Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moose Pass Journal Dillingham Case Files June 29,2011

Bill Says: One of our favorite memories of Dillingham was the case involving the Legend of the Mud Monster, one event in which came pretty close to freezing this young man's whole body... Hey, I was the young then!

Working on the department with me was a very strange officer from Oregon, ( I learned there were a lot of strange people living in Oregon), but I digress. He was named Catlow J. Talon. His parents just had to be Louie L'Amour fans. We called him simply CJ and he was a wanna-be soldier of fortune/mercenary. His bedroom floor was covered with such magazine. But he had never served in the military and was one of those cops who loved to wear leather sap gloves on duty, ( these are the ones with the led inserts over the knuckles) and he was often found with his nightstick out and slapping it in his opposite hand like some 1920's copper on the beat. Mostly he was a joke, but he did have those occasional moments when he did remember he was a police officer. Sadly though, I had to pull him out of a lot of trouble because his poor attitude with the native folks and they knew it. There were a couple times I felt like simply leaving him to their mercies, but he was a fellow officer....  the whole oath thing.

Anyway, one very early summer morning Mona woke me up from a dead sleep to tell me the dispatcher was on the phone and CJ needed help- again. The other officers practiced the philosophy that an intoxicated officer was not expected to be called out for back-up and they got drunk nearly every night. Me, I was the non-drinker and usually called out to assist an officer for those late night shifts when I was off-duty. I did get a lot of overtime, but lost out on some badly needed sleep.

So, once again I was climbing into my call-out coveralls and boots, and strapping on my police leather gear. CJ was down at the city dock and when I arrived I found him behaving strangely. He was walking around the dock and picking up wood slats, trying to find a way to see down into the water. This of course made me wonder what the problem could be. When I reached him, he grabbed me by the arms, had a frantic expression on his face and told me there was a girl in the water beneath the dock trying to commit suicide by drowning. It was then I learned CJ, this certified police officer from Oregon, couldn't swim and was extremely afraid of the water. So much for his soldier of fortune hopes.

I looked over the edge of the dock, noticed the tide was coming and sure enough there was a girl in the water, and I recognized her. There was also a man holding on to her as she fought to get free. I had dealt with this girl before. She was 17 yrs old and had tried to commit suicide twice before. Once by cutting her wrists and once with an overdose of her mother's medication. Though 17, she was a gas sniffer, glue sniffer and an alcoholic. At one time she had been a pretty young lady, but destroyed that with substance abuse from cocaine and pot.

I shook my head at CJ, handed him my police gear and began to climb down the dock ladder to the water. Reaching the bottom of the ladder, I looked over at the guy, who was about 20 feet or so away and told him I was on the way. I noticed he was already turning a dangerous shade of blue and time was vital. The water was about 38 degrees and there were still chunks of ice floating around. Well, stupid as I was, I figured this man was standing on the sea floor and quickly let loose of the ladder to make my way over to him and take custody of the girl. She was about 5'6" and around 150lbs. A week earlier I had rushed her to the hospital for her cutting herself up and got involved in a vehicle accident, causing over a $1,000 in damage to my patrol vehicle and even more to the vehicle I slid into. I lost traction on the dirt road on a curve and went sideways into a turning car. No one was hurt and the ambulance finally arrived to transport the girl to the native hospital. We often transported people to the hospital because the volunteer ambulance staff was slow in coming. I tried to get her help through counseling, but there was a long list of people waiting. I got a nasty letter placed in my file for the accident and a planned three days off without pay for the following week.

So, I let go of the ladder and... sunk! The water was now over my head and I was frantically reaching out for the bottom of the ladder. The freezing cold sucked out all the oxygen I had gulped down in that last micro-second before submerging. Though I had gone through Arctic Survival School at Eielson AFB, I don't think I'd ever been so cold before in my life. I came back to the surface, spitting and trying to get my eyes to blink again, and by this time the girl had broken free. She was swimming away. Only her alcohol content and desire to kill herself kept her alive for the moment, but the gentlemen was losing it and he couldn't hold on to her anymore. I yelled for him to swim for the ladder. I later learned he was standing on top of an old piling and was too cold to mention that fact when I reached the water surface. I made sure he reached the ladder and then swam out for the girl. This was where my old lifeguard's training help. She tried to fight me, smacked me once over the head and with my mind beginning to cloud from too many ice cubes forming in the brain tissue, I decked her with a quick  right to the jaw. I then put her into a lifeguard drag and hauled her back to the ladder, but there was no way I could get her up the ladder as my strength was failing. So I yelled up for a rope and by this time the ambulance crews had arrived and the end of a large rope was tossed down for me to secure her with. They also tossed down a blanket so the rope wouldn't hurt her. They lifted her up, but I was apparently left out of the rescue. Seems they forgot all about me, even CJ- which we had a chat about later.

So not being able to climb, I began swimming toward shore and was soon walking through the shallows. But then the silt, mud and mire prevented me from walking any further. I was sunk up to my knees in this black mire. I was down to all fours and then acting like a snake, I slithered through the peanut butter like substance to reach hard ground. The other officers arrived at this point and helped me to my car, but no one wanted to touch me. They placed a blanket over the car seat and put my leather gear on the passenger seat. I then drove home, my teeth clattering and was so glad I didn't have to go far. I couldn't open the front door, but knocked with my boot and Mona opened the door to find- yes, the mud monster.  She helped strip me down, which normally would be fun, but all I wanted was hot water, hot chocolate and a very warm bed. Mona, only her wife duties kept her from being repelled by this mess of a husband standing before her. She said I was totally blue and I stayed in the shower for 30-minutes before my normal color came back.

Well, the girl ended up in the hospital for a week and was transferred to Anchorage for mental health care. CJ was going to get swimming lessons up at the lake, even if I had to teach him and my nasty letter was pulled out of my file.  I didn't have to suffer the loss of pay and the chief placed a nice letter in my file for the rescue. The gentlemen who first came to her aid was given a very letter from the city council for his heroics and he truly deserved it. Without him I am sure this young lady would have perished.

The silt, muck or mire in the harbor area was like nothing I'd ever seen before, that is until I had to deal with the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez. The black peanut butter from the boat was very similar in feel. We had several people fall of their boats and sink chest deep in this stuff and getting them out was not always successful.

All for now. 

Monday, June 27, 2011


Miss Mona sez...

Isn't Mr Bill interesting?
31 yrs so far and he always manages to surprise me with something.
Our garden is an example (someday I will get pictures I can share, one more thing on my list). I plant and weed, he finds toys to create action scenes in unexpected places. Hits the kids section at thrift stores and garage sales, hauling home the most unexpected things to play with. Seriously, I think he is a really overgrown 12yr old.
We scored several loads of fill rock from a road crew that was dumped between creek and driveway. He spent several days leveling it and arranging the larger rocks and now there are two tanks, a batch of toy soldiers and a purple and orange dinosaur having it out by my driveway...
Elizabeth says our landscaping style is "whimsical." So that's what you call it.

Toys are a significant part of our life. Police toys, stuffed animals, cartoon characters... At Christmastime, EVERYONE gets toys, regardless of age. Kids get more, but adults are persuaded to rediscover their inner child and play.
I still have the first gift Bill ever gave me, a stuffed cat named Phred (for the Doonesbury character)(not a cat).
Given to me so I wouldn't have to sleep alone when he wasn't there. There are shelves full of tiny tin cars and other toys, figures from cartoons and story books, given at various significant (and insignificant!)times.
His number one love language is gifts...

What's yours?

We all have one or more ways that we give and receive love. Quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts and ...crap!! I never can remember the last one!
 I try to be multilingual, but I am primarily motivated to acts of service. Duh. Funny thing, no matter how hard you try to say I love you to a person, if you don't use the right language for that individual, they likely will not hear you.
It is a wonderful and terrible thing, this giving and receiving of love.
Costly in the most profound ways. Painful. Magnificent. Terrifying.

I am currently up to my ears in caring for someone I love very much. Caring in the most basic and important ways. Watching and waiting as she learns to truly relinquish control. Though you would think she had no choice in the matter, still, she must choose.
Life has dealt her some pretty nasty thwacks and left her with a deep mistrust of anything or anyone she did not have firmly corralled. This slow, incessant diminishing of capacity, both physical and mental, peels back the layers of learned behavior and courteous response to the inner, foundational beliefs and emotions. Brief, shining glimpses of the sharp mind and wit surprise and delight me, reminders of a long friendship that we have had. Of who and what she was/is. That the person I love is still inside this crumbling husk of skin and bone and disobedient body parts.

It is hard to watch someone you love die. To daily experience the process, no firm schedule, no real way of knowing when and how the process of transformation will take place.
The inner struggle with both wanting the end/beginning to come and not being ready for the curtain to fall/the veil to be torn. Frustration, anger, impatience. Fear. Hope. Grief. Selfishness.
A lot of interesting and embarrassing things happen for both care provider and the one receiving care.
Such a vulnerable time, dignity be damned and pride be hanged- some things just must be attended to.

I struggle with the why.
Why must it be so difficult?
What is the point of the long and drawn-out process?
I have no answers from God except "Be still."
Not sit still or be quiet, though they are a part of this answer-that-is-not-an-answer.



Not one of my stronger skills. I am much better at doing than being. I like knowing what comes next. And when.
I am good at cleaning, fixing, planning, making....doing.

I keep picturing a pool of water. Quiet, undisturbed, reflective.
I am more of a garden hose. Watering this, rinsing that, filling a bucket to be dumped over yonder.
Not so good at quiet. I tend to fall asleep. Miss the visitation.

I learned to keep moving so that I wouldn't get caught, bored, given a job I didn't want to do.

Still working to grasp this whole concept. Wondering how much longer before I catch on.

Be still.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Moose Pass Journal June 23, 2011 Dillingham Police Files Continued

Mr. Bill Says: Seems like for the moment this blog is getting filled up with only my stuff. Mona has been quite busy with taking care of Grandma Lee. At the moment, we believe Grandma Lee is in the process of leaving this world for the next one with our Lord. This may take a while, we have no idea, but she is doing quite poorly. Yet, she is such a stubborn woman with a great inner strength- so who knows? She has rallied before, but this is her worst yet. I'll keep everyone advised.

Now, to the files. This next case was really a strange one for us, but ended well. During the fishing season, Dillingham could be hit with thousands of fishermen and assorted workers for the canneries and local businesses. This made our workload triple and our two cells become quite full. We could have as much as 15-16 men in each cell. Women, will we couldn't put them in with the men, so they we often handcuffed to a chain, hooked to a wall railing outside the cell and given a chair to sit on. But one time we had a real fighter on our hands and she was put into the broom closet- once it was emptied. Not the best, but all we had. Now our vehicles, either 4x4 Blazers or one Chevrolet suburban, didn't have police cages. We either handcuffed the prisoner and seat belt them into the front passenger seat, or if real rowdy and more than one prisoner, they were handcuffed and then chained to a special hook-up mounted around the back spare tire in the cargo area of the vehicle. Again, not the best, but all we had to deal with. during one arrest I had four guys hooked up in the back of my blazer and one guy, the best behaved of the bunch, in the front passenger seat. We even once had 7 guys handcuffed and riding in the suburban and this involved the case I'm about to tell of:

On a beautiful summer day, about two weeks before the infamous fishing strike, a large fishing processor came into port. These boats would take the salmon off fishermen contracted with them and prepare them for shipment with icing or even canning. This was this boat's first time into Dillingham and carried a work force of over 80-men. They had been out working for several weeks out in the Bristol Bay area, having come up from Seattle. Well, it appeared these men thought Dillingham ripe for the taking and were soon in a whole lot of trouble.

A call came into dispatch of a major bar brawl up at the Wood River Bar. Chief Gray called out all the officers and his sergeant- which made for a total of six of us. When we responded to the bar, we found dozens of people standing around outside- some with torn clothes and several guys bleeding from facial injuries. We then heard sounds of fighting in the Wood River Cafe, which was attached to the bar and a walk-through doorway between them. The bar closed at 5 am and re-opened at 8 am, according to state law. So the hardcore drinkers would take those three hours to chow down on some breakfast, usually coffee, before resuming their drinking when the bar reopened. It was down right amazing how much liquor some of these old drinkers could handle. We called them conditioned drinkers and thankfully they almost all took cabs home.

Anyway, we all dashed into the cafe and found eight or maybe it was nine guys really tearing the place up. One of these gentlemen, who was larger than I, ( like a Japanese Gigantor), was standing against the far wall and simply punching holes in the wood wall with his fist. Chief Gray looked at me and said, "He's all yours, Godzukki!" Some say the name is spelled Godzooky, but Gray spelled it the other way. Yes, he actually wrote the name down a few times to my embarrassment.

I hustled over and first tried talking to this guy, but he refused to notice me and continued to punch the wall. Then the wrestling match was on. To keep this short I will only list the conclusion, having finally got a choke hold on him and rendered him unconscious, but my uniform looked terrible after our altercation and my jaw was sore. It actually took two sets of handcuffs to secure him and once the other prisoners were secured in the suburban, I had help carrying my guy out and securing him to the front seat of the Alaska State Trooper's car front passenger seat. Trooper Lou Reith had responded to assist us and we were happy for his help, (but afterward I doubted he'd ever be crazy enough to do it again). But then while assessing the damage inside and getting statements, we heard a loud shout outside and came out to see that my prisoner had come to and had actually broken out the front seat of the car, a Dodge Ramcharger. I didn't think it was possible. But once he had somehow gotten the front door open, he had fallen out and was now trying to waddle-run away with the seat still loosely strapped to him by the seat belt. He looked like an ugly turtle. Will Lou, me and another officer jumped him and eventually had him maced and secured in the back area of the trooper car. Lou was really-really mad and he was the one who maced the prisoner. Which is why I put him in the back of Reith's car, the prisoner stunk of mace. Myself, I was ready to club the guy several times.

Once we got them all back to the jail, we still had to wrestle some of them into the cells and were forced to put the giant into a cell all by himself. At this point he was threatening to kill even his friends. We finally got him to calm down and I got the mace out of his eyes. But I wouldn't take his cuffs off, I was afraid he'd be able to take the cell door down. He soon passed out on the mat on the floor and slept for about 15-hours or so. He had to be one of the biggest men I had ever dealt with and I felt much like David and Goliath, me of course holding the David role.

Then, while we were filling out the jail paperwork, lots and lots of paperwork, we got a all from dispatch of how several reports were coming in of a large body of men heading for the jail with plans to break out their fellow crew members. We had a good view of the harbor from the jail and sure enough, between 30 and 40 men were headed our way. Chief Gray had all of us grab our shotguns and placed one man at each corner. since I was the largest officer, he had me standing by him out front. We hadn't chambered a round yet, simply because the sound of a shotgun being chambered has an effect on people and can usually stop someone from further action. That and the sound of a cell door closing, I'd seen it drive a tough man to tears.

The group of fishermen was being led by two Chinese mouthpieces. But we could see that several men were carrying lengths of chain and everyone had a filet knife or other blade. They stopped at the Chief's command about 50-feet out front and there they made their demand to have their friends released or they planned to tear the jail apart. I felt like I was smack in the middle of a wild west movie, which seemed to fit in with Dillingham in the early 1980's.

Chief Gray ordered the men to dispurse, but they wouldn't and then with the Chinese twosome giving the commands, the bunch began to move forward. Chief Gray then asked for my shotgun. While two officers maintained their position in back and two more were at the front corners, he chambered his round of .00 buckshot and aimed it at the ground in front of them. He ordered them to stop again and when they refused, he fired. The pellets hit the dirt and then along with the gravel, struck the feet and legs of the twosome and a few others, sending them all to the ground. While they lay there in pain, crying out and cussing, the rest of the crowd fled back to the harbor. Seems that the ship officers had flown to Anchorage for the day to do business and upon their return really hit the crew hard and several men were fired and transported to the airport. We transported the wounded men to the hospital for treatment, the more serious by ambulance. But no one was really hurt that bad, accept for maybe the two Chinese fellows who had multiple leg wounds.

I was sure we were probably going to be looking at some complaints, especially from our city council, but I saw no other way to stop this band and then things really turned in our favor. Once we had these two Chinese dudes up at the hospital and their clothes stripped off, we found them covered in tattoos- from neck to belt line and wrist to shoulder. Pretty good work too. Chief Gray recognized the artwork as either Yakuzu ( Chinese organized crime) or New Tong- same thing. We ran their names through the computer and Bang! Both of these idiots had felony murder warrants our for them. They were New Tong hit men out of San Francisco and were wanted for the murder of a newsman. They had gone into hiding aboard the processor and for whatever reason, exposed themselves to the law by this foolish stunt of an attempted jail break. The very next day an FBI agent and a San Francisco Homicide officer were in town and they took custody of the two men and had them transported to Anchorage for processing. They were limping at the time, using crutches and under enough pain meds as to not be much of a problem. But they were well guarded anyway.

So it ended well. The crewmen in custody all plead guilty to a lot of charges and the captain of the boat, who finally came back to town, paid for all the damages. Amazingly, when my giant sobered up he was seriously apologetic and told me how he wasn't supposed to drink and got talked into by his friends. Their various sentences were to be served after fishing season and in Anchorage, with the captain giving his guarentee to have them show up.  But bail was still posted since these men were from Seattle.

We estimated they had done over $10,000 in damages to the bar and cafe, not to mention the state trooper car. I still recall how Trooper Reith was complaining, almost whining, on how he was supposed to explain this to his headquarters as he suspected his bosses would never believe him. But our city shop guys did the work and got the seat back in for him. Reith was new to Dillingham, having actually come over from his trooper post in Moose Pass. We would end up doing several cases together and I really respected him. He would do his 20-years and retire as a sergeant.

That's it for now. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/ Dillingham Police Case Files - June 18, 2011

Bill Says: We are having the start of a beautiful Summer Solstice weekend. Mostly clear blue skies with a random assortment of puffy white clouds and warm temperatures of 60-64 degrees. The festival is already up and running. The highway is a mess with traffic. I've donated my chocolate chip cookies and was scheduled for two hours of working the massive grills they have running for 12-hours today and 6 hours tomorrow. Our church service tomorrow is from the bandstand and tonight we have our first worship team practice inside the new church. Well, now to the police cases-

Approximately 5 or maybe it was 7 years before I arrived in Dillingham, ( memory is slipping and I did warn you of this), an interesting case occurred in the city. A man's body was found in the bushes adjacent the airport. The police chief at the time was apparently not the investigative type and ruled it a suicide. The critters had done a fair share of munching on the remains and it appeared the body may have been there for possibly a year or more. There were pieces of single man's pup tent, which sort of protected the body from the elements and misc property items, including a wallet, which identified the remains as a local. The man had been reported missing by his wife. Strangely enough, there was no weapon found and the local autopsy ruled a .22 caliber bullet had entered the man's brain from the right side. A police report was filed, all which contained a single page and some photographs of the crime scene and the body. It was filed away. The wife of the man still lived in Dillingham and an officer delivered the sad news of the demise of the missing man.

Years later, when Chief Gray took over and was going through the files to see which ones he could toss and make room for new cases in the limited space in his file cabinets he had lining one wall in his office. He found this case and being an investigative person, he decided to put it aside as a pet project. He had about half-a dozen of these. When I came along he had learned the missing man was a former Green Beret, who had served honorably in Viet Nam and upon discharge was on record for having difficulty with PTSD. He also picked up rumors of how the man was involved locally with the old cocaine trade in town and had possibly been a source for a San Diego, California cocaine supplier- later known as cartels. But once he was reported to have committed suicide, the DEA unit in Anchorage had apparently closed out their case on him.

Knowing I had worked investigations in the US Air Force, Chief Gray had me look through the narrow file and see what I might be able to add. I was quite busy at the time with my own share of cases, but this was the Chief asking and I did my share. What bothered both of us was the lousy investigative report filed by the then Chief of Police, the shabby autopsy done locally and of course the lack of a weapon. And then we had a break!

I was dispatched to HUD housing, where about 50 houses were constructed for the lower income families. The dispatcher had advised me to meet with the mother, ( I don't remember the family names), for a found firearm. I was to learn how her two sons were digging tunnels under an old tree stump for their trucks, when they came across a medium sized parcel. Being of course curious, the kids worked to open the parcel; a plastic tarp, tied with clothesline sized rope, around several wrappings of oil cloth. Inside they discovered a mostly rusted pistol.. Thankfully, the mother appeared and she took the weapon away before the boys could play soldier or Cowboy & Indians, because the pistol was still loaded. Though it was doubtful it would fire, as there WAS a lot of rust.

Later, I came back to finger print the mother and both kids to eliminate their prints from the ones I found on the weapon. Acting on procedure, I examined the weapon, photographed it and took some evidence off of it in the way of several hairs mixed in with the rust and what appeared to be speckles of dried blood. This was a Ruger High Standard semi-automatic pistol, sort of resembling a German Luger in style and it fired a .22 caliber bullet. Oddly enough, it also had groves in the barrel to hold a suppressor or what can also be called a silencer. I thought this to be very strange, as at this time I knew these grooved weapons were only used by the military. I was able to remove the magazine and 4-bullets it carried. I also, after some cleaning - after finger printing every exposed area free of rust, felt real strange about this handgun. I also found a legible serial number. The next day I called the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm people, (ATF) and gave them the serial number. I also briefed the chief on the weapon being found and how it was buried. We still hadn't linked it to the old suicide case, but thought it might've been involved in some old burglary cases where firearms were stolen. There were several gun collectors who had purchased retired military weapons, but I didn't know if we had any of these collectors in the Dillingham area.

A week later we received a message from the ATF over the computer concerning the weapon. It had been purchased from the manufacturer by the US Army and soon after sent to Viet Nam, where it was used by 5th Special Forces Group. I knew then that the weapon was used by the Green Beret for the apprehending of North Vietnamese officers. The Green Beret would use the small caliber weapon to shoot the enemy in the knee ( made them easier to handle), and then carry them off for later transport back to US bases for interrogation. My crew had flown such missions and usually the enemy officer was pretty doped up on morphine. The weapon was later shipped back to the USA, ( can't remember the dates now), and eventually stored at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Then it found it's way to Dillingham, to be used by the local National Guard unit and stored in the unit's armory. The unit eventually disbanded and at one point the armory was broken into and the weapon, along with others was stolen.

I talked things over with the Chief and going on what we had learned about the Green Beret connection, we took a chance and I made a visit on the victim's wife. I wanted to obtain some photos of the victim, which were never placed in the original report. Strangely enough, I found her to be first surprised and then extremely nervous, making my antennas shoot up. She eventually provided me with some photos and luckily, one of these showed the two of them at the beach in Hawaii playing volleyball.

The victim, 31 or 32 years old at the reported time of death, had a certain tattoo on his right shoulder. ( Don't remember what it was now). I had to smile, for the victim's body discovered in the bushes had no such tattoo and luckily, that part of his body had been consumed by the critters. The Chief became extremely excited when I returned with the photos. We then put the word out concerning the firearm, which I now sent to the FBI for complete processing and their fingerprinting experts. It was a month or so later, right smack in the middle of the fishing season, when we learned through our sources of how our supposed victim had indeed purchased a stolen High Standard pistol for the sum of $200, using cocaine as the purchasing agent instead of actual cash. I notified the FBI to restrict their fingerprinting to this prior serviceman to hurry things up and another month later, right when we were combating the fishing strike, we received word the man's fingerprints were on the pistol magazine and one partial print on a single bullet. A lot of people wipe the guns down but often forget the magazine and ammo. But as to why he had buried the weapon and not just tossed it into the ocean still confuses me. The Chief then served a search warrant on the wife's banking account. By this time she had left town and we didn't have enough evidence to stop her. But her account showed large deposits into her account coming from California, ( don't remember the town). She had a plane ticket for the same area though. We now had enough to put out homicide warrants for the man and his wife. But as to who the true victim was, we never did find out. We did presume the former soldier looked for someone his size and facial features, someone who had come to town for a summer job and was murdered to fulfill our soldier's scheme. We notified the DEA, who finally reported to us the suspect was in severe trouble with a drug cartel in San Diego was stealing funds and this was probably why he had faked his death. The DEA re-opened their case. The Chief and I were pretty sure the cartel would learn of this and our suspect would be on the run again, unless picked up on our warrant. Since I never heard of an arrest being made I strongly believe the cartel found him first.  As to why she had remained in Dillingham... all I knew was that she was a school teacher and a very popular one. She may have remained to keep the pretense up, but we found evidence she continued to visit Hawaii every summer and during winter school breaks.

When we closed down the department in September of 1981, when everything turned sour and I was the lone police officer left to deal with all those clowns, the case was still in the OPEN case files again.  You just never know what might get dug up under a tree stump and what it might lead to!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/June 17th, 2011 Dillingham Cases

Bill Says: While still on terminal leave from the Air Force and getting now paid by the Dillingham PD, I was making more money per week than I had ever had before and it felt pretty good. I had advised my new chief of what had happened to me in the past, which I considered a blotch on my record and he appreciated my honesty, and we moved on from their. Chief Gray had his own spotty past, but was waiting for me to own up to see what I was made of. He knew. Because of my work in the military, I was soon assigned to the task of primary juvenile officer to handle those investigations as he seemed appropriate and this would involve some seriously bad kids. But at the same time I was expected to handle my own shifts and in Dillingham, this meant you handled all the misdemeanor and felony arrests committed on your shift, all crime scene and follow-up investigations to follow- unless you requested assistance. I was also on stand-by for all call-outs and back-up assistance for on-duty officers. I was soon assigned a take-home vehicle, which I shared with another officer. But all of the officers lived in the same three bedroom apartment so this wasn't a problem. We split the rent and utilities and basically cooked for ourselves. Mostly we all had dinner down at the cafe, since none of us could cook all that well. Television was limited to VHS tapes and a single Armed Forces channel, where everything was 4-weeks behind the Lower 48.

I rode around with the chief for a week and made my first misdemeanor arrest the first day and a felony drug arrest that night. I had nothing else to do, so to get more training in I rode around for 16-hours a day; going from the chief to the senior patrolman- Don Dyer. Don was a former Marine and Nam veteran. He had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in Nam, but had grown disheartened with police work and was studying to be a locksmith. I shared a room with him and unfortunately, he was one of those who ground his teeth while sleeping- what a sound! Plus he had all this locksmith training gear laying around everywhere. Can't tell you how many times I stepped on stuff and sent out a cry. But I really liked Don, whose wife and daughters lived in Wasilla. He didn't want to haul his daughters out of school, where all their friends were.

We made a traffic stop that first night and I arrested a DWI suspect, who was in possession of two grams of cocaine. This made me feel pretty good. I had made a lot of drug busts in the military, but this was my first felony arrest as a police officer. The dude wasn't a real nice guy either and had a long record for drugs. But this also came with a large amount of paperwork. Especially for the DWI arrest. Back then we didn't involve all that electronic detection gear for booze and our probable cause was simply driving problems- like driving into the oncoming flow of traffic or ending up in a ditch. Then we gave them a field sobriety test, which is the same I had used in the military and always demonstrated to each jury. This was the only two things presented to a jury and we never lost a case. Once the electronics were brought in, which confused a lot of jury members, we began to lose cases. If a suspect desired it, we did allow a blood test, but this only certified what we already knew and few opted for it.

Don and I got into several bar fights that week, as Dillingham was a seriously rowdy town. We had two large bars and they stayed open until 5 a.m. But I had to get some sleep to be ready for the Chief, so I went home at midnight. I got along well with my dispatchers, who were mostly married women and some with children. They all wanted to know about Mona and when she might be coming to visit and eventually get out of the service to join me permanently. One of my favorite dispatchers was a young Eskimo gal named Maurine. She was later to be selected for Assistant Magistrate to the Seward Court, but sadly drowned before taking office.

The second week I was assigned to Don and working the swing shift, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.. We were supposed to get an hour off for dinner hour, but that rarely happened. Most of the time we had our hamburgers and milkshakes on the go, answering calls back to back. The cafe made killer milkshakes, but everything in Dillingham was expensive. Supplies, from food to vehicles, either had to come in on the barge during summer months or flown in during the winter.

Dillingham had a serious alcohol and drug problem, which only increased the amount of domestic problems and we responded to a lot of home fights and sometimes family brawls. We also had several suicides and accidental deaths. Most of the accidents involved men getting drunk and falling asleep in their homemade saunas. My experiences in Nam prepared me for a lot of this as we carried the bodies out.

We had a report of burglary late one evening and I was driving the patrol vehicle- an older model Chevrolet Blazer, with Don in the passenger seat. The snow machine shop was being broken into and the suspect took off as we drove up. He was driving a pick-up and we went into pursuit, hitting speeds of 60-70 mph on those hard-packed ice covered roads. I pursued him for nearly 5 miles, until he dropped down a hillside and went into a mini-subdivision of 6 or 7 homes. He slammed on the brakes outside a newer two story home and ran inside. Don, he told me to take the front, while he went around back. Now I wasn't in uniform but was wearing a parka with my new badge pinned on front and a rabbit felt hat with silver hat badge. I felt like an old Mountie. There were lights on in the house and I went to the front door and knocked. I remembered what the suspect looked like, since he came under my headlights as he ran out of the store and jumped into his truck. So who came to open the door- yup, the suspect. He told me I couldn't come in and he'd seen enough TV to know the laws for unlawful entry, but he apparently hadn't seen the ones that covered hot pursuit. So I reached across, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and yanked him outside. Not sure if he was armed or not, which I was to soon learn just about everyone carried a filet knife, I had him on the ground and did a weapons pat down. By this time Don was back around and had the young man under his gun while I finished handcuffing him. Sure enough he had a filet knife in his rubber boot. So, I arrested the kid for Burglary in the 2nd degree and Carrying a Concealed Weapon, (which that charge was later dropped by the District Attorney). I came to know this young man quite well, arresting him several more times for burglary, drugs and assault. He finally went off to jail for 6 months. By the end of my week of riding with Don I had made a half-dozen misdemeanor arrests and 5 felony arrests. I was surprised by the amount of arrests and Don reminded me, "Bill, the fishing season hadn't even begun.

A couple months later I backed Don up on a domestic call and when I arrived I looked inside the home through a window and found him under a suspect's pistol. The man, who was extremely upset, had the barrel of his pistol under Don's chin. I was debating on whether or not to chance a shot through the window glass, but saw Don's eyes and he was telling me not to do anything with a slight movement of his chin and I waited, but wasn't happy to do so. I requested another officer through the dispatcher. But within minutes, Don had talked the gun away from the man, having known him for sometime and I was glad I hadn't chanced the shot. Good thing too, I still wasn't all that great a shot with the big revolver.

I was used to the Air Force's .38 revolver, having shot expert and a member of the pistol and rifle team until my vision changed, and learning how to fire the .44 mag was difficult for me. We loaded our own ammo, which I had to learn and the chief had set up our own range out the road. I shot as often as I could to better myself and at first, I was the worst shooter on the department. I increased my skill until I scored the highest one day. Which only upset the chief, who made me shoot the course until he out-shot me again. Chief Gray had an ego problem I soon learned. We called him the cocky rooster behind his back. He stood about 5'7", weighed all of 140 lbs, loved his firearms and was a 3rd degree black belt in Karate. Unfortunately, I was to also learn he often used that Karate when it wasn't needed. But I owed a lot to him for hiring me, taking a chance and I tried my best to support him. But we did have our difficulties, especially after he nicknamed me "Godzukki" as in Son of Godzilla. Worse yet, he often used it in public.

Dillingham had another growing problem and this concerned gas sniffers. We'd even find them draped over the back of a car, passed out from sniffing fumes. This caused them to be violent. We also had a growing PCP problem, which could turn a normal guy into a Hulk-like figure. I only made two arrests for PCP suspects and both times my life was on the line with these incredibly strong dudes. The first time involved this guy standing on a tall pile of wooden pallets, about 15 feet in the air. He was up their growling at everyone and making threatening or obscene gestures. The Chief had called us all out, knowing what he was dealing with. By the time we were all on scene, this clown jumped off the pallets, landing firmly on his feet, growling and snarling, and then charging straight at Chief Gray. We all jumped him and soon had him down flat on his back. I had his right arm under my chest and he was actually picking up my nearly 300 lbs right off the ground- I couldn't believe it. Chief Gray hollered for a rope and we ended up coiling him from ankles to neck. Then we carried him to the waiting ambulance and took him tot he hospital. There the doctor insisted we remove the rope before he treated him. We told the doctor, "Sure, we'll take the rope off and then we leave!"

The doctor left the room and returned with a shot of thorzine, which rendered the man unconscious and only then did we remove the rope- cautiously. That's the kind of calls we had in Dillingham. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/ June 16, 2011- Dillingham Police Cases

Bill Says: I tossed the idea around to put together a folder showing those police cases I worked in my 20-years, which I wanted some record of, to give to my children or grandchildren. Then I decided to put them on this blog. This way, if my kids and grandchildren want a copy of it or any part of same, they can print it out themselves. I won't waste paper and my children won't have to toss the old thing aside, though remembering to thank the old man first with a cheery smile and then later going 3-points for a file-13 shot. I wish my dad and Grandpas on both sides had kept some record of their histories to pass on down, they all lived interesting lives. It has taken me sometime to put together some of the family history.

Anyway, I was in the US Air Force from July 1971 through March 1981. Then stationed at Eielson Air Force Base, outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, I was just about to re-enlist again, when I got the call from Dillingham Police Department. The Chief, Alan Gray, was offering me a patrolman's position. So, I said goodbye to the Air Force, happily going from $8,600 a year to $32,000 a year, and kissed my wife goodbye, ( she was still on active duty and had two years left), and I flew off for darkest Dillingham. I didn't know it at the time, but Dillingham had a lot of similarities to the US Southwest of the 1870's and one's life was often in danger.

Located approx 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, the City of Dillingham sits on the northern shoreline of the famous Bristol Bay, ( a very large body of water). Dillingham plays home to one of the largest salmon fisheries in the world and has one of the craziest harbors ever constructed. Due to severe tides, which range from minus 12 feet to a plus 24 foot tide, the harbor, which was built by the Army Corps of Engineers, was constructed in such a way that during low tides there was no water in the harbor. Boats leaned up against one another. Sometimes these fishing boats would be racked out for 15-20 boats in line and I soon learned jumping from one vessel to the next one could prove quite perilous. Especially if someone was shooting at you from one of the last boats.

Dillingham was the most southern community for the Eskimo people and most northern community for the Aleut people, along with a bunch of whites and a smattering of Orientals. Strangely enough, most of them got a long just fine- while sober that is. Then it could turn into a real Hatfield-McCoy style feud on a Saturday night and no one was quite sure who was shooting at who.

Approximately 3500 people lived in the city, but 7 or maybe it was 8 villages used the city for their shopping and drinking. Most of the villages were considered dry by state law and this meant no booze at all. During fishing season, this number of people could expand to 10,000, especially with the Seattle fishing fleet coming in and all the cannery workers in town. During the winter, the Bristol Bay froze up solid and things could quiet down some- until spring came around and the Beaver Round-up Festival kicked off. A 3-day event that grew louder with each day and a lot of arrests were made.

The Dillingham Police Department was made up of a police chief, who was a former Alaska State Trooper and a Viet Nam veteran, a sergeant- another Nam vet, and hopefully 4 patrolmen. Two out of the 4 were also Nam veterans. There were also 5 female dispatchers, but none of them were Nam vets, though two of them were married to Nam veterans. Turns out the Chief had a soft side for Nam veterans and this is why I was invited down for my interview and then he liked my size. The police department shared a old two story building, which set out all by itself on a busy intersection, with the volunteer fire department and a youth center. We had a dispatch area, two very small offices ( more like walk-in closet size) and that's about it. The dispatch area was also used as the city's DMV, where complaints were filed and lunch room for officers and dispatchers. We had a reloading bench in the office set aside for patrolmen and barely had enough room to write our reports and black powder was always getting all over everything. Long before I arrived the police department building had received the name of Fort Apache and I was to soon learn why, the bullet holes on the outside walls were very real.

Dillingham was a place of dirt roads, few trees, high winds, the constant and nauseating odor of fish and I found it extremely hard to locate an address when being dispatched. ( turn right at the third tree after the large grave marker on your right). Oh, we also had a dog catcher- Norman Johnson, who was quite a good man and at one point saved my life. It was a very cold place to work in the winter months and really buggy in the summer.

The city also had an Alaskan State Trooper stationed there to handle the villages and his office building housed a two-cell state jail and his living apartment.

Roads consisted of the main town area and harbor, a 5-mile dirt road to the Knak-Knak ( I think hat's how it was spelled) Native Hospital, a 16-mile dirt road to Alegnagik Lake and village, a 3-mile long Wood River Road and multi-off shoots in all directions. Lots of cemetaries too and a nice airport with numerous charter businesses and host to Wien Airlines. Alaska Airlines would later take over when Wien went out of business.

This was a very beautiful area, where hundreds of really nice people lived and there was always great fishing. The occasional bear or moose could wander by, but mostly it was all about fish, fish and more fish. From herring, red salmon, silver salmon and king salmon.

It was Mona who supported me in my in applying for the job, we'd only been married about 7 months when I applied. Though I really didn't think I had any chance on getting hired, ( my past had some serious bumps in it), and my resume, (which was my first ever and looked like something a high schooler put together) seemed a bit over the top. But, God was in charge here. I was soon invited down for an interview and an oral board, where the city manager, police chief, magistrate and the state trooper, were there to hit me with a barrage of questions to see what I was made of. I was beginning to think they were going to bring out the heat lamps and rubber hoses, but then it was over. Then I flew back and soon received a call from the chief saying the city manager had made the final decision to select an Oregon cop, who had already gone through a recognized police academy. This in fact saved the city quite a bit of money, because they would have to send me. So, I said my thanks and prepared to re-enlist. I was also on my way south to attend helicopter maintenance school, which I'm sure would've put a strain on our new marriage. But three days before I was to be sworn in for another 4-year hitch, Chief Gray called and said he was given another patrolman's slot and wanted to know if I was interested. I looked at Mona, she agreed and I put in my papers to separate from the Air Force.

Arriving at Dillingham in the middle of February, taking terminal leave from the service, I had no police uniform to wear and I wouldn't for 3 weeks. But I was promptly sworn in and handed a Smith & Wesson .44 Mag revolver. The was the chief's weapon of choice for the department and he just happened to have a few to sell. That night I attended my first autopsy for a homicide. It got busy after that.

I'll continue on in the next blog. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Moose Pass Journal 6/14/11

Bill Says:  Yesterday, Mona and I received a very nice surprise when our son Joshua and his wife, Jerea, suddenly arrived on our door step. Mona was outside, wondering who was driving up our driveway and probably wanted to thump him in the chest, ( her response to a lot of things and you should see the bruises I have- just kidding- official disclaimer by order of her highness). We thought they were still basking in Arizona visiting with Joshua's brother, James, his wife Becca and their lovely daughter Ava.  Joshua had just left the army and is on his way to Fairbanks to attend college at University of Alaska/Fairbanks. Jerea already had a job offer too. It was an extremely long and tiring drive from El Paso , Texas and they looked somewhat weary.

It's been nearly two years since we last saw Joshua and Jerea, when they were married in Fairbanks. Since then, they were stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas and Joshua did a tour of duty in Northern Iraq. ( There his vehicle was blown up twice, but no injuries- other than strained nerves). He finished his military service as an E-5 and this time in the service has grown him up some. As it does with most guys and gals who serve their country.

I was sitting in my chair, reading, when he suddenly appeared in my living room. To say the least, I was a bit startled by his presence- he was unshaven and larger than I recalled, but very thankful for their arrival.

Funny, how it reminded me of the many times I surprised my dad or he surprised me with a sudden appearance. I once came home from overseas, Grandma didn't expect me and she was driving down the road on the way to the store and I waved at her as we passed going the other way. She was extremely shook up, in tears, but made it back to the house okay.

My father and my other mother Bea, I dislike using the word-"Step", showed up here in Alaska and snuck into church to sit right behind Mona. She turned around and screamed with delight to see them- which broke up the service for a brief time.  I  later came home from work that day to be surprised when they walked up behind me. I got back at them, I was wearing oily Carhart overalls from working at the harbor when I hugged my Dad.

I find it so strange how, as parents, we hurry to get them to walk as babies, to get them into school and off to college or military service and then wish they were around more when they become adults. We want them to grow, to achieve and thrive, but when we are older, we wish they lived closer. But they all have their lives to live, to raise their children... on and on. Makes me think the old timers had it right when the kids were brought up in the family business, lived close by, had Sunday family dinners. As a whole things began to change rapidly after the Civil War and the west needed to be claimed for a rapidly growing country. Makes me wonder how long before we've outgrown this planet and were out settling some other piece of rock.

That's about it for now. God Bless!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Moose Pass Journal 6/1/11

Bill Says: With this passing of Memorial Day Weekend, I realized how many things I am beginning to forget; either due to advancing or is that reclining age, or my medications? So, I decided I wanted to get a few things into print before I forgot. Who is that man looking at me in the window?

My children have been brought up on a lot of my old stories, both police and military tales and probably to the point they were thinking about hiring a hit man to put the old geezer out of his misery- thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I'm still here, ( truthfully, the kids couldn't afford a hit man with the allowance we gave them). Smart we were.

One of my stories is actually a TRUE account of events that transpired and on April 2nd, 1973 at Danang Air Force Base, South Viet Nam. I wanted this one written down because I have grown wearisome of hearing from so many people, who do not know any better, of how we had won the 10-year war in Viet Nam. Of course most of these people never served there, if in any service, and base their information on speeches by puffed up politicians who also never served a day in military life. I still believe our congressmen should have prior military time in their past, helps them realize why our men and women need more of everything.

The Viet Nam War for the USA ended on Jan 28, 1973. (38-years ago...weird).But for the South Vietnamese the war continued on for two mores years and then they finally surrendered to the communists of North Viet Nam in 1975.  On the morning of Jan 28th, 1973, our peace treaty was to go into effect at precisely 8 a.m. or 0800 hrs. But at 0730 hrs, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched a major rocket attack, the 12 mm and 140 mm rockets flying in the skies over Danang AFB. We first thought they were going to hit us, but an estimated 300 rockets smashed into the South Vietnamese refugee camp directly south of the base. It was also known as Dogpatch, (from the comic strip of Little Abner fame). One of those rockets, much like the one that wounded me on Dec 26th, struck my Vietnamese wife's hut or hooch, they were called both, and left little remains. I buried her that day and vanished for three days, for which I have no memory of. The Army MP's found me 80-miles north of Danang and initially picked me up for AWOL.

Early in our marriage, my beloved wife, Mona Sue, had helped me heal from those sad days, along with my belief in my Lord Jesus Christ. The only reason I bring this up is to explain the next part and why I felt my country had stabbed me and so many others in the backside with a rusty knife. The rusty part is to cover the poisoning that lasted for years and years.

As part of our agreement with the communists, who we had fought for 10-years, we were supposed to be out of Danang within 60-days- meaning March 28th. But we couldn't get it done and we sincerely tried, but there was too many troops to send out. At this point I was working US Customs and handling the out going flights. Planes around the clock. But by April 2nd, we were 5 days over the allowable time. I and my three best friends, who I have listed in earlier journals; Mike Kimbrel, Chuck Dudley and Frank D'Mario, were allowed to be part of the roll-up force for Danang. We would be leaving on the very last Air Force plane to fly out of Danang. This was an honor for us. being selected for this duty. There were 20 Air Force Security Policemen and I believe another dozen support people, a flight crew for our aircraft and two senior officers and a doctor. The exact numbers are a bit hazy- see what I mean about the memory.

Then a week before we were due to leave, an Air Force C-141 cargo jet landed at Danang. To our BIG SURPRISE It was carrying 200 North Vietnamese Army soldiers, some senior officers and a very senior North Vietnamese general. The Air Force crew had flown to Hanoi, picked them up and brought them to Danang. Now please remember, the South Vietnamese were still fighting these people, but the enemy went untouched in some kind of agreement made with the South Vietnamese. To say the least, we were not happy!!!!!

They housed the enemy in the officer's housing area, where we had been staying and moved out to make room for them. We really missed the air conditioners. When the 60-days were up at the end of March, we were then ordered to surrender all of our rifles, pistols and revolvers, grenades....etc. Even though these 200 enemy soldiers were on our base and out numbered us about 7-1. We had a single C-130 cargo plane sitting on the tarmac to fly us out and each night we were to guard it. Now without weapons, we were issued baseball bats to protect ourselves and a radio to call for help with. That last night, the air sweltering and full of evil bugs, I was chosen to guard the plane. Remember, I was in pretty bad shape. I'd been wounded by the enemy, lost some friends and then my wife. I can't recall what kept me from walking the mile or so over to where the enemy was staying and used that baseball bat alongside some heads, but I was responsible for that plane. Truthfully, I was a bit spooked being out there all alone, but nothing happened and my three friends came out to spend most of the night with me. They left when the bugs got so bad and we joked about them thinking the plane was their mother and we'd been left behind to feed the babies with our blood- bad joke, but we were not at our best humor wise.

The next morning, we were put on board a South Vietnamese bus and driven to the plane. There we were shocked, stunned, startled, sickened, to find our two hundred enemy soldiers standing in two formations, forming a corridor we were to march through to board our plane. We were issued orders to not say anything, no obscene gestures, not to attack the enemy in ant fashion and come to attention in front of the senior officer standing beside the North Vietnamese general, so he could check our name off to ensure we were in fact leaving. This was probably the most embarrassing moment in my life and my own country was forcing me to endure it. We boarded the plane and flew to off for Thailand. Apparently they were having trouble with some communists rebels in Thailand and were sending in several planeloads of Viet Nam Security Policemen to lend a hand. We were the only Security Policemen with combat experience, thought we were for sure not some Green Beret A Team.

The, the  minute we off loaded at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, the American officers meeting us ordered us to remove all our Viet Nam patches and our coveted Black Beret. The beret had been awarded to our unit, the only unit in the US Air Force to be awarded it and we were pretty proud of it. We were not happy. Mine sits on my dresser, though I can't believe my head was ever that small!

So, no, we did not win that war. You do not win a war when the enemy is out there to mark your name of to ensure you're leaving and they are still there to conquer the land. Just wanted to get it on some form of record before I forget all about it. Viet Nam, is that by Spain?????? Fading....fading.

Love to all. God Bless!