A Seaman's Journey

Adventures of a Lifetime

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Product of the Cold War

My Parents

From before I was even born the Cold War has impacted my life. My parents got married over a weekend before my dad shipped out to Korea to fight the Communists. Then as part of the Cold War my dad was exposed to large amounts of radiation as he participated in a live exercise with an atomic bomb being detonated. After many difficulties I was conceived and born healthy.

When I was three my parents were traveling in Europe where they saw JFK in Germany shortly after the Cuban missile crisis. This was a time when the US and Soviet came within hours of an all out nuclear war. JFK was in Germany to block the Soviet move to take over East Berlin and he gave his famous "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech. I have a photo of my mom and JFK in Frankfurt.

Childhood

In grade school we had drills where the students were instructed to hide under their desks to avoid any harm during a nuclear denotation. This sense of fear colored so much of how we thought about life.

My wife was born in Flagstaff, Arizona at a time when they were doing atom bomb detonations in nearby the nearby Nevada Test Site. On several occasions there were jet stream patterns that carried fallout over Flagstaff. A fairly recent lawsuit made certain residents of the city, who conducted cancer, eligible for a government payout. My mother-in-law was one of the plaintiffs and my wife is also eligible (if she gets cancer).

When I was ten we spent a year in Greece which was ruled by a dictatorship. Greece was the only Balkan state that was not Communist and the Soviets were actively trying to gain control. The struggle of the Cold War was reflected in everyday life in Greece and the US was quite concerned about the balance of power between the Fascist Dictator and the Communists.

Viet Nam

My junior high years were spent in a culture that was being torn apart by the Viet Nam war. I missed being conscripted by a few years but still recall the trauma of the time. Nightly news would show television footage of combat and tours of the injured soldiers. Seeing the horror of war had a big impression on me as a 13 year old and I dreaded the day when I would be sent to the front.

I was a Sophomore in high school when the Fall of Saigon marked the end of the war in Viet Nam. But the trauma that the country experienced when on far longer. A few years later the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in a very similar war and paid a heavy social toll. In those days, there was palpable fear that the communist tide would sweep over the world and our survival as a nation was at stake.

Arms Race

My first job as an engineer was a summer internship at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, where they invented the Thermonuclear Weapon (hydrogen bomb). I created a circuit board that was used to log data while setting off a nuke underground. I had opportunity to visit the Nevada test site and see where my dad was irradiated 28 years earlier.

Ronald Regan was the first president that I voted for and he took a very strong stance against the Soviet Union. He escalated the Cold War by challenging the Russians to an arms race. The USA used its superior economic based to win the contest which left the Soviets almost bankrupt.

While I was at HP in Boise, Idaho. George H. W. Bush visited the HP site. At the time he was Reagan's Vice President , but he went on to be President where is presided over the end of the Berlin Wall. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union shortly afterward it seemed like the Cold War had finally ended.

Years later I saw Mikhail Gorbachev at the Colorado State campus and heard him tell the story about creating peace and openness that lasted for many years. Reagan, Bush, and Gorby will always be heroes to me and this world owes them a debt of gratitude.

Continuing Unrest

Some things never really end. They just morph into the next reality. Much of the world that I see today is defined by the colossal struggle between the two major superpowers engaged in a contest of wills. As I look back on the events that shaped my life, many of them were driven by the Cold War.

Much of my worldview is shaped by the reality of the struggle between Russia and USA. I find it utterly perplexing that we have forgotten the danger that Russia poses to the rest of the world. I am appalled when Vladimir Putin is held up as some kind of hero of the far right. He is clearly the enemy of the US and will not stop until the US falls.