There are many messages of thanks and congratulations coming in still and I am happy to have them to offset the very few e-mails of complaint that I get. I am told that I take the negative far too seriously, but I find it hard not to after dedicating the last 4.5 years of my life to making this event happen. Possibly once the last reports are done I will be able to let it all go. We'll see.
We took Mr S. to lunch and shopping yesterday and then to the doctor for a check up. It was fortunate that we did as his blood pressure was 75/38. They did an EKG on him to be sure that he was OK and then reviewed his medications. He is now off of Metoprolol as it was working too well at keeping his blood pressure in check. The doc said this may improve the brain functions as well, as low blood pressure doesn't send enough blood to the brain and causes mental and physical slow downs. We have definitely seen that with the same question being asked repeatedly every few seconds and an extremely slow walking rate.
Last night we hosted friends from Reno who came to have a BBQ and watch the video of the Mr Mensa pageant held at the Reno AG. Mr Mensa 2012 Howard Chen and runner up Nico Aguilera were both in attendance and a great time was had by all. I really appreciated them making the trip to Fallon so that for once we got to stay home and didn't have to make the drive.
Our new arrivals Victoria and Albert the Hog Island Boa constrictors are doing very well and today had their first meal. They are as fast as lightning and hit really hard! I am really happy that they will take thawed frozen rats without any trouble. It makes life easier for both of us. Anna was amazed at both how fast they are, and how they can swallow their prey.
Anna and I share the sadness of the country for the insane shootings in Colorado and while I agree with concerns for the restriction and control of certain firearms and ammunition, I have to say that no matter what laws are enacted, crazy people and criminals will still get the weapons. I would like to call for more mental health care and treatment and let us put more effort into what pushes people to go to such extremes to solve their pain. A very large percentage of the school shootings were the result of bullying and mistreatment. If we do not address the base issues we will never solve the resulting explosions, no matter what laws we make.
Today's story is one of transitioning from an image of security to having to learn about reality. Karma also brings us some small lessons. Read and enjoy!
Had To Do It
There really wasn't any other way; at least that's their story and they're sticking to it.
It was a time of unrest and fears of terrorist attacks, even way out here in Nevada. 1986 was a troubled year with bombings and hostage situations dominating the news, daily it seemed. Fallon Naval Air Station was and still is, responsible for training the majority of aviation units that see duty in the Middle East and as such, is considered a primary target for terrorist retribution attacks.
These guys (terrorists) are mostly from the Al Qaeda network and are really big in the "payback" department, whether your "offense" is real or imagined doesn't really matter to them. And anything which causes fear or injury to the "enemy", is a gift from Allah and considered to be a worthy deed. If they get away unharmed and don't get caught, then it was Allah's will; if they get blown up, well, it was Allah's will and they get to join Allah sooner and their family has gained honor. It's tough to eat honor, but hey; it's Allah's will.
Taking precautions and being vigilant is something that you would expect the military to be doing all the time, not just when CNN says it is the thing to do. And in fairness to the military, they do try to maintain a state of readiness and security.
Here at NAS Fallon, there was a complacent attitude and a very strange kind of "security" in place. For years there wasn't even a fence around the base; and for many years after the fence was built, the only place that you would get "challenged " is going through the main gate. You could get onto the base in several different locations without so much as slowing down. I am afraid that it was a security of image, not substance.
After the big push in awareness raising and tightening security you could still DRIVE onto the base in at least three locations and if you didn't mind walking in; at least half a dozen more spots. This system only kept honest people honest.
Once to prove a point to a friend in Security, and with the knowledge of both his Commanding Officer and mine, I challenged them to keep me out of the base or apprehend me once I had entered. This was just a game and no weapons use or injury took place. The animals used in the portrayal of these events were not harmed in any way; Ah, you are reading this!
I not only got into the base unnoticed, I brought the small fluorescent orange traffic cone,(my SIMULATED bomb), signed by the head of Security, with me and had placed it on the C.O. of N.A.S. Fallon's desk, in his office, in the Administration Building. The same building which houses Security! Just because I am somewhat of a wise guy, I also stopped off in the Security Chief's office and took his hat and placed it on top of the cone, (in the C.O.'s office) I just had to do it.
KABOOM!!!!!! Game over! You lose! No one even asked me what I was doing when I walked into the Security office.
This isn't a good for me, I beat you, HA, HA story. This is about how our years of being safe from harm have dulled our senses and while being safe is a very good thing and I like it, it is time to wake up, the rest of the world isn't like that.
After the little "Traffic Cone" incident, things got a bit more tense in the old Security department and then a bombing in a far away land made fears of attack a lot more real and vehicles coming onto the base got stopped and searched. Everything that seemed even remotely "terrorist like" was investigated and it was not a good time to make jokes or play pranks.
Sometimes things got kind of distorted and perspective was lost; such as when one of the young fellows from a permanently assigned unit on the base, known to most all of us and certainly easily identifiable, was detained at the front gate because he didn't have his ID card on his person. Big deal, you say, well it was kind of. He had been riding a dirt bike and took a nasty spill and in his moment of losing control, forgot to let go of the handlebars and yanked his right arm out of the shoulder socket.
I don't know how many of you have ever dislocated a shoulder, but I have, and HURT is not even close to a good description of what is going on with your body. The man had NOT been drinking, and was not being abusive or difficult, and was merely in excruciating pain and was being brought in to the base medical facility by an Active Duty, ID carrying person, well known to all on duty. That much I know for sure... because it was me.
I was driving my own, registered on the base, personal vehicle, with this hurt friend seat-belted in the passenger side and we were stopped coming in the front gate, by orders from the Command Duty Officer for the day, a certain Lieutenant Commander who was in charge of, wait for it... the Medical Facility, as his regular duty post!
Of all the people possible, he "should" have been the best one to have on duty. But, he was cranky because he had to stand a watch, (just like everyone else in the Navy does), and he was taking out his petty anger on everyone that he could.
He was also in charge of the Physical Fitness program for the base and he was overweight and sloppy looking in his own uniform, and couldn't see why the instructions and regulations should have to apply to him. The humor of the assignment was lost on him; yes, he had plenty of issues to resolve.
I was about to turn around and drive to town and just go the civilian hospital's Emergency Room, where we would have to play the "What kind of insurance do you have" game, but they would be taking care of him meanwhile, when the Security guy on the gate said that they were being ordered to detain us; meaning that now I couldn't even turn around and leave.
Knowing me, you would be correct in assuming that I was about to lose my composure... that's the way you would put it, right? I asked the Gate Guard if they planned on shooting me if I decided to just drive on in without permission, and he said, "Affirmative, those are my orders" but then said, "Hey Ken, you aren't really going to do that are you? I'll get in lots of trouble!"
Fortunately, a rare moment of inspiration hit me and I said, "Not if you let me use your telephone for a minute" And he said, "I don't know...", at which point I reached up like I was going to start my vehicle, and he said, "OK, OK, you can use the phone, but I just know the CDO is going to eat my rear end for it" I said, "Maybe not, maybe we'll feed him his own "Butt Sandwich" instead."
The call I placed was the thing to do, and it caused a bit of a "Shxx Storm" of it's own. I called a friend of mine, who was very helpful and we got right in after just a couple of minutes and even got an ambulance ride out to the Hospital ER after they had given the kid a shot to help with the pain. By the time he got to the ER, he was singing and laughing. It was a good thing he didn't know what was coming. It always hurt me more when they put my shoulder back in place, than it did when I yanked it out. But I didn't tell him that.
Who did I call? You are curious about that Eh? It was just a fellow Optimist Club member; The Commanding Officer of the Base. Who, by the way, was NOT amused with the feeble attempts to explain his actions by his Command Duty Officer.
You would think that my story would end here, wouldn't you? But I have to tell something that gives me a continuing belief in the old axiom, "What goes around, comes around" or what you do will come back to you, karma, etc.
With the heightened awareness and increased training on what to expect and what actions to take, etc., the possibility of hostile actions by terrorist groups was being taken very seriously, finally! You never knew when the PETA, PTA, GREEN PEACE or the C of C... might take action against us, just kidding! It was and is, a very serious thing and lives are at stake, and that's no joke.
So, when the call came in from the Dispensary, or, Base Medical Facility, that a briefcase had been left behind in the waiting room and could not be identified by anyone in the immediate area, the proper procedure was to notify Security and they in turn contacted EOD, (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) who's job it was to "take care of" such problems. All of this was done and the building was evacuated... at least most of it was.
There were factors which came into play that increased the tension for the EOD team: the Base CO had a doctor's appointment in less than one hour and would be in the room where this suspicious object, "SO", was located. The SO was a plain brown briefcase of inexpensive foreign manufacture, with the makers logo removed. The same kind used very frequently by terrorist groups and in fact, a description of this type of case was in the daily read file in every department. There were no initials or identifying marks on this SO and it was locked. It was placed under a table in direct line with the doctor's door and the chair just outside of it.
The EOD guys brought in their portable X-ray unit and scanned the case, and they nearly all had heart failure when, upon putting a stethoscope to the case they heard the unmistakable sound of ticking. The x-rays showed batteries, an electronic unit, a timer and some solid objects inside the case. Holy Cow!
They had just one course of action available here; because of the use of a "timer" and the possibility of "remote" detonation capabilities with the electronic unit inside the case, the SO had to be moved to the Bomb Disposal Trailer and moved away from the buildings and detonated, before it had a chance to do it's job!
They had to do it. It was the only safe way to handle the situation and everyone in a position to have a say agreed with the EOD team leader, including the CO, who was more than a little concerned that a "bomb" may have been placed to "End his Career" so to speak.
The team, using a long handled gripping device and wearing their body armor, lifted the case carefully and walked gingerly out to the Bomb Disposal trailer, which was made of concrete and steel reinforcing plates, mounted on a very sturdy trailer and would direct the blast upwards, should it go off unexpectedly.
With the SO safely inside, the unit moved away from the buildings, out into a field south of the medical facility and carried out "phase two" of this kind of procedure; namely, blow up the SO with a small charge of their own, in controlled surroundings and when they were ready for it to happen. When the smoke cleared and the EOD team declared the area safe again; traffic was allowed to resume on the roads, and in the air, (I had to maintain a safe zone over the area) and the Dispensary which was searched thoroughly with dogs, was allowed to resume seeing patients.
The officer in charge of the Dispensary, who had not been able to be located during all of this, was located, in the opposite end of the building in a bathroom, sitting on the toilet reading what was described as, "a magazine of questionable taste and moral value" and had been in there for over an hour. He knew nothing of the events that had transpired, which further "endeared" (NOT!) him to the CO, who was undoubtedly still having "flashbacks" on his life at that point.
After the forensic specialists had finished with their examination, the results, which were not widely disseminated, but my brother Optimist, (the base CO), allowed me to read, were ready!
Because this proves my point that what you do, WILL come back to you; I will tell you what was found in that case so many years ago:
No explosives of any kind.
One television remote control unit.
One package of four AA batteries, identical to those found in RC unit.
One Ladies wrist watch in a case, new.
One key ring with nine keys on it.
One metal eye glasses case with prescription glasses inside.
One stapler, metal, with USN stock number.
Medical records for one individual.
Personnel records for one individual.
Finance records for one individual.
Sixteen copper pennies.
One box of US Government ball-point pens, black.
And nothing else that could be identified.
The owner of all of this material and the "Culprit in the Great Briefcase Bomb" adventure: the very same Lieutenant Commander in charge of the Dispensary, who had just that morning confiscated a "filthy" magazine from an enlisted single corpsman who was reading said material on his own time.
The records in the case were his own, as were the glasses, and the keys to his car, etc., the watch was a birthday present for his "wife", although the corpsmen said his wife's birthday was two months earlier (Hmmm...) The television remote and batteries for it, were from his house. The SOB was so hateful that he wouldn't even let his own family use it when he wasn't there.
The other stuff was just normal "tightwad" briefcase filler in the cheapo, knock-off, simulated leather, too cheap to buy the real thing or have his initials put on it, briefcase. That he had forgotten and left behind when he decided to go "research" the "filth" in the other end of the building, where he wouldn't be disturbed.
What goes around, comes around!
I know that you all want to know what happened to this less than shining example of military officer. I will only say that his official evaluation reflected his true abilities and he was fortunate (in my opinion) to be allowed to retire soon after this episode with his present rank intact. Karma happens!