Previous posts in this discussion:
PostIllinois Governor James R. Thompson (Michael Sullivan, USA, 01/08/17 7:50 am)
I observed Governor Thompson of Illinois in the mid 1980s while waiting in line to see the movie Top Gun in Chicago. He was standing about 10 folks further up in the line and several people kept coming up to him and shaking hands. He was dressed in a sport coat and Levis. I asked the person next to me if he knew who the person was, and he said it was Gov. Thompson. The next morning I flew out to Southern California to attend my oldest son's college graduation and surprise, surprise Gov. Thompson was the graduation's guest speaker!
JE comments: A very happy New Year to Michael Sullivan on the occasion of his first post of 2017. I cannot resist asking a real-life Top Gun, because I know others in WAISworld have the same question: what did you think of the film?
David Duggan has sent a followup on Gov. Thompson.
"Top Gun": How Accurate a Film?
(Michael Sullivan, USA
01/09/17 4:12 AM)
Answering John E's question as to what I thought of the movie Top Gun, I will say it was a fairly true picture of the life of a Top Gun student during those years, with the usual Hollywood embellishments thrown in. The Naval Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) was held at NAS Miramar, San Diego, California, during that period and today it's held at NAS Fallon, Nevada.
The Happy Hour scenes at the Miramar Officers' Club were spot-on, and the movie became the greatest recruiting event for Naval aviation ever! For a year or so after the film came out, there were lines around the block at the Miramar's Officers' Club of single gals waiting to get in to meet a Naval aviator. If you had a flight suit on you got immediate entrance. The two big nights were Wednesday and Friday, as Miramar was known for being the prime social gathering spot for the single set in the San Diego area after Top Gun was released! I have attended many Happy Hours at Miramar over the years even before Top Gun, and it was truly an awesome Officers' Club! Its counterpart on the east coast was the NAS Oceana, Virginia, in Virginia Beach.
Today Officers' Clubs are disappearing from all services, as they've gone to joint all-ranks clubs which are sparsely attended, losing money and destroying tradition in the Naval service. Political correctness has banned the use of the words "Happy Hour" in the military today to de-emphasize alcohol...
What impressed me watching the movie in Chicago was the audience kept cheering and applauding when the "good guys" won or did well, proving patriotism thrives in the Midwest.
JE comments: Here's a reality check: Top Gun (1986) is already 31 years old, or significantly older than Tom Cruise was (24) when he made the film.
Michael: Did the Navy move its training to the wilds of Nevada to minimize distractions? Who would have thought there's a naval base in landlocked Nevada?
I can sort of see the point of banning the Happy Hour, at least in name. Not only do they incentivize binge drinking in the afternoon, they also subliminally--or not so subliminally--equate happiness with intoxication. How about a Happy Hour of poetry reading, Scrabble, or amateur theater? (LOL)
(Timothy Brown, USA
01/09/17 2:12 PM)
Fallon, in the wilds of Nevada? I beg to differ with John E's statement of January 9th.
Eons ago, while I was a student at Sparks (Nevada) High School, I played football, basketball and track against Fallon High, participated in glee club and forensic club competitions there and, on occasion, went to its rodeo (and tried unsuccessfully to date one of Fallon High's prettiest girls.)
As for NAS Fallon, it has considerable value to the Navy for several reasons, because it has one of the longest runways in the United States and almost always good flying weather. It hosts the CAGs off aircraft carriers when they are on the West Coast and has a very large first-rate training range for military aircraft close by.
Once, decades later during my four years while I was the State Department's SLO in Central America stationed in Tegucigalpa, NAS Fallon's communications center handled my classified communications. When a classified message came for me or I needed to send a classified cable, the NAS communications center would even send a vehicle to escort me on and off the base. At the time my mother was living in Fallon. When she passed, she left me a few acres on the NAS's flight path. She was buried in Fallon and every time we visit her grave, we get buzzed by Navy fighters.
JE comments: My apologies; I shouldn't have dismissed Fallon! I was contrasting it on the fly with San Diego, Top Gun, and palm trees, but that was thoughtless of me.
Some translations: CAG is a Commander, Air Group. SLO is Senior Liaison Officer. Did I get those right, Tim?
Fun with Acronyms--and a Top-Secret Mission
(Timothy Brown, USA
01/11/17 9:28 AM)
To clarify the acronyms in my post of January 9th: CAG is used by the Fallon folks as standing for Carrier Air Group. SLO stood for Special Liaison Office (r).
As to the acronym SLO--at the height of the Iran-Contra imbroglio, Pres. Reagan went to Congress, asked for, and was authorized $100 million to continue support for the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance, better known as the Contras. But Congress added as a condition that the Secretary of State take personal responsibility to see to it that there were no more Iran-Contra end-runs around them. State then opened two offices to monitor the program, one in DC at State and one in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. At the time they were both secret compartmentalized offices, and communications were labeled SECRET/EXDIS/CONTRA (the working title of my next book).
None of this was public at the time and I was happily ensconced in Martinique as Consul General when first Lynn Nofziger and then Senator Laxalt contacted me. They knew me and that I was both a former Marine with both pro and counter-insurgency experience and a Central America specialist. (They also knew I owed them--I'll explain that in my next book.) They both said they had a job the White House wanted me to take. Very reluctantly, I tossed my hat into the ring and got orders about a week later. I wound up as the Central America head of what I was told was the first compartmentalized office State had ever had.
In Tegucigalpa I worked out of an office inside a vault inside a vault inside the embassy in Tegucigalpa. What then happened has been largely untold history. But recently that caption was declassified in response to a FOI (Freedom of Information) request I made.
JE comments: Goodness, Tim: what a teaser for your next book! But please don't--to paraphrase Trump--keep us (totally) in suspense. Can you give us a preview?
- Fun with Acronyms--and a Top-Secret Mission (Timothy Brown, USA 01/11/17 9:28 AM)
- Fallon, Nevada (Timothy Brown, USA 01/09/17 2:12 PM)