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My experience on Tristan Da Cunha

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  • rrcuv@hotmail.com
    I should begin by saying I have not made any major significant contribution with repect to this island but it certainly changed my life. In the spring of 1970
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2000
      I should begin by saying I have not made any major significant
      contribution with repect to this island but it certainly changed my
      life. In the spring of 1970 I was an army sargent in the american
      army in the Vietnam war. Sitting my barracks after having spent a
      year and a half there I wanted to go to an place that would prove to
      be the fartherest place from the war. See my leave would not include
      travel time and would only begin once I REACHED my leave site. The
      government told me if I volunteered to come back and fight another
      year there they would pay my way to any place in the free world. To
      an 20 year old kid this proved to be an opportunity for me to explore
      the world, as I hoped to when I joined the military. I went to what
      was called Saigon at the time to the British Embassey and they gave
      me info on the island. Then I wrote to the South African Embassey to
      see if they would take me there in a merchant ship. The replies I got
      back were , (which I still have ) say dont come here the ships go
      there infrequently and you will have a problem because they dont take
      passengers. Realizing this, I still went to my commanding officer and
      was supported by him but others up the military food change would not
      go along with it, and for reasons never given to me they denied my
      request. Discouraged I when back to my barracks and say the hell with
      it, I will just go back to California for my leave. My buddy came to
      me shortly after and said hey Ed if you want to go I know how to do
      it. Even though your orders are revoked, take them anyway, and
      present them to flight planner in the usa, they will not have records
      of the this and since the our commanding officer would look the other
      way, I think you can go. His plan worked perfectly. I went to
      California, where a little old lady , said to me when I should them
      my inital orders, "why did they send you here?" I shook my shoulders
      and said I didnt know. She said well I will book you on a flight to
      South Carolina and maybe they can come up with a Map flight to South
      Africa. I make it to south carolina, and with no flights leaving for
      some time, they booked me to New York, then on a direct flight to
      Cape Town, After arriving I went to the embassey in Cape Town, and
      they had me meet the embassabor and others. I showed them my orders,
      and told them my leave site was Tristan Da Cunha and I wanted them to
      help me get there. The hooked me up with a research vessel the RSA
      which was leaving shortly and I even got a job watching a megatomitor
      on the ship even though it was not legal to hire a foreign national.
      A PHD was conducting some reseach and asked me to watch his equipment
      for him. I had to pay for my trip I think it was about 500 dollars at
      the time and was rooming with another engineer of some type along
      with a journalist. The Administrators wife was also on board and they
      even invited me to eat at the captains table. The trip was also
      supplying men to a weather station at Gough island a couple days
      sailing south.
      When we reached the island one of our jobs was to catch the penquins
      for zoos in the world. What a job that was. The interesting thing
      about it was that you had to force feed the birds to keep them alive.
      They was also trouble on the ship when some of the "sailors" came
      across some alcohol and fighting broke out. They said it was the only
      time that they had to put someone in the "jail" they had there on the
      island. Not sure if that was true. Anyway, the island was beautiful
      we got there in late November. I remember coming ashore and throwing
      my life preserver on the beach like it would stay there for my return
      only to be reminded by the Secretary of Transportation, who was also
      on the ship, that that wasnt a good idea. Did I care NO. Remember I
      was 20 and didnt really like authority figures. The people on the
      island were great. I did my share of climbing there.. Also I climbed
      to the top of one of the hillside there and said to myself boy I am
      as far away from the Army that I every could be. Moments later, I
      noticed a black plack embedded in the ground, It said this is an
      nagvagation marker put here by the US ARMY !! I just couldnt believe
      it. My trip to Gough was wonderful too. As you probably know there
      are no harbors at Gough, so to get on the island they pick you up by
      a giant crain in a net. On the island both the birds there and
      penquins are so gentle. At the time I think was one of only a handful
      to sign as an american on the island... Afterwards we went back to
      Cape town, where the a journalist met me after having been tipped off
      probably by his my jouralist friend on board that This american was
      taking his leave at Thristan. As you know , the night before you come
      into port, there is plenty of partying. I met this journalist, with a
      hang over and he said he wanted a public relations story, I thought
      nothing about it, until the next day when I didnt see any story I
      thought it make it only the cutting room floor. Then my friend from
      the embassey was telling me I was a front page story~~ "Crazy Yank
      Beats the System" was the title. All that night and several others I
      was having a great time in all the night clubs in the Cape. What I
      didnt know was that at the same time, an american was just caught for
      spying there and I found that I was being followed by someone. To
      this day I dont know if it was by the usa or South African officals,
      being "a little scared" I flew out of cape town back to New York and
      when I checked into the military base in New Jersy, I was told that I
      should report back immeidately. I thought the worst. But after I got
      back all my buddies were cheering me on. Since it had been about 3
      months since I had left for my 30 day. I was offered an interview by
      Associated Press, but I felt if I told the story it might not be
      reported the same way, and I might be found out. So the story ends.
      But after that experience I point out to young people that sometime
      even if it seems like there is no possibility of doing what you want
      you should try anyway!!. Being a University Counselor for over 25
      years now has given me the ear of students who need to set goals and
      objectives for themselves. I thank you for your time and I am glad to
      be apart of this group.
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