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Merriam-Webster http://www.m-w.com/

Reader's Digest   http://www.readersdigest.com/

Secondary Education 
University Education
The New  Education


I just finished reading an article in the Readers' Digest about a mother's recollection of her father's teaching her to drive--thirty years ago. And how that memory relates to her--present day--task of teaching her own children to drive. 

The theme is how her father exercised patience with her, and how she is trying to do likewise--but finding it difficult; she wished her father could "come back" and share his secret with her. 

Reading this, reminded me of my son, Lee's, early driving experiences. 

Lee learned from "the pro" at his school's Driver's Ed course. 

As I recall, Lee had little confidence in the instructor, and pretty much drew his own conclusions about this new discipline. [1]

Jumping ahead:
Lee's mother did a great thing by trusting Lee enough to help him get his very own automobile--a 1984 Ford Bronco. 

Lee loved the freedom, of which it had a double portion--it was a four-wheel-drive Bronco! 
Great for "Tooling thru the Tulles." 

Lee soon learned the difference between the Hype of "4-WHEELING," and the deep realities of a vehicle with 4-wheel drive. 

Jumping ahead a little more: 
Not long after Lee got his Bronco, that Fall--late in the season, he and I went camping in the mountains toward Boone. 

Lee did the driving. 

Now, we all know how it is having a parent in the car with us--especially in our early driving years--you know, the first ten to thirty! Well anyway, Lee is very aware he has an "Instructor Pilot" in the Right Seat making judgments on his skills as a brand new occupant of the Left Seat. And, of course, he is right. 

However, I did make a point of leaving my clipboard at Home--this time! 

The weather was cold and as we drove West, the road conditions started to deteriorate--a mixture of water from melting ice and the occasional patch of ice that hadn't yet had the sun's warmth. Lee handled all of this as though he had been born to it! 

When I was his age, I alternated between being too cautious, and throwing caution to the wind. Nobody ever accused me of having good judgment--ego yes, judgment No!

Lee is one of those people whose judgment has always seemed to be just the right balance between intellect and emotion. 

I made a decision: 
I had known this kid for all of his sixteen plus years, and I had rarely--if ever--found his judgment lacking. So what was different now? The answer was, nothing. --And his proven driving skills up to that point hadn't hurt this premise

At that point in time, and on that trip, was the last time I consciously--or unconsciously--critiqued his skills as a driver.  --No more right-foot synchronized brake peddling for me. 

From there on out, I became a tourist

Instead of watching the distance between the road's edge and the Bronco's right front wheel, I sat back and took-in the magnificent scenery and enjoyed the rest of the trip; and since that time, I have never looked back! 

Lest it be misunderstood, I am not claiming a parallel between me and the patient father in the aforementioned Readers' Digest story. This is about a young man who is Trustworthy!

[1] One of the most effective learning tools--for some people--is to have an instructor whom you Do Not Trust to give you the real poop! That is to say: you check out everything they say--trying to catch them making a mistake. 

A requirement of course, is that you first must really want to know the subject matter. 

The magic of this combination, is that you pay much closer attention to what's being dispensed, than you would otherwise. 

When I was twenty four, I worked as a civilian electronics technician at the Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile test facility, run by the U.S. Army, located in the Pacific on Kwajalein, Atoll, Marshal Islands. 

On a return trip to the island, after vacation, I had just sat down in the connecting bus to our charter flight from Oakland to Honolulu, when a middle-aged man wearing a flowered shirt sat down beside me. 

On the trip to the airport we chatted amiably, and the conversation got around to the Army's Nike-Zeus anti-missile system. Having just finished a tour with the U.S. Air Force I felt compelled to contrast the Army's Nike-Zeus with the Air Force's anti-missile approach. I raved on; about how the Air Force's boost-phase intercept was superior to the Army's terminal-phase interception. 

He listened very patiently, never disagreeing. When the bus reached its destination, we parted company. 

About a week after having returned to the island, my boss, myself and several fellow workers were entering the Officer's Club for lunch, when I was greeted by the outstretched hand of a U.S. Army, Four Star General with his entourage of assorted bird colonels and majors in tow. 

I did a double-take. It was the guy on the bus! 

With his entourage patiently waiting, we chatted like long lost friends for a few minutes; never once alluding to our previous conversation--he was magnanimous

After taking our leave of one another, my boss, who was suitably impressed, turned to me and asked how was it that I knew the head of the U.S. Army Missile Command.

At nineteen, I was the youngest Installer in a Western Electric installation group that went from city to city installing telephone central office equipment. 

Being the youngest in a group of old salts, I was often the butt of jokes and the derision sometimes given to the young by the "veterans." Also, as I was to find out later, a lot of the mistakes made in the installation were blamed on me. 

I discovered this one day after the completion of an unusually large job at the U.S. Air Force's SAGE air defense filter center, at Fort Lee, Virginia. 

The project manager--Captain Cook--a rather stern man whom we all were a little afraid of, gathered all the employees for a mass meeting. 

Out of the blue, he called me up to the front. Standing behind me with one hand on my shoulder, he said that the installation was ahead of schedule and was a success, and that he wanted to thank Williamson especially, for "single-handedly installing the office." 

He said that he knew I had single-handedly done the job because every mistake found in the entire installation had been blamed on me, therefore I "must have been all over the place." 

From that day on, I was never blamed for another mistake--I had been vindicated


In the late fifties I was stationed at Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia. 

Because of the fear of being caught on the ground by the recently deployed Russian ICBMS, the then head of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), General Curtis LeMay, required the B-52 crews to constantly practice getting off the ground and into the air ever faster. 

General LeMay was so concerned that the air crews take these training exercises seriously that if a crew aborted on takeoff they were all busted-down one rank; however if a crew excelled, they could all be raised one rank. 

One technique for fast response, was to takeoff two abreast on runways that weren't intended for such a feat. Because the B-52 pilot could not see the outrigger wheels which were located near the tip of its swept back wings, he had to rely on the enlisted tail gunner, who rode backwards in the tail turret, to call out corrections in order not to run off the runway, or into the adjacent B-52. 

On one such "Seven High" exercise, an overly excited tail gunner called out a "Right" correction to the pilot when it should have been "Left", and the worst happened.... 

For the next month, the tail gunner was seen around base carrying a large red brick with the letter "R" painted on it, in his left hand. 

He was just not "ambidextrous."


In my days with Bell Labs/Western Electric's Nike Zeus Project, on Kwajalein Island, every morning after breakfast, we would all pile on buses for the short trip, up the Island to the "Technical Area," where the missile launch facilities, RADARs, etc., were. 

As the bus would near the Technical Area, it was filled to capacity with a bunch of "zombies," nobody was talking to anybody. We were all setting there as if we had had a really bad night, the night before--as some had. 

On the bus ride, we were required to stop at the "guard shack" where the civilian security guard would board the bus and check everyone's I.D. badge. 

There was this particular guard, who when he came on board--taking his time, would speak to everybody--individually; making small talk and cracking jokes--just a happy guy. 

When he would leave the bus, he would make some parting remark that seemed to always be original, and very funny--breaking everyone up. 

As the bus started to move out, everybody--I mean everybody would be in animated conversion with someone else. It was as if a bunch of dummies had just had their switches thrown! It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. 

His enthusiasm was "infectious." 

The sad ending to this story, was that after about six or eight months on the island, he was fired. The story was that he had been keeping Beer in his water cooler; which just happen to be located in an unairconditioned wooden shack in the hot equatorial sun (just 8 degrees above of the Equator). 


The winter of 59, near the completion of a yearly check ride of a B-52 crew over Presque Isle, Maine: the instructor pilot (IP) who was sitting in a "jump seat" behind the Aircraft Commander's (AC) position, gave the final instruction, "intercept and turn inbound on Presque Isle VOR's Two Seven Zero radial."

The AC intercepts the radial and begins his coordinated turn (the correct roll and turn rate). 
The IP became distracted  by a radio call or a call on the intercom, and when he looked back to the AC's progress, he saw that the AC was not rolling out soon enough on the 270 radial; he excitedly shouts: "Roll Out, Roll Out!" 

The Navigator thinking he heard the command, "Bail Out, Bail Out"--Ejects! 

There is Confusion!

Everybody else follows the Navigator, including the AC; the Tail Gunner--who rides backwards in the tail--this is a "D" model B-52--leaves the aircraft by releasing and pushing his guns forward and out; as they fall away, he pushes himself out and opens his parachute.

In less than 20 seconds everybody is gone. Everybody, that is, except the IP, who has no ejection seat. 

He soon figures out that there was no emergency--except, NOW there is!

As soon as the IP gathers his wits, he gets up and goes to where the left seat was, and grabbing the aileron wheel, recovers the aircraft from it's slow roll, back to a straight and level attitude. Since there are no seats at either the pilot or copilot's position, the IP cannot use the rudder peddles and he knows he also could not apply the brakes on landing. Under the best conditions, one person landing a B-52 is a very difficult task; but to try doing it with no seat would be fatal! 

Knowing this, the IP calls Presque Isle Approach and declares an emergency! Since he is the only crew member on board, the IP is now the AC, and as such, is in command, making command decisions, i.e., it is his call what to do next. --Should he try to land this thing or should he bail out?

In his mind there is only one answer: he sets the aircraft's autopilot to an easterly heading that would take it out over the Atlantic Ocean while requesting TAC fighters to scramble and shoot down a "perfectly good"--nine million dollar strategic bomber! Then, wearing his chute, he climbs down into the--now open--bombay and bails out over land.

All ot the crew was recovered but for one--the Tail Gunner: a master sergeant who had retrained from his former career field of Survival Instructor.

He was finally found six weeks later in his international orange survival tent, which just happened to be covered by snow. He was feeling no pain, but he was running low on dessert. --Later there was suspicion that he had purposely eluded discovery hoping to avoid having to testify at the Board's inquiry.

At the inquiry, it was determined that there was mis-communications among the crew. And, because of the rash of--very sudden--B-52 midair explosions and fires; and the General Order: "Upon getting the command to 'Bail Out,' leave the aircraft immediately!"

As for the IP, he was found negligent in not landing the aircraft. The Board claimed that he could have "fashioned a seat from empty parachute containers on board, and landed the B-52 in a safe manner."


Sun, 24 May 1998
Dear Harry, 

I don't know if you wish someone  --particularly a Veteran-- "Happy  Memorial Day" or not. 

Watching several Memorial Day related  things on TV in recent days reminded  me of "My" WWII days. 

I remember the scrap metal drives, the  air raid drills --turning out all the lights,  pulling the shades and sitting in one  room with the only illumination coming  from a dim yellow light bulb half of  which was painted black. 

And the Star hanging in the front  window --over the couch, telling the  neighbors that My "Big Brother" was  Serving his/our Country. 

Needless to say I was proud of my Big  Brother Harry! 

Later as the War dragged on and the  endless parade of Soldiers being buried  on a daily --sometimes twice daily--  basis; many with no Next-of-Kin, only  Legionaries at graveside.  (Thank God  for the Legionaries, at least they  understood what these young men, and  their families had sacrificed). 

It slowly dawned on me --what Mom &  Dad already knew-- that one day one of  these brave young men could be You. It  was a realization --in a child's way of  picturing the world --that My Big  Brother --My Hero --was truly in  "Harm's Way," and that I might never  see him again.  My nightly prayers  became more than a childish recitation  from there on out. 

I remember going to the movies and  watching my Heroes like John Wayne  and Randolph Scott, single-handedly  winning the WAR; sometimes the news  reels would show something a little  closer to reality, and occasionally there  would be shots of, what to me then --as  now --was the sadist sight in the world:  scenes of a beach-head were some of  the guys never even made it to shore;  they were floating in the back water  face-up, sometimes partially covered by  sand. It was a picture of "Promise that  was to never be." 

Then came the thing that every  loved-one cringed at the mere thought  of: "The Telegram."   --Boy how it  Stung!   But at least You were still  ALIVE! 

Later we got news that you had won  the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star for  "Gallantry in Action." Boy was I proud  of My Big Brother. He was a Hero! 

In the many years since, I look back at  My childhood collection of Heroes: Joe  Louis, Babe Ruth, John Wayne, and  years later, Barry Goldwater; and My  Big Brother Harry. 

Most "Heroes" can never live up to that  Word, and never wish to. 

Reflecting back over my lifetime, I try  to think of who my REAL Heroes were.  I realize that My Big Brother Harry, had  a Profound Impact on my life! 

To Me You have been a Brother, a  "Father," a Role Model, and a Best  Friend. 

To God and Country, You are a Decent,  Honest and a Caring Son, Husband,  Father & Friend. 

Sadly, too often the Real Heroes go  unrecognized --even by those closest. 

Harry, this Memorial Day seems a good  time to tell You that you are My Hero,  and that You have always been  --whether I have always known it at the  time or not! 

And, that your Medals have nothing to  do in making you that Hero, but are  confirmation of that fact.

Thanks to You and your Comrades, I  never had to Fight a War. And --God  Willing --my children will never have to  Fight a War.  --For that, I Thank You! 

I Love You Big Brother Harry, and God  Bless America. 


Merriam-Webster http://www.m-w.com/

Reader's Digest   http://www.readersdigest.com/

Secondary Education 
University Education
The New  Education

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