I did one tour in the Air Force after returning to Washington. After that they offered me Korea and I said no. I got off active duty in October 1987 and returned to DIA the next week as a civilian defense analyst – GS 13.
I went into the Air Force Reserves so I retained many of those military benefits. This building opened in the summer of 1984 and I was one of the original occupants. Since this picture it’s been expanded.
This is where I began to get into some programs that proved to be very exciting. And it’s those I cannot discuss. When I left the govt I had to sign a pile of paperwork promising I’d keep my mouth shut…and it pertains to stuff that went on – and I was involved with – this time…..the mid 1980s. This is when I began to get serious about learning the business. If you’re going to do intelligence Washington is the only place to do it. I knew that’s where I wanted to be. There was a great career opportunity ready and waiting and I was anxious to get started.
As an Air Force guy obviously I focused on the air and air defense forces of potential adversaries. I was assigned Czechoslovakia, Romania and later Hungary. You might think they’re small little countries but if WW III had ever started in central Europe they would have been very much involved on the Soviet side….so we made it our business to learn all we could about these countries and I was the point guy for their air forces. Essentially it was my job to answer the question: If we have to go to war with these guys, what are we going to be up against?
In 1987 I started teaching for Prince George’s Community College in Prince George’s County Maryland. Their extension center at Andrews AFB was their largest off-campus facility. I taught a course in computers right at the time the personal computer world was transitioning from DOS to Windows. Most of my students were active duty military or adults who worked during the day and wanted to pursue a degree.
Computers were necessary and everyone needed to learn. So this was fun.
I found I got a second wind at 6 pm when I got in front of these classes. I did this for about eight years, until 1995 when DIA sent me to do shift work at the Pentagon because what used to be Yugoslavia was going through a meltdown. Some of you may remember the ‘ethnic cleansing’ as it was called amounted to genocide. When Hitler did it, we heard rumors. This time we had proof….satellite imagery….pictures don’t lie. Yes, that’s a mass grave. Yes, it’s filled with hundreds of corpses…and yes they do look like civilians – women and children.
So at this point there was little doubt that these Bosnian Serbs were real bastards. Clinton ordered the NATO bombing of Belgrade and that brought them to the peace table pretty quickly. The Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, was the chief SOB. Long story short, “Slobo” as we referred to him was forced from office. Subsequently he was turned over to the International Court of Justice in the The Hague in the Netherlands charged with war crimes including genocide and crimes against humanity.
Sounds a lot like Nüremberg doesn’t it? Before the proceedings of the International Court of Justice could run their course Slobo died of ‘natural’ causes while in prison. Funny how these guys have a habit of getting sick and dying once they’re in prison…must have learned that one from Jack Ruby or John Gotti.
We tracked down and caught his cohorts Radovan Karadzic the Bosnian Serb president who organized the genocide and Ratko Mladic who personally ordered much of the killing. All these guys are either in custody or dead. You can run but you can’t hide. We’ll get you sooner or later. Just ask Bin Laden.
So the Yugoslavia meltdown of 1995-96 was the end of my teaching computers at PGCC. But I knew that I liked teaching so I kept that in the back of my mind. My last Air Force tour was in Salt Lake at Hill AFB. It was my first non-intelligence job in my entire career. It gave me cause to gain a healthy respect for those in the intelligence business because you have to have a brain and actually use it. Being a military cop or a missile launch officer….it seems like you could almost train a monkey to do those jobs. Sure they’re important, but you can do it with an IQ of zero. Grown men getting excited about things like IG inspections.
Sorry, that just doesn’t rise to the threshold of something I’m going to worry an awful lot about. So I retired from the USAF in October 2003 just as Bush 43 was getting us involved in Iraq, the Sequel. There was a move afoot at the Pentagon to cut non-combat billets and mine was one. I was 50 then and it was time.
Immediately afterwards I got an insurance license and got into Medicare insurance sales. I met some great people that way but they money was not there. I was earning just shy of $100K when I left the USAF and this was a huge drop…. One thing lead to another and I found myself back in the classroom. This time in a little back-water suburb of Salt Lake City called Tooele. It was a small town, very conservative, very Republican and solidly Mormon. As a blue voter I didn’t quite fit in but the people were certainly nice. And I loved teaching….it was 8th grade and again computers. I took them through the Microsoft Office suite of applications. This was where some of the students knew more about certain aspects of computers and the internet than I did . It was lots of fun. I made some great friends and still stay in touch with some of those kids….who graduated high school this past year…2014.
I knew going into this position that it was temporary. I was filling in for a woman who took a semester’s leave at the last minute. So now I needed to find something permanent. And I had reasons to want to get out of Utah. One afternoon I got on the internet and went to the website for the school district that covers Tampa, FL.
I had lived in Tampa before while I was at CENTCOM. My brother and mother were now there….and best of all it was 2,400 miles from Salt Lake.
By a unique stroke of luck one high school in Tampa was looking for a person to teach both french and german…..the two foreign languages I knew reasonably well. So I called the principal and we talked. Next day I talked with the chair person of the foreign language department at the district level. She hired me over the phone. I packed up and left for Tampa. I arrived on a Friday. School started Monday. I had the weekend to buy a car and review the textbooks. Monday morning we were off to the races.