- Approaching Storm
- Doohan Duration
- Turkey Tail
- Stabber BOLO
- Distress Calls
- Lost Soul
- Ukiah Homeless
- No Shortcuts
- RCS Statement
- Seed Edict
- Volunteers Needed
- Elderhome Rental
- Ed Notes
- Test Everyone
- Local Food
- Joltin' Joe
- Virus Trafficking
- Doohan AWOL
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cultish Atmosphere
- Movie Montage
- Pandemic Blessings
- Emile Zola
- Biloxi Days
- Amazon Contagion
AN APPROACHING STORM will gradually increase cloud cover through the day. Precipitation will spread across northwest California during tonight and Saturday, with additional showers expected Sunday and Monday. Locally heavy mountain snow will be likely during the weekend, along with isolated hail showers across the coast. Mainly dry weather is expected for the remainder of the week. (NWS)
PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER TO STAY FOR THE DURATION
By Mike A’Dair
Mendocino County Interim Public Health Officer Noemi Doohan said on Wednesday that, although she does plan to take another job in the San Diego area in the future, she is committed to her work here in Mendocino County and will stay with the county until the pandemic is over.
Dr. Doohan plans to take a job as the assistant director at the Scripps Chula Vista Family Medicine Residency Program. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she had planned to take her new position in May. Now, that job is on hold.
“I can’t in good conscience leave Mendocino until this is over,” Doohan told Willits Weekly.
Doohan took the job as interim public health officer last summer. According to Mendocino County Human Resources Director William Schurtz, the county began posting for the position last December. Schurtz said there have been a few applicants, but added that the position of a county public health officer is “a hard-to-fill position. It’s kind of competitive.”
Dr. Doohan said she has enjoyed her work with the county enormously and has been honored to serve as the public health officer.
“It’s a great place to work,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling work. The staff has been very supportive. I’d encourage qualified people to apply.”
UKIAH POLICE STILL LOOKING FOR TRANSIENT BELIEVED TO BE INVOLVED IN STABBING THURSDAY
MSP posted this incident in real-time this morning from scanner reports.
The Ukiah Police issued this photo & press release Thursday afternoon:
"On Thursday, April 2, at approximately 8:47 am, Ukiah Police Department officers were dispatched to the 1000 block of South State Street for a report of a stabbing. UPD officers arrived on the scene and performed first aid on the victim. An ambulance was requested and the victim, a 47-year-old male transient from Ukiah, was transported to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley (AHUV) with non-life threatening stab wounds.
Through the course of the investigation, UPD officers were able to positively identify the suspect in the stabbing as Adam Link Nott, a 32-year-old transient from Crescent City who had recently been staying at the Ukiah Winter Shelter (Building Bridges).
UPD officers were unable to locate Nott in the vicinity. Nott is described as a white male adult wearing a dark-colored jacket and a gray hoodie underneath the jacket. Nott is approx. 6’01”, weighs approx. 185 pounds and has long red hair and a full beard.
UPD Officers have issued a stop and arrest BOLO (Be on the lookout) for Nott for violation of 245(a)(1) PC-Assault with a deadly weapon, and are currently still looking for him. Nott should be considered armed and dangerous as the knife used in this attack is still outstanding.
The Ukiah Police Department is continuing to investigate this incident and anyone with additional information or details regarding the above matter would be urged to contact the Ukiah Police Department at (707)-463-6262. As always our mission at the Ukiah Police Department is to make Ukiah as safe as possible."
MSP COVERAGE THURSDAY
STABBING REPORTED IN UKIAH 8:47 AM
The scanner said (8:47 am) a male (known to law enforcement) went to the winter shelter at 1045 South State Street and reported he was stabbed by a man named "Adam."
Police arrived on the scene and the Ukiah Fire Department and ambulance #9111 were dispatched to the scene.
The suspect was described as having red hair, wearing a black sweatshirt and blue or gray pants, a black backpack and brown beanie cap - and he still has the knife on him.
The stabbing happened in front of the Chevron Station and they may have captured a video of the incident.
Ambulance #9111 reported they were transporting the patient @ 9:08 am.
Police were tipped off a man who was seen "hiding in some trees with a black backpack" near the homeless encampment on Airport Park Boulevard.
THREE AV MEDICAL CALLS first reported by MSP and explained by AV Fire Chief Andres Avila:
The first was at 12:41 pm in response to a report of a 53 year old female fall victim, unresponsive, at the Boonville Post Office. The originally requested air ambulance for the unresponsive woman in Boonville was canceled and one of the two responding ground ambulances took the woman to the hospital in Ukiah. The other ground ambulance was redirected to two related incidents in the Yorkville area which occurred during the response to the Boonville Post Office.
Chief Avila said that the second call a few minutes after the first one for a “confused female” who was “feeling ill” was for a woman who was one of two passengers in a vehicle incident near Yorkville. The Yorkville incident generated a third call a few minutes later for a vehicle about a mile from the first vehicle. The individuals involved in those two incidents were Oregon residents, and, Avila said, “intoxication was a factor,” so they were evaluated by the paramedic in the ground ambulance and cleared and then released to the CHP. (One can only guess what the drunks in those two vehicles were doing that ended up with a confused and ill woman and arrests of all but one of the Oregonians.) A call to animal control was also canceled when a possibly abandoned dog in one of the two Yorkville vehicles which at first appeared to need attention was found to belong to one of the involved individuals who was not taken into custody by CHP. We may see whoever was arrested at the scene appearing in an upcoming booking log.
UKIAH POLICE CHIEF Justin Wyatt took to a Facebook video on Wednesday to deliver a message on homelessness in the Ukiah area. Wyatt wanted to make it clear that his department cannot do much about the homeless problem in the Ukiah area — that the primary responsible agency is the County’s Health and Human Services Department. Wyatt and his limited staff are obviously fielding complaints about what appears to be a growing problem in the Ukiah Valley involving homeless people who might be infected by or carrying the corona virus. Wyatt tactfully avoided direct complaints, but he made a number of points that were intended to tell people that the County’s HHSA staff and its contractors — including Redwood Community Services, which he named specifically, are responsible:
• HHSA recently got $300k in emergency homeless funds from the state (not the UPD);
• “Unfortunately,” (Wyatt’s word) the Tuesday Supervisors meeting that was supposed to present the County’s plan)s for dealing with the local homeless was cut short leaving Wyatt in the dark about what HHSA was planning to do;
• homelessness is not illegal and they can’t just arrest them all;
• the camps are growing and something needs to be done;
• police officers are exposed and they can’t afford to lose any to the virus;
Why else would Chief Wyatt want to go on record on this subject unless he felt it necessary to tell people who’s primarily responsible for the situation and who, so far, hasn’t done what they've been funded to do besides promise to produce some plans.
REDWOOD COMMUNITY SERVICES REMAINS OPEN
Redwood Community Services continues to care for our clients’ well-being during this difficult time. We are following all guidelines from the CDC, WHO, state guidelines and local officials, to protect the health and safety of all members of the communities we serve.
The Homeless Resource Center and shelter will be open to guests while following guidelines and will be providing handwashing stations and increased sanitization. Any guests who enter our shelter will be screened for symptoms before entering the premises.
We are also working closely with our HHSA counterparts to serve the community while reducing risks. Redwood Community Crisis Center will be operating with limited access at our office locations and all phone numbers and office hours will remain. If someone in Mendocino County is experiencing a Mental Health Crisis; please call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-855-838-0404.
Our Youth Resource Centers in Lake and Mendocino Counties (the Arbor and the Harbor) will be closing effective immediately and hope to open once it is deemed safe to do so. We will close our service locations throughout Mendocino, Lake and Humboldt Counties however staff will be working remotely.
All services are moving to telehealth. We are working with our state and local officials for our Foster Family Agency and residential facilities and are following all guidelines to reduce risk and exposure.
During this time, we are committed to maintaining continuity of care in order to serve our community. We will continue to monitor state and local regulations to ensure the safety of all staff and clients. RCS understands our responsibility to take action to slow the spread of the virus.
Thank you for your understanding and support as we navigate these challenging times. It is unprecedented and the safety of our community’s most vulnerable population is something we take very seriously in protecting. We will continue to provide updated information in the coming days. Take care,
Victoria Kelly, CEO, Redwood Community Services, Ukiah, redwoodcommunityservices.org
AV VILLAGE VIDEO CHECK-IN, Volunteers needed and Support Resources
On Friday April 3 at 11 am “Anderson Valley Village Check-in Conference Call.” A weekly check-in with the coordinator and each other — see how we are doing, share info, tips, motivation, stories, songs, poetry, etc.
We will be doing this via video conferencing (withfreeconference.com). Please let me know if you would like to join and I will put you on the list — you will then receive an email invitation and also a reminder email about 15 min before it starts And if you need tech help let me know and I can help you with that too - Connect using any device with an internet connection. No downloads required, but you'll need Google Chrome if joining from Desktop. Don't like Chrome? No problem, Download our app or install our Mobile Apps for iOS and Android. Or you can call in with your phone — a phone number and access code will also be provided.
AV Food Bank (Methodist Church, Boonville) needs volunteers! Please contact Benna or me at email@example.com if you are able to help with either or both of the following:
- Monday April 6th at 11 am a refrigerator will be delivered to the Methodist Church, Boonville and strong people are needed to help unload it and move it.
- And Monday April 20th 3pm - 6pm - people in protective gear needed to hand bags of food to people in their cars as they drive up to the Methodist Church, Boonville.
Hope you can help - thank you!
Anderson Valley Village Coordinator
FOR RENT AT AV ELDER HOME: Brand new independent-living cottage for seniors 62+. ADA compliant, 2 BR, 1 bath, all kitchen appliances. On Hwy 128 in SoBo. Available now. $1300/month + deposits. Utilities not included. For questions/statement of interest form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707 895-3820.
UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS now total about 10 million, with lots more in the plugged pipeline. The plague's consequences are dire and often unpredictable. One example that hadn't occurred to me was that in all the lamentations about the shortage of ventilators, I believe it was Dr. Fauci who pointed out that these machines require trained people to operate them, and even with plenty of ventilators there will be a woeful shortage of operators.
FAUCI, incidentally, is being denounced by the fascisti as, in one insult I read, "a Hillary-loving agent of the deep state." If there was a true deep state of the Russian-Putin type, President Yobbo would have been removed before he got anywhere near the White House. And all the talk, from the hysterical sectors of the left about Trump pulling off a coup and not leaving office, well, he is unprecedented and unpredictable, but he's not the kind of figure the military are likely to get behind to pull it off. Might give it a try, though. We're not only in uncharted waters, the mother of all typhoons is blowing.
TEN MILLION Americans are out of work in just March, which includes an unknown number here in rural Mendocino County. More than 80 percent of Americans are under some form of lockdown, up from less than 50 percent just a few weeks ago, leaving state employment offices overwhelmed by an avalanche of applications. Before the virus hit, unemployment in the US was at its lowest in 60 years and the economy was stronger than it had ever been, but that was always the rosy view; millions of employed people were not making ends meet, and now this.
DURING the Great Depression of the 1930s, there were about 125 million Americanos, half of them still on the farm or in small towns. My mother's family, for handy example, lived in small-town Southern Illinois where my grandfather had been a coal miner. For almost five years, in my mother's telling, "We damn near starved, but everyone had big gardens and the neighborhood shared a cow." Their storm cellar was floor to ceiling in food my grandmother had "put up" — preserved. Roosevelt's WPA programs, and Roosevelt himself, were rightly regarded as righting the Good Ship USA. With 330 million people now, a Rooseveltian effort will be required to pick up the pieces of this collapse, but there's no Roosevelt in sight and the population, to put it gently, is much less disciplined, much more volatile, than it was in 1930. (Gun sales are way up.)
Photo by Larry Wagner
The epidemic will not be contained until we test everyone and quarantine all who are positive. Test everyone and those who are negative can go back to work.
Dr. Roger Delgado
LOCAL FOOD PRODUCERS
Our amazing local farmers & food producers are still here for you during these uncertain times!
We are beyond lucky to live in an area abundant in local food production. Be sure to check in with our local farms, markets and eateries to see the wonderful ways they are still working to get food on our tables during this difficult time. The following includes details about some of the businesses and farms that are still actively selling food in our area. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to add details for any other food-related efforts to this list. As always, there is always contact information listed for AV farms and products, highlighted at the bottom of each newsletter, in the green box.
MARKETS in Boonville:
AV Market is still open daily from 10-6.
Boont Berry is open for take out food from their deli, curbside delivery and regular shopping. They can also do special orders, and there has been a pop-up "Love Table" there in recent weeks offering free homemade bread and other items. (707) 895-3576
Yorkville Market still open for take-out and groceries. (707) 894-9456
JOLTIN’ JOE DIMAGGIO when he played for the San Francisco Seals in the 30s.
CLOSE 20 & 128?
Recently my friend went there as she does every year, with her beau, to enjoy the last beauties of winter. Unknowingly, they carried with them the COVID-19 virus, as did many others who flock to this destination ski resort from all over the world. Now, Blaine County has the highest count of COVID-19 virus in Idaho; a state that was heretofore untouched by the virus. Yes, like us, they had closed their hotels and restaurants. Yes, they had requested social distancing, with all its accouterments.
Here, at first, we asked people to comply voluntarily: If you’re from here stay home, and if you’re not from here stay home. Then we put some teeth into it: requiring residents to stay home, and closing the hotels and restaurants that offer a respite to tourists escaping from COVID-19 virus in our neighboring counties.
All of this is like turning up the heat but leaving the front and back doors open. Our doors are still open. People are still coming here via Highway 20 and Highway 128. Even more alarmingly, people are still leaving here, via Highway 20 and Highway 128, going to outlying cities (for reasons of varying importance) where the virus is prevalent; and returning home again. Mendocino officials have been taking bold measures to prevent social contact here in the county. These efforts are all for naught, if we do not stop the trafficking of the virus.
Closing Highways 20 and 128 to all but essential providers, should have been the first thing done to isolate our community. I realize that law enforcement personnel are few here. But it has to be done immediately, and law enforcement staff would be the most knowledgeable in devising and implementing such a program.
As I sit here thinking about whether my friends will die of this virus, and if their bodies will even be allowed to be transported home, I’m also thinking about how many of my other friends there will be afflicted or affected by the COVID-19 virus; simply because someone traveled to or from a large population base, unknowingly transporting the virus with them. I do not want this scenario to come here. We must close our ingress and egress ways to all but essential providers immediately.
MENDO PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER STILL 'AWOL' - ISN'T AROUND TO QUELL RUMORS
Still no word from Mendocino County's Public Health Officer - the last video she issued during this public health crisis was nearly a week ago - last Friday.
MSP was sent this screenshot Thursday @ 2:34 pm saying, "Weather Channel app is saying we have 8 cases now."
The Mendocino County sites (both Facebook & the Mendo County web site) only have four cases.
Sure wish someone would either confirm or deny - is that too much to ask of these self-proclaimed "very busy people."
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 2, 2020
SHILOH ALONSO, Fort Bragg. Attempted murder, elder abuse resulting on great bodily harm or death, mayhem, battery with serious injury, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
JESSE MCGARY, Elk. Domestic abuse, vandalism, probation revocation.
MARCOS RODRIGUEZ-TURNER, Talmage. Brandishing of imitation firearm, criminal threats, probation revocation.
GINA ST.CHARLES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
For the first time I realized today, that the core group of Trump supporters has basically devolved into a cult. Having watched all of his broadcasts up to this point, and then watching him disavow what he said the day before, if it was unfavorable, and then reading what his supporters here say in support of him, is very unsettling. I now understand how Jim Jones was able to get his followers to drink the koolaid.
It has now gotten to the point where he can deny what he said, even with videotape proof of it, and his followers swallow it hook, line, and sinker, when all they would have to do is go back and view what he said. This ability to deny reality has apparently existed here all along. All it needed was someone to focus it.
The first sign of the craziness was when he was campaigning, and doing and saying things that in normal times would have gotten anyone else in trouble and out of the race. I always think back to when all it took was a strangled yelp from Howard Dean, and he was all done. Contrast that with Trump’s mocking parody of the disabled reporter, remember that? Which didn’t slow him down with the believers one bit.
The history of how this has happened in other countries has been made plain and clear to me, along with the understanding that it is now happening here, which I never would believed before. Apparently the mistakes he made before the coronavirus, such as disbanding the commission set up to deal with pandemics, are completely glossed over by the true believers, along with all the rest of the things he’s done.
At this point, I can no longer trust the things I once believed to be true about this country, and I truly fear what might come to happen. The idea of rationality and reasonableness and common sense, have been tossed out. It’s not just the coronavirus that should be feared, but the new political atmosphere that seems to be taking hold here as well. I’m afraid that I’m seeing the future of our country, and it does not bode well. I’ll sit back now, and let the cultists have their say.
IT’S NOT ALL BAD
by Flynn Washburne
The essence, I am going to go ahead and assert right now as if I were some kind of authority, of journalism is topicality and immediacy. That's why most journalistic writing is so flat and boring. The idea is to encapsulate whatever the hell is going on into an easily digestible, clear, concise pill whose function is only to inform, not entertain, and then get it out to the readership as quickly as possible. It is to writing what MREs are to cuisine, what monochromatic workwear is to fashion, or what paint-by-numbers is to art. That is why I will have no truck with that sort of nonsense. I prefer my work to be as difficult to swallow as possible. I want it to chip teeth, stick in the craw, scrape the esophagus bloody, irritate the bowel, cause moderate to severe gastrointestinal distress, and burn like a sriracha colonic coming out. And then clog the toilet. This is why my preferred organ of dissemination is the AVA, that and the fact that no one else is interested. You, meaning I, can write whatever the hell you want without the interference of editors, fact-checkers, PC police, lawyers, or community guidelines. It is as actually libertarian a thing as it is possible to be and how they haven't long ago drowned in a sea of litigation is a mystery to me, but I'm glad of it. Of the hundreds of thousands of words I've cobbled into readable shape and submitted, the number of peeps I've heard coming from Bruce or the Major suggesting I change one comes to exactly zero.
As far as immediacy goes, though, print media is a lame, blind donkey running in the Preakness. By the time a newspaper has gathered the facts, written them down, sent them to rewrite, edited them, sent it to fact-checking, laid it out, sent it to the printer, bundled it, and trucked it out to the various outlets and vendors, it's already old hat. Everyone has already moved on to the next thing, or possibly even the thing after that. Make that newspaper a weekly, though, and you may as well be writing about women's suffrage or the Taft-Hartley act. I guess that's why our pages contain so much wistful reminiscing.
Right now, however, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis that dominates all media like nothing since 9/11 and, timely or not, people persist in either rehashing what has already been said or making shit up in misguided and desperate attempts at relevance. Who knew there were so many communicable disease experts out there laying in the cut, just waiting for something like Covid-19 to rear its pandemical head so they could put their expertise on display? People without medical degrees, scientific training, laboratories, or indeed any sense at all are pedantically pontificating from probie pulpits about something about which they know less than nothing, meaning what they do think they know is wrong. There is one angle I have yet to see explored, though, and you know what that means. Flynn to the motherfuckin' rescue yet again.
How many aphorisms are there in our language exhorting people to consider the potential benefits of negative situations? Look on the bright side. Crisis is another word for opportunity. Every cloud has a silver lining. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. (I don't like this one, suggesting as it does that lemons are intrinsically bad. Lemons are great. When life hands you lemons, enjoy their assertive tang and restorative properties.). Et cetera.
Why, then, are people setting their hair on fire and not realizing that this disease is a blessing? People are dying, yes, and I in no way wish to give an impression of callousness or unconcern, and my heart goes out to those suffering losses from covid-19, but the simple fact is that for every life lost to this virus ten more are saved who would otherwise have been on step one of their atoms being redistributed to the pool. While it's true that I'm of the opinion that statistics are much more convincing if you tailor them in such a way as to bolster your thesis, or even just make them up, I stand by the claim that we are way in the black on this sum, mortality-wise.
Consider: around 4,000 people expire on the world's thoroughfares every single day, 120 or so here in the USA. Leaving aside the fact that comparatively, the coronavirus is a pebble in your shoe and highway fatalities a lower extremity above the knee double dismemberment, folks staying off the roadways has already saved more — many more — lives than have been lost to C19. By the time this thing is over there could be 10,000 people walking around breathing who would otherwise not have been. I am not going to take it any further than that because it would be real easy (and tempting) to veer off into a network of infinite connections and possibilities with both the consequential and seemingly inconsequential leading to occurrences and phenomena of momentous import to the human race, like maybe one of the intended highway dead would ultimately be responsible for World War III and a certain prophetic REM song that starts with an earthquake. Oh, great. Or one of the virus victims was on the brink of a cure for old age but didn't back up his data and the research was lost with him. That way lies madness.
Instead, I will reassure you with my personal guarantee as an expert in the field of making things sound reasonable that at least one virus victim was a real sonofabitch who beat up puppies and molested children or vice versa, and among the saved on the interstates was one whose story of working three jobs while raising three beautiful, gifted children alone because his wife died of hair cancer last year would've brought the nation to tears as it was recounted on Wake Your Fat Ass Up, America.
It is not only highway deaths being prevented, either; consider the fact that all the bars and nightclubs are closed, and with that goes the nightly body count of loudmouthed drunks being stabbed and stomped to death, gangbangers displaying their terrible marksmanship by pegging innocent dancers instead of the intended differently-hued bandanna, and wayward drunks passing out in snowdrifts and freezing to death.
Surfers are not drowning. The suicidally inclined with a dramatic bent have no bridges to leap from. BASE jumpers must content themselves with jumping off the mantelpiece. Death by misadventure is, for the nonce, a thing of the past. Carbon monoxide levels are way down — this crisis could actually be increasing the shelf-life of the whole human race! The only downside I can see, besides the disease itself, is that there is probably going to be a lot more domestic violence and small children being thrown out of windows. That's the way of the universe, though: balance.
Everything will ultimately even out as entropy has its insistent way with us. The biggest mistake people make is presuming that any life or any death is any more significant than any other. At bottom we're all just matter, and as such don't really matter. Not in the big picture. Within communities and families and relationships we do, but that's all construct.
Taking the mechanistic view provides me more peace of mind than any god ever could. Ergo, my thoughts and prayers do not go out to the victims. Well, I guess my thoughts do, in the form of this article, but I think the last time I prayed was at the age of eight when I implored Aslan to come eat my stepfather and spirit me off to Narnia. Even then I recognized the absurdity of an unseen higher consciousness monitoring and punishing the human race, but the idea of an omnipotent lion running the show, talking animals, and wardrobes as portals to other dimensions seemed perfectly reasonable.
So I doubt that muttering under my breath the wish that certain people should be safe from the virus will do any good. I hope that it is brought under control and things get back to normal, but in the meantime I suggest that everyone maintain their sense of humor and adopt the fatalistic view that what will be, will be. Let the people whose job it is to figure this out do their job and stop spreading lies and disinformation. Remember, you could be one of those who were slated for the boneyard and instead are occupied in this questionable pursuit, bodily functions humming along instead of decomposing. For cripes' sake, put down the paper and go do something constructive!
BILOXI DAYS: CHIEF JOHNS VS. MAJOR SMITH
by Mark Scaramella
My aircraft maintenance squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi in 1970 was the 3380th Field Maintenance Squadron. We had about 20 separate specialty and trade shops for the various aircraft systems — fuel systems, hydraulics, airframe-structure, while and tire, propulsion, propeller, ground equipment, electrical, egress systems, pilot gear, parachutes, sheet metal, machine, welding, corrosion control and paint, fabric and uniforms, instruments, non-destructive inspection, and a couple others I don't recall.
We also suffered an ongoing dispute with the flight-line squadron’s officers who we didn’t think were requiring their airmen to do enough of their own basic aircraft maintenance, and were too quick to call an already busy shop specialist for minor things.
I once asked legendary Field Maintenance Superintendent Chief Master Sergeant Ralph Johns how he would handle that problem if he were flight-line superintendent.
“I’d haul the lazy flight chiefs out to the other side of the flight line,” he said, “while aircraft were taking off and landing, and point across at the flight shacks and say to them, ‘See that airman sitting on the bench in front of the flight shack? Start yelling, ‘Get off your ass!’ until he gets off his ass.”
Field Maintenance was getting larger and larger as more technicians were assigned to handle the additional T-28 aircraft, which were being brought in to conduct the foreign pilot (mostly Vietnamese) training during Nixon’s ill-fated “Vietnamization” of the Vietnam war at the time.
Not long after I was made Squadron Commander of the 300-plus military and civilian technicians and support staff that made up the Field Maintenance Squadron, the Chief of Maintenance who had given me the job, Lt. Col James M. Slaughter, retired. Major Odie Smith took his place.
Major Smith was one of a small number of aircraft maintenance officers in the Air Force who had “bootstrapped” into becoming an aircraft maintenance officer. Before going through Officer Candidate School, he had been a senior flightline aircraft mechanic — a Tech Sergeant with about 12 years experience.
By an extremely unusual quirk, while still an enlisted man, Smith had worked for Chief Johns at a previous flight line maintenance assignment.
Johns didn’t like Smith and Smith didn’t like Johns. They had clashed regularly when Smith was a mechanic and Johns was Smith’s boss. Smith still considered himself something of an expert in maintenance procedures, and Johns thought Smith was an officer who was no longer a mechanic and was out of touch with current procedures.
Johns often said he “hated” officers, especially upstarts like Smith who were now in positions of higher authority than Johns. Johns also considered himself to be a better maintenance manager than Smith and didn’t agree with many of Major Smith’s decisions.
There I was, an inexperienced lieutenant sandwiched between these two intimidating men. Worse for me, I usually agreed with Johns’s position in the disputes he (we) had with Smith.
Johns was intimately familiar with all the applicable aircraft maintenance manuals and regulations. Smith thought he was pretty knowledgeable as well. Several times a week, Johns would show me something in the regs that applied to either Maintenance Control where Smith had moved up from and was defensive about, or the flight line, or both. Often, Johns’s complaints were related to the ongoing dispute about how little we thought the flightline was doing, thus impinging on our limited supply of specialized shop techs who had plenty to do in their own shops without wasting time out on the flight line helping with small stuff that they should be able to do themselves.
I had had some success raising minor points with Smith and the new Maintenance Control officer, Captain Newman, on things like how work order documents were handled and who should be notified when shop techs were called. I felt it was my job to try to press as many of these points as possible for the benefit of my squadron.
In the process, I developed a reputation as being argumentative and obstructionist.
At the same time, however, I had also become pretty good at handling Field Maintenance’s many projects, documents and reports as it was growing and re-organizing and everybody, including Major Smith, saw me as the go-to guy for all kinds of reports and special assignments.
I was irritating — but necessary.
One dispute I recall occurred when Johns showed me a section of AFM 66-1 “USAF Maintenance Management” — “the bible” as we called it — which clearly said that Organizational Maintenance (the flight line) was not to call for specialists unless absolutely necessary. Johns said that I should take the quote from AFM 66-1 and show it to Major Smith and tell him that the flightline needed better training so they’d make fewer calls on us, and that maintenance control needed to screen the calls from the flightline better before just passing them along, then dispatching a shop specialist for such things as aileron adjustments, tire balancing, heater replacements, minor fuel and hydraulic leaks, etc. etc.
Of course, I agreed with Johns, so I marched up to Hangar Three (aka the “Puzzle Palace” where all kinds of orders and rules we didn’t like emanated from) to tell Major Smith that things needed to improve.
My visit did not go well.
“Major Smith, are you familiar with this requirement in Chapter 6, Section 4 where it says Field Maintenance is not supposed to be called unless absolutely necessary?”
“Let me read it to you, sir. It says, ‘Every effort should be made to…”
Smith (shouting): “DON’T you read the goddamn regs to me, Lieutenant!”
“Goddamn it, lieutenant! Go back and tell Johns that I’m the Chief of Maintenance and I know the regs and to stop sending you up here for this bullshit!”
“But Chief Johns is right, sir!”
“It’s not a question of who’s right. It’s that we can’t get into an argument about this on every call. We’d never get anything done!”
“How about I draft a policy for you to look over and maybe issue to Maintenance Control and the flightline, sir?”
“Are you deaf? Things are working ok. I don’t need to talk about it anymore. Dismissed!”
But I still kept bringing up problems as I thought necessary because I agreed with Johns and thought things needed to improve. I continued to have some grudging success on some of the issues that arose.
After several months of this — and a lot more, of course — it came time for my Officer Effectiveness Report (OER) which Major Smith had to write. He must have been conflicted to some degree because he generally approved of my work but not of my frequent disagreements.
Fortunately, for me, Major Smith’s boss, Bird Colonel Emery D. Taylor, 3380th Maintenance and Supply Group Commander, liked me and knew of my many accomplishments (ahem — aided of course by Johns) and Colonel Taylor had to endorse whatever Major Smith wrote about me.
Normally, these effectiveness reports were, to say the least, inflated. Most of the time everybody got “outstanding” ratings with wording submitted by the very officer being rated. You had to be a real screw-up to get anything less than “outstanding.”
Officers who wrote OERs did not have to show the report to the person being evaluated. So, Major Smith did not show me my review. I didn’t see it until months later after I had transferred to the base resource and logistics staff office and my new boss there showed it to me.
Major Smith had rated me less than outstanding on three categories (I don’t recall which ones; it didn’t matter). In his narrative summary of my performance he rattled off a few routine statistics and said I was a “good” officer who “deserved consideration for promotion at a later date.”
Most annoyingly, he praised me for having a “can-do attitude.”
I did not have a can-do attitude, it was more like a why-do attitude. I argued with Major Smith a lot. This actually made me laugh — a sort of reverse back-handed compliment.
Then I read the cover sheet prepared by Colonel Taylor who had crossed off the three less-than-outstanding ratings that Smith had given me and instead the Colonel had initialed the “outstanding” box as the endorser, upgrading my OER.
This was an extremely unusual thing for a Colonel to do: overrule a senior officer’s review of a junior officer like me.
In his explanation for his upgraded review, Colonel Taylor had written, “Lieutenant Scaramella is an outstanding young officer and deserves promotion at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Then Colonel Taylor added, “If Lieutenant Scaramella was a higher ranking officer, I would gladly replace the rater with the ratee.”