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From: "Michael A. Terrell"
Subject: Re: Questions on EE job market.
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 22:10:45 -0500
Organization: Have you seen my bench? No, really! Where is it?
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.61 [en]C-CCK-MCD (Win95; U)
References: <73rv9.481$R55.20906@newsfep2-gui> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <3DBF2973.54B0901A@webaccess.net> <_nMv9.email@example.com> <3DBFD69C.C8474CB1@mfi.net> <3DBFE986.21FEB881@webaccess.net> <3DC05D84.D6FB9FA4@mfi.net> <3DC087A0.6A045888@webaccess.net>
Chuck Simmons wrote:
> "Michael A. Terrell" wrote:
> > Chuck, I was drafted in August 1972, near the end of the draft. I
> > had a small electronic repair business that I had to shut down when they
> > sent my order to report. Then they told me I would be driving a truck,
> > or become a cook. I got highly pissed at them and told them off. I
> > told them about my background in electronics, and that either they put
> > me into something dealing with electronics, or I was going awol, going
> > home and reopen my business. They laughed and told me they got a
> > hundred guys a week who thought they knew electronics, and every one
> > failed the electronics test they gave. They decided to give me the
> > hardest test they had. I got the highest score on record for Ft. Knox.
> > 26T20 required a six year enlistment and the school was three years
> > at Ft Monmoth. They awarded me the MOS and sent me to Ft Rucker where I
> > was assigned to the "Weathervision Unit" Ft. Rucker was the US Army
> > helicopter pilot training center, and Cairn Airfield, a couple miles
> > away was used by both the Army and the Air Force to train air traffic
> > controllers. My job was to distribute weather data to classrooms and
> > control towers on seventeen airfields and the main base. We used very
> > old Jerrold (later it became part of General Instruments) microwave
> > video relay equipment on the CARS band. I also serviced CATV headend
> > and distribution equipment, and installed the first emergency alert
> > system to take control of the civilian CATV system in case of a major
> > emergency. I was pulled from my duty section to install commercial
> > sound equipment in the commanding general's conference room, and during
> > a rash of RADAR problems I was loaned out to service WW-II vintage tube
> > based RADARs. The guy I was working with got pissed because I already
> > knew the circuits, and got even madder when I told him I learned RADAR
> > by repairing TV sets. I could take a couple voltage readings diagnose a
> > problem and have it fixed, while he was still carrying tool boxes the
> > quarter mile we were required to keep the truck from the antenna.
> > Then I was sent to Ft. Greely Alaska to be a broadcast engineer at a
> > small radio and TV station. When I arrived most of the equipment was
> > dead. They could barely get on the air and had numerous failures every
> > day that shut the TV station down. It made me mad that there was a
> > stockroom full of parts, but "Everything is Depot level maintenance!" I
> > started working on the equipment anyway. It took a couple months to fix
> > everything. Then I rearranged the three processing and control racks to
> > put the equipment in a logical order. By then I was already an E3, and
> > the station manager (Sergeant Ross) got mad because of the changes and
> > told me to put everything back where it was, or he was going to have me
> > court-martialed. My Captain had other ideas. He told the sergeant that
> > either he put me in for a promotion, or HE would be an E2 within a
> > week. I was in my room at the barracks when the company clerk came up
> > and told me that he had just sent my promotion to USARAL headquarters,
> > and he had never seen a promotion go through so fast. I soon had my
> > stripe, and the sergeant was still mad.
> > As far as Kevin, it is obvious that he has absolutely no idea what
> > goes on in the US military, and never will. He is not a US citizen so
> > he would never be allowed to work with any classified military project
> > as a liaison officer to a research center, or defense contractor. I
> > think he watches those movies through beer goggles.
> > I like his comment about my attitude towards the military. They kept
> > telling me that I wasn't very GI, and I kept reminding them that I was
> > drafted, not an enlisted soldier. (US) VS (GI)
> Actually, I've known a number of people with military histories that are
> similar to mine and to yours. I think Kevin will dislike me still more.
> Back in 1969 when I got my letter, although my enthusiasm was extremely
> low for the military, I realized that by enlisting I might be able to
> make satisfactory arrangements up front. Therefore, I visited a
> recruiter. He arranged testing and showed me my options which seemed to
> be limited only by starting dates for training. I picked 5 MOSs I
> considered to be appropriate to my experience. So I reported in Oakland,
> CA on the 5th of July rather than in Phoenix, Az on the 6th.
> I had gotten a slot for training in 32C20, fixed station transmitter
> repair. I tested out of most of the course work. And found myself casual
> at Fort Monmouth. A couple of instructors in the MOS asked me and
> another casual who had tested out to instruct and avoid the usual
> undesirable duties casuals had then. They pointed out that because we
> had gotten out of sync, it could be months until the machinery ground
> out orders. It turned out to be about three months for both of us. I did
> get a clue more than a month before I got assignment orders in that I
> got orders to get a passport and was told I would probably go to
> Eritrea, then a province of Ethiopia. The travel orders came and I had
> the travel office arrange my airline tickets. Excellent. I was headed
> for a country where nobody hated Americans enough to kill them.
> There followed 27 months of 5 days a week riding out (and later driving
> out in my own car) to the transmitter site, checking the trouble sheets
> and heading down one of the wings of the building to view the wreckage.
> An indigenous Italian technician of considerable experience and
> knowledge and I did most of the repair work aided by two less
> experienced Ethiopian technicians.
> My unit was about as nonmilitary as they ever get. We were a guest unit
> and accounted for about 5% of personnel on the base. Most of the rest
> was Army Security Agency and they were so secret they had to forget what
> they were doing every day. The city, Asmara, was beautiful and mostly
> friendly. Quite a number of soldiers lived off post illegally including
> me. It was more comfortable to share a three bedroom villa with a
> fantastic view of the city than it was to live in a concrete barracks.
> My aged Fiat became my trademark. Even the colonel (the CO) knew the car
> because he saw it every time he visited the transmitter site. In fact,
> being an inveterate bicyclist, the colonel noticed my car almost always
> parked in front of a particular villa in off duty hours and realized I
> lived there. He mentioned it once in a staff meeting and the sergeant
> over me told me about it. Clearly they had not found out my phone
> number. :-) I was never hard to find. Even in Massawa they could find me
> unless I was wandering the town late. I always stayed at one of two
> places, the beach or the top hotel, and spent days in the water at the
> beach or near an island diving from a hired row boat. (I always stayed
> in Massawa at least overnight. It was only 70 miles but the round trip
> was about 5 hours owing to the treacherous mountain road.)
> ... The times have been,
> That, when the brains were out,
> the man would die. ... Macbeth
> Chuck Simmons firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone recognized my car at Ft Rucker, too. It was a bright red
'66 GTO, and the only one on the base. I stayed in the barracks at Ft
Rucker because I had a one man room, and no one bothered me because my
duty section had a lot of pull. When i was off duty I was free to go
anywhere as long as i left a phone number and could be back within 24
hours. The first sergeant and the company C.O. told me that I could
take off for almost three full weeks around Christmas and New years day
because all the schools were shut down. So, I caught a ride to Florida
with my parents and spend the holidays near where I live now.
I had to stay in the barracks in Alaska. I was at the Army's cold
weather test site, and they were busy building the Trans-Alaska pipeline
nearby (1973 & 1974) A log cabin with a dirt floor and no heat was
renting for $600 per person, and four people had to share it. I was
only in for two years and sent almost every cent home so i would have
the money to go back into business when I got home.
Now I am fighting with the VA over medical benefits. It took about
nine months to get my VA medical card only to be told that I have to
wait 21 to 25 months to see a doctor. I am currently unable to work
more than an hour or two per day, and it is getting quite old. When I
was younger I could pick up a V-8 short block. Now, 20 pounds is more
than I can handle, most days. I'm glad you knew other guys that didn't
go the normal route through their time in the service. I didn't have
that luxury, and I caught a lot of hell because I refused to play by
their rules. The first day at the TV station the station manager told
me that there wasn't a civilian who knew anything about electronics, and
he didn't believe I could do my job because I didn't spend time at Ft
Monmoth. He pulled every dirty trick he could to get me in trouble, but
I had friends in the right places. It is fun to remember those days,
and that they never managed to get me down.
Take care, and God bless!
Michael A. Terrell
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