Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Caspar Weinberger and I have shared the same little bit of spacetime on several occasions, so his death brings up memories.
Once was in Jordan, when I was part of a small team that set up an encrypted hotline from the Royal Guest House in Amman to the White House. After I got it set up, I had to test it, so I picked up the handset and heard "White House Switchboard, how may I help you?" I had them foward the call to my parents. "Hey, guess were I'm calling you from."
I remember seeing his daily agenda on a table, and being amazed at how scripted his entire day was, in five minute segments.
It was while I was running cables acrosss the roof of the Guest House that I looked down, saw all the Jordanian guards with their automatic weapons, and suddenly realized that they didn't know I was up here, and perhaps someone should inform them before I was killed. I quickly lay down flat, pulled out my radio and explained the situation to our Lieutenant, and waited until I got an all clear to continue.
During Wienberger's visit he was given a tour of the ancient city of Petra, carved from the living rock. The media accompanied him, of course, but were kind enough to let our group go with them. Sander Vanocur was one of the reporters on the bus, and he was a pretty funny guy but complaining that this wasn't real news.
The second time Cap and I crossed paths was during a NATO Nuclear Planning Group conference in Portugul. Once again I was providing communications support, but this time only message traffic. Some guys from the White House Communications Agency (who years later would offer me a job) had a spiffy portable SATCOM terminal called the AN/URC-101 to provide the encrypted voice support.
Another thing I remember about this trip was that it was the first time I encountered Chicken Kiev. It was at a restaraunt located on a boat whose name is lost in the Mysts of Time. I recall dining with Lt. Jaycobsmeyer and asking if he wanted to talk about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. His answer was classic. He smiled and said "I'm not sure."
My unit, the 1st Combat Communications Group, often supported the SecDef. Some of the guys got their picture with Cap (the one posted is from 1982 in London), but unfortunately I never had the opportunity.
May he rest in peace.