Friday, February 19, 2016


One of the things I loved about my father was that he told good stories, especially about his time in WWII trying not to get shot by Germans. I can’t relate such stories, never having served in a war, but I might have one “Cold War story,” because of my brief stint in the military during that time.

Decades ago, I was at the induction center in Tacoma, getting my physical with hundreds of other teenagers, when I noticed one fellow who did not exactly fit in: Tall, broad, blond-haired and square-jawed, this fellow was having an argument with the people who were inducting us.

“I am Polish Air Force!” he told them in broken English. The inductors were trying to explain to the gentleman how those credentials alone did not qualify him to serve in the U.S. Air Force, that he had to have U.S. citizenship. To this and every subsequent statement, the fellow responded with the only other English phrase he apparently had memorized: “Kill Russian!!!” This only confused the people trying to help him and to explain things, without the benefit of a Polish interpreter.

I was just then jostled away from the scene with all the other naked teenagers, with the guy still exclaiming, “Kill Russian!” So, I never found out what happened to him. Nor did I discover how he could have gotten into the induction center and disrobed for the physical without anyone discovering he was Polish, or checking his ID. (Perhaps he just wandered in off the street. Remember, this was the early days of the all-volunteer military.)

A true story, which is the best kind. And my one sincere “Cold War” story.

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