I was heading for Vietnam, a very warm place, but the Air Force
insisted that I first attend survival school in Spokane, Washington
in the middle of winter.
The first couple of days were mostly a review of things I learned in
February 12, 1970
Yesterday we had parachute landing falls, dragging, chute
malfunctions and steering. In the water training today we
were launched off a 20' tower down a cable, release the seat
survival kit, check the chute, inflate the life vest, open the
chute release covers, release the chute, climb into the raft,
remove your harness, swim to another raft then under a parachute
canopy to another raft.
I still use the
parachute landing fall
. I haven't worn a chute for about
40 years, but I have fallen down. And when you fall, the PLF
is still the best way to hit the ground!
February 14, 1970
In outline what I'd done the past couple of days was...
crawl thru the mud of the obstacle course, get stripped &
searched, placed in solitary confinement, alternately
interrogated and placed in a little black box, moved to a
compound, worked out in the rain, then was released.
Actually since yesterday was Friday the 13th it probably would
have been shot to hell anyway. It was a thoroughly
miserable experience, but I was expecting worse.
The worst part of solitary was hearing the creaking doors of the
solitary cells being unlocked and people being hauled out for
interrogation. Much later I learned those sounds were
camlock-style truck trailer doors
I still don't like that sound. The solitary, interrogation,
and box weren't bad because I knew it wasn't real. Real POW's
have that luxury.
February 16, 1970
The class ahead of us returned from their trek today. One
guy died of exposure last night. Bad stuff.
He got into his sleeping bag wet and never woke up. The
survival trek was all about escape and evasion. The bad
guys looking for us were on snowmobiles. I still don't like
that sound either. The trek was cold, miserable, and snowy,
but at least nobody died.
After survival school I met up with my buddy Eaton Merritt. We
drove about an hour to Mount
, where we thought we'd to learn to ski. We took
the chair lift to the top of the mountain and fell all the way to