©  Copyright  1999 --  2016   Questions or Comments:  Contact.
> 360 URLs
WELCOME to williamson-labs.com     --HOME
> 90 Subjects

Kwaj Stories


Kwajalein, An Island Like No Other
Paperback – May 18, 2014
by Lynn A Jacobson 
25 customer reviews

Just Another Day in Paradise
A History of Kwajalein, MI
Hardcover – June 1, 2015
by Bill Remick 
6 customer reviews

LIM-49 Nike Zeus
by Maury Markowitz

A Closed Mouth = no Feet The Guard Shack W.R.G. Duane, Jr. Coincidence
Youthful Indiscretion Class warfare ABM and EMP Glossary
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 EMP VIDEONGC[]
A Closed Mouth gathers no Feet
(Once Upon-a-Time on Kwajalein)
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's Redstone Arsenal, located at the western end of the Pacific Missile Range (PMR), on Kwajalein, Island, in the 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 of my co-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 buddies 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 in Hell was it that I knew the Head of the U.S. Army Missile Command...


The Guard Shack
On Kwajalein, every morning after breakfast we would all pile into buses for the short trip up the Island to the "Technical Area," where the missile launch facilities, and various RADARs 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 robots had just had their switches thrown! It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, or more correctly, been a part of. 

His enthusiasm was truly 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 un-air conditioned wooden shack the size of a phone booth, in the hot equatorial sun just 8 degrees above of the Equator. 

Most believed that he must have pissed off someone in Security, and they used something many in that group practiced themselves, to nail him with...


W.R.G. Duane, Jr.
While on Kwajalein it was my good fortune to have crossed paths with some remarkable individuals, among them was one by the name of Dick Duane, A.K.A., W.R.G. Duane, Jr., A.K.A., William Richard Galt Duane, Jr. (1928 - 1996) 

He was born in New York City, and grew up in relative luxury on the island of Mallorca, Spain. He served in the U. S. Army in World War II and the Army of Occupation in Germany as a communications technician. 

In the early '50s he worked for Bell Laboratories at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, testing components of Nike and Nike Zeus defensive weapon systems. 

Dick came to the Nike Zeus Project by way of Project Mercury at Cape Canaveral. There he picked up the nickname "Space," while on Kwaj we lengthened it to "Space Ace." When America sent Alan B. Shepard on his sub-orbital flight in 1961, Dick was the Bermuda flight controller. There he was the defense projects communication engineer assigned to Bermuda and responsible for the intercommunication philosophy in operation at the various Project Mercury locations. 

Dick once confided that his formal education only went as far as the tenth grade. Yet he was a self educated, outstanding working electrical engineer, and the acting launch director for the Nike Zeus ABM system there on Kwajalein. He was granted a patent on a method of simultaneously transmitting two messages over the same radio frequency, "Multiplex System Employing Polar Modulation."

Any evening you stopped by his room, there he would be, sitting in bed, a martini in one hand and a dime novel in the other. He loved to read dime novels, he would finish one, toss it in a pile (over two feet high) and go on to the next one… 

Dick was also an avid Ham radio operator. He operated a Heath kit portable SSB rig ~35Watts, from his room in the Reef BOQ. Several of us on that and other islands, would spend hours talking on 20 meters, his rig would eventually drift up and out of the band, and we would tell him to move back down the band when he drifted too far. 

Among his other accomplishments he invented "dual monitoring" and the hierarchy of communications concept now used universally by missile ranges. 

He also owned one of the first Accutron watches, it was so accurate that, instead of using WWVH, the National Bureau of Standards out of Hawaii, just before a launch, the Launch Director would call Dick for a "time hack."
The Nike Zeus Launch Director found the pressure of the job so daunting that  he gave the task to Dick, who did a flawless job. 

I was to find out that after Dick left the island, he met the love of his life, and they were married soon after.

A year or two later they came to Kwajalein for yet another tour. There he was a planning engineer on the Safeguard ABM System, and test director for the first intercontinental ballistic missile track from Meck Island.

I found this out in 1998 while attempting to find out, "whatever happened to him."  Sadly, I was to contact his widow in my efforts. He had passed away in 1996, at the age of 68.

In writing this, I regret that my limitations as a writer prevents my doing him justice. He was a remarkable person, and those of us who were fortunate enough to have him as a friend, won't soon forget him. 

1928 - 1996


In 1962 I was on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands. I used several of the government ham stations on the island. Most every night I would operate the Navy ham station, KX6BU (Brown Underwear). I would spend my time running phone patches for the people on the island, or for myself, or I would just chew the fat with stations back in the states, other countries--depending on conditions. A good deal of the time band conditions were optimum for other Pacific islands.

One night I was talking to someone on an island in the Marianas. He was about my age and he also worked as a civilian employee, but for the US government. He ask me where I was from, I said I'm from a little town in Virginia I'm sure you never heard of--Danville, Virginia. He came back saying did you go to GW High? I said yes! He said, did you have Lefty Wilson? I said, Damn right! I said, what the Hell is your last name? He told me (sadly I can't recall it today). I said mine's Williamson, Glen Williamson! 

I knew the guy, we were class mates in George Washington High School. What are the odds? We spent the next several hours reminiscing, until the band went out.

When I got back state side to Danville, I looked him up.

I would love to know the odds of that happening...

Youthful Indiscretion
During my eighteen months on Kwajalein, there were times things got pretty Damn boring. 

I remember one such time. 

One of my jobs, among others, was to calibrate and repair the test equipment used on the island. One day I was unusually bored and looking for a diversion. I happened to be working on a signal generator (miniature transmitter), and I needed to test it out. So I got the bright idea to connect it to the 120 volt A.C. wall receptacle and broadcast through the power mains to the AM radio in the lab that was tuned to the island's only radio station, AFRS.

I hooked up a microphone to the signal generator and started to broadcast as if I were running my Link Trainer from my old Air Force days. Since I had been stationed near Albany Georgia, I used the same voice procedure I had used there: "Air Force 123 this is Albany Approach. I understand you are declaring an emergency, is that correct?" "Roger, understand you are declaring an emergency. You are cleared for a straight-in approach on runway 27, contact Albany GCI on 125.2 at outer marker..."

The broadcast came out loud and clear on the lab's radio--I was surprised at how it drowned out AFRS, and how loud my broadcast was. I looked around to see the response of the other guys in the lab, they were listening intently, completely unaware of my connection. I chimed in with them while trying to keep up the radio chatter, all the time trying desperately to keep my secret.

My supervisor went out into the hallway to see if others were hearing this and to findout where it was coming from. After a couple of minutes he came back reporting it was all over the building.

It had came out loud and clear on every radio in the whole Damn building--the U.S. Army's Joint Technical Operations (JTO) Building!  __Oops!

One of the secretaries whose husband just happened to work in the island's control tower, called her husband who also was the Chief Petty Officer in charge of the ATC section. She told him of the "plane that had an emergency at the Albany, New York airport." So he alerted God knows who!

Meanwhile, finding out the hornet's nest I had just stirred up, I'm looking under my workbench for a place to hide! 

My response to the news of the aircraft's plight, was, "gosh, I wonder how that radio signal got all the way out here--must be one Hell of a Skip."

Fortunately I had not revealed that I was the source of that broadcast. And, I Never Did!



Class warfare, is there any Other Kind
While on Kwajalein I worked as an Electronics Technician. Most Engineers on the island got along with the technicians, treating us, for the most part, as peers. Occasionally you would run across some knothead who acted as if we were beneath them. The newer the engineers were the worst about that. The older engineers realized the technician were valuable to have around, and could be the one to pull them out bad situations. It was akin to the 'old salt' Sergeant looking out for the FNG Lieutenant in the movies.

One of the engineers was a good friend and we use to pal around and drink together One day he got a new room mate who he had known in the states. We had a few meals together and he seem like an alright guy. One day at lunch he realized that I was a technician, not an engineer like he thought. Well, from then on he was cold, almost rude to me. He would avoid me, and even pretend that he didn't even see me at times.

That really pissed me off, and even hurt a little. I asked my buddy, Kelly, what was up with his room mate, he said that he had a history of being a bit of a snob.

During some of our meals we talked about he and I both serving in the Air Force, and having the same rank, Airman Second (E2).

So wanting to fix this snob’s "little red wagon," and have some fun--at his expense of course! I got this idea, I would con him into believing that I was, in fact, an officer in the Air Force Reserves, which beat his rank of an enlisted E2. I wanted to see how he treated me then. I felt I knew, if I brought this off. I let my buddy know what I was up to and I also enlisted his help.

First I let it drop that I had misunderstood the snob when he told me he was an Airman Second, and I said that was my rank also when I served. But in fact I had been a Second Lieutenant Air Crewman at the time we were talking about. 

His attitude changed toward me somewhat, but I could tell he wasn't completely convinced

I was in the Air Force reserves, but at the rank of Airman Second (E2), and I happened to receive the monthly reserve magazine. The magazine was received by officers and enlisted alike, the only difference would be the address label.

I asked an Army Captain friend of mine what would be the difference in an officer's serial number and an enlisted serial number. He said where my number started with, AF, an officer's would start with an M. He also said that was true for both Air Force and Army, when I asked. So I proceeded to craft a fake mailing label for my magazine by first typing four or five carbon copies of the label, I took the second or third copy and cut it out the same as the original, including the two little notches that were cut out at the top and bottom. Once I had swapped them, you couldn't tell the difference. I was as proud as any counterfeiter who had just turned out a shinny new twenty.

Now came the hard part, since I wanted the "mark" to see the magazine, or more precisely, the label, I got my buddy, Kelly, to casually stop by my room with hin on the way to lunch. Before they showed up I planted the magizine, face, and label, down on my bed.

They walked in and we chatted a few minutes, I then pretended that I needed to show Kelly something about my tape recorder. As we were talking, I watch the mark in the mirror. He looked to see if I was watching, and quickly picked up the magizine, took a long glance at the label, then put it down, face down on my bed.

I could hardly contain myself. Nothing I had ever planned and/or tried had ever worked anywhere as well, I almost needed a change of underwear!

This guy fell hook line and "Stinker!" His attitude toward me changed as abruptly as when he first found out that I was a lowly tech. In point of fact, it was almost embarrassing to see him fawn. For the next several weeks I played with him, extracting as much satisfaction as possible, without setting him wise (;-)). About once a week I would give him the news that I had been notified that I was up for promotion from Captain to Major. The next week, the promotion had finally come through, that it was official __Blah, Blah, Blah...

The theme was a constant, "I'm a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and you are Not!"

Several weeks later my tour there was up, and I was headed back to the States; with all that money, and by the way, several pounds of fresh, Flesh!

So the day I left, I was finishing my lunch in the officer's mess with my buddies and coworkers, I said my Good Byes. On the way out I stopped by the snob's table, I shook his hand and looking him in the eye, I said, "be careful how you judge people in the future, a mere job title doesn't make the man." I called him by name (I wish I could remember it), "you're a God Damn arrogant little snob! I'm no officer, I was an airman second just like you. And I'm a technician, and a Damn good one, if I say so myself--and I do say so! 

I looked at everyone at the table, and doing my best Phil Silvers imitation, I said--with a big grin, "Glad to See Yea!" 

With that, I turned and left on that "Big Bird in the sky!" 

Boy was I glad to be Finally Leaving!!

That job was like my military service, I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience, but I wouldn't do it again for a million dollars.  __Well, maybe for a million...



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 worst, 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 recognition 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...





© 1999  -  2016  Questions or Comments about  this site  webmaster


Suggestions are Solicited, P l e a s e !