One of our members, Meyer Moldeven, caught my attention by stating that he was in his “93rd year.” I quickly confirmed with him that I read that comment correctly…and it was true!
I first learned about ‘GovLoop’ in 2008 or early 2009 from an online forum in which it – or something like it – was mentioned. I had been wandering the Internet looking for a place to post some of my former career-related reminiscences. My Internet search brought up some possible links and, somehow, after a few jumps, there it was. I liked what I saw and joined. I’m not disappointed; to the contrary. I grant that I am far behind these times and that’s also fine. As a Dad, and a grandpa and great-grandpa I am also an optimist.
2. What sparked your career in public service back in 1941?
That was when the U.S. increased and accelerated operations and logistics support to the UK and other nations and free forces opposing the Axis Powers. Concurrently, American industry, the Armed Forces and the Civil Service expanded rapidly. At the time, I was a journeyman parachute rigger in the Maintenance Directorate at Patterson Field, near Dayton, Ohio. I didn’t think of government work as ‘public service’, it was a job, and I needed one.
The parachute shop’s workload increased considerably. We repaired damaged parachutes, drop tested several that had been overhauled and then selected for drop test by the foreman. Drop tests checked on the quality of work by riggers-in-training. Overhaul included replacing any suspicious component of a parachute, and quality standards were high. Occasionally, USAF Technical Orders required specific inspections or modifications. The last step in the ‘pack for service’ process was inspection of the packed parachute by the senior rigger and sign off in the USAF Form 46 Official Log by the responsible packer.
The parachutes were seat, back and chest; personnel and cargo, and ‘free fall’ and ‘static line’. They came from Fort Benning and other Army bases’ airborne, and paratrooper training, and from U.S. special operations in Europe, Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere throughout the Allied war zones. The parachute shop, as in almost all industrial shops at Patterson Field, and other military bases throughout the United States, was on a round-the-clock seven-day workweek.
Dec 7, ’41. I was on the night shift. Shortly after checking in all parachute riggers in the shop were told to report immediately to the ‘big hanger.’ When we got there, the area was crowded. An officer on a raised maintenance stand got our attention real quick. ‘We need maintenance people at Hickam Field, Hawaii. Any of you maintenance types that are ready to leave on very short notice, raise your arm. We’ll take your badge number and you’ll hear from us real soon.’ A little more than a week later I was on an ancient transport that pulled out of Fort Mason, San Francisco and joined a convoy somewhere west of the harbor. About a week later our transport cut away from the convoy and docked at Aloha Tower. We climbed on to Toonerville Trolley nearby and shortly afterwards were on Hickam.
The next morning we new arrivals were on the job. That was my ‘spark.’ Along with hundreds, soon thousands of soldiers and civil service workers from all over the country: Pearl Harbor, Hickam, Wheeler, Kaneohe, Schofield, Bellows and many more. Most of the Armed Forces people moved on to other locations throughout the Pacific Area where they were needed.
See my blog, ‘The Parachute Rigger’ at http://parachuteriggerww2hickam.blogspot.com
4. What were your other most memorable moments in public service?
After the war ended a major reduction in force at Hickam, plus my getting real close to becoming a daddy, helped my wife, Gail, and me to decide returning to the mainland and check on my reemployment rights at Patterson Field, by then ‘Wright-Patterson AFB’. The USAF Materiel Command Hqs was a major tenant on Wright-Pat serving as focal point for USAF logistics management worldwide. I was assigned to the (then) Directorate of Supply Property Class 13 (parachutes and other survival gear for USAF worldwide). My position was ‘requirements and distribution specialist’. The United States was far along in disposing of surplus World War II military supplies and equipment. Industry was very far along converting (modernizing) to a post-war economy, technology, retrained manufacturing and services workforce. The nation’s warehouses were still loaded with unrecorded leftovers. Condition/serviceability/reliability of still warehoused materiel was questionable.
Overnight, we were in a hot war and USAF was well into a transition from propeller to jet-engine fighters. On the day that the Korean War broke out I was directed to come up with 50,000 aircrew parachutes, ‘right now!’
The most memorable experience in my 34 years as a civil servant was my last dozen or so as a management analyst in the McClellan AFB Inspector General’s Office. During ‘Viet Nam,’ in addition to routine IG duties associated with higher hqs team inspections, processing IG inspection reports, getting McClellan activities ready for big-team inspections, preparing responses to AudGen GAO reviews, ‘last resort’ investigations of employees’ complaints, follow up on ‘corrective actions’ in response to IG reports (up to 400-pages), and commitments in Commander’s replies to Congressional Inquiries.
‘Viet Nam’ was an increasingly hot subject. In 1971, I suddenly found myself representing the McClellan Sr. Commander to the county Suicide Prevention Service on matters relating to ‘hotline’ calls from active and retired military personnel, and members of their families. I’ve tried to recap the context of this duty in my memoir, title ‘Military-Civilian Teamwork in Suicide Prevention’ at
5. You have several blogs – what got you blogging?
After I retired, I started a variety of writing projects: short stories, memoirs, a ‘future history’ novel and useful material from my years of government experience. For the last several years, I have been looking for ways to make my diverse writings available online to family, friends and any of the public that finds the topics of interest. I submitted some documents to the Gutenberg Foundation and to other online archives but I was not able to easily control or update them. I discovered the Google Blogger site by chance and saw this as a way I could get the materials online and still control them myself. You can see all of my blogs at my Blogger profile page:
I self-published three books with multiple editions of each. Brief descriptions of each follow:
Grandpa Stories – I consider myself far from expert as a writer. I enjoy the writing process and my aged Mac is the ideal word processor for me. In 1987, I started writing ‘grandpa’ stories for my two faraway grandchildren and before long I had enough words and all-thumbs illustrations to experiment with self-publishing. Got an excellent review from BOOKLIST on my first attempt, ‘Write Stories To Me, Grandpa!’ Marketing wasn’t my thing so just about all of my few thousand copies became freebees to seniors’ and youngsters’ day care centers, public libraries, and so on. They’re all gone now. The current version: Grandma! Grandpa! Write Stories To Me! is at
Suicide Prevention – My activities during ‘Viet Nam’ to get more organized and professional staffed suicide prevention resources on the job resulted in a compilation of material from the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Association of Suicidology, and other organizations including military installations. I extend my everlasting ‘Thanks’ to the Army for the timely and excellent materials they sent to me. I arranged most of what I got in book form and titled it same as my blog ‘Military-Civilian Teamwork in Suicide Prevention’. I self-published several updated editions over the years, passed the word, and distributed several thousand copies to where I thought they might be useful. Amazon still lists the title of several editions in their ‘Used Books’ category. The Gutenberg Foundation archive also filed the copy I sent to them in their reading room at:
The link to my blog Military-Civilian Teamwork in Suicide Prevention is at:
Space and Nonrenewable Resources – One of my post-retirement writing experiments in the late 70’s was a novel that speculated on our world about 2,000 or so years into the future a la Azimov: Humankind populates the Solar System as far as technology permits. The Solar System’s still accessible nonrenewable industrial-base resources are at the brink of depletion. Will the solar civilizations confine themselves to the Solar System and just die off or will they strive toward the ‘beyond.’ At what point does an empire or a civilization’s evolution take into account the species’ will to survive (Consider the fates of the Inca, Maya, Sumarian, Egyptian … ). Might the rationale be ‘What we’ve got now will last us forever? I’ve updated my ‘future history’ blogs a few times. The current versions are in two lengthy blogs: Part One (Context) ‘Spacefaring and Resources, a future history’ is at: http://spacefaringandresources.blogspot.com/ Part Two: (Considering the ‘future history’ context, an alternative history arranged as a novel): The Interstellar Slingshot Revisited’ It’s at: http://slingshotrevisited.blogspot.com/
7. You don’t seem to be the kind of person who sits still for very long. What other projects do you have in mind over the next few years?
I am working on several writing ideas including some short stories for my new great-grandson. I am always interested in using my many years of experience to help the following generations so please feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions. Keep checking back to my blog profile page to see my projects as I complete them.
8. Do you have any final advice or words of wisdom for today’s public servants?
My blog ‘It’s Only a Safety Pin’ is a true and serious vignette. If you read nothing else in my postings please see the ‘Safety Pin’ blog’s last paragraph. Don’t be discouraged by the current political debates. Keep your dedication and focus on doing the best that you can for the citizens of our country and the world.