August 12, 2014

standing in darkness -- a very fine occupation


click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Oh, I've worked. Yes, I have worked. And I've had some rather interesting jobs, and I've worked with some even more interesting people. Yes, indeed, I've worked. I've worked hard. But oh, I suppose my employers might have had a different opinion.

In 1969 through 1971 I served in the U.S. Army at the undeniable request of the President of the United States; Richard Milhous Nixon. Oh, they sent me to Fort Bliss, Texas; to train on a mobile missile launcher system called Chaparral, and I even launched one $80,000 missile at White Sands Test Range in Arizona. But when I got deployed to Germany (yes, I somehow avoided Vietnam) the first thing they asked was if I knew anything about typewriters. Cautiously I responded YES, but my caution was based on a book I had been reading; "The Draftee's Confidential Guide" which related a story about a group of recruits who had raised their hands when asked by their sergeant if they knew anything about typewriters. Unwittingly, they had volunteered to unload a truck full of typewriters. Fortunately, for me, my job changed from Chaparral crew member to company clerk-typist, working in a warm office typing up voluminous Article-15's, Court-martials, and duty rosters.

--So, why am I telling you this Army stuff? To prepare you for THIS story about the honorable man I worked under in his orderly-room; Master Sergeant Carmen. One day after a particular hectic day of typing I remarked to Sergeant Carmen that I needed a vacation, to which he quickly replied; "Kinney, you've been on a vacation since you got here." 'Nuff said.



click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

But at work I used to often look out the windows at interesting cloud formations passing over. And I'm sure my co-workers heard me say it a million times--"on a day like this Ansel Adams would be out photographing".



photo by Donald Kinney

But Kitty never worked, at least not in the traditional specter. She would often tug on my heart with love, but how could anyone confuse that with work--it was pure dedication on her part, but maybe she just didn't know any better. And she LOVED to play. Even if it was only from the living room to the kitchen, she would prance and run. A very fine cat indeed. One time I even saw her balance the moon on her nose.


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2 comments:

John @ Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Good post. I enjoyed the read. Do share more stories in the future.

AphotoAday said...

Thanks SINBAD'S DAD -- well I enjoyed writing that… Some day I'll tell all about having what is called a "hang-fire" with the missile. The "gas-grain generator for the heat-seeking guidance part of the missile ignited, but the main propulsion part didn't. We had been told that after a short amount of time (probably still classified information) if the missile hadn't hit its target the missile would self-destruct, in order to prevent it from exploding when it hit the ground. So anyway, there I was, in this plexiglass canopy, about 18 inches from a 20 pound high-explosive charge, expecting it to go off. They told me on the radio to stay in place and don't move. When they finally got up enough courage to come out and pull me out of the turret they said I was white as a ghost. Anyway, I learned later that I really was in no danger--the missile needs to sever a sheer-pin at the end of the launch rail for it to arm the explosive section. Anyway, they gave me another less-defective missile to launch and that one went off without a hitch. We were shooting at a big heat source being towed by a pilotless jet. Once a Chaparral missile locks on to its target it almost never misses. Zig-zags like a snake through the sky and looks like it has no change of hitting the target, but it makes the necessary corrections and hones in on the tailpipe of a jet. Our job was to protect the ball-bearing factories near Schweinfurt, Germany, --same ones we tried to knock out with our bombers during WW2. The Chaparral is more or less defenseless from a close range attack, so each is paired with a 20mm Vulcan gatling gun mounted on an APC, spewing bullets at some astronomical firing rate. In Germany we practiced going to war a lot, but if it came down to the real thing I had plans of hopping over the back fence to our installation. We were 5 minutes away from Czechoslovakia and like I said, we were sitting ducks. It took over 30 minutes just to get lined up and ready to move out. Oh, I'll have to dig up some stories about the airbase we were stationed at--Giebelstadt--one of Hitler's secret airbases that went undetected until very late in the war. Good story about how it avoided being detected, but I'll save that for later.

 
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