Saturday, May 28, 2016

From General Orders No. 11

Without putting too fine a point on it I guess, today, Saturday, is for all intents and purposes the official start of the holiday weekend. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you I took a vacation day yesterday because the people with whom I work deserved a break. 

I’m not going to get stuck in that ‘let’s check the weather’ trap to see what kind of plans I’ll be making because aside from attending some local observances on Monday I don’t actually do the planning in my house. Sigrid, my wife, does. Forty years on, she’s earned the right to do that.

I served eight years in the Air Force as, don’t snicker, a radio and television weenie (that’s what we called each other, but only when no one was around). Vietnam was ending (actually Saigon fell while I was in basic training), and the “All-Volunteer Force” had started as did my quarrel on behalf of language lovers everywhere (my point: since I was being paid, I was a ‘professional’ not a ‘volunteer.’).

It’s okay; no one ever paid me any mind when I hollered about it then, either. I spent 13 months with “The Friendly Giant of the North,” AFRTS Sondrestrom, ninety miles north of the Arctic Circle and went from there to American Forces Network, Europe, Headquarters in Frankfurt am Main (West) Germany. 

I lost a friend in Sondy, Jack, who drowned in a freakish set of circumstances involving the 24 hour a day Arctic summer sunshine, a wild river and a tipped raft and then, years later, we all lost Bruce and Mike when the rotors on an Army chopper they were aboard for a story about an international parachutists' jump at the Mannheim air show stopped rotating and all of them became the day’s only story.

All in all, for eight years, I’d be hard-pressed to tell you who in any service at any time had an easier duty. Oh, every once in a while a record might skip, or a cart wasn’t re-cued but nothing that caused the Russians to cross the Fulda Line. The hardest part was running into folks on flight lines or out on tank ranges who would tell me how much what I was doing meant to them while they were the ones always in harm’s way. 


Especially when in the decades since I stopped being in the Air Force we got very serious about how often we sent people into combat way and a helluva lot less concerned about the consequences for feckless and reckless foreign policy that resulted in Americans coming home in body bags.  Anyway. All of that is a preface to encouraging you to read all of this.

-bill kenny

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