heaven as he entered – a step closer to Oma.  That thought vanished quickly as he took the first look at the instruments that made this metal monster leave the ground.  Though he had seen pictures, he had never really realized how small the space was.  For how large the giant machine was, the control area was cramped and Niklas found it hard to imagine three men operating in the tiny, olive green compartment.  The first looks left him overwhelmed.  He looked from one control to another – many he recognized; many he didn’t.  “What’s this?”  He pointed to an object that looked a bit like a small, upside-down fish bowl.  The water rippled just slightly as they moved nearer it. 

            “That’s the gyroscope.  Gives the pilot an exact reading of his attitude to the ground.”  The man went on to explain how the concept worked, and though, as soon as the first statement was made, Niklas knew exactly why and how it was designed, he listened and nodded appreciatively.  The man then turned his attention to another area of the compartment.  Niklas looked at the dash of controls.  He recognized much of this.  It was just like the images he had seen on television and in the many books and magazines he had read on the subject.  It seemed surreal to be standing amongst it.  “Used to be that just a pilot, co-pilot, and navigator would fly this thing, but you’ll see that there is another seat up there.”  The seat was barely that, but more like a cubby amongst the gadgets.  And that is where I will sit, Niklas thought.  Just behind that thought came another that concerned him slightly.  None of this looks like what we studied in Tech School.

            “What’s that?”  Again he pointed to an unfamiliar object.  Cone-like in shape, hung just above the ground and to the left of where the pilot’s feet would typically sit.  It was connected to a short hose.

            The man chuckled slightly and then answered, “You don’t know?”  When Niklas shook his head, the man continued, “Well, now is a good time to learn.  It’s a mode of communication in case of emergency while in flight.”  The man paused, Niklas nodded, and he continued again, “In case of electrical failure, the crew can continue to communicate.”  He pointed to the hose.  “Sound travels through the hose.  It’s kinda like the can and string phones fashioned by kids.”  Niklas looked at the gadget, embarrassed that he hadn’t known.  “Actually, we can get you to work right now.  It has to be checked once a month to ensure that it is working properly.  It takes two people and we are here anyway.”  Niklas smiled.  He was thrilled to serve some purpose so soon.  “Ok, all you have to do is pick up the funnel and speak into it.  I’ll be in the bomb bay listening on the other end.”  Niklas nodded.  He felt good – official.

            As the other man climbed down the ladder, Niklas picked up the funnel, ready to do as he had been instructed.  He held it to his mouth.  Obviously hasn’t been used in a while, he thought.  It smelled stale.  “Testing, testing.  Can you hear me?  Over.”  He put it to his ear and listened, but heard nothing.  Again he tried, “testing, testing.  Can you hear me? Over.”  He returned the device to his ear.  Nothing.  Great, first test and it’s going to… His thought was cut short by a familiar sound.  Dammit!  Now what? Once again he was surrounded by the sound of laughter.  He replaced the nozzle to its hook and headed down the ladder to find that Rodney and the same group of men were laughing riotously.  “What now?”  Niklas was beginning to grow tired of being the laughing stock of the place.

            Through his laughter, Rodney struggled to respond, “It’s not an intercom.  It’s connected to the honey pot!”  Again, he rolled with hilarity. 

            Just to add insult to injury, the same goofy, lanky man as before put in his two cents.  “It’s a freekin’ outhouse for the sky!”

            When Niklas got home that evening, he had many stories to share with his wife, but he was sure to leave out the part about putting his mouth where another man had once had his family jewels.

            The next day things were far more serious.  There were no practical jokes and very little laughter.  The Staff Sergent offered Niklas a cup of coffee and then started in.  Niklas was entirely caught off guard.  After the day of exploration, he had let his guard down a little, but now the man before him was anything but jovial.  One question after another was thrown at the new member of the Hurricane Hunters in a sort of test.  “I heard you were the top of your class.  Surely that means that you were able to retain more than the average soldier.”  The man said between the first and second interrogative inquiries.  Niklas only nodded, stood straighter, and answered each to the best of his ability. 

            Apparently he passed, because a few minutes later, without warning, the other man ended the conversation and walked away.  Not entirely sure what he was supposed to do, Niklas followed.  The man stopped at one of the desks in the large open area.  “This is to be your station,” he stated, without turning back to Niklas.  It wasn’t as much a desk as it was a workbench, complete with tools right alongside the pens and pencils.  In place of the typical office chair, there was a simple, old, dented, metal stool.  “You’ll work here when not on the flight line.”  With that the man told Niklas to occupy himself with the materials left there for him and then turned and walked away.



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Espionage 101 and more....

Before the month of July slips into history, I think it's time to add some more thoughts to my developing story. The book is finished. Three of the illustrations that will be featured in the book are complete and another three have been started. The fund-raising for publication is all laid out with the only hang-up being the short trailer that is supposed to explain what we are doing, why we doing it and how it will all come together. I am very blessed to have three sons who, each in their own way, are perfectionists. My beef is with my youngest son. Fortunately for me, he is involved in the movie industry. So having a short trailer made for the fundraising should be a piece of cake...WRONG. My son thinks everything he works on has to be Academy Award worthy. WRONG AGAIN. This is a simple video of someone explaining all that I mentioned above. Some do it very seriously, some do it with humor and some, well let's just say they do something. Once the trailer is done we can post our request on and cross our fingers that we will reach our goal. Here is where I rely on all the friends who have signed me up on their facebook, all my family members and friends not on facebook to come to my aid and pledge any amount to help me publish this book. Yes, the book is important to me, but I want it to be important for many reasons. I want people to understand what is out there and who is out there doing it without ever receiving any credit or a pat on the back. We do it because we believe in the cause. Our freedom and that of every citizen of this great nation.
Please look at this blog, read it and make my wish come true to make this knowledge available to all. I will update with further information as it comes available.
Folks, I need some feedback, so please leave a comment. Tell me what you think. My mind is open, believe me I can criticism.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012

Air Weather Reconnaissance Association - WB-57F Night Intruder

For a number of years I have been a Lifetime Member of the Air Weather Reconnaissance Association (AWRA). At the time when I paid my dues I thought it important to belong to the organization that best represented my squadron throughout my military life. It took me some time to realize that not everything in life is black & white. I was one of those that could be considered "grey". I knew from a conversation I had years ago with my shop chief that I was not the only odd-ball in a very selective group of men. I have since found (and lost again) a web page written by that other odd-ball. It was the only time I ever read his real story and found out his first name only. He too wanted to tell the world what it all about but had the same fears I exhibited.
Through a year of psychiatrist and psychologist sessions, those fears were finally minimized and I was encouraged to write my book. I also returned to become a more active member of AWRA. In August 2012, AWRA will have their annual reunion. This year it will be  a joint reunion with Air Weather Association (AWA). They, together, will celebrate 75 years of air weather service. The reunion will be held near Offutt AFB, Omaha, Nebraska. This sounded good enough for me to take a hike out west especially when I read that the guest speaker was an associate from NASA. The topic was the two remaining WB-57F still in service with NASA. Again my interest was peaked. Then an update was issued and the news was that the last WB-57F stored at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona was being transferred to an unknown location and totally rebuild to join the fleet of two at Johnson Space Center, Ellington Field. There went my hopes of ever using the last
WB-57F in any movie I made plan in the future. So all said and done; I'm staying home this year, again.
It would appear that the fleet currently with NASA is not enough to complete all the mission handed them by the various governmental agencies, the military and civilian contracts.
Just one footnote on the current WB-57F at NASA, one was spotted in 2007 in Afghanistan with all NASA logos removed. We have gone International again.

All photos courtesy NASA JSP