Civil Service

After giving this matter some consideration, I found that I had borrowed money to finish my education, and that I must get out of the job I had and find a place where I could be promoted, so I could pay off my debts. So I went over to visit with the Chief of Personnel on the Eglin Air Force Base, and mentioned to him "If you are as good as I think you are, you can find a job for me on this base, so that I can get promoted to a GS-9 and on up to at least to a GS-11. It really worked - for, in a short time - I found myself over on the Eglin Air Force Base, working for the Air Force Armament Test Center
It had been a pleasure working for the Corps of Engineers, but their top salary for other than an Engineer was a GS-8.

It is interesting to note that I was working for a tenant, as the main base was controlled by The Air Research and Development Command. It was the mission of the base to test all planes and armament there on base before the item was officially put in to use. For example, all planes were tested in a huge amphitheater that had three floors, with elevators between each floor, one floor was regular daily temperature; the next up was one that had heat up to as high as could be used; and, then one was for ice conditions as cold as could be imagined, and each plane had to be put through the different tests to meet the standards required for safety.
Now the Armament Test Center that I was in was for testing the armament. For example, a plane that flew at 500 miles per hour should not fire weapons that traveled 600 miles per hour, and if they did the pilot had to fire and immediately make a right or left turn to avoid hitting the bullets or rockets fired by his guns. Mistakes like this, should be rare, and were to be avoided. Additional duties all personnel were required to attend were seminars on week ends, and at least twice a month to attend "Bombing" seminars out on the bomb fields. The latest armament and planes were put through the tests necessary for a good performance. At these times, the dishes in our house had to be removed from the china closet and put on the floor, to keep them from breaking.

In the finance or cost area I was in we had the estimate of cost for the project, and kept track of the actual cost, so as to stay within the budget, or find what happened.

At one time I was the Cost Analyst and Finance Officer for Project "Banana River", which was the preparing and actual firing of a huge rocket that was fired at Cape Canaveral, FL and was guided by sites and boats to the Ivory Coast in Africa. This took place in 1951-1952. The matter was one that was supposed to be a secret. The crew, preparing the mission consisted of the General, several Colonels and a Major as our pilot in going to the Pentagon, and to Baltimore, MD. For two weeks we were in and out of buildings doing various things to complete the project.

While we were doing so, I took time to visit with a Mr. Paul Gaudreau, an architect, that I had roomed with; and, went to Banf skiing with, while being assigned to the Northwest Division, at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, during WW2.
I had lunch with Paul at a restaurant, somewhere near his office in Baltimore, MD.
This was quite an event because I had never expected to see him again. You remember that Paul was the one who moved out of the barracks, and had an apartment with his red headed secretary, at which time his wife came to visit. And then she went home and they went to the Aleutian Islands for 2 years and then he went home and was forgiven. In 2002 he passed away, so his wife said.

Now back to the Banana River Project in Baltimore, MD. When the project ended, it was a total success. When we returned to Eglin Field, all of us found out that the story and project were on the front page of Time Magazine; and, it was supposed to be top secret. We had been sworn to secrecy all this time (Smile). Guess what? I had left my car near the runway near the office and had forgotten to turn off the parking lights; and, had a time getting the battery charged - especially on a Sunday - and, liked to never got home over in Valparaiso. A traveling man does have his problems. Our friend, Julius Kornman, and Louis Hengen, Marie's brother, used to come over to the Fort Walton area and we would go fishing off Destin, FL for Red Snapper, and catch a garbage can full of fish to be taken home (in ice) and put in the deep freezer. We learned that the tides and under currents along the shore were very tricky and could be very dangerous if not properly watched. I recall at one time I was caught in an undertow, and was holding Helen in one hand and Ann in the other and managed to call to Julius for help and between the two of us, we managed to pull ourselves and the children out of the undertow, in time.

Now after all of this wonderful adventure for me, but not for my family, I was in the middle of working on getting a transfer to get back near the Biloxi Area; remember, "There is no place like home."
So, I found out that there was an opportunity to get a transfer to Headquarters Technical Training Air Force (TTAF), located at the old site of the Senior Gulf Coast Military Academy, near the east of Gulfport, MS. This was a branch of Air Training Command Headquarters, located at Scott Air Force Base, near Bellville, IL - across the river from St. Louis, MO.

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