Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Rediscovered Memories...

I didn't think I had these any longer but while cleaning we came across the photo albums which had these.  Hard to believe that was 35 years ago.
Awaiting my ride to the airport...
In 1974 I had just completed my 47-week course in Chinese (Mandarin) at the Defense Language Institute - West Coast (DLIWC) and was on orders for the Voice Intercept Operators' Course at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, Texas before shipping out for my first tour in the ROK (Dec-Jan 1975).  We weren't big on photographs then.  It was supposedly a security risk but here I am, just as I'm waiting for my ride to the airport to fly to San Angelo.  I'm 19-years old here.  Yes, the regs have changed a bit in that time.  You can see my TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) patch and I'm still wearing the little white taped on label on my name tag identifying my language (CM). That was pretty much it for photos until I went back to Korea for my second tour.
CW3 James C. Tice at his desk in the CE Shop, 125th ATC Bn
I returned to the ROK in August of 1977.  I went to the repo depot on Camp Coiner (adjoining Yongsan Garrison in Seoul) and managed to wrangle an assignment in Seoul with the 125th Air Traffic Control Battalion (Provisional).  I was then assigned as the senior PLL clerk for the Communications and Electronics shop (CE Shop).  The head honcho there was CW3 James C. Tice. Chief Tice was a fine fellow.  I liked working for him.  He told me what he wanted and I did it but he didn't really supervise, he left that to his NCOs including SSG Martinez and SSG Livingstone.  Later we had a CW3 Cosgriff (if memory serves).  I remember that Chief Tice had a family back home and a trailer home he couldn't sell but wished he could get some money from.  A very fortunate tornado took out the trailer but spared the home his family was living in on the same lot!  I think he was close to retirement but don't remember if I ever heard what happened to him. 
Along the road to Chuncheon with SP4 Lee.
I was with that shop for a couple of years.  The mission changed over that time from mostly repair of FM and avionics radios, GCA radar and voice recorders to mostly an exchange point with the section acting as the intermediary between the battalion's users and depot maintenance in various parts of Korea.  We had some interesting and fine folks there. One of those fine folks was SP4 (spec four or Specialist Fourth Class) Lee.  He was my right-hand man and handled a lot of the leg work for me as well as bringing me up to speed on the language.  He was a sort of Corporal Klinger with a knack for finding all sorts of odd things from obsolete radar tubes to gold jewelry (for the wife) and even a gig as a conversational English teacher.  He was also a veteran of the ROK Army and a black belt in Taekwondo.
NamSan, Seoul, December 1978
Also in the unit was SP5 Ramesh P. Fowser.  He was a very interesting person for many reasons.  He was Indian whose family had emigrated to Guyana and then he had moved on to the U.S., gotten his citizenship and joined the Army.  Part of his family lived in up-state New York and his brother still lived in Guyana when the Jim Jones Jonestown event happened.  Apparently it was so bad in Guyana that his brother felt it necessary to call him on the phone (which was almost never done at the time due to cost and/or difficulty) to let him know they were alive and safe.  Ramesh had been there a couple of years and his girl-friend was Korean.  I think they eventually got married.
Ramesh (foreground) and _____ at the 125th ATC CE Shop
Life was pretty good in Korea.  I managed to save up some money and live fairly comfortably (if average winter indoor temps of about 58° is comfortable) with my family even though we weren't command sponsored.
Standing at the section door in Camp Coiner...
Due to the changing section mission, the section was moved to Camp Coiner and of course we got some new faces.  Because I was married to a Korean, I had pretty much homesteaded which wasn't that unusual for soldiers with Korean wives so I made the move, too.  Now we were in one of the many Quonset huts heated with the green diesel stoves.  It was my job to come in every morning, sign for the section keys and start the stove.  I'd then go to the snack bar on main post and have breakfast.  Inevitably that would be a ham and cheese omelet prepared by Mr. Kim and read the paper.  Then I'd pick up the section mail, check the duty roster, have PT or whatever and go back to the section for a day's work.  Another soldier would usually turn in the keys in the evening.  Our OIC was CW4 Lawson (from Arkansas) and the NCOIC was SFC Godfrey Wactor (an actual veteran of the Korean war and a businessman on the side at Fort Huachuca).  It was during this time, 1979, that my daughter was born.  Chief Lawson didn't want me to take leave, even though I hadn't taken any leave in almost 3 years, and when I did he got me transferred out of his section to the motor pool.  Good folks down there, too, and I knew them all.  That was a good section but I don't think I ever took any photos.  Maybe I'll surprise myself and find some.


Mark said...

What a small world. I just found your blog via someone else's blog, and am really enjoying it. Although several of your posts have caught my eye, this one made my eyebrow rise as I am a former US Army 98C. (English language only!) (I'll leave it at that for now!) Anyway, love your blog, and all the best.

Hobie said...

Small world indeed. Most of us are still in contact with at least one friend from those days. Feel free to contact me any time.