Note:  Click on any underlined text to view photos. 

Dear Ollie, 16 November 1999 What a wonderful service you are providing, allowing us from 58B to kind of keep in touch and to reminisce over what was 'our youth'. Although I was fortunate to make the reunion in 1998 - what an experience - I had a conflict with the National Juniors' Judo Championships in 1999. Not only was I selected to officiate at the tournament, one of my young students had qualified to compete, and I needed to coach him during his matches (he finished in 4th place out of 50 competitors, all state champions).

A bit of my history beginning after graduation:

June 1958 - December 1959. Because my background in munitions, I was assigned as Assistant OIC of the new nuclear storage site at Oxnard AFB. Upon arrival, I found that the OIC, a captain, had been dismissed for some malfeasance, and because there was a shortage of an immediate replacement officer in the major command, I was assigned as OIC and told to get trained up quickly. There was to be the initial combat capable inspection by both the AEC and USAF Inspector General teams in 3 months. Shortage of officers? Didn't we just have a massive RIF of officers in 1957? Great preplanning of needs! I was fortunate in having both a warrant officer and an E-7 come in who had been through both the AEC and USAF nuclear maintenance schools and had been previously assigned to nuclear maintenance and storage sites. My enlisted service training stood me in good stead (and respect from the WO), because I immediately advised them that the three of us would run the site, and that I needed them to train me to do my job. We worked well together, and with our crews passed not only both the CC inspection, but also all the subsequent tactical evals and combat readiness inspections with flying colors. However, in November 1959, one of the USAF IG team members noticed that I had never attended the Officers Nuclear Weapons Course, so in December 1959 I was relieved by a captain returning from Europe and was sent off to Denver for the required course (as a new 1st Lt.).

January 1960 - June 1960. Attended the nuclear weapons officers course, but had a lot of free time. Found a judo dojo in Denver with a high ranking Japanese teacher, so spent all of my off-duty time practicing and learning more of the art (I started judo in California in 1955 in an all-Japanese dojo, and continued whilst at Oxnard).

July 1960 - December 1964. Assigned to Incirlik AB at Adana, Turkey as assistant OIC of the tactical nuclear storage and maintenance site, later OIC. Rene Pomerelle (later coach of the USA National Judo Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colo. Springs) and I started up a judo club on base and soon had a bunch of students. Rene and I also joined the large Turkish judo club in Adana where I soon picked up the European style of judo, and traveled around Turkey and Greece fighting in their tournaments. My biggest excitement and apprehension, as was for most of you, was the Cuban Crisis in 1962. As we moved from Defcon 4 to Defcon 3, we all knew that the possibility of war was very real. What a relief when the crisis was resolved and we stood down! Turkey is a beautiful country, and I traveled around considerably, backpacking into the Toros Mountains to fish for unwary brown trout, hunting wild boar and mountain sheep, duck and geese hunting during their massive migration. The peasants in the mountainside and country were fabulous in their hospitality and interest in (and probably their first meeting of) an American in their country. Since I took the time to learn to speak the language fairly well - it really is an easy language to learn - I had a much more interesting time than many others stationed there. I really hated to leave, and left many friends there some of whom I still correspond.

January 1965 - September1967. Enroute to assignment to the ADC IG team, I was allowed TDY to University of Omaha (now Univ of Neb, Omaha) to complete my degree. Then I reported to ADC HQ in Colorado Springs to become one of those who I had previously criticized - an IG inspector. Now I was on the flip side of the coin and soon learned that it was a lot of work and research to be able to do the proper job of evaluating and assisting units in the field.

October 1967 - September 1973. After attending a couple refresher-type training courses (I was explosive ordnance disposal qualified) in the latest of fuse (and booby-trap) technology, I was sent to S. Viet Nam as OIC of the SE Asia Mobile EOD Team. Our charter was to primarily provide on and off-base EOD support for the USAF - downed aircraft, augmentation of base EOD teams, rendering safe of armed or dud ordnance in the field, mine clearing, as well as providing any type of support requested by other MAC-V forces. I and another of our team attended the 5th Special Forces Recondo School in Nha Trang and the 1st Special Forces POR course at Camp Hardy, Okinawa. As a result, we did everything such as search and clear tunnels, help search for and remove hazards (booby traps) in weapons caches, locate rocket launch sites, and at times augmenting both SF and SEAL teams as specialists in recognizing VC markings and laying of mines and booby-traps. After the TET 1968 offensives, we augmented ARVN and US Army S&D operations to clear unexploded ordnance and mine/booby-trap hazards as these forces were clearing and chasing NVA units from Saigon, Nha Trang, and Ben Hoa areas. We also did clean up of munitions sites, which had been blown by either sappers or incoming ordnance. On subsequent tours, I did everything from trail watching to searching for POWs in Laos, clean up of blown ammo dumps, to help setting up the new VC trail training module at the EOD school in Indian Head. Between tours I was assigned as Chief, EOD at HQ PACAF at Hickam AFB in Hawaii. There I found time to complete jump training (courtesy of US Navy) as well as USN Deep-Sea Diving Course (I was already underwater EOD qualified). I also wrangled a deal to attend the Attack Swimmers Course at the Clearance Diving School in Sydney, Australia. As well, convinced someone in charge to attend the British Army's EOD School's terrorist and improvised ordnance training module. (Yeah, I know, I can do a little of the Gordon Brymer-type wheeling and dealing. Not as well, but after all, he is the Master). I also represented the USA at the British/Australian/USA EOD seminars, and did a short exchange-type tour as Diving Officer on the ARS 31, "Deliverer", a recovery and salvage ship, locating and destroying ordnance in the South China Sea from the Siam Civil War and from B-52s operating out of U Tapao. Seemed as if the local shrimp fishermen were collecting bombs in their nets, steaming out the explosive main charge, and selling the raw explosive to Communist Thais. My most memorable time was when the Cam Ranh Bay Tri-Service Munitions Area was blown by the 226th NVA Sappers in the summer of 1971. 10 million tons of explosive stored there and much of it was scattered, armed or dud, or in a hazardous/sensitive state. Having been involved in several clean ups of smaller blown storage areas and available, I was selected to head up the clearing and returning the area to service. Over the next 6 months, I rotated over 135 EOD personnel through the clearing effort. Since there were no real procedures how to do this - over 30 square miles were peppered with armed BLU-type anti-personnel munitions, for instance - we had to invent, modify, innovate new procedures to do this without killing a bunch of people. We enlisted the Ogden Depot to help us modify M48 tanks, M113 APCs, and a D-8 Bulldozer from RMK Construction. We had EOD personnel from USAF, Army, Navy, and Marines, most of whom had prior Vietnam service working together. In order to preserve our actions, I requested from PACAF a combat photo team, which took over 10,000 feet of film of the operation. Rushes from the daily film were review at night by all to detect mistakes, complacency, and to solicit better or revised methods or techniques. I later edited the tape into a 20 minute training film which was, and is, used by the US EOD School. I am quite proud of this operation. A total of 9 months eventually went into the clearing of the area without a single injury to the working EOD men. In August 1973, it became public that I, and others, were part of the "non-existent ground combat troops" in Laos (New York Times, "The Secret War in Laos"), and I was immediately reassigned back to the "regular USAF" and sent to Tanagra AB, Greece as the USAF Base Commander.

September 1973 - October 1974. MMS and American base commander of Tanagra AB, Greece, a NATO base joint operated by Greek AF and USAF. Our primary job was the security, storage, and maintenance of the nuclear weapons. My biggest problem was the resumption of normal and regular AF operations, overseen by various rules, regulations, tech manuals, and inspectors. For the previous 6 years, I and we kind of made up our own rules, regulations and procedures, so I retired my tiger suit for AF Blues. I must have succeeded in the transition, because after 4 months there, the unit passed their CR and Tac Eval inspections for the first time in 3 years. Again, I found a judo club not too far away, so I continued my studies and practice. Scuba diving in the shallow water ruins was fantastic; whole cities underwater. Excitement was caused during the Greek-Turkish "near war" starting in July 1974. Flurries of messages from USAEUR and CINCUSAFE, worried about the possibility of either an attack by Turkish AF against the base or seizure of the nuclear stores by the Greeks. I had an EOD team assigned, most of whom had Vietnam experience, so we did our thing, outfitted all the security and most of the other troops with weapons (one of the first thing I did when assigned was to get everyone, including cooks, qualified in both the M16 and M60), and closed and secured the nuclear stores. I then put on my tiger suit (for the last time), marched over to the Greek commander's office and informed him that the USA was neutral in this, and if there was any attempt upon our stores by his or his government troops, I was prepared to blow the whole base within 10 seconds of giving the order. He was not aware of our preparations, checked it out, and then assured me that under no circumstances would there be an attempt. We then sat down, had a glass of wine, and discussed the stupidity of the respective governments (including ours). When the staff at Ramstein AB heard later what I had done, they got excited, called me a "rogue", worried about the possibility of the "world's richest uranium/plutonium mine" etc., until cooler heads prevailed and let the matter drop. Fortunately, I had already pinned on my silver leaves and kind of liked this panic by professional staff "weenies", and didn't let on at first that everything BUT the nuclear stores would have been blown. I would have merely collapsed the bunkers onto the weapons making them unavailable without a lot of work.

November 1975 - December 1977. Assigned as Detachment Commander, Incirlik AB, Turkey, responsible for the oversight and support of the 4 US/Turkish NATO bases in Turkey and the two in Greece. Like returning home. During the next years, I renewed old friends and acquaintances, traveled to many of the villages up in the mountains and on the borders that I had visited before, and you know what? They all remembered me on sight and were so pleased that I remembered THEM! Needless to say, lots of emotions, sitting down and relating everything that had happened since I last left - and repeating it all over again as someone came in later after hearing that "the American is here". I felt as if I had come home. Again, lots of judo with the local team, hunting and fishing, and traveling to the NATO bases with our team to assist them, as well as night classes with Wayne State for my Masters in Education.

January 1977 - February 1979. Assigned as Director of Munitions, then assistant DCS, Materiel, 3rd AF (SAC), Anderson AB, Guam. God got me! I was now one of those staff "weenies", at what was to become my terminal assignment. My plans (and dream sheet) after this assignment were to attend the War College (I had a sponsor), pick up my eagles (I was kinda on a fast track, I thought. My boss, a Maj. Gen., was to be chairman of the next 0-6 promotion board and had been hinting at the "new job" he would have for me), and get a job as base commander at some wing somewhere. This got all thrown in the trash when President Carter's administration, in an austerity move, instituted the rule that only one personnel action - PCS move, school assignment, etc. - would be allowed per 4 years. That meant that after my PCS move to the States, I would have to wait 4 years before allowed to make any further personnel action, which in my case meant no War College (I was fast approaching being too old to be considered). Also, it meant that I would probably end up in another staff job ending when 51 years old and too close to the magic 55 for anything except ANOTHER staff job. So I put in my retirement papers in March 1978, the latest I could delay. I processed out in February 1979.

February 1979 - March 1988. I wanted something to do during retirement which would have some elements of excitement, survivability, required continuous education and study, and would be entertaining to my young wife (I married her in 1972 when I was 40 and she was 21) and myself. So, we decided to buy an ocean sail boat and sail around the world. We went directly to England after out-processing at Travis AFB and began the most interesting and intensive period of our lives; the outfitting and the learning to and practicing to sail an ocean cruising sailboat in Northern Europe during the winter season. The British are not like their American colleagues. Most of them leave their boats in the water during the winter and have a regular racing season. We crewed on race boats during their winter & spring season so as to learn how to handle high winds, rough water, and strong tidal currents. In August 1979 we left England, beginning our 8 years ocean cruising about the world in our Golden Hind 31 sailboat. After arriving in the Gulf of Mexico, I worked a couple years as a commercial diver in the offshore oilfields, then we resumed our sailing. Eventually we made our way back to Europe where our son was born. Believe me, with her 8 1/2 months pregnant, I didn't want to help her deliver at sea, so we made it into Plymouth, England in time. Determining that we did not think it fair to raise him in relative isolation while world cruising - he would miss out on necessary social experiences - we went back to Houston, Texas in the spring of 1988 where Kitty's ailing parents lived so that we could help take care of them. We sold the boat, bought a house, and I became Mr. Mom for about 8 months while Kitty went to work to gain some Social Security credits. I joined the faculty at the nearby campus of Texas A&M University, teaching navigation and math to the merchant marine cadets, as well as becoming coach of their judo team. At present, we still live in Houston, I am still teaching at school, but most of my time I teach and train in judo, rising up to finally winning the national championships (masters' division) in April 1999 after previously taking 2nd a few years ago. So, I have now retired from competition, and just teach kids in our "kids at risk" judo program and train athletes for upper level judo competition. I also host and direct the Houston Open Judo Tournament, one of the largest tournaments in Southern USA. This keeps me in good shape, and since my son, Jamie has been involved in judo since 6 years old, at 13 he is now helping me with the younger kids. He and I, and sometimes Kitty, travel all over the US, Jamie to compete, me now coaching my students during their matches, and Kitty cheering us on. We are happy, content, in excellent health, and fully ensconced in our community.

James L. Haynes

Click Here to View Another BIG Win!!