Monday, August 16, 2010

Useless "Emergency" TV Trivia

Jen and I have been watching old reruns of "Emergency" streamed off Netflix. Aside from the amusement of making fun of the "stylish" clothes and noting the differences in prehospital care today versus then we've been having fun spotting celebrities who appeared on the show before (or after) they were famous. Here's just a sample:
  • Melissa Gilbert
  • John Travolta
  • Vic Tayback
  • Wayne Knight (Newman! He blew up his house smoking a cigar when the gas oven was leaking.)
  • Jamie Farr (We also spotted him as the deli delivery guy on "The Dick VanDyke Show")
    Jamie was not in the episode in which his name appeared in the credits, he actually appeared two episodes later.
  • Scottie MacGregor (Mrs. Oleson on "Little House on the Prairie")
  • Deidre Hall (Jen recognized her from "Days of our Lives")
  • Jackie Coogan (almost didn't recognize him with hair and regular clothes)
  • Stanley Kamel (Dr. Kroger from "Monk." Jen spotted him right away. )
  • Marion Ross (Mrs. "C" - she was a secretary helping her boss who was having a heart attack).
  • JoAnn Worley (A primal scream adherent, just about the time it "wasn't nice to fool Mother Nature."
  • Don Most (Another "Happy Days" star)
  • Nick Nolte
  • Dick Butkus (though I thought he was Alex Karras)
  • Pat Buttrum (As a hermit living in a cave. He must have run out of junk to sell to Mr. Douglas.)
  • Robert Urich (Hard to recognize him - he was kind of burned up.)
  • Alex Karras (He showed up in Season 3, Episode 1 in an uncredited appearance.)
  • John Ashton (Later went on to play Taggart in the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise.)
  • Anne Morgan Guilbert (Milly in "The Dick Van Dyke" show and Evelyn in "Seinfeld")
  • Mark Spitz (Great swimmer, not so great actor. There's a Suzy Spitz in the same episode, too)
  • Kareen Abdul-Jabaar (I guess this was the sports season of Emergency)
  • Erik Estrada (His face was bandaged up, but you can't miss the hair and the teeth)
  • Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay on "Bewitched" and Colonel Crittendon on "Hogan's Heroes")
  • James Gregory (Detective Luger in "Barney Miller." Typecast as a grizzled detective)
  • Mark Harmon (This was way before NCIS. It looks like they were setting up for a spinoff about the Los Angeles County Animal Control, but I don't think anything came of it.)
  • Sharon Gless (Before "Cagney and Lacey" she was a pop artist)
  • Robert Weston Smith (better known as "Wolfman Jack")
  • Scott Bakula (Before he traveled through time, he was on LSD and got shot playing with a gun)
  • Terry Kiser (Remember Bernie from "Weekend At Bernie's?" This was before he was dead)
  • Linda Gray (J.R.'s wife. Before she shot him ... if it was her.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Desert Storm - More Preparations

I cannot overemphasize the great help my friends, family and the entire community around Fort Bliss were to me and my fellow troopers. I cannot imagine having pulled off a success deployment such as we did without the support of those dedicated civilians who took on the cause of helping out. Here are some examples:

  1. The folks at the Sun City Amateur Radio Club (K5WPH) were good friends and helped me out quite a bit. They were among the first to offer their support to help me get anything I needed for the trip. I especially need to single out John and Jeannie who offered to let me park my truck in their yard and their willingness to let me borrow their truck during the final days before we left.
  2. GEICO Insurance: I was renting an apartment when we received notice to deploy. I moved all my worldly possessions into a storage unit and they were very nice about letting me transfer my renter policy to cover the storage unit even though they don't do that kind of thing. I appreciated it very much. (If their rates were more competitive I'd still be a customer!)
  3. The manager of the Wallington Plaza Apartments where I lived was nice enough to let me out of my lease even though I didn't have a set of paper orders sending me away. A deployment isn't quite the same as a permanent change of station.
  4. The El Paso Independent School District was nice enough to pair some of us up with elementary school students who were great about sending us care packages and mail. Although the sheer volume of mail we got there was astounding (more about that later), it was very nice to get mail from someone I met in person.
  5. Of course, my family was great before and after I deployed. My mom and step-dad and my dad flew out to visit me for a few days before we left. Thankfully we had enough time getting ready that they had the opportunity to come down for a visit.
I know there are some I missed who were very helpful. Please accept my apologies for not singling you out. These are just the ones that stick out in my mind 20 years later.

We got all packed up and ready. By the time we actually got on a plane to go it was October. So in all, it took the better part of three months to make ready and leave.

On the day we left we met up in the large hangar on Biggs Army Airfield (across from the hangar where our aircraft and offices were housed) and waited. This was one of those famous Army "Hurry Up And Wait" occasions. I remember we were supposed to get on the plane early in the morning and ended up waiting until sometime in the late afternoon before our plane finally arrived to take us to Germany.

I don't remember much about the flight to Rhein-Main Air Base (near Frankfurt, Germany). We may have stopped somewhere along the way for fuel, but I my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details. I do remember everyone on the flight crew was very nice. One of the pilots in the group ended up getting the address of one of the flight attendants, with whom he corresponded regularly while we were overseas.

In Frankfurt, we deplaned and waited for our flight to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. This is a port city in the east, central part of Saudi Arabia. There were tents set up with recreation areas and mess facilities. I remember parking in front of a TV watching Armed Forces Network while we waited for our flight out. More "Hurry Up And Wait."

View Larger Map

I remember the vast number of commercial aircraft parked in a row as we walked out to our plane. There were a large number of wide-bodied aircraft such as 747, DC-10 and such. I think we walked a couple miles down the flight line before we got to the plane which was to take us on the final leg of our trip.

All in all, it took about three days to get where we were going. And this was really just the beginning.

This is part 3 in a series. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19

Monday, August 02, 2010

Desert Storm - Getting Ready To Go

After we were officially told we were being deployed to the Middle East, preparations started in earnest. There were personal preparations as well as packing up our platoon's gear and equipment. It takes a lot of work to get an armored cavalry unit across the ocean with all its heavy vehicles.

Rail loading our trucks wasn't hard, but it was rather tough on me. Apparently, the wood on the flat cars is covered with some kind of pine tar to which I am allergic. My nose ran like crazy the two days we were working on the rail head.

Personal preparations included getting lots of shots. The worst one was the Gamma Globulin. This fun consisted of two shots given simultaneously in both buttocks. The reasoning for two simultaneous injections? I was told because they hurt so much after the first one, too many people were opting out of the second. Oh yes, it hurt a lot - for three days. I was reminded of the horror every time I pressed in the clutch of my truck.

As the preparations when on, the members of our platoon were given the opportunity to have a going away picnic. While we were having our picnic with friends and family, someone from the squadron's operations office came to the park to tell us that the FORSCOM Commander (General Edwin Burba) was visiting Fort Bliss and specifically wanted to see our platoon's aircraft. We packed up the picnic, ran home to change into our uniforms and headed over to the air field for the "Canine & Equestrian Show."

All of us met back up at our hangar and plugged a ground power unit into one the aircraft so we could turn on the equipment and show all the flashing lights. We waited for at least an hour before the General, the Regimental Commander, the Squadron Commander, our Lieutenant and a host of other officers made their way to where we were waiting.

Our LT gave a short briefing, the "elevator pitch" if you will, about our aircraft's purpose and capabilities. Everyone nodded and smiled - until The Question came up. The General asked, "Are you men ready to go?"

That's when our platoon sergeant (PSG) spoke up. "No, sir, we are not."

The General turned to him with a puzzled look on his face. No doubt, this was not the answer he was looking for. The color drained from the LT's face as the faces of the other leaders in our chain of command turned very red.

"Well, Sergeant, what seems to be the problem?"

The PSG went on to explain that in order to do our jobs properly, we needed to be trained in the Arabic Language. Since we were all Czech linguists, we would be less than useless to the regiment's mission. He stated that in order for the platoon to work properly we'd either need to go to school to learn Arabic (which would mean several months of intensive training) or we would need to turn our platoon equipment over to some who were already proficient in Arabic.

The General thought for a moment, turned to the other officers in the entourage and asked, "Is this true?" The LT spoke up, "Yes, sir. This is true. The men are willing to do whatever they can to help the mission, but as it stands they are not properly trained."

The General said, "Well, we'll have to look into this. Thank you." And, he turned and walked away.

I was rather shocked. Of course, the PSG was correct. I was quite surprised he didn't drop dead on the spot, with most everyone in the General's group staring at him with looks that could kill.

In the end, we still ended up deploying (of course, or there wouldn't be much reason for me to write this). The linguist problem was solved somewhat after we arrived in country.

In the meantime, we kept on working to get ready to go.

This is part 2 in a series. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19