Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pre-Easter 4/7/12

Mr. Bill says: Some of you may have already read about this on my Moose Pass Journal, but I wanted to add this event to our blog. Today, James Arthur Lee Casselman returned home safely from Afghanistan. Becca, his loving wife, set things up so he could surprise his two daughters- an Easter surprise. She filmed this and shared it on her Face Book site, allowing us to share in the moment of this little 4 year old girl jumping with delight to see her daddy and being swept up in his arms. The youngest daughter, Claire, who is 10 months old, will she looked a bit bewildered in wondering what was going on and I have no idea who the other people in the video were.

I must admit, having gone through my own war- NO, not World War II as some local teenagers believe, but Viet Nam, I was always concerned when John, Joshua and then James went over to the sand box. I knew things could happen, to God fearing Christians, Jews or atheists- this is war and all the sadness involved. My grandfather on my Dad's side fought in his war, my Dad fought in Korea at 17 yrs old and I journeyed off to the Far East to see the elephant myself. To see the elephant was a phrase brought about in the Civil War, of how young men went off to see and feel the excitement of war, much like boys ran away to join the circus and play with the elephants. Sadly, they saw war for what it was- horrible.

Like any parent, especially one who has been in a war, I prayed every day for the safety of my sons. I knew things could happen and hoped it wouldn't happen to one of our boys. But, being a veteran and a patriot, I was also proud of my sons going off to join. I know my daughters wanted to join, but events took place to alter their plans. Now they serve as mothers, parents to a new generation of Casselmans- at least one half of them. The other half... well, I guess they count too. :)

My beautiful Mona was also a veteran and I thank God she was, or we may never have met. Through her, I came to know the Lord and for 32 years we've been together through the thick and thin of it. As I have said many a time, she was the perfect cop's wife and was always ready to stand beside me when things turned sour and people would've loved to have harmed us. Our first year of marriage was forged in that steel, when things fell apart in Dillingham and I was the only cop left. Pretty scary for a while. Well, she's passed that trait down to our children, though sometimes they have to be reminded of it. We have tough kids and the pioneer stock of the Sanders is strong in them. Oh, I imagine the survival instinct of the city boy rom my side carries some weight.

Long ago, my father, who didn't relish living in a Wisconsin orphanage, placed there by his mother so he and his sister could eat, ran away to find his father. He was 8 yrs old. They found him in Texas and dragged him back. One year later, he broke out again and rode the rails to California and did locate his dad. They remained together until my Dad joined the Army at 17 and left for Japan. When the bugle was called in Korea, his armor unit was the first one called in. When the Chinese came across, nearly one million strong, my dad and his friends ran for 80-miles to escape and this was during the Korean winter. Hard task for a  new 18 year old.

I know John, James and Joshua have learned a lot over there in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their memories of those times will remain with them forever. Maybe the heat, the lack of privacy, sleeping through mortar attacks, friendships and brotherhood, will be the only memories and for this I would be thankful.

I never got to talk to my Grandpa about his war, he died when I was five. But after coming home from Viet Nam, my father grabbed a couple beers out of the frig and we walked out into his backyard. For the first time, he shared with me about Korea. He said that now that I knew about war, I would be able to understand. That day I felt something special in our relationship, though we never talked about it again. It was one time thing, because he didn't like bringing up those moments in fear of his own nightmares. Now I've learned that talking about Viet Nam has helped me overcome a lot of my dragons. Oh, there are some moments I will not talk about, but I love to share about the good times- the jokes and pranks we pulled to get by. My kids have grown up hearing these tales- over and over and over again. Now they have their own to tell and I sincerely hope their kids will listen and remember. Some things need to be passed on from one generation to the next, this is the history of our families.

When I came home from Viet Nam, there was no one waiting for me at the airport and apparently no one knew I was due in. I had to borrow $17 from my closest friend to fly south and I guess I never did pay him back. Imagine what the interest rate could be over 38 yrs?

I only say this as a way to help Becca understand how happy I was to see that video, it met a lot to both Mona and I. Thank you. Hug him for us. He looked good, but I did notice a bit of a balding spot- same place I have one....kidding.

Enjoy this Easter, all of you and God Bless!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back to Ol' Blue Eyes 4/3/12

Bill says: I will try to wrap this tale up, knowing some of you were left hanging and it has been some time since I  sat down to blog. Please refer to the earlier parts to reacquaint you with Blue Eyes. I might also mention at this time of how the weather and majestic scenery in Moose Pass are simply fantastic. We have a low 50 degree temperature and yes, the snow is melting finally. We have lost at least a foot of hard pack snow in the last week and our driveway is back down to...wait for it- DIRT!

Okay, we're back in 1974 again and I am once more stuck on the desk; taking phone calls, handling walk-n complaints and dispatching my patrols to various calls. The whispers and rumors of the Blue Eyes incident have spread through the squadron and then were carried throughout the base. It seemed we suddenly had a lot of help from other base residents, everyone watching the desert in hopes for any sign of this strange critter. With the desert off-limits at night, we were chasing a lot of people off the dirt roads or hideaways. We also had the occasional love nest; 2-4 people fogging up a parked car in some desert location- which was normal for those cheating on their spouses and desiring a secret spot. Sometimes we'd even catch an officer or two, but we'd just shoo them all back to the hard top roads. I wasn't a morals enforcer, just making sure the off-limits was enforced. Often or not, it was usually the guy who was more embarrassed then his lady friend and even had one lady stand there in the nude addressing me in some pretty colorful profane words. Desert did that to some people.

A few nights later, Blue Eyes was back in the limelight and I happened to be handling the desk traffic- I began to believe I had some weird sort of connection with this thing, as he or she, or just plain it, always made an appearance on my shift.

An elderly couple traveling through the base on their way to Bakersfield, ( Edwards was an open base with two major state highways running through it back then- but not now), and had an encounter with what they thought to be a very large bear. They were driving north on 120th Highway, when this critter suddenly appeared in front of them and bounced off the left side front bumper of their vehicle. They were calling in on one of the base emergency phones, which were scattered about the base roadways. I dispatched the South Base Patrol to their location.

He reported in that the couple had indeed struck some kind of animal, leaving blood and long deep brown hairs over most of the bumper area. He also mentioned the hairs were very thick, unlike anything he'd ever seen before. Then he hit me with the bad news, how the couple remembered seeing the creature's eyes and how they were large and radiant blue in color. That was enough. I had him escort the couple to headquarters, so we could conduct a thorough interview and take photographs of the damage. I advised the patrolman to secure the hairs and blood samples with his evidence kit. The couple refused to be seen by the base emergency room, but agreed to come to headquarters. They were hoping for a report to provide to their insurance company.

I also dispatched three other patrols into the area to see if they could locate the beast, but they were ordered not to leave their vehicle. I was sure a larger search would be conducted during daylight hours, giving the search teams a good range of visibility across the flat desert landscape.  There was also a lot of rattlers out there and I didn't want one of my guys stumbling into a nest of them. We already had a couple men out on sick call and I couldn't afford to lose any more.

When the couple arrived, I went outside to view the damage. The flight chief- my boss, also came out and he stood there, admiring the damage, but refusing to utter a single word. TSgt Harrell was like that, unless  he was screaming at you and boy, he was good at stripping a man down when it was needed. He would later retire and go to work for US Customs, manning a station on the Mexican Border. He's gone now, but he was truly one of the good guys- even though he kept sticking me behind that dang desk!

The damage was there on the bumper and I'd say in my less than some State Farm insurance agent's estimate, the critter this car hit was of sizable dimensions. So, the report was done and you know what happened...YES, everything was seized by the Office of Special Investigations, ( Air Force version of the Men in Black). I was beginning to grow weary of these guys coming in and taking my work, but there was little I could do about it.

Nothing happened for two nights and I was enjoying a very nice day off, when I was called in to assist the on duty Desk Sergeant. He was new to this work and everyone was being sent out to the base Rocket Site for an "Emergency- Officer Needs Assistance", call. A dozen or more off-duty personnel came in, because the desk sergeant had lost contact with the rocket site patrol and the gate guard at that site reported hearing shots fired.  So much for my day off.

I won't use the patrolman's name because the incident was a might embarrassing for him. He was found unconscious by responding patrols, his .38 caliber service revolver in the sand beside him and all six rounds had been fired. Now in the Air Force, if you fire even one round- for any reason- on duty and off the shooting range, you've got to file a report. Paperwork is what ran the military and I figure we may have killed off a few forests in my time at Edwards Air Force Base.

His story was how he was driving up around the rocket stands- this was where those huge rocket engines were brought to be tested, when he thought he'd seen some movement. The only light had come from the moon, which was about three quarters full at the time and a few million stars. He wanted to check it out and called in to the desk that he was leaving his vehicle to check on something. Now you have to understand, the rocket site is a good 20 miles from where the couple hit our alleged weird critter- possible Martian or an escaped gorilla or bear with unusual eyes, or some kind of NASA experiment gone wrong.

The patrolman walked around a bit, having illuminated the area with his spot light and headlights. He was also using his flashlight. The only thing he could remember was this massive shape suddenly appearing in front of him- he recalls seeing a single blue eye- shaped like a silver dollar and just as big. He doesn't remember pulling his revolver or firing it, he could only recall opening his eyes and seeing half-a dozen of his friends standing over him.

A massive search was made of the area. Foot prints, similar to the one at the MARS Station were discovered and casts were made. There was no blood, so it appeared the patrolman missed all six times.

I assisted the on-duty desk sergeant with the reports and filing the evidence, knowing it would all disappear in the morning. After two hours of searching, the flight chief called everyone in and another search would be made of the area in the morning by day-shift. I went back to the barracks and got a few more hours of sleep, thinking I'd hitch a ride up there in the morning and look around myself. Instead, I got called into the office of  my NCOIC, (non-commissioned officer in charge- MSgt Bacon), and briefed on the events of last night and how he wanted the new report to be typed up. I thought the on-duty guy would get stuck with this, but for some reason he wanted me to type it up. I think it was some sort of punishment for the way I added some flare to the previous Blue Eye reports.

 A week went by and no knew reports of Blue Eyes and we began to think the critter was either dead, chewed up by coyotes or had decided to move along. finally, TSgt Harrell let me back on patrol and gave me South Base Patrol, which sounded like a great idea because little was going on that night and he felt confining me to that area was the safest thing to do. I liked to dig things up, which caused a lot of headaches for my boss. I once confiscated 10 tool boxes, an assortment of radios and the tail stand for an aircraft that were all left unsecured on the flight line. You should have heard the words coming out of the mouth of the squadron commander when he came down to claim the property- I was back on the desk for the following month or so.

After a few hours of patrol, I parked down at the day picnic grounds. There was a small lake and half a dozen picnics table and a shaded area with some barbecue pits. I was outside my truck; an old 1968 Chevrolet pick-up with a three speed stick on the column. Top speed about 70 mph, but good for desert travel- if you don't mind getting stuck 2-3 times a night. We kept a special jack and a shovel in the back for such events.

Walking around and answering nature's call- too much coffee, I saw something moving across the horizon. The moon was full and the desert was lit up. The shape, which reminded me of a large- very large Christmas Tree, was moving across the ground at a good pace. I just stood there, knowing it couldn't be a vehicle- not with that shape and started to get excited. Just maybe, this was Ol' Blue Eyes and I'd finally have my chance to take this critter down. Actually I was only armed with my .38 revolver, so my hopes of big game hunting diminished some. I dashed over to my truck and was in the process of grabbing my microphone when an emergency call came over the radio. Big bar fight at the NCO club and I was one of the patrols being dispatched. I thought for a moment about not replying, going off in pursuit of the beast, but I knew better. Besides that, when I looked to see which way the critter had gone, the horizon was now empty of my Christmas Tree. Vanished.

I only told my flight chief of the sighting that night and he simply nodded his head up and down and smoked his cigarette. Then he pointed at the desk and I knew I was off patrol once again.

The was the end of Blue Eyes. We never had another report of him haunting the base. The patrolman who emptied his revolver spent a night at the hospital and asked never to be assigned to the rocket site again- which he wasn't. I often searched the desert on my days off, hoping to find some sign of Blue Eyes.

Recently I heard there was a story of Blue Eyes on the Internet and I checked it out. The whole story, which was supposed to be back when we had our first sighting of Blue eyes, were total bunk. Reports of patrol cars being tipped over, patrolmen injured...ridiculous! None of that happened. If anything Ol' Blue Eyes seemed to be a timid creature, though he did smash down the Mars Station gate and I was always curious why? The Mars Station was deserted and a new one was built.

End of story. Not much of a sci-fi tale, but all true and it happened in 1974 at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Try to remember, Edwards was a very strange place and probably still is. Here they tested the military's first attempts at building a flying saucer, (I saw photos of it and read how it never worked very well). How they used radiation to grow gigantic veggies, but couldn't quite get the deadly poison out of them.   Rumors of how the highly secret North Base area was where the Roswell aliens were being kept. The many underground sites and where chemical warfare was tested during World War II. Yes, a unique location and I spent 4.5 yrs there. I loved the desert and spent many an hour scouting the area. I found wild long horn cattle- only one of them, but mean! Went on many a rattle snake hunt and watched as many of the new aircraft were being tested. I got aboard the Space Shuttle Enterprise and always hoped they would someday let it fly into space. But it was prototype - no engines and only used to glide. I went into the B-1 bomber and thought I'd walked into a sci-fi movie- really spacey.  Stumbled across two U-2 spy planes in a unsecured hanger and my partner nearly got busted for being found in one of the cockpits. And I actually got to sit in the cockpit of an SR-71- that was a thrill. Yes, I enjoyed Edwards. Then I thought someone was playing a big joke on me- I received orders for Alaska and I was not thrilled. But I soon learned this was truly God's country.

I do apologize for the length of this, but I wasn't sure when I'd be back on my blog again. Bye now.