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Glen's Sea Stories
How I got to Kwajalein TTR Radar Russian Jamming Mt. Olympus
The Fallout Shelter The Savant Vacation on Kwaj Keys to the Kingdom
Check Point Surprise Filming the ZAR Manager's Daughter The Shark Pit
The Doctors are In Editing my Words
A Friend Remembered University Education
Childhood Stories Secondary Education

The reason for an Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) system deployment is to protect against nuclear bombs delivered by ICBMs. The threat falls into two categories, city killing delivery, one bomb--one city; and nation killing delivery, one EMP bomb detonated at altitude over our country--one nation. 

Just one thermonuclear bomb of sufficient size, can take this nation back to the stone age. EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) can destroy or render useless, every unprotected electronic device in the continental US and Canada. The only weapons in our arsenal that are immune to this effect are deeply submerged submarines. 

EMP is a devastating effect, that has been recognized since the late forties, and is little known to the public. One nuclear weapon of sufficient size, detonating 300 miles above our country, could bring down our entire power grid, cripple all telephone service, most computers would be made inoperable, automobiles would stop running, aircraft would fall from the sky, killing thousands--everything that uses semiconductors would fail, utterly.

One of the reasons that today's ABM uses hit-to-kill instead of a low yield nuclear warhead, is the fear of blinding the ABM's radars and sensors.

One scenario that could defeat an ABM system; any nation wanting to attack us, would first orbit a "weather satellite," and just prior to the attack would detonate the nuclear weapon on board that satellite. The detonation would take place over the central U.S., blinding all ABM radars/sensors, rendering any defensive systems in the country totally useless.

EMP is created because 5% of the energy released by a nuclear or thermonuclear detonation is electromagnetic. A weapon detonated at altitude, the electromagnetic energy propagates into the ionosphere allowing that energy to spread along the magnetic lines of the ionospheric layer, affecting the majority of the country. 

The failure mechanism that makes EMP so devastating, lies with semiconductors and their vulnerability to excessive voltages and reverse polarities of those voltages. Both will create excessive currents which will permanently destroy such devices. With the proliferation of the personal computer and the effort to make them energy efficient, the problem has become greatly exacerbated. Most of today's semiconductors can be destroyed by merely touching them, just the static electricity that normally accumulates on a person's body is enough to do the job.

In one test a 1.4 megaton weapon detonates at 200 miles altitude, the induced fields at ground level were measured at > 50,000 volts in a one linear foot conductor.  See also Russian test

Vacuum tubes, unlike transistors, are considered to be immune to EMP's destructive energy, i.e., they may fail while the pulse is active, but will probably survive and function afterward.

It was noticed that the Soviets favored vacuum tube technology over solid state, especially in certain of their aircraft, and it was thought that it was a case of “being behind.” However, there were those who saw it as protection against EMP...

There is a huge elephant in the room that everybody is ignoring. It's called EMP, the devastation it could cause makes the mere physical destruction caused by the bomb that triggers it, to pale by comparison.

Not to diminish human life, but if we lost a city, as awful as that is, we would survive as a nation. If the nation were reduced to the stone age, we would cease as this nation. The unforeseen consequences would be many and disastrous. One consequence would be that nations, friend and foe, would be emboldened to do as they please with our people, our assets, and our sovereignty.



ABM: Anti Ballistic Missile
AFB: Air Force Base
AFRS: Arm Forces Radio Service
ATC: Air Traffic Control
BOQ: Bachelor Officer Quarters 
CBR: Chemical, Biological, Radiological
CBRN: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear
EMP: Electro Magnetic Pulse
EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal
FCC: Federal Communication Commision
FNG: Fucking New Guy
GCI: Ground Control Intercept 
HEMP: High altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse
ICBM: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
VFR: Visual Flight Rules
IFR: Instrument Flight Rules
IG: Inspector General
MATS: Military Air Transport Service
MOS: Military Occupational Specialty
NCO: Non Commission Officer
NCOIC: Non Commission Officer In Charge
NEMP: Nuclear Electro Magnetic Pulse
NOTAM: Notification to Airmen
OIC: Officer In Charge
PMR: Pacific Missile Range
QC: Quality Control
RFI: Radio Frequency Interference
RV: Reentry Vehicle
SAC: Strategic Air Command
SAGE: Semi Automatic Ground Environment 
SSB: Single Side-Band
TDY: Temporary Duty
TTR: Target Track Radar
VOR: VHF Omni Range
WECo: Western Electric Company
ZAR: Zeus Acquisition Radar

(1)_ TTR, Target Track Radar

The TTR was a very high power radar for tracking the ICBM RV and/or Tankage (Bus). 

1. They had trouble holding a lock--the beam was too narrow, they even had to resort to manual tracking. This was solved by de-focusing the Cassagrain feed, by adding hydraulics to the secondary reflector.

2. The radar was so powerful that there was a published notice to airmen (NOTAMs) that direct exposure within fifteen miles of the radar was dangerous to personnel.

3. The TTR had a connection to the ZAR receiver by way of a ~ 4" waveguide that had a requirement for great precision, which implies interferometry.

(2)_ Russian jamming and a Deuce and a Half

There was interference in the ZAR receiver, Russian jamming was suspected. At some point we were asked to take a wide-band RF radiation detector and measure for any stray RF emanating from the ZAR transmitter building when the transmitter was not transmitting. I remember walking around the building which was within the 90 foot high stainless steel fence that completely encircled the building. All the time we were out there I was worried that the antenna would somehow start up transmitting--all 30 Megawatts of it. 

Some local ham operators suggested the RFI was caused by Ford made, 'deuce and a half' trucks that were quite prevalent. After the laughter died down, they checked the trucks, and sure enough, they were the culprit. It was believed that the RFI got into the I.F. strips of the receivers, even through the receiver building's heavy shielding.

Almost everybody--hams knew that Ford vehicles were notorious for noisy ignitions. Before coming to Kwaj I had worked with two way FM radios on police cars, taxis, etc., and the Ford and Mercury vehicles were bad, the military deuce and a half being the absolute worst by far...

(3)_ Mt. Olympus and the QC Guy

Because the island was only a few feet above sea level, the launch tubes were inside a large mound of dirt at the far end of the island, called Mt. Olympus. Since the booster was capable of nearly a half million pounds of thrust, it was said that, within a hundred yards the sound level from the blast was so intense as to be lethal. 

Before every launch two people from Douglass Aircraft would go down inside the loaded tube and arm the missile. I knew both of these guys, I had lunch with them every day. They were as different from one another as any two people could be. The guy that did the actual arming was a "nut," a hippy; the other guy who was normal, was a QC inspector whose job it was to check behind the armorer making sure he made no mistakes. He was married with children and hated his job, especially the part where he had to work with the hippy.

What made their job even worse, normally when arming is going on, all radars and telemetry are turned off, and resumed when finished. At some point the people who didn't have to crawl down among tons of volatile propellant, made the decision, in order to make the launch run more smoothly, to not turn off anything. These guys fearing for their jobs, went along with this insanity!

Once there was a salvo launch, where two anti missiles were to be fired in quick succession. Unfortunately, only one made it out, the other became a "live" dud. Guess who had to climb down in the launch tube and disarm same. If it had been me I would have gotten the Hell off that island, and never looked back...

(4)_ The Fallout Shelter

When I knew that I was going to Kwajalein I started construction on a fallout shelter in the basement of my family home. That was a time when the fear of Russian ICBMs was pretty intense. 

I used 30 pound solid concrete blocks meant for that very purpose. The inside dimensions were ten by twelve feet, with a six feet ceiling. The walls were sixteen inches thick and the roof which was made of sand backed by plywood and reinforced by bolted two by fours. The reason for the sand was for radiation attenuation (less than ideal) and for safety in the event of blast damage--sand beats concrete falling on one's head. It had a reinforced steel door at the end of a narrow corridor, and the door was at right angles to the corridor, making forced entry difficult. Aside from food and water, there was a Micronite air filter with a manual blower attached.

The weight of the entire shelter was estimated at eight tons.

Some thought the idea of a "fallout shelter" a joke, that is until the Cuban Missile crisis. While I was at the only location on earth that had any possibility of defending against ballistic missiles, my mother made preparations to take up residence in her shelter about that time. Thought she never had to use it, she told me that it gave her a feeling of reassurance--but a mother would say that wouldn't she...


The Savant

Watching the HBO movie, Temple Grandin, reminded me of someone I ran across on Kwajalein.

I was taking a taxi to the Technical Area on the island, and I was sharing it with two older gentlemen--one dressed casual, in a leisure suit, and the other was overdressed in a dark suit and tie, and sunglasses, both were in their forties. They did stand out...

I said something to the casual guy who looked straight ahead, not acknowledging me at all.

The other guy--who I had figured by then was his "keeper," said, "he doesn't speak."

We finished the ride in silence.

Later I found out that he was a brilliant scientist sent from Bell Labs Whippany, to solve a knotty problem they were having with the, just finished, Discrimination Radar.

And, that he was also responsible for single-handedly designing and causing to be built, an automated production line for making 0.01% resistors--on the fly--an unheard of feat then.

The guy in black, was an (armed) FBI agent.   __What else! (;-)) 

The Vacation on Kwaj

One day Island Security was called to the enlisted barracks about a man who was on the island without authorization. It was a case of a retired veteran with mental issues who had somehow flown in on a chartered aircraft meant for authorized personnel only. He passed security after getting off the plane, and had gone to the enlisted barracks and secured a bunk--no questions asked. Apparently he was able to do all these things on the strength of his retired military credentials alone. He was a retired Army Chief Master Sergeant.

Not only did this guy land on the island, but he lived there for two weeks before being discovered. To add insult to injury, he was only discovered when he tried to pay rent on his bunk.

The island was supposed to be a very secure place and the Island Security really came off looking bad. 

Keys to the Kingdom

There were Filipino workers on the island, who had mainly menial service jobs. There was one guy who was a supervisor of about ten custodians that cleaned the JTO building--a secure office building. He and he alone was entrusted with the key to the front entrance, which he lost. Each subsequent key met the same fate. Security was suspicious, but kept giving him keys with progressively larger fobs, hoping the more conspicuous the fob the less likely he would lose it. They were wrong, he kept losing them.

Finally they had enough, they put the key on a quarter inch brass welding rod, bent in a one foot circle and welded it together, that he wore around his neck. 

That lasted two weeks until he lost it--again.

The final version that I heard about was another brass ring but with a six inch bright red bull's eye made of sheet metal, drilled in the center with the brass rod running thru the hole.

I think that story speaks volumes about the quality of Security on that island!

Check Point Surprise

One day Island Security pulled a surprise check on our bus, taking us to the Technical Area. After we passed the initial Guard Shack check point, the driver normally proceeds to the various radars, etc., letting people off at each location. This day we were surprised at the ZAR power plant. The Head of Security and several of his lieutenants were in front of a parked patrol car that was blocking our way. He was directing a guard who was practicing an apparently new procedure that he seemed confused as how to carry out. The guard initially told everyone on the buss to get off. As we started to get out of our seats, the Head of Security raised his arms and gesturing to the hapless guard to stop, "not to get off the bus!" "Stay on the bus."

It was funny to watch, and several people said aloud, "Keystone Cops!"

The last I'd heard they had given up on surprise check points.

Filming of the ZAR

During several missile shots there had been rumors of Russian trawlers lying off the island. There was also talk of possible jamming of our radars, in fact I spent most of one night on the roof of the JTO building with a spectrum analyzer and antenna looking for it and a rumored submarine. Neither showed up.

With all this and the recent fire in the ZAR Transmitter antenna, everybody was paranoid and on alert for the next shoe to drop. And it did.

Dispite signs forbidding cameras in the Techinal Area, there was a man with a 16mm movie camera filming the ZAR Transmitter, antenna and fence. He was approached by two gentlemen dressed in black business suits and dark glasses--I kid you not!

Anyway, they hauled him off in an island taxi, never to be heard of or seen again, nor the two guys in black...

The ZAR Transmitter manager's Daughter

In the early days of ZEUS on Kwajalein there were few dependents there and the only women were the wives of a select few manager types. Several did have their adult children. 

Human nature being just that, some of the women couldn't hide their competitiveness when it came to being the most popular in "paradise." Middle age women wearing skimpy outfits--they were several pounds, and as many years out of place, it was embarrassing. Most didn't have a clue, the more men stared--out of astonishment, not lust, the more they were encouraged.

The few young women there--usually someones daughter, were hated by most of these older women. The gossip and back stabbing rumors flew. I remember a most beautiful young woman who was the target of this treatment. One attribute that you couldn't miss was that she was flat chested. Yet she had a presents that was stunning. She carried herself with dignity and grace--to be clear; she carried herself like she was sporting double "Ds." I had always been a "chest man," but she was the exception that proved me wrong!

I first saw her at a bus stop with some older women, whose body language was 'screaming' their disdain for her. She was not showing any recondition of the vibes directed at her. I wish I had photos, because words fail...

The Shark Pit

At the approach end of the island's runway is the infamous Shark pit. The number of sharks there is said to be on a par with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. In fact, several movies that needed large shark populations, came to Kwajalein, Island.

The shark pit has been used as the island's garbage disposal as long as anyone can recall, it's said the Japanese used it during WWII. When ever the native labor goes there to dump their garbage, as sport and for food, they shoot the shark.

There is a story I heard the day I arrived. It seems that after the battle of Kwajalein, a C-54 transport carrying 35 nurses with a blood bank, plus wounded, left on their way home. As the plane took off it faulted and fell into the ocean right over the shark pit. By the time the crash boat got to them, they were all dead... 

The Doctors are In

There had been three different doctors on the island in the eighteen months I was there.

(1). The first doctor was from Boston. On his way to the island, it's said that he stopped off in San Francisco and met and married a gorgeous hooker. For the next eight months, he practiced his art and she hers. She was not a street walker, but she could be seen every night walking her dog. She was a hit at every "do" on the island. There was one rather short Army, Catholic Chaplain that could be seen at every cocktail party, standing on tip toe trying to see down her plunging neck line. Eight months after they arrived Island Security accused them breaking his contract and were sent off the island. The story is that the people "protecting" them had a dispute over money. The last I heard, the happy couple ended up in Boston, living together as husband and wife. The word was that, in only eight months, they had accumulated a very nice nest egg...

How I got to Kwajalein

I have been asked how in the world did I end up on Kwajalein, Island?

It was a dark and stormy night...

Around the end of 1960, I was in the Air Force and stationed at Turner AFB, GA. I remember my first real exposure to Kwajalein came from a large 15 page spread in a weekly technical magazine that I subscribed to, Missiles and Rockets. It was a well done article laying out the whole system with explanations easily understood. 

I also remember what I told a friend of mine, I held up the magazine and told him, "I'm going there, I'm going to Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands. I'm going to work on the Nike Zeus ABM!"

I finished my tour with the Air Force and went back home to Danville, VA. My first job application was in Burlington, NC, at the Western Electric manufacturing facility making Nike Zeus components. There I was interviewed by an Ex-Air Force guy, who told me that I was thin on education and that to get a job there I needed two years of tech school. As I started to leave, we started to talk about our Air Force days and that we both had experience with K System airborne radar on B-52s. We talked--told each other lies, for the next three hours. I left there with no prospects.

Soon after I found a job at GE in Lynchburg, VA, in the QC section of the Communication Products Dept. I was there for two or three months when one night I got a call from the head of personnel at Western Electric in Winston Salem, NC. He said, "we've got a job that might interest you, it's on a little island I'm sure you never heard of..." I cut him off, I said, "Kwajalein!" There was silence. I said, "Nike Zeus!" He said, "yes that's right. Are you interested?" I said, "Hell yes!" 

He explained the particulars including the very large salary and benefits--which I never really heard.

I gave my two week notice to GE, and with their blessing, I then went to Winston Salem and spent the next week processing in, becoming a WECo employee. I asked for a two week delay to take care of things on the home front. One of those things was finishing the fallout shelter I had started when I first knew I was going. See shelter. After completing the 8 ton shelter and stocking it, I soon left for the island. 

It turns out that the head of WECo personnel was an old Danville boy who was a popular radio personality there, we both knew some of the same people. And, apparently, the Ex-Air Force guy at WECo's Burlington plant, didn't toss my application after all, but passed it on to WECo Winston Salem.

So I arrived on Kwajalein Island in late November of 1961, and left there May of 1963; I was there eighteen months.

I've often thought about that my only overt act toward going to Kwajalein was the failed interview with WECo Burlington, and that was more about getting a job than going to Kwajalein. Everything else was happenstance--I think. __Spooky!

Editing my Words before I Speak

A lesson I learned during my first of two jobs at GE in Lynchburg. This job was in the Quality Control (QC) Department writing test procedures for incoming inspection of components. I also designed and supervised the construction of the different test setups used for the inspections. 

In this job I worked for two different engineers which was a lesson in itself. I found myself getting conflicting direction from these guys, which I suffered in silence for about two weeks. One day I had had enough, so I recalled something I had heard as a kid, that the quickest way to sink a ship was to have a committee for the Captain. So I made it a point to tell each one in private my dilemma and share my quotation, except instead of committee I substituted "two Captains." That worked, from then on out, I only got direction from one of them.

Another thing I learned from this was, be careful what you wish for (;-)).
The engineer that was to be my boss--Peter Wickie, made me justify my designs and sometime my written procedures--which was the right thing to do, but at the time I resented it. He also had this maddening habit of glomping onto a single word that I would use and go off on a tangent, the more I tried to clarify my position, the more he would go back to that single word, making it almost impossible to get anything resolved.

So to try to avoid this blind spot, I would think over exactly what I was going to say, trying to edit out any words that might set him off. After a few weeks of failed attempts, I got pretty good at selling my arguments. It really took the pressure off this FNG.

Since that time I have found that the lessons learned from that experience has helped in just about every job I've had since.

___More snippets to follow...


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