Thursday, October 8, 2015

Motorcycle Accidents.

It's time for tough talk. Everyday there is a grinding and bloody crash on the freeway. It's  usually the result of brain dead stupidity. Bikes these days have so much power that it takes an experienced rider to control them. So what do we do?

Any person can take an ability test on a 250cc or 350cc (small) motorcycle and obtain a Motorcycle Safety certificate attesting to his or her riding ability.  The next step in the California process is for the individual to take that certificate to the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) and present it, then take a  short written test on motorcycle law. 

Once the test is passed the individual 16 YEARS AND OLDER is qualified to sit on a THOUSAND HORSEPOWER bike and drive the on turnpike roads at legal speeds. Note that in California a motorcycle rider can pass between lanes at dangerous but legal speeds. 

There is something very wrong with this picture. Something isn't working.  Thousands of bikers go down (crash) every day and the fatality numbers are staggering. 

Why does no one seem to be addressing this? Or are they?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Police Need Support

I've not written in a while. I'm back in the saddle stiff and sore, and thinking about cops and robbers again. Have you noticed the biased media presentations that just can't wait to whip the police before the facts are known? 

In my extended and multi-cultured community, Los Angeles and Orange County, California, about half of the altercations between police and suspected criminals, are linked by racism. If there is any rough stuff - there will be a lawsuit. 

The cop on the beat says that just a little coercion doesn't always work. Yet they must render suspected criminals cooperative as quick as possible. Doesn't anyone listen? The beat cops are out-weaponed, unsupported by the public, and making spot decisions every day. They have to do so with concern over the potential threat they may be facing, the new fangled "political correctness, and the overall effectiveness of their actions. They have to decide how they can control and capture a reluctant, non-cooperative, and potentially violent suspect - quickly. 

In days gone by, children were taught that policemen and police women were their friends. If they ever needed help they should go to them and explain the problem. They were assured they would receive whatever help they needed. Time and social stress has turned this tradition on it's head. Even worse,  in some communities, almost from birth, children are taught that the police are "the enemy" and backstabbing pigs.  Members of the family grind on this attitude constantly and the result is not good. 

Too many, way too many minority suspects, both guilty and innocent, are killed by the police simply because they didn't follow directions. They resisted direction by the authority.

It's the same story with the white community who are also  physically abused or killed because they did not submit to the authority.  

Let's fix this.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our Government - A Racket?

I can't digest this. Can we be so far down the failure road? I'm sure at least some of these statements are in error. Does that mean a few are correct?

War is possibly the oldest,  easily the most vicious,  and certainly the most profitable racket that exists. 

War measures profits in dollars and losses in lives.

War is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.

War allows a few people to pile up millions and billions, but only a few.

The military-industrial complex obtains a staggering amount of money, more than the net income of all United States corporations, and spends it on WAR. 

And it is all borrowed from  our children and future generations. 

Rarely is there an attempt to curb government spending on the military-industrial complex.

Not a word about the many quitting obsolete American outposts around the world. 

Not a word about rolling back tens of billions spent each year on national security.

Now let me repeat a few famous quotes:

The Honorable Louis McFadden
"Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers, and rich and predatory money lenders."

Thomas Jefferson
"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of m,one, first by inflation and deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (the banks) will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Reagan's Mistakes or The Best of Two Bad Choices

Reagan planned to cut two energy departments. (Energy and Education).
  • Instead, he added one -and it became the Deprtment of Veteran's Affairs which is now the 2nd largest of them all.
Reagan's "To Be Elected Rules".
  • Publish a book with your name in it and on it. 
  • Proudly invoke the 40th President and the intention to return to his values, small government, low taxes, and self reliance. 
Liberal Democrats like to point out that when Reagan was President the country was: 
  • not ruled by his values, 
  • nor were thrift and hard work rewarded properly, 
  • nor did the government know it's place.
Conservative Republicans proudly say "Under  Reagan federal employment increased". 
  • Total federal employment rose from 4.9 million to 5.3 million. 
When Reagan TOOK office the federal budget was:  
  • $600 billion revenue, 
  • spending was 680 billion, 
  • and there was a deficit of $79 billion.  
When he LEFT office the federal budget was: 
  • $909 billion, the 
  • spending was $1.1 trillion, 
  • and the deficit had reached $155 billion.
When Reagan cut the  top income tax bracket from 70% to 28%, revenues went from $517 billion (1980) to over $1 trillion (1990). Very interesting.

And the nations  GDP actually grew by 33% during Reagan's term in office. 
  • Liberal Democrats like to point out that this growth was not unlike that we experienced during the two presidential terms that followed. (Bush and Clinton),  
  • and that most of the rise in GDP during the Reagan years was due to regular inflationary growth. 

Rand Paul   Republican Dove - is distancing from his fathers non-pragmatic Libertarian views.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

News Mess

We do not receive anything close to accurate and non-biased news. Was it ever available? No, and it never will be. The root of distortion is almost always 'wealth'.  Wealth can describe acres of ground,  a number of camels, dollars in the bank, bars of gold bullion, and so on. A student looking in on the major problems of humanity, always ends up with 'wealth'. There is too little or too much, deserved or undeserved, earned and not earned.  So it is 'wealth' at the root of human problems.

The difference between rich and poor, sometimes referred to as the 'gap', is the most aggravating problem. There are, for example, millions who are born into extreme poverty and who never will be able to improve their circumstances. For no particular reason there are others born into wealthy circumstances who will never experience anything close to poverty.

Why does this happen? The religions present in the world try to find answers. There is no answer. Religion, theology, philosophy and serious thought - have no answer. They search, they construct, they dream, they hypothesize - but now has or will find the answer. Every day in the newspaper is a report of someone absolutely innocent of any wrong doing who is shot in the head and killed. The next page will typically show a picture of a mangled car and the notice that an entire family died because a tire blew out or the car hit a bridge abutment. Why did they die while vicious evil criminals continue their attack on innocent non-combatant people?

Stop there. Ask yourself why a educated and supposedly civilized group of people can (and do) ignore the plight of the less fortunate in their community. They have no conscience that troubles them?

In some cases it becomes a question. Why should I work so hard to feed, cloth and house my family and help another person who does not work, or earn, or make an effort toward self-motivation, learning, or improving circumstances? To bring an impoverished family up to the standards enjoyed by the family that has 'wealth' will necessarily reduce the donors standard of living and wealth.

Rocio And The Lost e-mail

I just discovered that an e-mail I sent to you several days ago - probably didn't go out.  The reason is long and not too important anyway. Suffice to say that there have been at least a month of problems in our family. It doesn't bode well for our Christmas. Right now I'm getting over pneumonia and Linda is suffering through her last (hopefully) days of the shingles. Word to the wise: Don't ever get the shingles. I missed the last DCM. Hope you made it and promoted out new club. I've decided to drop out of Fountain Valley and re-join Santa Ana. I visited there and was happily welcomed back. I doubt I will be punished for straying. Meanwhile one of my best friends for the last  60 years died at Hoag. His death didn't help my disposition. This business of depression is a bummer. I've missed our
morning coffee - a lot! I know you're busy. In fact I am amazed at the vigorous Kiwanis activities you are able to fir into the schedule. My I-Mac went down in flames and I was forced to erase ALL previous stuff. What fun. I don't know what my e-mail address is but I think it's  How about coffee early some day this week? Dixon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stupid, Smart, and I'm More Important

It is amazing that so many people make no effort to correct the ills of the planet. Everyone seems to agree that we've inherited a planet that has the resources to feed, cloth and shelter everyone. Of course there are a few that disagree but when pinned to the post their argument falls apart.  Human beings have the brains to figure out how to do most anything. Our nature leads us to avoid certain important puzzles and concentrate on the trivial. With our "Free Will" it seems mankind can't even agree on the structure and organization of a benevolent government. Are we actually allowing our pride, selfishness, and aggressive attitudes  to  cause us to self destruct? We are you know. Look around and consider our not so brilliant history. 

Millions have died for lack of fresh water, lack of food, lack of medication, and stupidity. Millions more have killed other millions for land, wealth, women, and for no other reason at all. As we speak there is a idiotic war going on between poverty and plenty.  They call it an outlaw war between religions. Nonsense. And there will be no winner, only losers. Does that strike you as smart? 

There are brilliant scientists around the world in all scholastic disciplines, physics, chemistry, medicine, biology, engineering, and on and on. Certainly they could be gathered to contribute towards feeding their poor neighbors. In fact, it is entirely possible, even probable, that they could relieve the hunger problem and save people. The more people saved will ultimately produce more answers. You might say that this would be a self sustaining program.  Or would you rather these scientists learn to build bigger bombs?


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Want To Buy A Small Business (or) Are You Crazy?

You've bought yourself an existing, operating, small business. The deed is done. You have avoided most of the start-up problems and learning curves by purchasing a going business. You believe the business was priced low. It will be at least a year before you find out for certain. Most buyers don't really pay a lot of attention to the minor problems and weaknesses. They often come as a surprise and cause a new buyer to question if he or she made a mistake. Usually a mild case of buyers remorse shows up, but only temporarily. 

You may, for example, find that sales are lower than you expected, operating costs are higher, and personnel problems happen just when you don't expect them.  Yikes! The business isn't exactly as represented. You are now the owner just beginning to deal with things like this. Now you understand why the previous owners were so anxious to sell. Despite words to the contrary they  probably developed an increasing lack of enthusiam - and decided to sell. It doesn't matter anymore. You are now responsible for the business. 

Nothing moves until something is sold, and three things have to happen - first!

(1) The business has to have the ability to function smoothly.
(2) Provide quality products, 
(3) at reasonable prices, and 
(4) on time. 

A business can not exist if there is employee inertia. You have to set the target and they must work towards it. Employee inertia is serious. It is up to you to convince employees of the importance of your goals. You may have to re-educate your empoyees to understand your idea of importance of a customer.
Once you develop a satisfactory comfort level with the competency of the business, it's time for you (or a sales person) to reach out for sales using all of the marketing tools available. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Liberal Betty The Blogger

Betty Rain    (revised 2015)

My friend Betty Rain, a terrific blogger (formerly  a reasonable Liberal Democrat), refuses to listen to my often apposing views. She has steadily been moving further to the left since President Obama became the King, and she has fallen for several of his obviously devastating ideas. I'm not going to discuss that fellow right now. There are more than enough press people and raging bloggers covering his poor decisions. I'm concerned only with the apparent closure of an extremely bright mind. My friend Betty.

America is quickly becoming the most radical liberal nation Americans have experienced since F.D.R. Betty is convinced that we should print more money and increase welfare payments until there is no more poverty. This isn't a sophisticated idea, it will not work, and it would be a disaster should the national debt continue to increase. The concept is the proven result of excessive government control. The American economic system so ingeniously crafted by the founding fathers would be no more - and poverty would increase to be out of control.  

Unlike most liberals, I believe Americans are good, industrious and a positive influence on the world overall. We have political problems of all kinds and the reasons have many fathers.  Our system has glaring faults, yet the foundation and basic structure is the finest in the world.  Of course it requires due diligence and constant repairs and modifications - but it does not need incompetent leaders. 

Within the blink of an eye our current leader became an arrogant, ego driven zealot determined to advance his private agenda no matter what. How this characteristic was overlooked before his first election will someday be the subject of countless history books. Even after his personality problems were learned, he was elected again. He was actually selected in favor of several more suitable candidates. Doesn't that indicate there is something wrong with our election system. Mr. Obama was, at the end of his first term, clearly  a proven failure - but was elected anyway.  What happened? I have several good friends that voted in both elections for Mr. Obama. All of them now say it was the dumbest thing they ever did. They finally understand that he is a very intelligent person that has been educated by family, friends -  and radically liberal teachers during his entire life. He arrived on the scene with a carefully crafted ideology, a like able personality, and promised extravagant changes. It was "snake oil". But it was believed by many Americans tired of the mythical big business types.  

Virtually no one in America agrees with the concepts of communism, socialism, royalty, dictatorships, and etc. That is, no one but Mr. Obama and his supporters. They are convinced that America is evil and does nothing but harm all over the world. They are blind to the compassionate aid, comfort, and assistance America has freely dispensed since it's founding. Betty's claims that America has  never been successful. She believes that America started on the wrong foot in 1776, and has never improved. She is in lockstep with most ultra liberals. She sees America as the worlds' most arrogant bully. 

Okay, so we differ on ideology. Yet not long ago Betty and I enjoyed discussing political ideas. She from the left and I from the right. Betty eventually lost interest and our conversations ended. At that point she had started to dismiss ideas other than her own. That made me sad, but I never tried to re-open our correspondence. 

The ultra-liberal philosophy that she favors - promises failure. 

Perhaps a carefully  thought out compromise between Progressives and Conservatives  could  be arranged by a fundamental restructuring of  the Congress.   I doubt that is possible.  But I prefer the idea rather than the corrupt, money influenced, stagnant, military dominated, non-representative government officials we have now.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Speeding Bullet

The older you get - the faster you get older. I'm 77 and in relatively good health. The important word is relatively. Aches and pains I've got plenty. Several decades ago I had a heart attack. That's when the pills began. Every day I drop these magic marbles into my yaw. There's beta blockers, aspirin, statins, antidepressants, and about 10 more lesser pills. They must work. I'm still here.  A few years ago my conversation acquired holes and pauses. Aha! Dementia. I've found ways to cover embarassment by mumbling something unintelligible or gathering a polite cough behind my bony claw. 

Apparently there is a small chance that I will eventually get parked in a blithering facility where someone will tell me if I ate breakfast or didn't. Meanwhile: "I ain't going nowhere." At least no where soon.

Our shaggy long hair mini dachshunds wake me if the doorbell doesn't. If the housae was on fire they would sleep through it. Priorities. Reclining chairs have become more important than sleeping pills. I sit with the intention to read or watch the telly but as soon as I recline my eyelids begin to droop.

Too many friends have gone missing but they have left behind a treasure trove of memories in my mind.  Once in a while I think that's the only thing in there. While on the subject of death, ever notice that the battalion of the dead is increasing fast. It is you know. I like to think they are all on duty and waiting for each of us. Logic tells me this is unlikely, but what the hell. I often wake from my mid-day nap with a mental picture of a long ago departed friend. The picture lasts no more than an instant but I spend the rest of the day wondering "why" the picture was there in the first place.

I regularly get down in the dumps. Do people still say that when they have chin on the ground depression? My patient wife, the wife with all of the answers, like Rumpoles "she-who-must-be-obeyed," cheers me back to normalcy. When I say "I don't know how I'm going to get through this,"  she often says: "Neither do I. But you will."
The only thing new about death is that technology has made it possible to see and hear more about death than ever before.  Newspapers have more photos of bloody gruesome death and  automobile advertising than everything else combined. On the telly it's disasters, war pictures and viagra ads.

The sunny side of being elderly (hate that word) is related to the statement: "I don't give a damn." 

  • If I don't want to do something, I don't do it." 
  • If I don't want to hear something, I turn the hearing aide down". 
  • If I don't want to speak in front of a crowd, I plead advancing dementia and say a few words in gibberish. 
I think you get the picture. 

Who are you again?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The First Warning
In 1955 Germany was still a scene of considerable damage.  World War II had thoroughly devastated most of the country. Bricks, dust, broken glass and other debris lay in piles at the side of the road. There were scarred and broken buildings, rooms missing a wall or two and the remains of furniture exposed to the elements. Evidence of firestorms told a story of horror that few Germans had survived. In the cities and villages the pock marks of ordinance, twisted pipes, and other remnants of distruiction, were serious survivors of horror, and death.  Germany was raw and exposed like an untended graveyard with broken headstone. 

The country was divided into four areas; French, American, British, and Russian. I was then a member of the first tactical guided missile group deployed in Europe. We were physically located in Sembach, a small village not far from Kaiserslautern. We were within   the French partition. Our guided missiles were designated the Martin Matador ™ 61C.  By today's standards, they were unbelievably crude. The guidance system was a sophisticated radar that emitted precision pulses. The distance between pulses told the missile the exact path to fly and when to stop flying, and to glide to it's target where it was to  explod on contact.  Sometimes it worked pretty well. 

One of the first Air Force Jet Fighters was the F-80 Lockheed Shooting Star. Our guided missile was the Martin Matador which was the same size, configuration (except there was no cockpit). The missile was powered by a GE J-33 jet engine as was the F-80 Jet Fighter. 

The guidance system was called Shanicle, and like the missile itself, was produced by the Martin Company in Baltimore.  Our training in fundamental electronics beganb at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado. Then we attended another school in Biloxi, Mississippi, and completed the initial training at Orlando AFB, Florida. The team, including myself, shipped out to Sembach, Germany in 1955. And the fun began.

Starting Out 1954
In Europe our duties were interspersed with time off duty.  Typically,  we worked long hours for a few weeks, and given off duty passes. Sometimes a week long, and sometimes several weeks.   As soon as I was able, I purchased a car.  It was a 1947 or 1948 Mercedes 170, Black, 4 cylinder Sedan, and I wish I still had it. During the  off duty times  my friends and I all drove all over most of Western Europe. All of us had a Secret Job Classification. We were forbidden to travel in East Germany and other countries behind the Iron Curtain. 

As mentioned, at that time in Germany politics and diplomacy were confused.  Sembach Air Base was originally built for the Luftwaffa but the war ended before they could use it.  The installation was in good repair when we moved in. The runways lay over open fields in a rural setting of rolling hills, green forests, and farmland. It was postcard pretty, and about thirty minutes away from the nearest big town, Kaiserslautern.

The U.S. Air Force was a bit disorganized when we arrived in 1955. They seemed a little tentative about how to handle our new missile squadron. They learned quick. For us in the trenches, It was "hurry up and wait" for everything. There was a bit of frustration at first. We were designated the 565th Squadron. We actually did very little work at that location. We assembled and maintained equipment there, opened the mail, drank lots of coffee, and played sports when the weather permitted. 

Our real (and important) purpose in Germany was to off=set the Russian troops stationed just across the East-West border.

It was necessary for the squadron to be deployed to various locations, point our missiles east toward the Russians, and rattle their cage without making a threat. It was still a little tense during those days 1955 - 1958.

There were some locations we favored over others. We took our guidance equipment to a hilltop location on farm land outside of Steingaden, and stayed there in the snow most of a winter season. When the workday shift was over, we returned to the little village where we stayed at a really nice gasthaus. The experience was my first exposure to living in a gasthaus where the owners and staff spoke only Deutch. Also, it was the first time I slept under a feather tick, and the first time I stayed at a place where the staff was several of the owner's teen aged daughters.

Getting our trucks with the 120 ft. mast and radar equipment to the site was a chore.  Tthe last mile or so, and it took about six hours to drive to the site. The MSQ van and the Shanicle electrons van were easier to get in place. Of course we had tents, power generators, cooking and mess equipment, spare cables, a water tank truck, and other misc. stuff. Setting up was lots of fun at 20 degrees.

While at the Steingaden site I accidentally shoved a pocket knife  between my left thumband forefinger, cutting a minor groove on the underside of my four finger tendons/ligaments(?). For this I was rewarded with a trip to the USAF Hospital in Weisbaden, Germany where it was discovered (X-ray) that the damage was minor. They sewed me up and I returned to duty with a Doctor's note excusing me from duty for 30 days. I drove over to Paris with friends and had a great time.

As mentioned, Europe 1955-1958 was encrusted with damage left over from the war. Rubble and broken buildings were everywhere. Most of the  German people were friendly to the American military forces stationed in their midst. The few that were not tended to  avoid contact if possible. Interestingly, the German people were not friendly to the British or French military forces - who were generally disliked quite openly. 

Guided missiles were relatively new in 1955. Our Matador (a small tactical missile) and the Snark (a large strategic missile) were, as far as I know, the first and only American missiles deployed to Europe while I was stationed there.  It was necessary to test our  missiles periodically - but there was no good area available. So our entire 565th Squadron with a supply of missiles as well as all of the trucks and supplies, was air freighted to Wheelus Field, Tripoli, Libya. There all necessary personnel and everything needed for testing was off-loaded. Let me call your attention to a  map of Africa, with Tripoli on your left,  Misurata on your right, and the Atlas Mountains far to the south. This lovely piece of desert real estate was the USAF Weapons Test Range. 

The Shanicle guidance system required four large trucks, each filled with Shanicle's sophisticated electronics. Actually it's probably easier to understand by thinking of these four trucks as two pairs. One pair guided the missile on a path to the target. The other pair told the missile when to stop flying,  and when to glide and hit the target. By today's standards it was a crude, slow, not so accurate system. In  those days it was "state-of-the-art."

Getting to the test range from Wheelus Field was a challenge. Tripoli was easily the biggest town in Libya. Misurata was west of it and smaller. Looking south from a line drawn between those two places - was scrub brush and sand, nomads and camels, flat land and wadis, and nothing else as far as you could be see. The Atlas mountains were too far away and hidden in a heat haze most of the time. Somewhere, south into the desert was a more or less permanent encampment believed to be the hottest inhabited place on earth - in the summer of course. As I recall it has reached 138 degrees in the shade.

There were no roads south. Our caravan split up with the azimuth crew and equipment headed south east, and the range crew headed south west. All trucks left the road and all trucks were in trouble before travelling a mile. The "flat" desert turned out to not be flat, and the crusted sand to the north towards the Mediterranean quickly became a soft beach sand that heavy trucks could barely navigate at two miles an hour.  At that, the wheels on a few of the trucks would often become buried in the sand from time to time. The entire caravan had to stop and dig them out. The trip one hundred miles or so into the vast desert wasn't a challenge, it was a nightmare.

I mentioned that the desert looked flat at first. We quickly discovered rills of sand and dry wadis two or more feet lower than the surrounding terrain. We also discovered that Arabs, sometimes one and sometimes more than one, regularly crossed the desert on foot. The truck drivers and passengers would look out deep into the desert and see no living thing. Absolutely empty land. Yet, in ten seconds the caravan would be knee deep in Arabs. Because of the mid-day heat they would find a bank of a wadi that was in the shade, stop and make peanut tea, rest, and sometimes go to sleep until the sun had passed the meridian.  Then they would continue their walk off into the desert. The picture above is Herman Grooters and myself on the right and two nomadic Arabs on the left. The Arabs had walked into our site one day at dawn. Neither could speak a word of English but one spoke a smattering of Italian, which was about the only language none of our crew knew at all. So, we communicated by pointing, gestures and once in a while, sketching a picture. The Arab on the left was Abdullah, and  on the right was Muhammad. They came upon us independently and were not traveling together. After we provided the obligatory cigarettes we discovered they wanted a job.  Nothing fancy.  Anything would do.

Our two employees turned out to very interesting characters. Their answer to anything was a smile. They usually didn't speak but they managed to convey many of the differences between their culture and ours. For example; there was no concept of property. If something was laying around they would pick it up with no sense that they had done something wrong. Anything smaller than a breadbox somehow ended up within the folds of their multi layered robes. One the crew would come out of the tent and call to Abdullah; " I've lost my watch. Have you seen it?" Abdullah would nod yes, reach into his layers of clothing, pull out the watch, and smile. The crew man would hold his hand out, Abdullah would put the watch in his hand, still smiling. The crewman would say "thank you" and walk away to do whatever he had to do. 

This little scenario was repeated time after time during the day. Meanwhile the Arabs were to shake the scorpions out of empty boots, wash clothes for the men, clean the metal GI Trays after a meal, haul fresh water from the trailer supply, and dig a new latrine when required.  And they did their jobs very well. Oh, there were a few comical misunderstanding now and then, but none worth a complaint. The Arabs were paid according to a negotiated scheme. Each man received 1/2 pack of cigarettes each day plus 3 meals and a couple of snacks. They were friendly and innocent and did their jobs well.

After a month or two, we had to fire them both. We suspected, and somehow confirmed, that they were tubercular.  Apparently tuberculosis is vigorously contagious. It was sad to see them both walk back into the desert.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Zugspitz 2

Living in Tripoli

While out on the test range we shot several missiles toward the Atlas Mountains in the south.  We usually stayed deep in the desert for a few weeks before returning to Wheelus A.F.B.  From time to time we had a short rest period. We took a supply helicopter or a weapons carrier back to the big city.  While in Tripoli they tried to keep us separate from regular base personnel. Impossible. Space was short on the base and our crews had to find a place to stay outside of the base. Our Lieutenant at the time, (probably Manny Groves, Richard Bass, or Prahalis), after a major search,  found a small house for us. It didn't look like much from the outside, but inside it was worse. The rooms were small with much sand on the floor, but generally clean. It was  a palace compared to our nearest neighbors hovel 100 yards away. Each of our small rooms held from 4 to 10 of us, and we slept on war surplus Army cots, wires and springs, and no mattresses. Folded blankets under and one lay on top. 

There's not much wood in Libya. As the waring troops moved from Tunisia through Libya and on to Egypt, and then reversed (from Egypt through Libya and back to Tunisia) the various military forces denuded the impoverished land and used up all of the wood. Because raw materials were in short supply, the local arabs used every possible substitute. Our Libyan house, for example, had beams running across the flat ceiling of every room. The beams were the frame rails of large trucks.

Libya has been in the middle of several wars. It has been inhabited by Romans, Germans, Italians, and British. One conflict was replaced by another. While in Tripoli we obtained some cars and a couple of weapons carriers and visited Leptis Magna. I had never heard of the place and was shocked when we finally arrived. Nothing but piles of stones and broken columns.

Leptis Magna was my first exposure to Roman ruins. In school I'd passed over the history of the Roman Empire way too fast. I slogged my way through the Gibbons "Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire", but didn't, apparently, get it. From biblical studies and the movies I knew at least the names of a few people from that time, but not so many. I'd been to the Coliseum in Rome and a couple of other buildings dating back to those times, but I never formed a picture of ancient Rome in my mind, nor did I understand the impact of the Holy Roman Empire. I felt like I tried to take my first step and had missed the earth.

Several of the men loaded themselves into a weapons carrier and drove to Leptis Magna. It's an easy drive from Tripoli. We first saw it in the distance and it wasn't particularly impressive. As we drove closer it became a huge and astonishing ruin of a very large city made of stone. There were standing pillars and broken ones, brick alleys and roadways, formal public bathes, water supply systems, broken grand buildings, and broken and whole statues near important constructions. In the middle of all the random bricks and stones and archways was a huge amphitheater not unlike the coliseum in Rome, but in a more ruined condition. There was a central ground (gladiators and lions), a stage of sorts for plays and fantasies, and a 3/4th circle of cement and brick seats for (perhaps 20,000) people. It seemed to be about 1,000 feet across (diameter) but my memory isn't clear. I do remember that it was easy to visualize gladiators and lions on the main stage. 

Struck the tents and returned to Wheelus. Packed up the gear, put on the parachute and hit the flight line at dawn. C-199 Flying Boxcars were sitting there with no pilot in sight. Co-pilot and Loadmaster were ready to go. It was the normal "hurry up and wait" syndrome. An hour later the pilot pulled up in a Jeep with his bags packed and said: "okay Charlie, load her up", and Lt. Timothy, (Co-Pilot) please join me for a walk around check". In less than ten minutes we were rolling toward the take off end of the runway. The plane never slowed down but did a fast turn to the right and on came full power. In 20 seconds we were over the Mediterranean headed for Rome. Why Rome? 

The Pilot spoke over the intercom and said he wanted to make a quick stop in Rome to pick up a couple of officers that were stranded there. We landed. Our Lt. gathered the Sembach guys on the tarmac under the left wing and told us we were semi-officially on leave until 4:30 pm. That gave us about six hours to take in the sights or whatever. An Air Force bus pulled up, we left all our gear on the aircraft, got on the bus and headed off base to the city of Rome. We got there in mid-morning and the first thing anyone thought of was beer. There was a pizza cafe with chairs and tiny tables on the sidewalk in front. A few of us broke away from the group and ordered beer and pizza. All of the group was to meet exactly where the bus dropped us off, at exactly 3:30 pm.

At the cafe we watched the Italian men pinch the girls bottom and warble a song as they strolled the sidewalk. The pizza was great and the beer was better. There was very little time. A cab was hailed. Then another. They were dented and worn Fiats of some description and were intended for a driver and three occupants. We managed six Airmen stuffed into each cab. We took in a few tourist sight but I've forgotten most of them. Some formal gardens, the Colosseum and a government building, and a shopping street. We expanded out of the cabs and walked down this fantastic street where a person could purchase tomatoes, bread, a motor scooter, fragrances for the lady, pumpkins and other squash, clothes for men, second hand anythings, a brand new bicycle, squid, a live lobster, wrenches and screw drivers, and on and on. A veritable Sears, in the middle of the street. No traffic, but a billion people pushing and shoving along.

Surprisingly, everyone made it back to the pre-arranged bus stop at the appointed hour, and we got back to our airplane before take off time.