Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Colonel John Edward "Jack" Killeen on September 3, 2019, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Thank you very much for coming up today.
John Killeen: It's my pleasure.
SI: Great. To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
JK: Yes, I was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the closest hospital, on March 19, 1943.
SI: What were your parents' names?
JK: My father was John Joseph Killeen and my mother was Frances Germon Killeen.
SI: Starting with your father's side of the family, what do you know about your grandparents and how far back the family goes in the Cape May area?
JK: Yes, I'll go two routes, one, the Irish side and the other, the English side. My grandfather's family, my grandmother came from Ireland and I forget what county. My wife knows the county, but I forget. So, she had just come to America. He was born here, first generation Irish-American. He was a business owner, but he's also an alcoholic, so, he lost his business. My father only finished eighth grade and had to go to work to support the mother and two kids and worked as a plumber's assistant and miscellaneous other things before he got to be a State Trooper; more about that later.
On the other side, I'm the fourteenth generation from Cape May, descended from John Howland off the Mayflower. One generation went to Long Island, New York; the next generation moved to Cape May. Descendants have been there ever since. So, we've got a long time there in Cape May. My mother's side, as I said, comes from the Mayflower side and the others, the Irish, fairly new, coming out of the Potato Famine to the US.
[Editor's Note: John Howland, born in 1592, was an indentured servant who came to North America on the Mayflower. He signed the Mayflower Compact. He became a freeman, served as selectman, surveyor of highways and deputy governor. He outlived all male Mayflower passengers and founded one of the largest progenies in America, with many descendants living in Cape May County. He died in 1673. The Irish Potato Famine, or Great Hunger, occurred when a fungus destroyed the potato crop from 1845 to 1852, exacerbating the impact of British land and economic policies in Ireland. Over one million Irish died due to starvation and millions more emigrated to the United States and elsewhere.]
SI: When you were growing up, were your grandparents still living?
JK: Yes. One grandparent was not. He had committed suicide the day that my mother graduated from high school, kind of trashed that whole thing. The other grandmother lived with my mother and she supported her. The grandmother didn't work, so, my mother supported her. The other side, both were alive and one cleaned houses in North Jersey. The other was an alcoholic who worked on and off as a waiter.
At one point, all three of them lived with us. That was an experience. When he would get hurt, sometimes, he'd come live with us and dry out and get all squared away, and then, go back and screw up again. All three of them lived there, so, I knew them all well. They were there periodically.
SI: This is jumping ahead, and it may just be speculation. The experience with your father's father, since your career focused so much on substance abuse in the military, was there any connection there?
JK: I don't think so.
JK: No. He was the finest Irish gentleman in the world when he was sober, and then, when he was the drunk, he was a bum.
JK: He still worked as a waiter. He was a good man--he just never could beat "John Barleycorn" [slang for alcohol]--but I don't think that had any influence on it. Primarily, I think my main influence on that was working in psychology.
SI: We will talk more about that later.
JK: Okay, yes.
SI: Your father had to go to work to support his family pretty early.
JK: Finished eighth grade, that was it, yes.
SI: How many years, roughly--you do not have to give me an exact figure, here or anywhere else--do you think he was working before he became a State Trooper?
JK: I think he had to be twenty-one to be a State Trooper, so, it was probably quite a while. I'd say six, seven years of work. Then, he was one of the earlier State Troopers who were hired by General Schwarzkopf, when Schwarzkopf started the State Police. The other General Schwarzkopf's father started the New Jersey State Police.
[Editor's Note: Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. (1895-1958), a West Point graduate, retired from the US Army as a major general. He served as the first Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police from 1921 to 1936. His son, US Army General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. (1934-2012), led all Coalition forces during the Persian Gulf War.]
JK: So, he hired my father and he was probably--I forget his badge number--but somewhere around the 400 hundredth State Policeman, started on horseback [Editor's Note: Badge number 476]. He wound up the commander of the southern half of the state and did really well, but, early on, he just was a State Trooper.
SI: Back then, everyone had to live in barracks--is that right?
JK: Yes, and my mother was a secretary during that time. She worked as a commercial secretary, and then, wound up being the secretary for the Cape May County Mosquito Control Commission. That was her main job later on, but both parents were working, so, still not a lot of money. So, I started working about around twelve or thirteen and worked lots of job and learned lots of skills as a result.
SI: Do you know how your parents met?
JK: Yes. She was a secretary and he was investigating an auto theft in the auto dealership where she worked. Somehow, they linked up and that was it, got married and lived in Port Norris for a while when he was stationed there, and then, after that, back in Cape May, even though he worked different stations--Cape May Court House and Hammonton, Mays Landing, some others--that they're still based out of Cape May.
SI: You were born in 1943. Were you one of the younger children?
JK: I was the youngest, yes.
SI: All right.
JK: My sister's about five years older.
SI: They were married for about ten years when they had you.
JK: Yes, yes.
SI: Which is not unusual for the Great Depression, when people put off having children or had fewer children.
JK: Oh, yes.
SI: When you were born, they were in Cape May still.
JK: Yes, West Cape May, yes.
SI: What are some of your earliest memories about that neighborhood and the town?
JK: I still have the house that I grew up in, moved into there when I was four years old. We used to live in an upstairs apartment. Then, they got a little bit more money and wound up buying an old Victorian house for--I think it was eleven hundred bucks they paid for it back then, during the end of the Depression--and still took them thirty years to pay it off. I've still got the house. That's kind of my "man cave" and den now. [laughter]
JK: We've got the fancy house that my wife likes, stay neat and clean there. Then, all my animal heads and my military memorabilia and my guns and all that stuff's in my man cave, in the house I grew up in.
SI: Are they on the same property?
JK: No, they're about two-and-a-half miles apart, three miles apart, yes.
SI: What do you remember about your neighbors and the kind of neighborhood it was?
JK: It was an Irish settlement then. The back side was all black and the area I was in was the working-class Irish. Then, Cape May was where the cottagers and the affluent folks were living. So, we were kind of, mostly, the "worker bees" that supported the resort at that point in time, and Cape May was nowhere near the resort it is now. It was a summer place only and kind of died in the winter.
SI: Would you say the summer tourism trade was much larger then?
JK: No, much smaller, yes.
SI: Much smaller, okay.
JK: Yes, yes. Again, a lot of people were, they called them "shoobies," "shoeboxers," because they didn't have much money, either, so, they'd come to the beach and bring their lunch in shoeboxes and eat on the beach and not spend much money. So, it was a totally different town.
The history of the place is that it used to be where the Presidents spent their summer. It was a super prestigious place, the Congress Hall, which one of my relatives built, as a matter-of-fact, Thomas Hughes, but, then, when they built the railroads, because of the shape of New Jersey, the railroads bypassed it.
When you used to get there by water, then, all the rich folks showed up, but, once they put the railroads in, the railroads didn't come easily to Cape May. So, it went into a bit of a decline, for the time I was growing up. Then, it got discovered again as the largest collection of Victorian architecture outside of England and a historic place, a National Historic Landmark. All of a sudden, it's busy ten-and-a-half months a year now.
[Editor's Note: Thomas Hughes (1769-1839) served in state government, then, in the US House of Representatives from 1829 to 1833. In 1816, he built Congress Hall, a hotel in Cape May that still exists today. In 1970, Cape May was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1976, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark District.]
SI: You mentioned that there was this working-class Irish neighborhood next to an African-American neighborhood.
SI: Was there a lot of division or separation in town?
JK: No, it was very tight. In fact, that's what got me active in Civil Rights. I really didn't experience any kind of discrimination until I got up here at Rutgers and saw the multiple cultures that came together here--but, no, it was a very tight community.
There's a Dr. Moore--the schools were segregated. The elementary schools were segregated until about three years before I went there. It was still segregated when my sister was going there, but it was just ridiculous, because, every break, everybody played together and were all friends. It was very little conflict on the racial side, stable families, fathers and mothers and kids, and long established as a black community. [Editor's Note: William J. Moore served as principal of the segregated West Cape May Elementary Annex School for over fifty years.]
Then, Dr. Moore--in fact, he was a tennis instructor and the tennis courts down there are named for him--he basically was a guiding light down there, really educated the kids and had high moral standards. The community was really solid. I had good friends. So, I really wasn't aware of racial discrimination until I left Cape May.
SI: For the first ten or so years of your life, your mother worked for the Mosquito Commission.
SI: Your father, would he have to go live in a barracks elsewhere?
JK: Yes, periodically. Early on, they would stay overnight in a barracks--I don't remember how long it was, two or three days of duty--and then, be off for a couple days. Then, that changed and they had people on-call, but not a whole force manning the barracks and patrolling. So, somewhere in that timeframe, he was home more often.
SI: Did he talk about his experiences on the State Police when you were growing up?
JK: Oh, yes. The biggest one was, he was one of the lead detectives on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
[Editor's Note: On March 1, 1932, the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was abducted from the second-floor window of their home in East Amwell, New Jersey. On May 12th, a passerby discovered the child's remains on the side of a road near the estate. Richard Hauptmann was arrested for the crime, found guilty and executed in the electric chair on April 3, 1936.]
JK: So, I've still got the picture of him with the ladder that broke the case, and they had a lot of publicity that came out of that. That was national, international publicity. He was involved in all of that and had all kinds of great war stories.
He and a good buddy of his were taking the wives out to dinner and they were running late. So, they picked the wives up to take them out to dinner. The wives were saying, "What's wrong with your car? It stinks," said, "Oh, no, we had some applejack. It just smells a little bit."
They went to dinner and they came back out and said, "No, this stinks. What's the story?" says, "We've got to deliver this dead body up to Trenton, but we promised we'd take you out, so, we did," [laughter] so, all kinds of stories like that.
JK: And, plus, there was a drunk in the neighborhood that, when he got drunk and disorderly, didn't want to get locked up by the local constable. So, he'd show up on my porch at three or four o'clock in the morning, so that the State Trooper could lock him up instead of the local constable. So, we had all stories like that the whole time growing up; so, interesting times. [laughter]
SI: Yes. Did he say anything more about the Lindbergh case?
JK: No. I've got copies of the case files and the testimony and all the others, but, yes, [he] talked a lot about the evidence and how they broke it, then, the criticality of the ladder, because the ladder came from the floor of a place that the kidnapper had access to. He tore up the floor and built a ladder. They were able to place the pieces right back in his floor, was a key part of the evidence to prove that he'd done it.
JK: So, yes. Then, also, for a while, he was in charge of Civil Defense. I think it was a major, major storm--I think it was the '62 storm, but it might've been earlier than that--he was doing Civil Defense and almost got trapped on Strathmere and had to get him out by helicopter for the flood; so, all kinds of stories like that over the years. [Editor's Note: From March 5-9, 1962, a nor'easter known as the Ash Wednesday Storm struck the Mid-Atlantic States, causing millions of dollars of damage and about forty deaths.]
SI: He was on the force for a long time.
SI: Over forty years?
JK: Yes, had to retire at fifty-five, so, whatever, thirty-some years.
SI: With him being away part of the time and your mom working, it seems like you and your sister probably learned how to be independent.
JK: Yes. My grandmother was living with us all the time, though. So, she was always there.
SI: All right. Was that the English grandmother or the Irish grandmother?
JK: The English, yes.
SI: Did you ever hear stories about what Cape May had been like earlier from her?
JK: No, not really. She was a pretty introverted person, didn't talk a whole lot about any of that; got stories from other family members. Her father used to own the local grocery store, and so, stories about auto accidents, running in the front of that place.
See, my great grandfather died at Gettysburg in the Civil War. So, they'd talk about his story. The line almost ended. He got something like two weeks' leave in the middle of the war, came home, got married and got the wife pregnant and went back, and then, got killed at Gettysburg. [Editor's Note: The Battle of Gettysburg occurred July 1-3, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.]
JK: So, we've been up to visit the grave, but he was in the second day of the war at Gettysburg and slowed the Confederates down to allow the Yanks to get the high ground. So, it's got some of those war stories.
SI: What about your Irish grandparents, any stories of what their lives had been like in Ireland, why or how they came here?
JK: No. My grandfather, I think, came in the potato blight time and the grandmother just was looking for a better living from a pretty impoverished Ireland at the time. So, it's part of the whole refugee thing that showed up during that time period, but very few, no real Irish stories from her, from Ireland, no.
SI: Given this mix in the household, were there any traditions kept up, from either side, that you recall?
JK: A lot of Irish, a lot of Irish, yes, with St. Paddy's Day and Irish music. My father had two sisters and both of them were in North Jersey. So, periodically, when we'd get together as a family, there was always celebrating Irish stuff; very little of, didn't even know a whole lot, never discussed much about the whole Pilgrim background and all that history, until we got a lot older and we found out about it.
SI: You said you started working outside of school when you were about twelve or thirteen.
JK: Yes, yes.
SI: Before that, how would you occupy yourself? What was your daily routine like?
JK: Our backyard at the house was kind of--there were no recreation centers--our house was kind of the recreation center for the community. We had a big barn in the back, used to be a horse barn, had a basketball set-up there and high-jump and pole-vault standards. I was a track athlete. We had a little area that we could play football, with plenty of room for football, put up lights on the back of the house, so [that] you could play at night. That's kind of where everybody gathered to be able to play sports.
So, it was an awful lot of that, and a lot of time in the salt marshes in South Cape May. It was still fairly rural then. The developing of the houses wasn't there, so [that] we had Lost Lake and all kinds of mysterious places you had to fight your way through green briar and the weeds to get to. Then, Higbee's Beach was still there, which is now a major wildlife center. The Nature Conservancy has all the area where I used to trap and hunt. This is all Nature Conservancy area now, too.
[Editor's Note: The Borough of South Cape May existed from 1894 to 1945. The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 damaged the area, leading to the Borough's dissolution and return to Lower Township in 1945. Part of the former South Cape May forms the Nature Conservancy's South Cape May Meadows. Higbee Beach, a one-and-a-half-mile beach on Delaware Bay in Cape May, is a protected Wildlife Management Area.]
JK: So, a very outdoors life.
SI: I was going to ask if you hunted and trapped.
JK: Yes, trapped muskrat. I think I was ten years old when I started going to the Cape Island Deer Club with my father, and so, we hunted deer. I think I was carrying a gun at twelve then, but a lot of deer hunting, then, as I got older, did a lot of duck hunting, and then, also fished the cycle of the seasons. If you're on a limited budget, then, you can get your venison, you can get your geese, you can get your ducks, you can get, first, your big tide runners that come up with the bluefish, and then, weakfish, and then, flounder, and augment the family diet with natural foods. It was a pretty good deal. So, I did a lot of that as a kid and never broke the habit. I still do, yes.
SI: Were your parents involved in community activities?
JK: Yes, my mother was involved in the schools. In fact, then, West Cape May School, the way you got your lunch was, the mothers came in and cooked it at lunchtime. Then, the mothers rotated to make lunch. They all competed with each other, so, got really, really good food. [laughter] So, she's involved in that. I think she was president of the PTA at one point in time and really active in that area.
Then, my father was [in the] Cape Island Deer Club. Also, somewhere in his youth, he learned to be a phenomenal pool shooter. So, he spent a lot of time shooting pool, which, the effect, I was a good pool shooter and never did beat him once, ever. He was really good. So, I suspect he made some of his living hustling pool in his youth, but he never admitted it. [laughter]
SI: What do you remember about your early schooling at West Cape May Elementary School?
JK: High-quality, that most of the teachers were my parents' friends and they would socialize together, but it was very high-quality schooling. Then, it was fully integrated, so, there was virtually no racial conflict whatsoever; great sports opportunities, good physical fitness stuff at noontime. The ballfields were open for play all the time, and didn't get a TV until I was fourteen, so, that was never a distractor. There were no electronic distractors. It was all outdoor stuff and sports.
SI: Were there organized leagues or was it just pick-up?
JK: Just pick-up. In fact, between my backyard being the de facto recreation center and the self-organization of sports, I think a huge chunk of the leadership I learned came out of orchestrating those things, and controlling conflict and fights and stuff in the backyard. That's great experience.
SI: Were you involved in Boy Scouts at the time?
JK: Yes, I was in Scouting, up through Life Scout, yes. In fact, the Borough Hall, which was about a hundred yards from my house, is where all the meetings were, a lot of outdoor activity--different time, too. When the kids got into squabbles and couldn't get along, then, the Scoutmaster'd get boxing gloves and put them on them. You'd get in a room and beat the crap out of each other until you couldn't lift your arms. Then, you're buddies again, [laughter] so, a little different from now.
SI: I am curious--did they have Sea Scouts in the area?
JK: Yes, they did, but I never did that. The Sea Scouts tended to be affiliated with the summer rich folks, the Cottagers' Association. At that point in time, especially as I got to be a teenager, the fathers got pretty [controlling]. I was a "beach boy." I worked on the beach and, if you look at the '50s movies, the guys that worked on the beach and all that stuff, that was a pretty good life. The rich fathers did not want the local jock, poor kids affiliated with their young daughters. So, there was a lot of resistance for socializing.
I never learned to sail because I couldn't get into the Yacht Club, which is funny, because, now, I'm hosting a banquet there in October. [laughter] So, that part's changed, too, but, then, the Cottagers' Association was the summer Cape May money. So, that was where your real split was between populations, between the local yokels, like me, and the folks who came in with the money in the summertime.
SI: Your family would have been a little different, since your dad was in the State Police, but were most of your friends' parents' livings tied to the tourism trade?
JK: Yes, a good chunk, yes, even the folks in construction. One of them had a candy store, which [was] all tourist--most of the money was made in the summer. Some school teachers; it was all focused on kind of the service, yes.
SI: Would you see a difference? Would it become more depressed in the non-season, or would people be able to find other jobs to keep themselves afloat?
JK: Well, the pattern that happened for a number of those years was that the folks would work seven days a week, twelve to sixteen hours a day, all through the tourist season. Then, a good chunk would go on unemployment and hunt and fish, and then, hit the outdoors and tide themselves over with odd jobs until the summer came again. They'd go back to work seven days a week, up to sixteen hours a day, and stash all the money.
Now, there are exceptions to that. You've got your school teachers and you've got your local lawyers and your optometrists and your dentists and all those folks that weren't affected by that, but the working-class crowd was a lot of outdoor time and less opportunity to find employment there. We did have the magnesite plant that a lot of the guys worked at. That employed a lot of people. That extracted magnesite from the ocean and that employed an awful lot of people.
[Editor's Note: From 1941 to 1983, Dresser Industries operated the Harbison Walker-Cape May Works that produced magnesite refractory brick, used to line steel factory furnaces.]
SI: You mentioned your father was head of Civil Defense as well.
JK: Yes. Well, see, that was part of the State Police job at the time, yes.
SI: Yes. One of the questions I usually ask is about the effect of the Cold War, if it was something that was palpable in your life. Do you remember thinking about Russian attacks?
JK: We did all the get-under-the-desk foolishness and stuff for drills, but, at least with me, it never registered as an issue. It just never did. We had the Coast Guard station down there, too, and spent some time with the Coast Guard. No, until I was probably in high school, it never seemed to be anything of any significance in my head, at that point.
SI: Growing up, did you ever have much opportunity to travel outside of the Cape May area?
JK: One time. I had an aunt who lived in Arizona. When her husband died, we went out and got her, flew out, and then, drove back across the country. So, I got into Mexico and Arizona, New Mexico, and drove all across the US and had that experience. Other than that, it was North Jersey. We didn't start going to Vermont yet, then, but North Jersey and Cape May area then. There wasn't much money to spare.
SI: Would you go to Philadelphia or Atlantic City for things?
JK: Atlantic City, yes.
JK: Philadelphia, well, there'd be a trip to New York and a trip to DC as part of your educational experience, but that was about it. We didn't do much of that.
SI: You entered Cape May High School in 1957.
SI: Tell me a little bit about that school. What was that like for you?
JK: Oh, it was a great school. Yes, in fact, the middle of our senior year, we had to change over to Lower Regional, once they created the regional school. Everybody resisted it, tried not to, but, no, Cape May High was a good experience then, small enough to excel, but big enough to have enough resources. So, I was really busy there. [Editor's Note: Lower Cape May Regional High School serves students from four municipalities in Cape May County: Lower Township, Cape May, West Cape May and Cape May Point.]
I played freshman year football and track. I was the class president, and then, on the Student Council. I was on the gymnastics team, played basketball and, the sophomore year, football, track. I was on the Key Club, and then, the gymnastics team. Then, my junior year, I was the co-captain of the football team and track team. I was, again, the class president and I was the president of the Key Club.
SI: What would the Key Club do?
JK: The Key Club is--in fact, we sponsor it, Kiwanis sponsors it--the Key Club is basically focused on leadership development for high school kids, with an emphasis on community service and going out and helping people who need help, while developing leadership skills. [Editor's Note: Kiwanis International and its clubs across the globe serve children through philanthropy and volunteer-based service projects.]
So, we still do that. We sponsor two of them now, my current Kiwanis, one at a tech school and one at Lower Regional, real leadership development kind of experience for kids, but, again, keeping the hook end of it, "You're not by yourself--help the community, work with the community." So, that's what the Key Club was all about.
Then, I wound up the Boys' State delegate. I came up here to Rutgers for that one, as a Boys' State delegate, and that was a good experience. Then, I had the lead in the school play and got the best actor award in my junior year. [Editor's Note: Boys' State and Girls' State are summer programs run by the American Legion that model municipal, county and state government.]
I was, again, the co-captain of the football team my senior year. I was the captain and MVP of the track team and the class president and the Student Council vice president and had the lead in the school play. So, those kinds of opportunities were just phenomenal for growing up.
SI: Did people resist the move to a regional school because there would be fewer opportunities?
JK: No, long, long history at Cape May, just a school loyalty kind of a thing.
JK: "Why can't we graduate in the school we spent three-and-a-half years at?" but they went to the fancy new school.
JK: But, they changed the mascot, they changed the school colors and all--a lot of grumbling about that. They've reverted back. They're showing the old school colors again at the Lower Regional. So, it was interesting. [laughter]
I had to go up there and do a dedication for a couple of kids that were killed in Vietnam last month. I was the keynote speaker that gave them the real history on Vietnam, not the one you read in the textbook, as well as dedicating a couple of plaques to the kids that were Cape May or Lower Cape May Regional folks that were killed in 'Nam. They had a memorial to Iraq and Afghanistan and none to Vietnam, so, we had to fix that.
SI: Were any of them classmates of yours?
JK: No, they were much, much behind me. I was well in the military by then, yes.
SI: You were very involved in sports. On the football team, what was your position?
JK: Quarterback and middle linebacker, yes.
SI: Did you play both ways at the time?
SI: Who were your big rivals, particularly in football, but in other sports as well?
JK: Wildwood, Middle Township were two with a long history, but we played some regional schools--oh, reaching back in my memory banks--but Wildwood was the big rival and Middle Township was right behind that. Then, there were miscellaneous other schools. Swedesboro, we'd play them periodically; so, South Jersey schools for the most part.
SI: Do any games or experiences from any of the sports stand out in your memory?
JK: Yes. It probably cost me a college scholarship, but, about the fourth or fifth game of the season, I was running option plays around a big guy--in fact, his name is Gardenheir--and we were doing really well. He just couldn't catch on to the option plays. So, after the play was over, he cheap-shot-ed me with a helmet shot in the back and bruised a kidney.
So, I missed the last three games of the season and that probably cost me a scholarship. I had a couple folks who were talking about college scholarships, and that all went away. So, that one sticks in my mind pretty well, yes.
JK: But, a lot of fun, good football.
SI: As part of the student government, and then, the class president, what kinds of issues would you deal with?
JK: They weren't that significant issues. They were, basically, organizing proms and organizing dances and some fundraisers for working with the local community, working with what was the equivalent then of the food kitchen, where people could go to pick up food if they didn't have money, raise money for that. There were no overwhelming kind of student interaction issues.
SI: Was that the kind of thing you would do in the Key Club, too, raise money for food banks?
SI: Was the Kiwanis kind of a big center or--not force, but presence--in town?
JK: Yes, it was at that time. It's very different from now. It was men-only and it was virtually all the community leaders, the senior business leaders. Coach Steve Steger, who I worked my first job with and he was my football coach, he was the president, and the doctors and the optometrists and the dentists and the business leaders and the hotel owners. That was basically a business-focused kind of organization, and it's evolved since that.
Now, it's probably at least half women and much less of a business-focused and more of a community kind of focused group--of all aspects of the community, ethnically, racially, everything across the board--than it used to be. Then, it was the leaders of the community, yes.
SI: Academically, what did you kind of gravitate towards in high school?
SI: Okay. [laughter]
JK: I was a "B+" student, basically. I didn't require much studying and I didn't do much studying, but kind of a "B+" student. The ones I liked, I got "As" in; the ones I didn't, I got "Cs" in. That was not too much of a focus at that point in time. I didn't get the wake-up call until my freshman year at Rutgers.
JK: Then, didn't make probation the first year, but I was pledging the fraternity and playing sports and having a great time and almost got on probation. I said, "Oh, time to get serious," and that's when my academic life started.
SI: Do any mentors from high school stand out in your memory, any coaches or teachers?
JK: Yes, Steve Steger was a presence. That's who I started working for when I was twelve or thirteen, on the beach. He had a beach service as well as being the athletic director and football coach. He tended to scout out his athletes and hire them to work on the beach, then, do muscle work in soft sand all summer and stay in good shape and be ready for football season. So, yes, he was a real friend and mentor, yes.
SI: You did that for quite a few summers. Does anything stand out about just the atmosphere of the summertime in Cape May?
JK: No, it was the greatest job in the world. It really worked well at the time. As I said, we weren't much fixed with money. Also, starting after a couple of years, I was a busboy at
Sigel's Restaurant. So, I'd work ten hours in the day, and then, at around five-thirty, go over and change clothes and be a busboy until nine-thirty at night. Then, I'd cut lawns on weekends and saving up money to buy a car, and then, have enough money to live on without being a drag on the parents at that point in time.
Also, in the wintertime, I worked on the fish docks as a deckhand with the Axelsson's and Boudreaux's and a couple of the other ones, offloading fishing boats. Then, later on, I worked for the Mosquito Commission, too, in construction and spraying. That was a decent job, but the one year at Coca-Cola Bottling, when I was in college, that was the worst I ever had.
I was the new guy, so, I had the off-shore route. Instead of selling twenty cases per store, I was selling two and three per store. I had a 1938 old, rickety truck, governed at thirty-five miles an hour, holes in the floorboard, the heat in the summertime and a miserable job, but it paid better.
Then, one summer, when I went to ROTC summer camp, I came back and had missed all the employment summer hiring, so, I wound up a bouncer and a bartender in a shot-and-a-beer bar, and that was interesting for a while and then, got drafted by the police department to do some undercover police work, down in Cape May, on some problems that we were having on the beachfront. So, that was a wild, wild summer.
Then, in the wintertime at college, I worked for McLean Trucking Company up here in New Brunswick. I was a Teamster from my Coca-Cola days, so, I got to work up a deal with them, so that I was basically the college shop steward. When I could work, I worked and, when not, one of my fraternity brothers could fill in for me and draw union wages. That really helped get through college.
SI: Were they doing commercial trucking or was it a moving company?
JK: Yes, big, big commercial trucking company out of North Carolina, but they had a place out on Route 1. They had a big operation out there and that's where I worked.
SI: I wanted to ask about the restaurant job. Was it a place that was just a restaurant or was it a night club as well?
JK: Fancied as a bar and restaurant. They had some entertainment once in a while, but it was mainly an upscale restaurant, right on the beach front. So, I could walk across the street, go in the bathhouse, change, walk across the street and be a busboy. So, it was a good job, and good tips, good source of income. It was one of the upscale restaurants at the time.
SI: Were you always thinking about college?
JK: Oh, yes.
SI: Was it encouraged?
JK: Yes, yes. I definitely, at that point in time, wanted to go to college.
SI: What were you thinking about?
JK: I have to stop and think; I think Rutgers was probably the main focus. There are some other ones down there I think I applied to, but the main goal was to come to Rutgers. For the price, that was the best education around.
SI: Had you been there before, before coming to Boys' State?
JK: Yes, Boys' State, I was up here, yes, so, stayed here for Boys' State, for that whole period of time, yes. So, I was familiar with it, comfortable with it. For the cost of education, it was the best place and, if there's no college scholarship for sports, then, Rutgers was overwhelmingly the best deal. Back then, Mason Gross was running the place, too. So, there wasn't much sports emphasis here. It was academic emphasis. [Editor's Note: Dr. Mason Gross served as President of Rutgers University from 1959 to 1971.]
SI: When you were in high school, how much did you know about the larger world, in terms of following the national or international news?
JK: Quite a bit. We did some, especially during the period when John F. Kennedy was running for the Presidency. Then, politics got to be really interesting and widespread and there was a lot of involvement. In fact, we had set up debates in high school for support of different Presidents. So, some of that was going on at the time, yes. [Editor's Note: John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.]
The other thing was, most of the guys that I hunted with, the older guys, were all ex-World War II guys who had come back. There's a lot of discussion about World War II and the experience out there for the guys that would talk about it. So, you had a sense of Europe and Europe trying to recover from World War II. Some of the war stories that the guys had were interesting. So, that element of it was there, but it wasn't a central focus. It's just what you talked to in the back of a deer hunting truck when you're going out for a stand.
SI: Coming from an Irish family, was the Kennedy Presidential run particularly important in your household?
JK: No, not especially. Cape May County is, still is, overwhelmingly Republican.
JK: I don't think Kennedy even won down there, even though he was extremely popular. He and Jackie and the whole atmosphere they set was, I think, clearly recognized and understood. Then, the assassination was the start of the big deal, between him and King and Robert and all that, really, really started the intense focus on US and international politics.
[Editor's Note: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated as he stood on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. On June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President and having just won the California primary, was assassinated in Los Angeles.]
SI: When you were growing up, did religion play any role in your life?
JK: Yes, grew up Catholic and I was the president of the Catholic Youth Council. That worked until all the way through high school, but, after college, that was much less important in terms of any kind of a life orientation.
SI: Was there a mix of Catholic and Protestant and other faiths there?
JK: Oh, yes, yes. In fact, my mother converted to Catholicism to marry my father. So, my grandmother was still--I'll say Methodist, but I'm not sure. I know where the church is, but I don't remember exactly which one it is--but she was Protestant and other relatives were Protestant. So, that just wasn't a big deal.
SI: Tell me a little bit about the summer that you were an undercover officer. How did that come about and what kind of things would you do?
JK: That's probably controversial now. What happened is, Atlantic City and another place in New York with an anti-gay focus really put the heat on homosexuals. We had established families, homosexual businessmen and others. It was not an issue in Cape May, but this large influx showed up and, when they showed up, a bunch of sexual deviants showed up with them.
In the public restrooms, they cut holes through the walls, so that they could give blowjobs to people. They're soliciting people on the boardwalk. These are not "straight" gays. These are folks that need some real mental help. It got to be so disruptive that they wound up passing what now would be a discriminatory ordinance on formfitting, tight bathing suits.
They hired me to be the plain-clothes guy who rooted that stuff out and stopped all the blowjobs in the men's room and the solicitation of young children and all that stuff. So, I was undercover primarily in the beachfront area and locking people up for some really abhorrent stuff.
It was not focused on gays. As I said, we had a number of really well-established gay community members. In fact, Pennywise is one of the main summer things down there for publication and everybody's picture got in it. That was run by a gay couple and they were well established. They were frustrated by this bunch of rather sick people who showed up along with others. So, my job was to run them out of town. [Editor's Note: Pennywise, a weekly publication in Cape May, operated from 1931 to the 1980s.]
JK: So, interesting experience.
SI: Could you make an arrest yourself?
JK: Yes, yes.
JK: Yes, I was fully armed, concealed carry, and that was an interesting summer. I'm not going to tell you some of the more abhorrent stories, yes. [laughter]
SI: No, that is all right. Would they usually go quietly?
JK: Yes. They tried to set me up one time, didn't know I was armed. So, I saw it coming and took my gun from concealment, moved it to the front and, "Can I help you, gentlemen?" They decided, no, I couldn't help them and they split. They had three or four of them that were getting ready to kick my butt at one point, but they didn't know I was armed.
SI: I am curious--since your career, later, kind of combines military and law enforcement, was that always something you were thinking about, in high school and in college?
JK: Yes, I'd planned to do law enforcement. Now, at Rutgers, I did sociology with a big focus on criminology then. I'd planned to do that, but, when I got a full fellowship to Colgate for personnel administration, essentially--basically, dean of men kind of preparation, student personnel administration and counseling and psychology--then, that really piqued my interest in that arena.
In the Air Force, I started out in Security Forces and loved that. Then, when the guy who ran personnel found out I had a master's degree in personnel administration, then, they drafted me over into personnel, which is a much more boring job. I had no real interest in staying in the Air Force, but I was finishing out my years. That's when everything broke loose in the Vietnam War with the racial conflict and the drug issues.
Really, that was fascinating, to get in there for something that had never been done before and create ways to deal with both. So, that's how I got pulled into that for a long period of time. Then, I got trapped in the Pentagon forever. I finally escaped back to the "gun toters," Security Police/Security Forces stuff, after that, but wrote about and worked the racial issues during that Vietnam period and all the troubles that we had, plus, the Civil Rights Movement involvement and the dealing with the drug and alcohol issues, was just fascinating, the work.
SI: Yes, we obviously want to get into those issues deeper.
JK: Yes, later.
SI: You came to Rutgers in the Fall of 1961--is that right?
JK: Probably, yes.
SI: What were your first few days and weeks like on campus?
JK: A lot of fun. I was in Frelinghuysen Hall, over there, right on the edge of the river. Again, I was trying out for football. Even though the fraternity pledging didn't start until the second semester, some were trying to recruit me already. So, I had a little bit of mixing with the fraternities. Then, I continued the same study habits that I had in high school, until that didn't work out very well. [laughter] So, second semester, I got my focus and started doing well and made the dean's list after that, but I found out you have to really study at college to do that.
SI: Was it just your study habits or did you see a difference in the level that your high school was educating you at and the level that was called for at Rutgers?
JK: No, it was study habits, yes.
JK: The one course that I really enjoyed, and it was well-taught, chemistry, I got straight "As" in. I enjoyed that. The ones that were a bit more boring, then, the couple nights before the exam, I'd read all the stuff and catch up and not do quite as well as in the ones I liked. [laughter] So, it was a growing-up experience.
JK: Then, what I found was the library over at Seminary Place, right on ...
SI: Sage Library? [Editor's Note: The Gardner A. Sage Library is part of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a separate institution encompassed by Rutgers' College Avenue Campus.]
JK: Yes, yes. There's nobody but me or one or two other people there; disappear there, get all my studying done, and then, go do something else--but do the studying first and the other priorities came later.
Then, I also quit football, because I couldn't play at the college level. I was too short. I was a pretty good quarterback, but I'd get back there--even then at Rutgers, they're all six-three, six-four, 270 pounds--I couldn't find receivers. All I'd see is "the wall" in front of me. I'm running all around trying to get passes off and discovered it's much better to be at least six feet, six feet-one, to be a quarterback in college. So, I stopped playing that.
I played 150-pound football one year, but that was weird, because your guard's as fast as your halfback. It's a very different game from the main football. I had a good time with it, but, then, I pledged Sig Ep. That was really good times, great people. That was the working-class fraternity at the time. So, we did a lot of work for the house, build our own parking lots and rebuilt the houses and a lot of carpentry experience and plumbing. So, it was a good bunch.
SI: Is that what attracted you to Sig Ep?
JK: Yes, basically. I guess it was a successful, working-class bunch of folks, with no preppy kind of atmosphere whatsoever. So, that was probably the big attractor, yes.
SI: Where was the house then?
JK: Where the honors dorm is now. There used to be two houses right there on that corner, right on George Street, cattycornered across from Frelinghuysen. We had two houses and had to maintain two old Victorian houses. So, it was a lot of work.
SI: Sure. I know FIJI [Phi Gamma Delta] was over there for a while. Were they there then?
JK: No, FIJI was over on College Avenue when I was here.
SI: Okay. What was life in a fraternity house like then?
JK: It was outstanding, good times, yes, more drinking than I would be doing now, but good thumper games and good parties, good beer drinking, but, again, a good, great leadership experience, to have sixty, seventy folks like that and get it to be effective in maintaining the house and a lot of emphasis on keeping your grades up and keeping guys from flunking out, a lot of friendships that are still there.
I wound up being the vice president my junior year and the president my senior year, and so, a leadership role, and that rolled, basically, into my fellowship. We had a guy named Tom Leemon who was working on his Ph.D. and he was studying the culture of fraternities. He was in residence, observing us like an anthropologist. The recommendation out of him turned into my full fellowship to Colgate, I think.
[Editor's Note: Dr. Leemon's The Rites of Passage in a Student Culture: A Study of the Dynamics of Transition was published in 1972. His 1968 Columbia doctoral dissertation was titled, "Fraternity Initiation as a Rite of Passage: A Description."]
JK: So, that's what led to that. So, that paid off well for me in that area. So, I got a pretty much free--well, it wasn't a free ride. I worked my butt off, but that's another story. At Colgate, they ran out of room for students, so, they bought a whole hotel, motel, just slightly out of town. So, part of my fellowship, I had to run that as a motel keeper in the summertime. Then, I was a resident advisor in the wintertime and assistant dean of freshmen. So, I was working my butt off, plus, carrying the full academic load and a newlywed, but it was good times and free. So, I think I spent twelve hundred bucks of my own money in a year-and-a-half. So, it was a good deal.
JK: Good deal. [laughter]
SI: Tell me a little bit about the Air Force ROTC training.
JK: Yes. It was Vietnam War time and you were going to go in one way or the other, pretty much, was a high risk of draft. So, I elected to go the officer route.
I got really tired of, "Right face, left face, about face," drilling. So, I wound up one of the founders of the Rutgers Air Commandos at the time. So, instead of doing that, we were jumping out of airplanes and we were the opposition force fighting the Army Ranger ROTC out at Camp Kilmer, doing a lot of firearms training and hand-to-hand combat training. It took more time, but it was a lot more fun than going up to a park and drilling.
[Editor's Note: Camp Kilmer, a US Army post established in 1942 between Edison and Piscataway, New Jersey, served as a staging area for the New York Port of Embarkation, processing millions of soldiers in transit during World War II. In 1963, much of the land was sold to Rutgers University and later developed into the Livingston Campus.]
So, I was the vice commander the first year, my junior year, and then, the commander my senior year. We had a great time. We had learned all kinds of wilderness survival stuff and combat tactics, and a lot of fun jumping with Parachutes Incorporated, skydiving. So, it was a good time. I was a Distinguished Graduate. I really studied that stuff, too.
SI: Did you train over at Camp Kilmer or would you go down to McGuire Air Force Base?
JK: No, Camp Kilmer was the exercise area. It still was remote, it was still a forested, fully forested, area. The Army Rangers was much bigger. The ROTC Rangers was a much bigger outfit and they were learning how to secure bases. That's when Vietnam had gone to the enclave system and they were working on doing that. In fact, I used to do battle against Jack Jacobs—a Rutgers graduate who won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam. He was with the ROTC Rangers.
So, they needed an opposition force that could basically run guerrilla warfare. So, we were the guerilla warfare guys. I learned a huge amount about the risks of what a guerilla force could do to you if they're mobile enough; so, learned a lot of stuff that I used later in my career, yes.
SI: Was there a particular member of the cadre that worked with you on this?
JK: Then, you mean the Air Force?
SI: Yes, an advisor to the Commandos?
JK: Boy, I can't remember, no. There are a number of the folks who were there, but I can't recall the names.
SI: Okay. Was a lot of this self-taught in the Air Commandos?
JK: Yes, yes. We had one guy who was on the physical fitness staff, an older guy who was retired military, had been a hand-to-hand combat instructor. He'd taught physical fitness at the gym.
SI: Was that George Dochat? [Editor's Note: George Dochat, a Physical Education Department faculty member, founded the Rutgers Men's Soccer team and served as its first head coach.]
JK: I think it was, yes. So, he's the one trained us in hand-to-hand combat. We had access to M-1 rifles then. We wound up training with M-1 rifles, even though they were obsolete and would ruin your thumb if you get a chance, [laughter] but it was a lot more educational than just doing the drill. [Editor's Note: The M-1 Garand was the standard issue rifle for the US Army from 1936 to 1959.]
I learned, another experience at summer camp, "Make sure I know my audience," because I was up for the Commandant's Award for summer camp. In the interviews, the final interviews that they were doing, they asked me what I thought ROTC summer camp was all about. The fellow that was asking me was an Air Force "ground-pounder" major and not a very successful one in the military. He wasn't all that bright.
I got carried away explaining rites of passage and he interpreted that to be that I was equating the Air Force to native tribes. [laughter] So, I got the Vice Commandant's Award instead of the Commandant's Award out at summer camp. So, I came in second because of my "negative attitude" toward summer camp. So, I was just trying to explain rites of passage to him, but didn't work. [laughter] So, "Know your audience," I learned that lesson.
JK: Figure out who you're talking to before you get off on intellectual flights of fancy.
SI: [laughter] You were also active on the Inter-Fraternity Council.
SI: What kind of issues would come up there?
JK: Well, the usual fraternity ones, making sure drinking stayed under control, enough funding to get fraternities through, with trying to keep expenses down for people and working on ways to deal with the cost of college, which was starting to increase then, as well as what it cost you for a fraternity and how to do that. They were fairly routine issues. There were no major kinds of things you had to deal with. Control the booze and funding was probably the two big issues, money.
SI: I know, throughout the 1960s, there were issues and controversies over fraternities where their national was segregated.
JK: Oh, yes.
SI: Did any of those issues come up?
JK: Yes, they did. That wasn't Inter-Fraternity, but, yes, I desegregated--in terms of Jewish--I desegregated our fraternity. A good buddy of mine, Ron Reisler, pledged, wanted to pledge, and the national tried to stop it, because, then, you had Jewish fraternities and non-Jewish fraternities. We just didn't buy it.
I was the vice president then. So, I had the two guys from national sit here and I had Ron Reisler sit there and said, "You guys explain to him why he can't be a member of our fraternity. We want him here." "Well, can we talk privately?" "Well, no, you can't talk privately--right here." They finally abandoned the ship and Ron pledged. That took care of any prohibition against Jewish folks in the fraternities, in that fraternity, from then on.
SI: Was there any blowback from the national, or did they just let the issue die?
JK: No, they just hoped it'd all go away.
SI: You also mentioned that being at Rutgers made you more aware of Civil Rights issues.
JK: Yes, yes.
SI: What form did that take?
JK: Primarily conversations with people, especially the racial conversations, about the inferior blacks and, "Blacks can't do this and blacks can't do that," the racial kinds of components of it, which made no sense to me at all, because I grew up in pretty much a fully-integrated neighborhood.
The first, really, time I got busy with that was my first assignment in the Air Force. Basically, we desegregated housing in Fort Worth, Texas. Although I became aware of it at Rutgers--I was aware of the issue and really disturbed by it--but, out at Carswell, my first duty assignment, is a good friend of mine named Charlie Black, who's a B-52 [Stratofortress] pilot. [Editor's Note: Carswell Air Force Base is located northwest of Fort Worth, Texas.]
Then, they were on alert. They'd have to spend three days on alert and two days off, twenty-four/seven. They couldn't go home. His wife and baby couldn't get a place to live in Fort Worth that wasn't in a ghetto. So, they would be terrified going shopping, and then, running through this crime-ridden place to get into an apartment and just about sequestered in there, except when he was home. I said, "That's intolerable."
I had a very courageous base commander, who was also coming up for retirement, and a courageous judge advocate, and they let me form four different teams, black and white teams. We'd call and get what the apartments had available, and then, document that and have it notarized, and then, show up as a black and white team to rent the place. All of a sudden, nothing was available, and then, we'd document that.
We got enough of a dossier, so that the Judge Advocate, on behest of the Base Commander, went to the Chamber of Commerce and the city leadership, said, "Here's the story. You either change this or all your areas are going to be declared off-limits for military housing and we'll find places that will treat people equally. In that instance, then, those people, they get the business and you're out of business in terms of military support."
Then, Fort Worth was much smaller and hadn't been a major metropolitan area yet and really depended on the Air Force, and so, desegregated and started getting people in good housing. We got Charlie and his wife in a nice place. So, that was the first big Civil Rights involvement, because I was just furious about that circumstance, but the basis for that started at Rutgers.
SI: It is interesting that you came up with that tactic. Was it something you had heard about or did you develop it by working with the Commander?
JK: No, we skulled it. As a matter of fact, a Jewish lawyer and I were the two that sat down and said, "How do we approach this? How can we build documentation on it?" He had most of the legal ideas for how to do it. So, we put the whole thing together and created four teams and went out and did it, and it worked.
SI: Yes. I have heard of similar tactics from CORE [Congress of Racial Equality, a Civil Rights organization] and other groups.
JK: No, we just thought it up.
SI: Going back to Rutgers, while you were an undergraduate, I know there was a famous case of a Rutgers alum who went down South to work on voter registration and got arrested. It became kind of a cause on campus to get him freed from Georgia. Do you remember that at all?
JK: Do you remember the name at all?
SI: Don Harris.
JK: That doesn't register, no.
JK: Doesn't ring a bell.
[Editor's Note: In August 1963, Donald S. Harris, Rutgers College Class of 1963, was arrested in Americus, Georgia, while trying to register African-American voters. Working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Harris and two others were charged with insurrection, a capital offense in Georgia. The case stirred support on the Rutgers campus and across New Jersey in the Fall of 1963. Harris was released in November after a federal court declared the law under which he was charged to be unconstitutional.]
SI: Were you aware of groups on campus leaning more towards Civil Rights type activism?
JK: More on an academic discussion level. There didn't seem to be any that were more active at that point in time. I'm not aware of any groups that were doing the bus rides to the South or any of that stuff at that point in time. I got the sense that that really cranked up later, but I'm not aware of any group that was doing that at the time.
SI: Were there other social activities you were involved in, aside from the fraternity and sports?
JK: No, I basically wound up doing mostly intramural sports, intramural wrestling. A decent wrestler, so, I did well with that and had a good time with that. The sociological honors society, we formed that when I was here, in sociology. That was the Alpha Kappa Delta and I was the president of that. I think, primarily, the fraternity, ROTC and academics were my main focus.
SI: I know, at some point, there was a cup that the fraternities would compete for.
SI: Were they doing that at that time?
JK: Yes. We didn't have the jock basis, like the jock fraternities did. Even the guys who weren't playing the varsity sports still recruited guys who were really good athletes. We did pretty well in flag football and wrestling, but we weren't competitive for that kind of a thing.
SI: How traditional would you say the fraternity was? Did you have a housemother?
SI: Did you have formal dinners?
JK: Oh, yes. I had to wear a coat and tie--you may have jeans on, but a coat and tie if you're going to eat dinner. They had a cook. So, it was very, very traditional in terms of the coat and tie and housemother and cook, pretty strict rules for behavior, that you just didn't do stupid stuff as part of the fraternity. Guys would still drink too much, but, usually, we'd take care of that, take care of them. They didn't get into any of the really stupid kind of things that have happened in some other places.
SI: Looking at the Scarlet Letters from this period, it also is striking how there were all these big parties at the fraternities, particularly on big game weekends. [Editor's Note: The Scarlet Letter, the Rutgers College yearbook, was published from 1871 to 2005.]
SI: Some pretty big bands would play at fraternities or the Ledge. Does anything stand out about that?
JK: No, we couldn't afford big bands and that stuff, yes. Ours was the music off the stereo. [laughter] We did have the formal ceremony, the pinning ceremonies. We had a balcony on one of the houses. The couple would be up there and all the brotherhood shaped in a heart with candles, singing My Sigma Phi Epsilon Sweetheart, and then, pin our girl friend, so, all those formal ceremonies, but we never had money for a band or any of that kind of stuff. It's pretty much a working-class bunch.
SI: In terms of socializing, did you go over to Douglass much?
JK: Yes, some of the guys, they had girlfriends at Douglass, yes. There's a good mixture with the Douglass ladies, and they'd come to the parties, too.
SI: Was there much interaction with locals, townies?
JK: Not a whole lot. I shot pool downtown and knew a few, but they wound up with lots of fights in the pool halls down there and that just wasn't safe.
JK: If there's any drinking going on, just might as well stay away from it; so, not a whole lot of interaction then.
SI: You were also working with the trucking company.
SI: How much time would you spend working in an average week?
JK: Probably three nights a week.
JK: Yes. Then, when I couldn't, one of the fraternity brothers'd cover for me, if there's a test coming up. So, we were able to rotate all that, but it was union wages, which really, really helped paying for college. So, I had scholarships that helped the first couple of years, but, then, that was only the first couple of years.
SI: In ROTC, did you get a stipend in your junior and senior year?
JK: Peanuts, yes, twenty bucks a month or something like that, or twenty-five bucks a month. The military didn't have that kind of money, either, even during the Vietnam era. It wasn't much money. Union wages were sweet, so, it was good. [laughter]
SI: As Vietnam was becoming more and more of an issue, as you said, most young men, particularly in the ROTC, were thinking that they would probably have to go there.
SI: Were you aware of any antiwar activity?
JK: Oh, yes, yes. You've probably heard of Gene Genovese.
[Editor's Note: On April 23, 1965, at a teach-in at Rutgers University's Scott Hall, Professor of History Eugene D. Genovese declared, "...I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." A firestorm of controversy ensued and became a focal point in the 1965 New Jersey gubernatorial race, but President Mason W. Gross, with the support of the faculty, resisted public pressure to dismiss Genovese on the principle of academic freedom.]
JK: Yes. He was my professor and a friend, but we totally disagreed with each other. Then, we had several teach-ins and they were really disappointing, because they were dishonest. They were extremely political, but even the history professors were getting up there, saying stuff that made no sense at all in terms of real history. It was all commitment, antiwar commitment, to stop-the-war stuff.
The factual stuff they're laying out just was erroneous, even as a senior here who had studied pretty well. I mean, the example was, when they're talking about democracy not working as effectively in that part of the world, I can recall two professors getting up in just rage and saying, "The finest democracy that ever existed was in that part of the world, in Greece. That's where democracy was founded."
I said, "Now, wait a minute, that's a slave society. What? Your VIPs did well in democracy, but it was based on a slave society, with women also suppressed. How can you, as a college professor in history, get up there and purvey information of that nature?" That was really disappointing to me. My big complaint about Vietnam was the way it was fought. It was the tactics. I mean, the tactics, we never lost anything, but the strategy was wrong. So, that was the issue for me with Vietnam.
SI: Were you at the sit-in where Genovese said, "I welcome a Viet Cong victory?"
JK: No, I had graduated by then, yes.
JK: Yes, I graduated by then. He was my history professor for Civil War, I think it was. We had lots of sidebar discussions. He just was, essentially, a really radical leftist and Communist in his orientation, strong supporter of the Soviet Union. We could never agree, but the guy was a good guy, nice guy, just we were in different spaces and times with our worldview.
SI: Your major, though, was sociology.
JK: Yes, yes.
SI: Do any professors stand out in that discipline or, generally, what did you think of the course?
JK: Sociology was not yet as political as it seems to have gotten now. Again, I was focused in the criminology arena. Now, I'm drawing a blank on his name, but there was a criminologist here who was brilliant. He had his own book out. He was probably the guy I spent the most time with, and I'm just drawing a blank on his name now. Boy, I can picture him, too, and I'm drawing a blank on his name. [Ed. Note: Jackson Toby.]
Of the professors in that area, he was probably the one that I spent the most time with and appreciated his thought, but he was focused on criminology. He was of the "broken windows" school of, "Oh, you build a criminal justice system that's fair and limits police violence, but it has to pay attention to minor crimes or it escalates out of control and gets worse." There's only one other criminologist, at that time, who was saying the same thing and he was more widely published, out of New York. I'm drawing blanks on the names. That's a long time ago, yes.
SI: Yes, I think I have heard of him before. We will be able to put it in the transcript. [Ed. Note: James Q. Wilson]
JK: Yes, okay.
SI: Outside of sociology, are there other professors that stand out, besides Genovese?
JK: Yes, but, [to] call the names, I'd have to go look at some old paperwork.
JK: I had one history professor who taught primarily ancient history, who was also, basically, a skilled actor. He was very, very popular. He could really ...
JK: No, I don't think that's it.
SI: Peter Charanis?--no, okay. (It was Charanis)
JK: No, I don't think that's it. I'd have to go back and look to see, but, yes, there's some brilliant historians. Again, history and philosophy are my things still.
SI: Did you ever take Mason Gross' course?
JK: No, no, did not.
SI: In your work with the fraternity, or maybe with the Council, were you involved with any administrators or deans? Do any of them stand out in your memory?
JK: Yes, there's one dean who I was very friendly with. In fact, he was the advisor, not in Frelinghuysen, but whatever the next one is down [Hardenbergh Hall]. I was trying to recall his name and I'm having a terrible time doing it. So, again, I'd have to go look at an old faculty roster to do it, but, yes, really, really sharp, spent a lot of time in discussions with him. Somebody asked me his name the other day and it won't come. So, I have to get an old roster. [laughter]
SI: Why don't we pause for a minute?
SI: We were talking about your time at Rutgers. I wanted to ask more about the Air Force ROTC years. You mentioned the summer camp and the interview that went wrong.
SI: Where was the summer camp?
JK: I was down in Virginia.
JK: [laughter] That's another funny story. What they considered the remote wilderness--survival training was in Dismal Swamp, Virginia--they just put me in my environment. It was great. Instead of all the hassle you're taking at summer camp on the site in Virginia, got to spend three days out in the wilderness. They supplied a bunch of meat you had to cut up and, also, fishing was available. I knew how to smoke stuff, so, I set up smokers. We had a great three-day camping trip out there. [Editor's Note: The Great Dismal Swamp, now a National Wildlife Refuge, is located across southwestern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.]
Then, the drill was being able to do orienteering at night, which is supposed to be high-risk and really challenging. I grew up doing that my whole life, so, it was a piece of cake, three days' break in Dismal Swamp, Virginia. It was great. [laughter] It was an Army base, and I forget which one. It was a small installation. That's where we were operating, but the Dismal Swamp was our wilderness survival, which was a really nice camping trip. [laughter]
SI: Were there any other summer camps, or was that it?
JK: That was it, yes.
SI: That was in-between your junior and senior year.
SI: In terms of the everyday training, was it always with the Air Commandos or did you have to do other things?
JK: You had to do some other [things]. Periodically, you had to do the drill and stuff. I've always had a command voice, so, I'd get sucked into some of the formal retreat kind of things, periodically, but I'd say eighty-five percent of my time was all Air Commando stuff.
SI: At that time, how large was the detachment?
JK: From memory, I would guess that we had probably a hundred to a hundred-and-fifty folks, again, the same kind of thing I was, guys who knew they were going to probably do some service and they'd just rather do that as an officer than in a foxhole somewhere.
SI: Was it required at the beginning, when you first came in?
JK: No, no.
SI: It was volunteer then.
SI: Does any member of the cadre stand out in your memory?
JK: I'd have to go back and look at sources. Yes, there's some I recall, but that's a long time ago. I can't recall exactly what their names are, same way the dean you asked me about, I knew him so well and I'm just drawing a blank. [If] I go open a yearbook, I can tell you pretty quickly.
SI: It wasn't Crosby, was it?
JK: Yes, it was Crosby. [Editor's Note: Howard J. Crosby, RC '41, spent his entire career as a Rutgers administrator, including nineteen years as Dean of Men and Dean of Students.]
JK: Dean Crosby, okay, yes.
SI: He comes up quite a bit.
JK: Yes, okay. Yes, he was a good guy. The one funny one that my kids kid me about is, I'm probably the only Rutgers graduate who ever got his picture in the yearbook gutting a chicken. [laughter] When we were fighting the Rangers out there, the Army guy, the lieutenant colonel that was running the Army ROTC and the Rangers, showed up with a crate full of chickens and said, "There's your dinner."
First thing, nobody knew what to do with that. I grew up hunting ducks and geese and stuff. So, I wound up the head of the production line, killing and gutting chickens, cammy [camouflage] on my face and the chickens. Somebody took a picture. It's in the yearbook. [laughter]
JK: "Hmm, is that how I wanted to be remembered at Rutgers, gutting chickens in the woods?" [laughter]
SI: Was there a point where you had to make a decision between being a ground officer or a flight officer?
JK: No, not really. I flunked my last eye test at summer camp and was disqualified for pilot training at that time. Astigmatism. So flight officer became out of the question.
JK: I didn't get my final assignment--I got the educational delay to finish the master's at Colgate.
JK: There was an indication of desires, but I didn't even get a final designation of what my assignment would be until I was in graduate school at Colgate.
SI: You mentioned the Ph.D. student who was observing your fraternity. Was he also a brother in the fraternity?
JK: He was out of Columbia. He was working on a Ph.D. at Columbia.
SI: You mentioned he played a role in your winding up at Colgate.
JK: He wound up being a dean at Colgate. So, he really wanted me to go up there and be part of the graduate program, and paid for it all. So, I said, "Oh, yes, take an educational delay and get my master's--it's great."
SI: It was a yearlong program.
JK: About a year and three-quarters.
JK: By the time I finished my thesis.
SI: Tell me a little bit about that experience.
JK: It was a good experience. As I said, I was the hotel manager, a motel manager, the resident advisor for the students that lived there during the time period, assistant dean of freshmen. My wife worked in one of the administrative offices to pick up some extra money, and then, the really good, challenging academic course, but a lot of the focus is aimed toward being an administrator at college. My plans at the time, I was moving toward getting a doctorate, and then, being a college professor. I had no interest in staying the whole time in the military. So, it was a free master's in that arena. That was right down my alley for the kind of stuff I was looking to do.
So, it was a good program. I was fortunate. I got out cum laude, so, that stood me in good stead for when I started--I attempted to be in a Ph.D. program at Catholic University, years later, but I wound up getting reassigned before I could finish that one. So, that was cut short, got a second master's out of that, but, yes, it was a good program--basically, leadership, personnel administration, and the good, broad academic base.
Again, I'm a philosophy nut, so, I had really good friends, professors, who were there, M. Holmes Hartshone, who was really well-known as a philosopher, and then, Herman Brautigam was a good friend. They were, both, the two that I really spent a lot of time with. In fact, I taught Herman Brautigam how to surf fish when he came to Cape May. [laughter]
[Editor's Note: Dr. Marion Holmes Hartshone (1910-1988), Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion, served on the Colgate University faculty from 1946 to 1975. Dr. Herman A. Brautigam (1901-1985), the first Harry Emerson Fosdick Chair of Philosophy and Religion, served on the Colgate faculty from 1934 to 1969.]
SI: What was your thesis work on?
JK: Student peer group influence on academic achievement, so, did, basically, a controlled study with the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, administered with a focus on the peer influence element and comparing that to academic achievement, and seeing just how peers did affect the academic achievement at several different levels in college--freshman, sophomore and junior year. So, it was a fun study.
SI: This motel situation, it was due to an influx of students.
JK: Yes, at Colgate, yes.
SI: Were they just random students, or were they coming in through a special program?
JK: No. They couldn't be freshmen. They had to be sophomores through seniors, and most of them were juniors and seniors, and then, they had two to a room. They had not finished dormitory space enough for the influx of students that were taken in. Unlike Rutgers at the time, they didn't flunk a big chunk of them out.
Once you paid all the money it took to go to Colgate, then, unless you really screwed up, you got to stay. So, they couldn't do the old trick, like when I was a freshman at Frelinghuysen, they had bunks all in the main lounges. I said, "Boy, this is not very smart." They said, "Well, don't worry--they'll be gone by the second semester." [laughter] So, it was true. Rutgers had a high acceptance rate, but, also, a high flunk-out rate when I started.
SI: Were you resident advisor to the people in the motel or from somewhere else?
JK: Yes, yes, primarily focused on them. Then, the assistant dean of freshmen was just whatever the Dean needed help with that affected the freshman class. So, it wasn't any kind of a magic role. We're just kind of a worker bee for the freshman class.
SI: Do you remember, aside from academic scheduling and stuff, any particular issues that came up during that period among the students you counseled?
JK: No, you had the usual mix, from very academically focused, disciplined people to the slobs that would break the rules and cook in their room. You'd find a half of a ham under some dirty clothes in the corner, that kind of stuff, just the whole range of what you get if you looked at a dorm. I think we had thirty rooms, and so, that was sixty students. So, if you do a bell curve, we had the whole thing, but, no, there were no significant issues.
The only two that were a real challenge there was, there's a lot of drinking that went on there, too. On two occasions, one really seriously, somebody got drunk and passed out. It happened to be in a snowstorm, and one kid got in serious trouble with hypothermia, found him and dragged him out. He wasn't one of my students, but that was on the main campus, and had to get him to the hospital quick. It's just really stupid stuff, passing out drunk in a cold climate that gets two or three feet of snow in a storm, but it happened.
SI: At this time, was Colgate trying to bring in more African-American students?
JK: There was no special initiative.
JK: No, no. That hadn't developed yet. That was primarily rich, young, white guys. So, they weren't co-ed yet, either.
SI: Yes. Did you notice if drug use was becoming more of an issue?
JK: No. Probably, some of the guys were smoking pot somewhere, but it wasn't enough to even surface as a major issue.
SI: At the end of that period, you had to begin your military commitment. How did that come about? How did you get your orders? Did you have much say in what you might do?
JK: Not really. They wanted me to get into Security Forces, which was okay with me. So, they talked as though there were options, but there weren't options. It was, "So, here's what we really need you to do." So, it was pretty well set. I would have to pitch a fit to do something differently. So, they were steering me toward Security Forces and wound up in Texas, at Carswell Air Force Base, for a while, until I got shanghaied into personnel business, which I really didn't like.
SI: Can you describe that first assignment, what it was like?
JK: [laughter] Yes, it's a real bad war story with that one. My commander was an alcoholic. There's certain hours of the day, late in the evening, that you didn't call him, you called the operations officer. He was a captain then. Well, that captain was on leave and I'd been on active duty for probably four or five weeks. I haven't even read all the regulations yet. Then, Love Field was existing, Dallas-[Fort Worth International Airport] wasn't, was a civilian airport, and they had limited capabilities over there.
They diverted an airliner that couldn't get a gear-down light on their aircraft to land at Carswell, because we had the capability to foam the runway. So, I've got a nuclear storage area with nuclear weapons, I've got loaded B-52s on alert, two different squadrons, I've got a KC-135 tanker section--and I've got an airplane that may be crashing on my base and the runway being foamed. My ops officer's on vacation, on leave, and my commander's drunk. I'm in charge. [laughter] [Editor's Note: The Boeing KC-135 Stratocaster is an aerial refueling aircraft.]
So, I grabbed a chief master sergeant and said, "I'm your talking dog. What do we do?" [laughter] So, he'd tell me what we needed to do next, and then, I'd issue the orders. It turned out that it was a bad instrument panel light. They did get their gear down. They landed okay. We took them to the officers' club and entertained them for a while, until they got picked up by buses. That was my shocking introduction to the military.
JK: I'm about to have a plane crash in the middle of all kinds of nuclear areas and I hadn't even read the regs, yet.
SI: Yes. [laughter]
JK: So, that was an experience. It smoothed out after that.
SI: That brings up something I wanted to ask about. A lot of officers talk about how, when they get into their first post, it is really the top enlisted men that teach them the most.
JK: Oh, yes, yes, if you're smart it is, yes.
SI: Are there any other experiences along those lines that stand out, things you learned from the enlisted men?
JK: Yes. Some of the things were negative. A couple of the guys were basically trying to get me into the "buddy-buddy" role. They went to the MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] and tried to line up a set of golf clubs to give me out of the MWR, and then, a couple other "bennies," so that if I was dumb enough to say, "Oh, that's nice. That's how you do it here, huh?" I'd have two or three things that I had done that were really shaky. No, I'd been around police work long enough to know that was not going to happen. So, a really good senior NCO can help you, but they can also hook you and lead you down the wrong path.
SI: What would be a typical day in this type of role?
JK: Oh, it's long days. As I said, we had nuclear aircraft, B-52s, nuclear aircraft on alert. So, they're all fully loaded up with nuclear weapons. You have patrols around the flight lines and you have one point guard on every aircraft. They're out there whether it's snowing or blowing or whatever it is.
So, if you're going to lead them, you've got to be out there when they're there. So, you'd be out there at two o'clock in the morning, making sure they're getting coffee and getting relieved off the post if they need it, if they're getting really cold, replace them. You've got to be deeply involved with the troops.
Also, all the places I was, I did the athletic stuff, because, especially with the cops, that's a really good entrée, when you turn out that you're a decent athlete who can compete in the sports and do well; so, did that, but a lot of interaction. No, it's not an eight-to-five job. If you're going to lead them, you've got to be out leading from the front--so, a lot of time on the flight line, a lot of time dealing with the issues and constant exercises being run. So, you need to be able to deal with exercise penetrations into your nuclear areas.
Then, at that time, the Strategic Air Command still had the "General LeMay mentality." So, with no notice, you'd get an airplane land and forty guys'd get out and put you through your paces, no notice. Then, frequently, if you screwed something up, you're done. You're fired. You'd wind up parked until you finish your time, and then, you're out of there. So, it was a real cutthroat kind of [ethos], no excuses with nuclear stuff there, nope--mistakes are not authorized. So, you never knew when somebody's going to drop out of the sky and hit you with a tactical operational readiness inspection.
[Editor's Note: General Curtis LeMay commanded the Strategic Air Force, the command responsible for all land-based nuclear strike capabilities during the Cold War, from 1948 to 1957. He served as Chief of Staff of the US Air Force from 1961 to 1965.]
SI: Would they try to put people in covertly to penetrate the nuclear area?
JK: Yes, yes. They'd get somebody, put them in a uniform--but with something subtle, like no rank on the uniform, but, otherwise, dressed appropriately--and try to bluff their way in or find some way to get somebody to give them access. They'd go out to a guard on post and say, "Hey, I just got a call from headquarters. There's a mechanical problem with this. I've got to go check it," and see if the guard really controlled them or not or let them go, gave them access to the airplane that was loaded with nuclear weapons. Then, you've got a problem.
So, you've got to run all the drills to make sure the troops are really watching out. If it's snowing and blowing and you've got a foot-and-a-half of snow and thirty-mile-an-hour winds in a blizzard, it's pretty challenging. For me, if I'm not out there with them, then, you've got no credibility--but, then, I got stuck in an office job. [laughter]
SI: In addition to the security work on the planes and the nuclear ordnance, would you also do typical Air Police type things?
JK: Yes, yes. At that time, I became the squadron section commander pretty quickly, so, I had the administrative function, plus, involvement and operations for both law enforcement and security. Security were the guys on the flight line that were basically combat troops. We weren't quite Air Base Ground Defense yet, but they were the "M-16 backed-up by machine-gun/armored vehicle" crowd, and then, the law enforcement guys were the fancy-dress police officers. So, they had both, yes.
SI: Are you aware if the FBI ever tried to do anything on the base?
JK: No, not with us, no. They worked cooperatively with them most of the time, but we never had any major criminal issues that involved them.
SI: Okay. Would they try to send people in to get into the nuclear area?
JK: No, no, never did during my time there, no. In fact, they never did anywhere that I was working on the stuff.
SI: One thing I forgot to ask about, you got married before you left Rutgers.
JK: Right after Rutgers, yes. See, I graduated one day, got married a few days later, and then, went off to graduate school.
SI: How did you meet?
JK: On the beach. I was the beach boy and she was the summer visitor.
JK: I rented cabanas and chairs and surf riders and all the stuff on the beach that you rent. She had a tent, a little cabana, about four spaces away, at age sixteen.
SI: Would you usually live off base or on base?
JK: Varied, lived off base at the first duty station, then, unexpectedly got curtailed out of there and sent to Guam. Then, we lived on base in Guam, then, got pulled out of there early--well, not early, but sooner than I wanted--and went to Omaha, Nebraska, and lived on base. Then, Pentagon was off base again. So, it just varied depending on the assignment.
SI: She was able to come with you to Guam.
JK: Yes. The only place she couldn't go--well, she could've gone with me to Turkey, but it was too high-risk. She found out that the kids would have to go to school with grenade screens on the bus and an armed Turk with a machine-gun in the front. She decided she'd sit that one out, which was good, because I got crossways with Gaddafi on that one and made his hit list. That was another whole story of wrapping up the terrorists in Turkey.
[Editor's Note: Muammar Gaddafi (1942-2011) led a coup d'état against King Idris I in 1969 and ruled Libya until 2011. During the Libyan Civil War, rebels captured and executed him.]
JK: Well, I guess that's future discussions. [laughter] She didn't go on that one with me, but the rest of them, we were all together.
SI: You were at Carswell in Securiity Police for a little less than a year. You also finished this program at USC. Was it a correspondence course?
JK: No, no. [laughter] It was a total immersion course. The '60s were starting and part of the fashionable thing at the time was to immerse police officers in all the social problems that were going on and create operational empathy. So, a lot of it was training in criminal justice and policing "the other." I had to spend three days on Skid Row in Los Angeles with ten bucks in my pocket to get by and eat at the mission churches and sleep on the street. It's not quite as bad as it is now.
I had to meet with the US Movement, which was, then, Ron Karenga was trying to get Washington State and Oregon dedicated to blacks only. All the blacks in America would move there and live there and the whites would live in the rest of America. We had to meet with him and just have discussions with him and his group; had to patrol, with the local police, in Watts about a couple years after the Watts Riots.
So, it was total immersion into contemporary racial/ethnic poverty. The drug stuff was just getting started, but it was an interesting course. Then, I came back from there and they pulled me out of the business and put me in an office. [laughter]
[Editor's Note: On August 11, 1965, racial tension in Los Angeles' South Central neighborhood of Watts erupted in riots after a police officer arrested and beat two black brothers. The violence ensued for six days and resulted in the deaths of thirty-four people. Dr. Maulana Karenga, formerly Ron Karenga, a professor at California State University, Long Beach since 1989, helped found the US Organization in 1965.]
SI: Yes. I am curious--what was Karenga like?
JK: A very hostile black man that really hated whites and thought there's irreconcilable differences that could never be sorted out and the black man would never get a chance to live on his own with a decent standard of living unless they controlled their entire environment. So, he wanted the whole Northwest to do that; so, a brilliant guy, the debates, really interesting, yes, but rejected most of the core values, the American kind of values, and just wanted a segregated land, "To hell with this integration stuff. That's a loser. It's got to be segregated and blacks have to control their own part of the nation," so, interesting, when you link up with a really, really bright, committed guy that has something so diametrically different from your worldview, interesting, yes.
Then, patrolling Watts, whew--I had one situation where a black guy's kids were starting to steal. So, he took his belt and whipped them for it. His wife considered that abuse and called the police. I had to go over and try to adjudicate that and couldn't get it adjudicated and had to lock this poor guy up for trying to keep his kids from being thieves. He's working two jobs to be able to keep the family together, I mean, just horrible.
Now, how do you get out of that kind of a situation? That was before all the single mother births really took off in the black communities. This guy's busting his butt to try to hold his family together, working two jobs and trying to discipline them to keep them from stealing and winds up--police have no choice but to take him in if the wife says he's a child abuser; so, tough, yes.
SI: You then went into the personnel office at Carswell.
SI: That was when you were involved with the integration effort.
JK: Oh, yes. That was, basically, desegregating housing for military in Fort Worth, yes.
SI: Were there any other military bases in the area? Did you work with them on this effort?
JK: No, it was all local.
JK: Yes, you had to have a really courageous base commander who's going to do that in the community. A guy named Lloyd Preston was the [commander]; he had the courage to do it. So, he was good stuff, but I had a good time there. It was a good time. I wound up the president of the Junior Officer Council and I was in the Big Brothers program, had a little brother named Scotty Shannon, who was a fatherless boy. [Editor's Note: Colonel Lloyd W. Preston (1918-2011) served in the US Air Force from 1941 to 1968.]
For that one, we had all kinds of rich oil guys who were supporting the Big Brothers program. We set up a huge golf tournament at the Colonial Golf Course and had some of the greats play in a tournament, some of their last tournaments, Ben Hogan and Don January and some of those folks. My father was a golfer. He came out and had a great time with that. We raised a lot of money for Big Brothers.
I was on the board of governors of the officers' club. I also ran the base stables as an additional duty, because I loved horses. I had a little horse business on the side there, and so, ran the base stables and went through about four or five horses there, and got a few broken bones training green broke horses to saddle, but I had a great time with that. So, that was really good, but, then, I was still planning on getting out of the military.
Then, I wound up getting assigned to Guam. If I wanted the wife to go with me, I had to extend. So, I extended my four-year tour to go to Guam with the wife. Guam is where it really got a lot of fun, scuba diving and linked in with the Village of Inarajan and delivering a baby in the backseat of a car and spending weekends on the fiestas and the funerals and weddings down there and really got into the culture; so, great time.
SI: Before we talk about Guam, are there any other memories about Texas that stand out?
JK: No. Fort Worth was still a cow town then. It hadn't developed. Dallas was the big place and Fort Worth was still pretty much a cow town. It had a downtown, but you could smell the cattle yards every night and it was a cattle center. I enjoyed the place. The wife didn't, but I really enjoyed Texas, good collection of people at Carswell, too. I had a really good bunch of close friends that are still close friends.
SI: Going to Guam, what was it like just getting there? How does the Air Force move you and your family?
JK: [laughter] We couldn't go together, because I couldn't get on-base housing initially. So, I had to find a place in Dededo, which is a town, a little, tiny village, outside of Andersen Air Force Base. I had to go out ahead of time and she had to stay at my home in Cape May until we got things lined up. Then, it was commercial; that flight was commercial. That was no big issue.
Then, she had to join me and bring the brand-new baby all the way to Travis Air Force Base [in California] and, from Travis, to Hawaii to Guam, and a lot of challenges with a mom and a baby traveling, but the Air Force would always assign an escort. Some troop would get assigned to be her escort, help carry bags and do all that stuff. She got out there. Then, we got living in Dededo, Guam.
The only downside for her was that our neighbors had lots of chickens and pigs. So, when there's going to be a pig roast, they're just killing them in our backyard and cutting the heads off the chickens. They believed in getting the pigs bled before they died, to get that blood out of there, so that it didn't spoil quickly in that hot climate. So, no, they'd hang these little piglets up and cut their throat, let them bleed--and they're screaming and hollering--before they gut them. She's in the house with fingers in the ears. [laughter]
JK: But, then, eventually, we got on to Guam, the main base, and then, had nice housing there. Except for the typhoons that hit us once in a while, it was good stuff. My son was born there. So, he was born in Guam.
I loved to dive and got to dive all over the Western Pacific. I was the president of the South Sea Searchers Dive Club. So, I even got to host the VIPs that showed up and take them diving, including Philippe Cousteau, Jacques Cousteau's son, when they were heading to Truk to do that mixed air dive down to find the whole Japanese fleet that was sunk in Truk. He wanted to dive in Guam before he went. So, it was really good times. [Editor's Note: The documentary Lagoon of Lost Ships, shot over two months in 1969, aired in the US in May 1971 as part of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.]
JK: I tried to keep extending there. I stayed four years, but I finally got curtailed to Omaha, Nebraska. The programs I was running for dealing with the racial issues, then, the drugs, worked so well that they pulled me up to the headquarters. That happened to be Omaha, Nebraska, in the winter. [laughter] My kids had a hard adjustment to that. [Editor's Note: Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska, served as Headquarters, Strategic Air Command from 1948 to 1992.]
They'd never been below seventy-some degrees. They got there and, about six weeks later, it's ten below zero with a thirty degree below chill and snow. They'd forget to put shoes on and run out three steps out the front door and scream. [laughter] So, that was an interesting transition.
SI: You told me off the recording the story about helping with a birth and how that led to what sounds like a very rich relationship with this family.
JK: Yes, it was, yes. I was coming back from a dive and we were driving up the back road out of Guam [the base]. There's a woman in the streets calling for help and the husband's sitting in the backseat holding his wife's head. Then, it was her--I'll get the number wrong, but fifth kid, probably--so, it wasn't any kind of a protracted kind of a thing. She's about to have the baby right there. So, they're screaming for help.
I just was in the operating room when my son was delivered, just about a month or two earlier, a short time earlier. I said, "Well, hey, here it goes." [laughter] So, little Rose Marie Flores was born and the mother and father decided they wanted me to be the godfather. So, we got hooked into the Village of Inarajan, the very southern end of the island, and really linked in with a crowd down there of good friends. They're always having fiestas or weddings or funerals and big celebrations. So, we're down there all the time. That was a really good time.
SI: Does anything stand out about the Guamanian traditions or these festivals that were held?
JK: No, they're basically Spanish festivals.
JK: If you've seen a Spanish festival, that's how the Guamanians do theirs. The challenge there was, they were very anti-Japanese, because they got so butchered by the Japanese during World War II. Then, all of a sudden, the Japanese tourists started showing up. On one of the beautiful bays, Tumon Bay, they built a fancy hotel there and it became a mecca for Japanese tourists.
It was a real transition. Until that money started really flowing in, they were really reluctant to have the Japanese there, but they transitioned through it, because they brought such an economic boost to the place. Now, from friends there, they tell me the Chinese are replacing the Japanese for the most part.
The other thing that happened then was, they found Yokoi, who was the World War II guy who hid out and lived in a cave that he built and had baffles, so that he could cook his food and the smoke wouldn't come out.
[Editor's Note: Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese soldier stationed on Guam in 1944, hid with other soldiers in the wilderness after American forces invaded. His companions eventually died, but Yokoi held out until 1972, when he was found by Guamanian hunters and returned to Japan.]
JK: They discovered him. He was still fighting World War II while I was there. At first, there was a big hero celebration thing. Then, they found out he probably killed two or three Guamanians that discovered him and he had to beat it off the island. So, I lived through all that component of it.
JK: So, he was still a hero in Japan, but, once they figured out he'd been killing Guamanians that would come upon him, that took care of his popularity in Guam.
SI: Before you got heavily into the social action work, what were your duties there and what was a typical day like there?
JK: They were all personnel administration. They were going from manual records to automated records, but it was punch cards. So, they had to transition records and deal with assignments and deal with quality assurance things.
They were running so short of draftees for Vietnam that they instituted this thing called Project 100,000. They got 100,000 folks, enlisted them, that could barely read and had high discipline records. So, you had a constant problem trying to manage the Project 100,000 folks you got. So, all administrative stuff, that it is just not my desire to do a whole lot of.
[Editor's Note: Project 100,000 began recruiting men in October 1966 and continued through December 1971. These soldiers, who generally tested low on IQ tests, became known as "McNamara's Misfits" (among other pejoratives) due to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's belief that their mental capabilities could be improved through technological means, such as videotaped courses.]
At that time, the issues that really accelerated out of Vietnam, they had a couple of dining halls that were taken over by blacks and had to negotiate getting the dining halls back. Black groups were forming, and resistance with white groups and violence was picking up. Guam, we had a smaller population, but we had Guamanian, Filipino, black, Hispanic and white, all mixed in various elements--a lot of room for conflict. We just needed to get ahead of that.
So, when the problems started generating, the Wing Commander called me in, asked me to run the program, didn't know what to do, but said, "Go figure it out." So, we built a pretty decent program. As I said, the workshop I created was controversial. Half the people who had a racial incident were involved, the other half, just handpicked people at random to get in there and squabble for thirty hours in three days and, hopefully, come out of there with a constructive path forward. That made good progress.
Then, when BULLET SHOT happened, which was when Nixon decided to try to bomb Hanoi back into the peace conference discussions and really launched major attacks on Hanoi, we went from about thirty-five hundred to twelve thousand folks overnight, living in tent cities in the rainy season in the tropics. So, that's when I formed up black-white teams, from a lot of these folks that we'd had in the workshops, and put them out twenty-four/seven. They were really the mediators that kept it from getting to the law enforcement level.
[Editor's Note: Andersen Air Force Base served as the primary headquarters for the ARC LIGHT campaign, which directed hundreds of thousands of Strategic Air Command B-52 sorties to targets in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia from 1965 to 1973. Operation BULLET SHOT, as part of ARC LIGHT, reassigned over half of SAC's bomber force and support troops, most on temporary duty, to Andersen over the course of 1972 and 1973.]
Our actual rate of racial incidents went down, not up, but the workshop was controversial enough that they sent somebody out to shut me down. The three-star general threw him off the island, said, "Get on your plane, get your ass out of here." So, then, as the data started to come in, it was very successful. So, I wound up getting curtailed out of Guam before I wanted to leave and had to go to SAC Headquarters and run the program up there. They pulled me into the drug program.
SI: How did you come up with the thirty-hour program?
JK: Just figured three days was good. The first one we did was eight hours, but we still didn't get everything done, so, just extended to ten hours. The poor folks that got in there that didn't have a racial issue were really uncomfortable with it, because it's really intense, some real anger and frustration. When the big group would get too intense, then, it rolled into small groups. Then, the small groups would get settled down. It settles down too much, go back to the big group again, and then, phew, pretty soon, it's hot again.
JK: First of all, you've got selected people who've been allowed to come into the Air Force, but selected to be in the Air Force. So, most of them want some kind of a successful career. Even though that racial animosity is there, you've still got a collection of people who have potential to not just disconnect from what you're trying to do. If you get them together long enough, it'd just wear them down to a point, "Oh, okay, what do we do about this?" Once you reached that point, then, you've turned the corner. That was about thirty hours over three days that seemed to do that.
SI: Was it mostly sharing experiences during the three days, or would you give them hypotheticals or problems to work through?
JK: Well, yes, all that, but, basically, you'd start off with slavery and the history of race relations in America, little mini-lectures, and then, the video stuff and the audio stuff. There were records coming out then. Guess Who's Coming Home was put together by a radical bunch of blacks who were in Vietnam, who had all the combat skills, that basically were saying, "America never can be just. We're going to come back and use our combat skills to tear you folks apart," and you'd play that. You'd play a white supremacist position on why blacks are inferior and can never live with white people, because they're not meant [to]--enough of that stuff and it's no trouble getting the discussions flowing directly.
[Editor's Note: Wallace Terry, a Time Magazine correspondent, created and edited Guess Who's Coming Home: Black Fighting Men Recorded Live in Vietnam (1972), a compilation of interviews with African American soldiers in South Vietnam from 1967 to 1969.]
JK: Then, you come up with constructive kind of [ideas], "What about this? What if this? What if that? How about if this?" After thirty hours, most of the time, most of the people were ready to do something about it, because they were invested, many of them, in an Air Force career, or at least finishing four years successfully.
SI: Was it a mix of officers and enlisted men?
SI: When you say half had racial incidents, what would that entail?
JK: Fight at the NCO Club, racial slurs, yes. Most of them probably got there from racial slurs. You'd get a new bunch of folks that'd come in to the base. You got a line at the movie theater and, now, four or five blacks'd decide they want to get up front and get in, just elbow people out of the way. Then, a squabble gets started. So, they're enrolled. They're in my workshop. The other part was just a random draw of officers and enlisted.
SI: The people that you then made the teams out of--I do not know if you kept this kind of record--but would they be mostly people who had had incidents?
JK: It was a mixed bag, yes, mixed bag. It's people who really got interested in doing something about it. Some had had incidents and some hadn't. Some of them reported me to the Commander for being way too extreme, but he really supported it, because all of his numbers were going this way [down].
SI: When you say that they would go out among this tent city that popped up, would they just hear something was going on, go over and try to calm everybody?
JK: No, they were scheduled. They'd go out and drink coffee with folks, sit around and BS, just be present.
JK: Then, we had the Filipino dorm, was three or four miles off base, but the space needs got so bad that they wound up having to put people out there, too. So, you had established Filipinos, whose whole livelihood and career, sending money back to the Philippines, were there. Then, you get a mixture of blacks and whites, who can't get along, who are also living there, who've just come in for temporary duty. They're all mixed together in the same dining hall and social areas. So, that was another area that you had to send a team out to, to hang out and just visit and get to know people, and then, nip stuff in the bud, so that you don't have to call the Security Police in to deal with it.
SI: Yes. Let us take a quick break.
SI: All right, we are back on.
SI: This program, you said, was controversial. They sent somebody out. Was that just due to people who would register some kind of complaint?
JK: Probably. They got the word somehow that there's this "wild hair" thing that was trying to create catharsis going on and it sounded way too radical. As I said, General Johnson was a three-star who understood what we were doing and supported it. The colonel who came out to shut it down met the three-star and was on the next airplane out. [laughter] [Editor's Note: Major General Earl L. Johnson served as Vice Commander, Third Air Division, headquartered at Andersen, from 1968 to 1970.]
SI: How did your work with confronting drug abuse happen?
JK: The drug problem was really escalating in Vietnam and some of that started to spread. It wasn't that bad yet, but we had a fledgling drug abuse testing program then. Initially, it was all being run by the medics and as-needed that you'd get a drug test. My push was for random testing, so that you never knew when your number's going to come up and you've got to go pee in the bottle. Then, there were all kinds of evasions. Guys would get clean urine and pay for it and put a little thing in their front, and then, squeeze the tube instead of peeing. So, we really put the heat on that. In Guam, on a trapped island with only two ways to get there--three if you count ships, which rarely ever came in--it wasn't that hard to manage, but the basic core principles of deterrence.
Then, we were running some treatment programs. This was early on, before I got to SAC Headquarters or the Pentagon. We had pretty good success for the guys who were just smoking dope, that, "Hey, your career's on the line. You get one swing at the ball. Then, you get one chance at a ninety-day rehab program they'll put you through. You stop it and you're fine, but, if not, you're fired."
We found absolutely no success with heroin. If they're doing heroin, it was a lost cause. Later, when I was running the programs for the whole Air Force, we had two really top-quality in-patient treatment centers. Over a year's period of time, we were getting, with heroin, maybe five percent success rate, just recidivism happening like mad. The other drugs all rated in-between there, depending on the degree of dependency, and the marijuana was very curable. So, I mean, it's just, "Hey, make a decision." There's very little addiction involved. It's just, "If you want a career, you need to stop that."
There were other indicators at the time, too. The maintenance was declining on vehicles and aircraft and the in-discipline rates were going up. So, it was clear that that was having some degree of impact. So, we had a pretty tough program on it, and it worked on that little island.
SI: I am surprised that they were looking at rehabilitation and treatment at this point, because I have heard, in other branches, it was more punitive.
JK: What happened, the reason I got to run the whole program, working for the Secretary of Defense, was the Air Force program worked and the other ones didn't.
JK: So, that's a longer story of how I got to SAC Headquarters, and then, the Air Staff, and then, working for the Secretary of Defense. You can't just try to hammer people. You can't just indiscriminately try to chop people's head off for doing the thing when the culture's changing that much. You've got to be smarter about it. You still have to be strict and demanding, but you've got to leave some options out for, especially, good people who are making mistakes.
So, that's how we built the program. The medics were running it, mainly, in the Air Force, as the way a doctor would run an office visit. That just didn't work. So, that's how I got into it, and then, eventually, that happened all the way up the line, for all the services. I was running it for all the services when I was working for the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense--and the numbers really showed it.
We did worldwide surveys and the Air Force--I'll get the numbers wrong, it's years ago--but the Air Force was down to eighteen, twenty percent use rate. The Army and Marine Corps, even, and the Navy, were up to fifty-some percent use of the enlisted force, the lowest five grades. So, it just doesn't work to just go out with a hammer.
JK: But, that's the long story. On Guam, it was not that hard to contain, because you had one port and two airports, and one of them's controlled by the military. So, it's a lot harder to get stuff in there.
SI: I wondered if the Security Forces were involved in, say, trying to interdict incoming drugs.
JK: Yes. The OSI, the Office of Special Investigations, did the undercover stuff and security did the military working dog, drug dog stuff and the searches and all that.
SI: It was basically a "one strike and you are out" type of system.
JK: No, two strikes and you're out.
JK: Yes, one strike, you get another chance at it, yes.
SI: Was it mostly career people that you had success with? For draftees, was it a different story?
JK: We didn't have any draftees in the Air Force, though.
SI: Okay, all right.
JK: Yes. That was a harder problem the Army had, but we didn't have that problem. It was all people who volunteered and wanted to be in the Air Force, but messed around with the drugs. Some of them got into bad situations. I had one guy, tried to kill himself in my living room. I never took the work home again.
Really sharp, young black man and a good performer, but he was pushing drugs on the side. He got crossways with the big dealers and they put a contract out on him. He came to us for help, and I'd been talking to him for a while. I never knew he was doing the dealing stuff; I just thought he was chipping stuff.
He knocked on the door and came in, and then, he was so distraught. His father worked in the Postal Service, a black man, and he worked his way up to senior supervisor and a post office director, sent this kid to college and had him on a really good track. Then, he got involved in this stuff, and then, he's got a contract out on him from drug dealers. He'd just hit the point where--that's when he tried to kill himself in my living room.
JK: So, I had to put him on his face and get the Security Police to take him away and get him off the island--but I learned never to take my work home again. [laughter]
SI: Yes, wow. In terms of having a family in this type of area, did you feel like the Air Force provided support for families?
JK: Oh, yes. My wife, I dragged her kicking and screaming away from the place. She loved it so, between the Village of Inarajan and Tarague Beach, beautiful beaches--and she liked to collect shells--and beautiful coral reefs. As I said, I was the president of the South Sea Searchers. I did all the reef pass briefings, that the military would not let the military personnel have access to the reefs until they'd been through all the hazardous marine life briefing.
So, I've got this great collection of all the photos you could get of everything that'll kill you in the ocean. So, I had to give all those presentations. My daughter was young, but she used to go to those with me. We had close friends in Inarajan and close military friends. It was just a great environment, and good base housing, except for a few typhoons, a couple times, created some sweat. She just loved the place--and then, Omaha, Nebraska in the winter, that was... [laughter]
SI: Were you put on any temporary duty in other places in the Pacific?
JK: No, not out of Guam, I wasn't, no. I had to come back to the States periodically, for conferences and training and stuff. So, I flew back and forth quite a bit, but Guam is three thousand miles from everywhere, so, there's not a whole lot of sharing out there for sending somebody to somewhere else.
SI: You also mentioned that you had interaction with the celebrities that would come through.
SI: Do any of those stand out in your memory, besides Cousteau?
JK: No, Philippe's the main one. Most of them were usually visiting colonels or a brigadier general or military folks that were coming through and were divers and wanted to go out. Guam's a phenomenal diving area. The northern end has a deep canyon that we laid an anchor chain through, because you had to pull yourself back against the current, but that's a deep dive in a canyon. You had shallow reefs that you could go out and spend an hour and ten minutes on a tank of air, every fish in the world, just phenomenal, and one blue hole.
You could dive a deep blue hole, and then, just had the first wreck from World War I, the first wreck from World War II, because they're ahead of the International Date Line. They're both Germans that sunk there, scuttled them there, when they were in port. You could dive those wrecks. I mean, it's just a magical place.
JK: Great support. My son was born in a Navy hospital and good care, was an idyllic lifestyle; long hours and tough challenges, but just a great lifestyle.
SI: Coming back to Nebraska, you mentioned the rude awakening of the weather.
SI: What about your regular duties and daily activities there?
JK: They were good. A couple more things I should mention about Guam that are relevant...
JK: Yes. Trying to integrate the efforts for the Navy and the rest of the folks there, I formed up the Guam Human Resources Association. I was the first president and that involved the Air Force, the Navy, the Government of Guam, the Catholic Church, University of Guam. We were working on these same social problems. I talked about the problems we had when we had to deal with twelve thousand-plus people.
One of the sweet things for me out there was, two years in a row, I got to be the project officer for the Bob Hope show. That was their last visit each year. I couldn't buy a drink in the bar for about three months before that, because I'm the one who decided what officer got to escort the Golddiggers for the time they were there. That was their last stop and they were there to party. They were just some beautiful young women that were part of the Bob Hope show. So, that was interesting.
[Editor's Note: Comedian and actor Bob Hope (1903-2003) entertained American soldiers at USO shows during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War. The Golddiggers, a female singing and dance group, performed with Bob Hope during his USO tours in 1968, 1969 and 1970.]
Then, the one time, the second visit, Bob brought Neil Armstrong through. So, I got to have dinner a couple times with Bob Hope and had dinner with Neil Armstrong--and we visited for a while, talking some Air Force stories--[singers] Connie Francis, Teresa Graves, a whole bunch of the other Bob Hope stars. They were really a lot of fun on Guam, had a great time with that. I've still got a bunch of the old photos somewhere with the autographs and stuff. [Editor's Note: Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) became the first person to step foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969.]
Right after that is when I got snatched off to Omaha, Nebraska. That was for the major command, SAC Headquarters, to take over as the drug abuse control officer for the thirty bases for the Strategic Air Command.
SI: Since Guam is fairly isolated, was morale a big issue?
JK: Not for the locals, but the guys who were living there in tents, in the rainy season, they knew they were there for a limited period of time, but they had no social life and no ladies to go chase. In fact, that's a funny one that happened on Guam. When the beautiful young women show up to dance with the GIs for fifty cents a dance, they're being sponsored by the Church. So, you bring a bunch of guys out of the United States to meet with fifty-cents-a-dance girls, their perception is not that it's being sponsored by the local church. [laughter] So, that was another interesting dynamic to deal with.
JK: But, you had to really get an education course going when the guys came in and say, "Hey, look, guys, the priest and the nuns are going to be sitting in the wings there. If you want to dance with them, that's great, but don't be pulling any shenanigans or you're going to wind up in a police blotter;" so, another interesting dynamic.
SI: It seems like things like the Bob Hope show coming through were pretty important.
JK: Oh, yes, yes, that's vital, the work he did, hitting all of Southeast Asia and other parts and bringing those shows to people, just phenomenal. The guys really responded to that.
SI: Did they have other R&R type opportunities?
JK: Yes, there's a number of R&R [trips]. We went to Hong Kong. We went to Taiwan. I got to the Philippines on business. Basically, your cargo aircraft that were carrying stuff back and forth would have seats in them. You'd sign up and, when it's your turn, you get a chance to fly and spend a week, at your own expense, in Taiwan or a week in Hong Kong. So, that R&R possibility was always there.
So, the people on the island, a lot of them tried to stay there, because, I mean, especially if they're any way ocean-oriented, they just really loved the place and tried to extend their tours there. So, the morale was great there--but not for the troops that are dumped into a tent in the rainy season.
JK: There's no way to fix that morale, because, legitimately, that's tough. Now, you're working fourteen hours a day, and then, go try to sleep in a tent, possibly in a bunk you're sharing with somebody else who's working the other shift, no entertainment. You can't drink yourself drunk. So, their morale was not very high.
SI: Is there anything else on Guam before we move on to Nebraska?
JK: No, no. That was about it. Yes, Nebraska, as I said, I wound up there for--again, my tour there got curtailed. I almost bought a house; I'm glad I didn't. It was supposed to be a three or four-year tour, but I only got there two years before I got pulled up to the Pentagon.
Basically, the job was to design the programs, the policies, procedures, to deal with drug abuse in the military. You had thirty bases. We were just forming up the methods for how to really do that effectively--so, a successful tour there, but a pain in the butt in terms of work hours. I did get two or three months off to go to Squadron Officer School.
Then, the Chamber of Commerce had something called the Stores Award and they honored me with the Arthur B. Stores Award for Outstanding Leadership from the Air Force Association. Then, I got selected as an Outstanding Young Man of America at that time. I was the director of the local Junior Chamber of Commerce and doing really well. Then, in less than two years, I got pulled up to the Pentagon. That was not expected, and living in Washington, DC, on a captain's pay was also interesting.
JK: So, that was a change in financial standing. My job there, initially, was to do all the analytic work to figure out the measurements for what's working, what's not working, what are the trends and what is effective. So, a lot of the analytic work was the first job, and then, drafting Congressional testimony. At that point, I started a doctoral program at Catholic University, but I never got to finish that, just got another master's out of it.
The model, the analytic model I was building, I finally was working with the RAND Corporation and they took the skeleton and really improved it and started doing an analysis comparing all the services for what the impact was. It's not just, "What are your rates?" but, "What are the impacts--on discipline, on aircraft maintenance, on automobile maintenance, on separation rates?" [Editor's Note: The RAND Corporation, a nonprofit organization, conducts research and analysis for the US Armed Forces.]
They built a really sophisticated model to show the impact. We asked them to do it for alcohol, too, for both drugs and alcohol, and they built a brilliant model out of it, that I did the initial, but they really added the expertise to it.
Then, that became the thing we used for the Congressional staff, did a lot of work with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, and NIAAA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, then, periodically, over at the old Executive Office Building at the White House with--what was the name of the drug guru at the time, DuPont? I have to go look that up, too, but he was the guru.
He caught on that what we were doing was a good model, and so, got over there periodically, briefing him on our results. He was the "Drug Czar," not the DEA Drug Czar, but the President's man to deal with the increasing drug abuse in America. I think his name was DuPont, but I can't swear that's it. I have to go look it up again. So, that was interesting times, yes.
[Editor's Note: Dr. Robert DuPont, White House Drug Czar during the Nixon and Ford Administrations, served as the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and headed the Narcotics Treatment Administration from 1973 to 1978.]
SI: In Nebraska, were your superior officers supportive of what you were doing?
JK: Oh, yes. They were part of that new career field that was designed to do this. Chet Beverly was the colonel who was running the thing. He was a black colonel that was a fighter pilot. There was a black officer, really sharp major, who was running the race relations program, and a couple superstar senior NCOs that were there and a couple others, a really tight-knit bunch. We really did a lot of work to do the objective measurement of effectiveness, measurement of impact stuff, that had not been done. That's how I got yanked out of there to go to the Pentagon.
[Editor's Note: Retired US Air Force Colonel Chester "Chet" Beverly served as the Strategic Air Command's first Investigating Officer for Social Actions.]
SI: Before the Pentagon, everything had pretty much focused just on drugs, not on alcohol--or was it a mix?
JK: Eighty-five percent drugs, fifteen percent alcohol.
JK: Yes. We were still running the in-patient treatment program, thirty-day treatment program, for alcoholism, but that was nowhere near perceived to be as significant as the drug program. That evolved later as we got more data and experience to show the impact.
SI: I know most military branches are pretty hard-drinking organizations.
JK: A lot less than they were when I started, yes.
SI: It must have been difficult--whereas drugs could be portrayed as this new, destructive, outside force, alcohol abuse was probably harder to get people to see as a problem.
JK: Oh, yes, yes.
SI: How were you able to do that?
JK: Oh, that's jumping ahead to when I was working for the Deputy Secretary of Defense, but I wrote a paper on, essentially, coping with the alcohol problems in the Air Force, in the military services, all the military services. The initial lever was cracking down on DWI [driving while intoxicated], because that was the main killer, injurer, disruptor. Once you cracked down on DWI and people can't drive drunk home, but have to start doing a designated driver and those kinds of things, the rate of extreme drunkenness and jumping in the car and going to kill somebody just went down in all the services. So, that was a major lever.
Then, the education programs, over time, over a period of time, began to sink in. We worked with the academies, West Point, the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy and all the others, and started training early about the expectations of your use of alcohol. So, progressive change, the folks coming on, "These are the expectations and, if you want a career, here's what you do." We still held dining-ins and dining-outs. The bar was still, you know, after a tough mission, get together and celebrate and all that stuff, but the expectation is moderation, not putting people's lives at risk. So, it slowly turned the corner.
SI: In this earlier period, the 1970s, would people ever get into these programs that you were helping to facilitate and study voluntarily, or was it mostly that something triggered their involuntary participation?
JK: You talking about the analysts or what?
SI: The people who were abusing alcohol or drugs.
JK: Very rarely. The drug program, the random urine testing program really, really drove rates down. The argument I had with the medics, when they were running the program--and this was when I was at the Air Staff--my analogy was that, "You guys are funding ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. The point is, the fence at the top of the cliff to keep them from falling off, that's got to be a little better than just picking up the broken bodies."
So, that's when we really accelerated the random drug testing program. I went to Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, New Jersey--everybody was avoiding it like the plague--but got them to create a reagent, a urine reagent, to detect marijuana use. The marijuana is fat soluble. So, if you've been smoking dope, even if you quit before your urine test, if you're dropping some weight and the fat turns it back into your system, you still get a register.
Then, we set the level at a hundred nanograms per milliliter, so that it had to be regular use to get up that high, didn't set it that low, but it really started to get people's attention. Again, the same rules applied, "You get two strikes. The first time, we'll help you. Second time, you decided you don't want a career, you're fired."
JK: And, progressively, weeded some out, convinced others to stop. The rates just went down.
SI: When you got into the Pentagon, you started working on Congressional testimony.
SI: What was involved with that? Were you prepping your bosses? Were you testifying?
JK: Most of the time, I was prepping the bosses, but a lot of liaison time over there with the staff, to work with them, but, again, that's later on. Yes, I was working for the Deputy Secretary of Defense then.
The worst beating I ever took was, they had a crash on the deck of the Nimitz. The pilot was a Marine Corps pilot. He'd taken something like eleven times the normal antihistamine level, trying to get his head clear, because if you don't make so many carrier landings, you lose your currency and you lose your rating and have to go back and retrain. He was trying to make his gates. He totally spaced himself out with too many antihistamines and he crashed. He killed twelve people on the deck, seven of whom had marijuana in their system after sixty days at sea.
[Editor's Note: A US Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler crashed onboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on May 26, 1981. The accident killed fourteen and injured dozens more. Media attention on the autopsy reports that showed marijuana in the service personnel's systems led President Reagan to institute a "zero tolerance" drug policy in the US Armed Forces.]
I had to be able to go explain to the Congress how that could possibly happen. Joe Addabbo was the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee at the time in the House, and I knew him from working with him and his staff. He came over before and put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Jack, this won't be personal." "Got it, sir." ABC, NBC and all the television stations were there, the Congressmen just went into histrionics and screaming and shouting like they do in hearings. That's the worst beating I ever took, but that was the worst of the bunch. Other ones were more controlled, but that was the crème de la crème. I have a very vivid memory of that one. [laughter]
[Editor's Note: Joseph P. Addabbo, Sr., a Congressman representing New York from 1961 to 1986, served as Chair of the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense from 1979 to his death in 1986.]
JK: Basically, I mean, the guys were smuggling marijuana on the ship and they're smoking dope. So, I mean, you couldn't even argue that it's fat soluble and they probably did it ninety days ago. That's just not credible. So, then, I got more money for the drug dog programs. So, that paid off, but it was painful. [laughter]
SI: I was leading up to asking, how does working with Congress politicize the issue? It seems like, from the Air Force side, you were looking at the practical impact on operations. Having to deal with Congress, how does that change the situation for you, in terms of what you emphasize?
JK: It was a whole different Congress then.
JK: Especially during the Reagan Administration [1981-1989]. I mean, Reagan and Tip O'Neill were buddies. They're a couple of Irish buddies. They'd squabble like mad, politically, then, go drink whiskey together at the end of the day, I mean. [Editor's Note: Thomas Philip "Tip" O'Neill, a Democratic Congressman representing Massachusetts from 1953 to 1987, served as Speaker of the House from 1977 to 1987.]
So, it was much more rational, not adversarial, "don't take sides and beat the other guy up, forget the facts and say what you can, beat the hell out of the other guy." It was, when you work with a staff, you're working on practical solutions. You're trying to get money to support certain things you know will work. If you can convince them that that'll work, then, money flows.
They still have to do the histrionics in public hearings and all that to get their face on the six o'clock news, but much more constructive kind of an interaction, which I don't see now in the current day. It's everybody's choosing up sides and throwing non-factual information just to embarrass the other. It wasn't that way when I was working with them.
So, the staff was actually asking, "How do we solve this problem? Be aware that when you screw up, we're going to get my boss TV time by chewing your ass in public and raising all kinds of hell, but, in the meantime, how do we fix this?" So, a lot of back, undercover--no, undercover's the wrong word--but a lot of low-key support to do what you're working on, which I really don't see right now in our Congress.
SI: You also started at Catholic University.
JK: Clinical psychology, essentially, yes, behavioral science, but I had a disagreement with the leadership at the time. They were really hooked on to systematic desensitization as the way to deal with problems, especially phobias. I ran a snake phobia experiment. It was clear to me from having done it that the operative factor in dramatically reducing people's fear--to the point where we had one guy who worked in the Smithsonian, needed a pre-briefing if they changed any kind of displays. So, he'd walk by a snake, he'd pass out. Another woman had to have all the pages torn out of magazines that had snakes in them. By the end of the time, we had them touching a boa constrictor, but the operative factor was modeling. My wife was a snake handler. I was a snake handler. We both enjoyed the snakes.
We had some other people who did that and, progressively, reduced their fear, but that wasn't what "the answer" was supposed to be. It was supposed to be systematic desensitization. So, we had a lot of disagreement over that. Then, they wanted to lay a residency requirement on me, which we'd agreed, early on, I wouldn't need because of my commitment to the military. So, it wound up with me getting an assignment anyway out of there.
So, I got a second master's cum laude out of it, instead of being able to finish the doctorate and the thesis, but a great experience, though. It's the first time I hit the academic bias to a point where folks were not paying close attention to the data or the people that actually did the experiment, the treatment process. So, that was frustrating.
SI: Do you think that was just a disagreement over methods and theory, or was there an anti-military bias?
JK: No, there was no military bias. It was, "This is a thing that we've really come to believe is a solution to phobias everywhere," and it isn't. The best thing is what's always been there, that trusted model that can help reduce your fear, whether it's dogs or whatever it is, that somebody who you really trust, who doesn't have any problem with it, who progressively lowers your fear and reduces that, worked much more effectively. The data, in later years, pretty well documents that, in the behavioral science stuff, but it was an interesting experience though.
What I did was, I got to steal all kinds of ideas to use in the drug and alcohol programs from being in the midst of the clinical stuff up there. So, I was doing counseling, both marriage counseling and some other kind of counseling at the same time, as part of the programs and learned a lot of stuff about dealing with alcohol and family dynamics and the criticality of the family being able to be involved in the treatment programs for alcohol. So, it was good stuff.
We had four alcohol treatment centers at the time. Three of them were normal clinical programs and one of them was aversive conditioning. I had no real confidence in that one. It turned out not to be anywhere near as effective, but there was a strong commitment to it, basically, to make people drink stuff with stuff to make you vomit. No, that didn't do anything in terms of long-term mental health. So, we shut that one down finally, but interesting times, yes.
SI: You continued working on these issues through the 1970s. You were in the Pentagon for ...
JK: Yes, almost eight years, yes. I couldn't escape, because I'd bounce from the Air Staff to the Secretary of Defense staff, and then, back to the Air Staff. There just weren't that many people who were cop/psychologist/experienced in drug and race relations issues in the military. It was a whole new thing. So, I just got trapped, but it was great work.
I wound up working for the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Special Assistant for Drug and Alcohol Abuse was my boss. General John Johns was a phenomenal guy. I even got to work with--the Deputy Secretary of Defense's Executive Officer for a while was Colin Powell, when he was a one-star, before he got discovered. So, I got to work with Colin on some of the things. The guy's brilliant. He finally got recognized and his career took off from there.
[Editor's Note: Brigadier General John Johns served in the US Army for twenty-six years, retiring in 1978 as the Director of Human Resources Development in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, US Army. Secretary Colin Powell, a retired US Army general who served from 1958 to 1993, served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993 and as Secretary of State under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.]
What we were able to do is implement an epidemiology system. We took the epidemiology systems applied to disease and disease consequences and got to apply that to assessments of drug and alcohol and its impact on the military, and started to get some data that resonated with the academic and the treatment communities. I got to write a couple chapters in books about all that.
In fact, Morrie Chafetz, he was the Health, Education and Welfare Secretary for a while. Then, he got out and went to writing a book. I got to put a chapter in that one, and then, another one, after that, for the military methods for dealing with the thing, what the main ingredients were in managing the problem; so, some really good intellectual time with some really sharp people who really cared about this stuff.
[Editor's Note: Colonel Killeen contributed a chapter to Youth, Alcohol, and Social Policy (1979), edited by Howard T. Blane and Morris E. Chafetz. Dr. Chafetz served as the first Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which split into the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services in 1980.]
So, it was an awful lot of fun. It was a lot of fun. Then, I also served as--that was a little later on. I wound up being the Director of Deterrence and Detection and served as the chairman of the DoD Law Enforcement Task Force. That was a fascinating time, to get all the services together to do all that.
SI: Before we talk about that, in the first part, where you were dealing with more drug abuse and alcohol abuse programs, you did this through three administrations. Did you get a sense that there was any difference from one to the other in how they treated this issue?
JK: Yes, oh, yes. Under the Carter Administration [1977-1981], one of my civilian supervisors in the chain really thought cocaine was the best thing since sliced bread and that the programs I was trying to build were interfering in the rights of American citizens. Then, when Reagan got elected, within two weeks' time, I was "soft on drugs." [laughter] So, I got to take a whole bunch of things off the shelf that had been locked for a long time.
JK: A much more aggressive urine testing program and law enforcement and consequence management and all that stuff. So, the Reagan Administration was a huge change from the Jimmy Carter Administration. So, that was a huge change. That was the main sea change that I experienced during that time period.
SI: In between, you went to the Armed Forces Staff College.
JK: Yes. That's part of their policy--you have to go do the career things. I went down for six months. They wouldn't let me go for a year program, though, went for a six-month program, and got that finished down in Norfolk, Virginia, and wrote a paper on a balanced policy for dealing with alcohol abuse in the Armed Services. That was the thesis for the thing, but that was just six months, focused on military education, then, right back to the Secretary of Defense's Office.
That's where I became the Director of Deterrence and Detection and, really, with Reagan in position, got to crank up the deterrence efforts in the urine testing programs. That was huge. Also, we did a worldwide, the first really sophisticated, or, yes, worldwide, study of drug and alcohol abuse in the Armed Forces and its consequences. That got a lot of attention. That's where we started getting in with the people with an academic interest. That's how I got chapters in books on that thing that were looking for the data and the information and how we did it.
SI: You also started working with other departments, like the DEA.
JK: Yes. At that point, I was liaison with Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department, the White House, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcoholism, NIAAA, and a couple of Congressional staffs that had a high interest in that. I was appointed contact for most of that. So, that was really intellectually fascinating times, trying to deal with the behaviors, the impacts and the politics.
SI: It seems like it went beyond issues of, say, personnel use and more into interdiction and dealing with suppliers.
JK: It was the whole kettle of fish. We still had treatment programs and still involved in some of the oversight for that, but the main focus was the dealing with prevention, as opposed to "after they fell off the cliff and getting the ambulances to them."
JK: Though that service was still there, but we wanted to reduce that number to a manageable number.
SI: You got involved with the Task Force on Southwest Asian Heroin.
SI: How did that come about?
JK: By invitation, but I wasn't much use to them, that we couldn't lend much to the DEA. Posse Comitatus--military can't do anything with domestic law enforcement. So, you can advise and consult and sit on the panel and do all that stuff, but you can't commit any kind of military actions to deal with that kind of criminal behavior. So, that was an interesting experience, but not something we contributed a whole lot to. [Editor's Note: The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prevents the government from using the military to enforce domestic law and policies.]
SI: You mentioned, obviously, the Reagan Administration was a big change. What do you see as the pros and cons of their approach to the issue? You mentioned the increased urine testing, which I guess you would say was a pro.
JK: Yes. A lot of the staffers in the Carter Administration saw some degree of drug use as just a normal part of society and military should be able to do it, too. There was no interest, whatsoever, in measuring impact, documenting impact, in that that was all really bad PR.
As I said, the one guy who was in my supervisory chain was committed to cocaine, was one of the best things for clearing the head--kind of like Freud was in his day, before he found out that it was addictive--was a great drug to clear your mind and to raise you to the next level of intellect. So, there was a lot of resistance to anything that was oppressive.
Then, the conservative crowd came in with Reagan and it was big crackdown time. You had to moderate that to the point where it was sensible, but it made it much easier to do the things that you needed to do for a deterrence program.
SI: All right.
JK: I was having fun then, too. I got a chance to run the Marine Corps Marathon. I was coaching boys' and girls' soccer. My girls' team, my daughter's on one end of the field, my son's on the other, and we got to cross-train--the boys made the girls more physical and the girls taught the boys more finesse. So, we wound up with two championship teams.
My son's kids got to play at halftime at RFK Stadium in a pro soccer game, when the Cosmos were playing, but got totally shocked, because they had green jerseys and the opposition, Cosmos, had green jerseys. So, they were running out there as the heroes that won their divisional championship in Northern Virginia and they got booed by the crowd. [laughter]
[Editor's Note: The New York Cosmos played in the North American Soccer League from 1970 to 1985 and wore green jerseys for away games. The Washington Diplomats played in RFK Stadium from 1974 to 1980 in the NASL.]
JK: So, that one didn't work out real well. I was also a Scoutmaster in my boy's troop, a lot of time at Quantico and wilderness survival stuff.
SI: It sounds like you had about a decade of pretty stable living in the same area.
JK: Yes, yes, and close enough to Cape May to get the kids back to know all their cousins and their family and get all those bonds. So, that was ideal. Living there, when I first bought my house, it was thirty-six minutes to the Pentagon. By the time I left, before they put in the express lanes, it was about an hour and twenty minutes to get there. Traffic jams, eleven, twelve-hour work days, commuting and all that time in the Pentagon, that was way too long.
JK: So, I was anxious to escape back to troops, but, then, I went from the Deputy Secretary's Office back to the Air Staff for a little less than a year, I think it was, and then, got back to take command of Security Forces troops, which I had wanted to do years and years ago.
SI: Would that be like being a chief of police, almost, for an airbase?
JK: Yes, both. Then, with the Vietnam experience, there's a huge amount of Air Base Ground Defense, too. So, that's the combat commander that secures the airfields, as well as the chief of police, both jobs. By then, the combat arms training and maintenance had rolled into the career field, so, all the firearms training that everybody in the Air Force got, with a rifle and handgun, ran all that, too, and then, the military working dogs. We did those for the Air Force and for the Secret Service. So, it was all those components; so, again, getting back with troops, really, which is my preference, escaping the Pentagon.
SI: Your first assignment was to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
JK: Yes, yes. It was the Fourth Security Police Squadron, had about three hundred troops and had a large military and civilian population there and almost a couple billion dollars' worth of property. The role there, there were F-4 fighter planes [McConnell-Douglass F-4 Phantom II] at that time. What the troops had to do was train and maintain the capability to go to any part of the world on short notice, while still also securing the base and running the law enforcement operations there.
So, it's a good, challenging operation. Air Base Ground Defense has become a much more important part of it, because the experience in Vietnam was that the Army said, "That's our business. You guys stay inside the wire." Then, things'd get hot and the Army would abandon you and go fight somewhere else, where they were needed. Then, all of a sudden, you're on your own, like, in some of the offensives in Vietnam on the airfields, wound up close-run battles, because your perimeter defenses weren't out there.
So, the Air Force got serious and started really working on the combat skills and the detection skills for extending your perimeter. So, that was a different component from when I was previously in the Security Police. Then, eventually, they changed their name to Security Forces in 1997--so, the same business, but they shifted the emphasis to the war fighting side of it.
Seymour Johnson was a great assignment. Again, I was supposed to be there for four years, and did buy a house then. It turned out that I got a couple years in and I was off to Turkey--but the operations of exercises, responding to bomb threats, dealing with major inspections, with all the teams coming in again, simulated terrorist attacks--a lot of emphasis on terrorism. We deployed troops to Germany regularly for the major exercises in Germany.
As I mentioned before, one of the ways to really win credibility with the troops is the physical fitness stuff. So, I won the masters, the base masters, track and field championship. That really helps with the troops. So, that was a good one. I'd been running marathons before that, the Marine Corps and some other ones, but, for troop leadership, it really helps.
Then, we also had a large theft ring working in Goldsboro that were stealing stereos, sometimes on base. We managed to break that ring; had a great military working dog program and wound up sending troops to Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Italy, Germany and some classified locations, was a lot of deployment going on, which was getting fairly new for the Air Force, but Seymour Johnson did a lot of that, though.
SI: This is the first time, I think, in your digest [a résumé Colonel Killeen provided as research material] that terrorism comes up as an issue. This was right after the bombing in Lebanon.
JK: Yes. [Editor's Note: On October 23, 1983, a Hezbollah truck bomb crashed into a US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 Americans. The Marines had been sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force in 1982.]
SI: Was that the kind of threat that you were trying to address?
JK: Yes, it was both, because the Soviet Union was still full bore. So, what the guys were really training for, the ones I sent overseas to Germany and some of the other locations, was to augment a fight-in-place force to deal with a Russian invasion through the Fulda Gap and all of that. [Editor's Note: The Fulda Gap, a lowland area on the border of East and West Germany, was the expected invasion route if the Soviets attacked NATO during the Cold War.]
At the same time, the terrorist attacks were really escalating in Europe. The Red Army Faction and the Red Brigade and some of the others were killing folks. So, that was another element of the program that had to be factored in, but most of the funding was for the ground defense of air bases deployed to the European Theater for a war with the Soviet Union. So, terrorism had not yet shifted to a major focus.
[Editor's Note: The Red Army Faction, or Baader-Meinhof Gang, a West German terrorist group, killed thirty-four people from its founding in 1970 to its alleged dissolution in 1998. The Red Brigades, an Italian terrorist organization, killed seventy-five people from 1970 to 1988.]
SI: When you would deploy these troops, did you ever go with them or were you just preparing them to go overseas?
JK: No, preparing them to go, yes. At that point, I wasn't deploying with them. My main focus then was the security at Seymour Johnson and prepping the troops. One of the things that we did that really paid off was--we had to do a "self-help," because there was no money for it--but we built an Air Base Ground Defense training area out in the woods off of Seymour Johnson. We experimented with detection systems, kind of homemade detection systems, to get people further out in the perimeter. We got initial, a few, night vision things, but we really worked on command-and-control and early detection and concentrated response and reserve forces.
We're able to do that right on base and not just once every two years for a deployment out to Nevada. The guys, their skills really increased. We're able to build the whole thing self-help. So, that really worked well. Then, we integrated the military working dog program, which were primarily drug and bomb dogs, but we also used them as sentry dogs when we're in Air Base Ground Defense mode. The Air Force didn't produce sentry dogs anymore, but we doubled ours up for detection on the perimeter. That really amplified the stuff.
So, we did a lot of creative stuff there that really worked out well. So, we got selected as the best large unit in the Tactical Air Command two years in a row, for performance in both inspections and the other stuff. So, it was a fun time. I learned a huge amount that really helped me once I got to Europe.
SI: I am curious--if the Air Force was not training sentry dogs anymore, how were you able to set up a training program at the base?
JK: That's pretty easy. The dogs, a dog is really trained and has to be certified either drug or bomb, primarily drug programs, but they've got the great nose. If you get them out on the perimeter and something's making noise out there, they're going to let you know. You weren't funded for that, but, if you know you've got a major exercise coming--and, by then, we didn't have thermal imagery, we had very limited night vision--those dogs really worked. They'd always alert you.
SI: Turkey, you went to Ankara in 1985. What was the initial impetus for your leaving Seymour Johnson early and going there?
JK: I don't know.
JK: I don't know why they snatched me up, because I was supposed to be four years at Seymour Johnson, but I suspect it was some kind of need-driven thing from out there. That's the one I said I didn't take the wife and family on, but I still had to go out there for, supposedly, two years--but I tricked them and got promoted early out of my job. So, I got back after one year, a little more than a year, but I'm not sure why, what the rationale was, for me to take that job. It turned out to be a phenomenal job and a lot of really good, interesting action.
We had four main bases. Incirlik was the biggest one, and then, four munitions support squadrons, which are all nuclear operations. Basically, we have cells of Americans that secure nuclear weapons on Turkish bases. If things really went bad and you had to use them, then, they control the weapons--give them to the Turks, the Turks use them in a land war in Europe. You're in the middle of a Turkish base, near nothing, and you've got about eighteen guys that are securing the nuclear weapons.
So, it was a big operation then. Then, we had sixteen things that were called communications sites, but they were really intelligence gathering from the Soviet Union. I wound up the point of contact on all the security matters for the United States Embassy, for the JUSMMAT, which is the Joint United States Military Mission for Aid to Turkey, which is basically all the troops who were out there to train Turkish forces, then, all the Turkish military command, and then, the Turkish National Police. They're the guys who really bailed me out.
Fortunately, I did a bunch of wild boar hunting out there with the Turks, because the Turks hate the pigs. They're Muslim--they want no part of pigs. Yet, they've got European wild boar that tear up their gardens. You show up with some skilled guns on the weekend, they'll put you up all weekend, feed you, and then, turn out half the village to go round up pigs to run by you and you get to shoot wild boar. I did that with some of the Turkish National Police and created some good working relationships that really came in handy later.
They were not in that good a shape out there. So, I'd built an eighteen-month action plan for how to upgrade security, and then, really cranked up the training and the exercises. I converted my staff from bureaucrats sitting in Ankara to a coaching staff and spent a lot of time in the field, going out and helping guys get their programs really operational. They had a major problem with mishandling NATO classified stuff. We went out and fixed that.
The Regional Security Officer and I worked closely together in Ankara. We managed to shut down a major terrorist action. That was a horrible story that could've really gone bad. In retaliation for the Libyans bombing and killing of a bunch of Americans, including a lot of military, in a nightclub in Germany, Reagan decided to bomb Benghazi and Tripoli and Gaddafi's palace. Gaddafi headed for the desert when that happened, but he'd launched terrorists to kill American women and children in the military in Turkey.
[Editor's Note: On April 5, 1986, Libyan Intelligence Service agents bombed the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin, killing three people, including two US Army sergeants. On April 15, 1986, President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes against Libya which killed over forty people, including Gaddafi's daughter. The Ankara attack Colonel Killeen describes here occurred on April 18th.]
I shut down the officers' club, which was off-base in Ankara. That didn't have any fence around it at all. We had a fairly naïve Ambassador, primarily a historian, who just loved Turkey and thought it was really not that kind of hostile environment. So, he reopened the club for a wedding. The wedding was between a military major, a lawyer, a JAG, and a kind of Turkish debutante, one of the sharp young ladies from Turkey. The Ambassador wouldn't let me arm my guys on the front door or the back door. They could have a billy club, but no unseemly firearm.
So, I was really frustrated. The Turkish National Police helped me out. They hardened three sides of the building, but they put a bunch of, looked like stumblebums--when you build a building in Turkey, the people who do the building live right on site and they cook their food there, until they finish the building and move on to another one. Well, it turned out, undercover police took those positions on the back side of the building and held it.
They nailed four terrorists with a satchel full of fragmentation grenades trying to get in the back door of the club, headed for the wedding, with the Mayor of [Ankara] and the commanding general of the Air Force and Officer Corps and other people from Ankara who were high-level Turkish folks. They nailed them at the back door.
JK: So, the next day, I asked the Ambassador, "I assume, sir, now, that the Regional Security Officer and I can take actions to deal with this stuff?" He mumbled and they left us alone. So, we got all fifty-five of them and rounded them all up and headed the thing off, but that had the potential to be disastrous.
Now, Reagan really had this phenomenal PR from subduing Gaddafi with the bombings in Benghazi and Tripoli. If they'd managed to retaliate and kill a whole bunch of senior military in Ankara, senior civilians, a few days later or a week or two later, that would've changed that whole complexion, but we managed to shut them all down. So, it was an interesting time. So, I was glad I left the wife and family home.
JK: So, I understand from the Office of Special Investigations that I made Gaddafi's hit list at that time. Then, he disappeared before I did--so, that worked out okay. [laughter]
JK: But, it was interesting times, yes.
SI: Did you have to change your routine and stuff like that?
JK: No, I already had the routine. I didn't have a car for just that reason. I walked and took public transport and changed my routes of travel and dressed like a Turk, and, then, had dark brown hair, so, I could look like a Turk. Once I got in Turkey, I lived that way. I came home and took about two months to change that behavior back to America. [laughter]
JK: I still take flak because I usually face the door when I'm in a restaurant or somewhere, but the Turkish National Police bailed me out on that one. We take no credit for it. That would've had major political ramifications if that had gone wrong.
I picked up enough of the language to be able to spend a lot of time wandering around Turkey. What a phenomenal country that is, to walk streets that were made of cobblestones that were laid five or six thousand years ago, the military emplacements that housed the first Iron Age chariots that were developed by the Hittites and fought the Egyptians to a standstill.
The embattlements they have, their walls are built at a slant, so that you can slowly climb up, hand over hand. Then, they've got tunnels at the very bottom that you can't see are there, and there's just one level of rock on the outside. If their walls are being engulfed, they'd launch the chariots out. They're the first ones that have used iron to rim them, so that they hold up better. They ride out and they encircle them, and then, kill the adversaries from both sides.
They did that four thousand years ago. You can walk those emplacements, just fascinating, just a fascinating country, yes.
JK: Nemrut Dag, where all of Alexander the Great's generals put their statues on the hill. Then, it's Mount Ararat. That's a fascinating country, and then, again, the home of philosophy in Izmir on the Mediterranean coast. All the original great philosophers, before Socrates or Plato, started there and walked those grounds.
Then, there's a place in Izmir where--I think it's true; documentation says it, but it's not documentation that I would bet my life on--but that St. Paul lived there and Mary lived with him for a period of time after the death of Christ. That old stone building's still there in Izmir. It's a fascinating country, great place.
I used to go down to the Mediterranean for a four or five-day break when we weren't working and live in a little hut built by the Romans and swim in the Mediterranean, with all the history that goes there, just a fascinating place. I can't get back there at this point, or can't even link up with my friends, because of what Erdogan's doing to the country now. [Editor's Note: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current President of Turkey, took office in 2014 after serving as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014.]
I ran Boy Scout programs out there. I was the camping chairman, too. I was supposed to be there two years, but I picked up colonel "below-the-zone," early, so, I outranked the slot. I got pulled back to go to the Air War College.
SI: When they rounded up the Libyan terrorists, were you a part of that or was that all the National Police?
JK: That was the Turkish National Police did that. We were in the command centers and listening, but I had no authority to do anything other than give my guys on the doors a billy club to fight terrorists with. [laughter]
SI: How many men were under you, or men and women, I guess, at this point?
JK: In Turkey?
JK: Probably three thousand, in that ballpark, between all the bases. The munitions sites all had thirty to forty, depending on the munitions sites, and Incirlik had seven hundred. If you add all that stuff up, it's probably two-and-a-half to three thousand.
SI: I would imagine that would be one of the areas the Russians would try to get people into. Was there any activity that you were aware of or had to address?
JK: Say that once more--were Russians trying to penetrate us, you mean?
SI: Yes, that sort of thing.
JK: No, all their stuff then was early cyber stuff, yes.
JK: Yes. No, there was nothing that I'm aware of. I don't know what the Turks were getting, but there's a very limited amount of anything they were doing at that point in time. They knew they were all intelligence sites, and so, they were messing with them electronically. They were in the infancy of trying how to do that there--unlike disrupting our whole social networking system now. They didn't have that level of sophistication then.
SI: You came back to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base.
SI: Your academic work there focused on the terrorist threat.
JK: Yes. I was so frustrated by the inept lack of integration, lack of vision for how to cope with terrorism that I spent that year while I was there, a lot of spare time, writing a concept paper for coping with terrorism. That was interesting, too, because they gave me the Commandant's Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Military Thought, but it was controversial enough, in talking about all the failures in decision and the lack of integration and lack of focus, that they published--they're required to publish the Commandant Award winners.
They have to publish the winning thesis. So, they published the introductory stuff, which was not controversial. They found something called The Journal of Ideology to publish it in. So, they buried that sucker deep. The military used it, but it didn't get back to Washington much, I don't think, or, if it did, it was pretty surreptitious.
Even then--then, it was George Bush, was the Vice President, he was chairing the Terrorism Task Force for the entire government--if you read the thing, initially, they couldn't even decide what terrorism was. The focus on integrated efforts, using every element of national power from economic, every other element, to cope with it, just wasn't there. [Editor's Note: President George H. W. Bush served as Vice President under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989.]
So, I critiqued that and wrote up a proposal of what you really need to do to cope with it. I used it a lot after that, but it didn't get much visibility in the civilian component of things. It was a great experience thinking through all that.
SI: Do you think it was just that their mindset was here and this was so different, or were there other issues?
JK: It's too hot a potato to have the military critiquing the federal government's approach to terrorism. So, I think that's the whole, "We can't publish this kind of stuff. The politicians'll kill us."
JK: So, I think that. That's my view, anyway, but it helped me think a lot, did the research for a whole year, really helped me understand it better. We did use a lot of it in future assignments that were integrating all elements of American power--that we could control--to deal with it and that's what we're doing now. I mean, that's after 9/11; that's what really got implemented. So, some would say too much, but, if your goal is to stop terrorism, you've got to use every element you can, do a systematic attack from all directions to curb it. [Editor's Note: Colonel Killeen is referring to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon.]
SI: Your next assignment was to England, where you were the Deputy Chief of Staff for Security.
JK: Yes. It's a fun thing. My Air Force duty title was Chief of Security Police and my UK duty title was the US Representative to Her Majesty's Government for the Home Defense of the United Kingdom. So, that kind of tells you the difference between the Brits and the US in terms of their terminology.
I had all the USAF police programs in the United Kingdom and I was the single point of contact for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the UK military for base defense out there. I had the nuclear security, I had physical security. At that time, we had the Ground Launch Cruise Missiles out, the GLCM systems out, which were later withdrawn by treaty. That really was wild. That was a huge chunk of the work.
[Editor's Note: The US Air Force deployed the BGM-109G Ground Launch Cruise Missile (GLCM) system in Europe in 1983. With the signing of the Soviet-American Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) in December 1987, the US Air Force began removing the GLCMs in 1988 (completed in 1991).]
I also had industrial, information and personnel security, and anti-terrorism and law enforcement. I had the working dog program, and then, confinement--I had the jails, too. What we did mostly was work to integrate the Air Base Ground Defense method, process, for the Brits and the US. The Brits really were a little better at it than we were, even though they had small forces.
We ran major exercises. In fact, we had the largest joint US-UK base defense exercise since World War II. We sat down and wrote the integrated United States and United Kingdom war fighting for airfield defense integration. We published that as a joint tactical doctrine and that really became a bible for what we did out there.
The beauty for me was that Greenham Common--I don't know if you've ever heard of Greenham Common out there, okay. Well, that was the primary Ground Launch Cruise Missile site. It was surrounded by the "Greenham Women," who were anti-nuclear demonstrators. They were there permanently. Sometimes, it would swell to a thousand demonstrators, but, usually, it's sixty or seventy or eighty of them out there.
[Editor's Note: In 1981, protests against nuclear proliferation, triggered by the United Kingdom's decision to allow nuclear cruise missiles on British soil, began at the Greenham Common Royal Air Force Base in Berkshire, England. The protests, led primarily by women, evolved into the permanent Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, an all-female effort that attempted numerous blockades and infiltrations of the base, among other protest tactics. The Peace Camp continued until 2000, nine years after the last missile was withdrawn.]
Every single night, there was an attempt for a hostile penetration into the areas, either a munitions storage area that we had, that was non-nuclear, or the base itself. We found out later, after the Soviet Union collapsed, that they funded that whole effort, but they were the anti-nuclear ladies. What that gave me was a constant attempt at hostile penetration in my areas. So, I got to experiment with every tactical detection system you could find.
I got those from all over the place, including some the Brits developed. The Brits, with no money, they developed a PVC pipe with a battery in it and a paperclip, hooked together with fishing wire that ran all the way around their perimeter. They had a board that, when the battery fell down, made contact, a light would come on for where they're coming in. They covered their whole perimeter with that. So, we went all the way from that to the latest in thermal imagery and night vision stuff and tactical sensors that I'd scrounged from the Army.
We tested everything. I had, almost four or five times a week, a hostile penetration, where we could actually test the things and see what worked. It really, really paid off, worldwide, for us, for the kind of stuff that we did.
JK: At the time, the F-111 [General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark] had a super fancy thermal imager, which was state-of-the-art, built into the airplane that they used on their bombing runs. I scrounged one of them and put it on a tower at Lakenheath Airbase and used that to surveil our perimeter. That worked great in detecting everything from young teenagers, drinking beer and throwing up outside the perimeter in a place where they met to drink beer, all the way to anybody trying to penetrate the base.
We worked with, at that time, it turned out there was a British company that had the best portable ones anywhere--they're about the size of a TV camera--thermal imagery devices. We integrated them into our effort. That turned out to be magic, because, in that large exercise I ran, the SAS [Special Air Service, British Army Special Forces] were attacking us and they tried every way to get into us. Even, they got desperate enough, in November, to try to swim in the cold canals that came toward the base. You put that thermal imager on them, it almost hurts your eyes, their head was so red compared to that cold water. That just worked great. It really did.
So, I wound up getting a 10.6-million-dollar grant, as an executive agent, to buy those systems and set them up around the United States and Europe, especially Europe, Panama. The Philippines had a major theft ring, so, we supplied Security with the thermal imagers. It really was a big step forward in perimeter detection and really, really enhanced our capability to pick them out there early.
So, when I left England, I wrote a sardonic letter of appreciation to the Greenham Women for helping us perfect our airbase defenses. [laughter] That didn't go over very well, I'm sure, but, eventually, we got them out to nine nations. It really helped improve our perimeter defense.
SI: Did you just buy these or would you go visit these areas and see how they were working?
JK: No, I just bought them as executive agent, provided them and gave them the tactics that we used, the tactical employment stuff, and got written feedback, but I never went to a site. I did get to the Philippines a couple times after that. The guys were still using them. Really, theirs was not as much terrorist as theft is so high over there. They really reduced their sneak thieves that came over the fence and stole stuff and got away with it. Yes, so, it was good, but the ladies, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ladies, are the ones that helped us with that.
At the same time, because of all that learning we were doing, we were drafting doctrine to try to change some of the base defense doctrine. That really focused on starting at the perimeter, like the Tet Offensive that hit Tan Son Nhut--the [US] Army wasn't there. The first time they knew they were under attack is, they were right on their perimeter.
[Editor's Note: The Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army launched the Tet Offensive, a series of assaults against every major city in South Vietnam, on January 30, 1968. Some battles continued until September 1968, but most ended in a Communist defeat after one month. Vietcong forces attacked the western perimeter of Tan Son Nhut Airbase, near Saigon, in the initial wave, but were defeated by US forces, resulting in over 650 Vietcong killed.]
We want to push that out further. The thermal imagery helped that, but you needed different tactics. You needed external patrols. You needed detection dogs. You needed a whole series of things. So, even though I was still in England, we started rewriting some proposals for that, for base defense doctrine. You need to reach out, either electronically or with manpower or dog power, to know, early on, if somebody's coming at you, especially now, in the day of drones and some of the short-range rockets.
The other thing we did was integrate the civil police. We set up connectivity, where they could talk to us and we could talk to them. That gave you--basically, at no cost, except for a few radios and some training--another level of perimeter stuff. So, we started doing all that stuff to change base defense.
SI: In working on these joint projects with the British military, would you say you were both on the same page when you started or was one party learning more from the other?
JK: It depends. The tactical employment of dogs and the integration of weapons systems, the Brits were ahead of us. From their World War II experiences, they still led. The Royal Air Force Regiment's really good and they're the guys that do that, nicknamed "The Rock Apes." In terms of technology, I mean, they were using PVC pipe and batteries and paperclips then. We brought in the thermal imagery and the tactical sensors and some Army systems that detect vibrations and some break-beam stuff across other areas. So, that was all new to them, to integrate it.
Also, in the UK, the separation between military and police is so extreme that they never, never employed the police to help them on their perimeters at all, and a very different policing system there. The Chief Constable is god in his area. I mean, the Queen can't tell him what to do, Parliament can't tell him what to do. He controls the policing. That's totally separate from the military and they want no part of each other, but they really did make progress in integrating their efforts, at least communication-wise. That's another long story.
In England, I was there when the Pan-Am flight got taken down in Scotland. As I said, the Chief Constable is god, and he tried to treat all two-hundred-and-some-plus bodies as individual crime scenes. It was just a mess. It was a mess. They had foxes and dogs eating bodies. The families are showing up, trying to reclaim their loved ones. He's trying to just run the scene with the smallest police force in the United Kingdom.
It was a mess, and the military couldn't help him. We offered to go up and help. They finally took verbal advice and stopped that individual crime scene thing, recovered the bodies and got them to their families, but that was a huge mess. Just their system--they couldn't be augmented by military and they certainly couldn't have Yanks come up and advise. So, really, that was a rough one.
[Editor's Note: On December 21, 1988, a terrorist bomb destroyed Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board, as well as eleven people on the ground. After years of negotiations, Gaddafi's government turned over Libyan agents in 1999, one of whom was convicted of carrying out the attack in 2001. Gaddafi admitted responsibility for the attack in 2003.]
JK: I forget the number of the flight--Pan-Am 103.
SI: Yes, Lockerbie.
JK: Lockerbie, yes.
SI: How soon after was it revealed that it was backed by Gaddafi?
JK: No, that wasn't Gaddafi's hit. I'm trying to think of the [name]--jeez, I can't believe I forget who set that up.
SI: I thought Gaddafi funded that. We could look it up.
JK: Yes, I forget, I forget who set that up. So, yes, I think maybe it was him, come to think of it. Yes, I forget, but I was involved in the aftermath and that was just an absolute mess.
The other thing that happened after that is, when they were reaching an agreement on drawing down the Ground Launch Cruise Missiles [the 1987 US-Soviet INF Treaty], then, we had to prepare both for us to go inspect Soviet sites and Soviets to come inspect our sites. So, we had to build the whole security protocol for how we did that and kept them away from other classified matter and controlled material. They had to come to the sites and inspect, but not get anything beyond what was agreed to in the thing. So, that was a huge chore to get all that done. That was a huge chore.
SI: Did you observe them while they did that?
JK: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Then, we ran two major international war fighting exercises that involved all of Europe. I got stuck being chief of staff on that. The General grabbed me and stuck me in the chief of staff role. That was wild. They were interesting exercises. They stressed us to the point where they broke us in all this stuff. It's interesting trying to plug your fingers in all the holes that appear when the enemy gets stronger and stronger and stronger, no matter what you're doing. They were really good "test-to-break" exercises.
I got to be a guest lecturer at the British Army War College -- Sandhurst. That was a lot of fun, too. Embarrassing once, the Brits have always had--that's a classed society--the batman, which is basically their enlisted assistant, who takes care of them [officers]. Well, they can't afford them anymore, so, they have civilian contracts. At the War College, the civilian contracts are about two-thirds female. So, nobody told me any of this.
So, I'm standing in the mirror, shaving, stark naked. This young lady pops in the door, had the key to the door and pops in, "Got your tea, sir, right here." [laughter] So, I learned from then, "Keep my pants on in the British establishments." So, that was funny.
SI: Did you have a good working relationship with your British counterparts?
JK: Oh, yes. As I said, we worked hard to integrate and I was the instructor for how the integration ran from the American side. So, I taught about a six-hour course down at their War College. The British police, too, were in that.
The other funny one there is the Hungerford shooting. They had a guy with an SKS [a Russian semi-automatic carbine] and two handguns, semi-auto handguns, and he started killing people in Hungerford. The British police in that area, although the city had weapons in their trunks, up there, they didn't. So, they got a couple .38 revolvers and tried to respond to this guy. They got shot, then, a bunch of civilians got killed, until they finally got in and killed the guy.
[Editor's Note: On August 19, 1987, Michael Ryan shot and killed sixteen people in Hungerford, England, before committing suicide. Ryan used a Beretta pistol, an M-1 carbine and a Chinese Type 56S, a version of the AK-47]
So, they invited me down to the police headquarters for that area, said, "What would the Yanks have done?" We had a really nice breakfast and I gave them a morning session. They fed me lunch and ran me out of there, because I was a "bloodthirsty Yank." I was trying to explain, "Under those circumstances, I mean, what you've got to do is kill him as quick as you can. So, you're talking, even if you have to get your sniper rifle, go down and get it out of the local deer hunter's area. Get your sniper rifle and get two center mass and one to the forehead."
I went through the whole scenario for how to react to that kind of a situation. It just was too bloody for the Brits. So, they thanked me very much for my participation, fed me a nice lunch and sent me on my way. I think they've changed quite a bit since then, but, at the time, they were still "the unarmed bobby."
JK: Confronting an increase in the lethality of weapons and having a hard time with it. That was interesting. Then, we ran a bunch of US shooting competitions between the Royal Air Force Regiment and the Air Force Security Forces; used to frustrate them I was always the top gun senior officer with handgun and rifle, but I got an awful lot of practice because I wound up being the only American deerstalker in England.
I controlled all the combat arms ranges and the Brits needed places to shoot. Now, they're so anti-gun that only professionals can shoot deer. They're overrun with six species of deer that tear up their environment. So, they have professional deerstalkers that are managed by the British Deer Society, but they have trouble finding any place to shoot. So, I let them use my ranges.
So, as a courtesy, they put me through their advanced stalker course. It's kind of like "bow hunter 101," if you're an American with the experience in the outdoors. They have all these remote targets set in the woods, where you can just see part of them. They put them out at first light, in the dew--there's footprints in the dew going to every single one of them. So, I shot a hundred percent on the first course of fire. They wound up consulting and they made me a British deerstalker, paid me to hunt deer 365 days a year, two bucks a pound.
JK: So, I got a lot of rifle time in. So, that paid off when I was in shooting competitions. It was great, yes. I managed Thetford Chase (over 40,000 acres) and two other locations, where you have to build an Abschussplan, which is, basically, the plan for the carrying capacity of the land that you're managing, and get an agreement with the owner that you'll shoot so many of this sex and this age. If he misses that target--if he doesn't guarantee they're gone--and they do damage, he's liable for the damage. So, you've got a contract.
SI: With the owner?
JK: The owner, yes. So, it's a pretty solid contract. So, I'd start on a Saturday morning. I'd go out to shoot two deer in the morning with a rifle, go back to the gamekeeper's lodge, hang the deer, get my shotgun and a gamekeeper's dog, go out and limit out on seven pheasant, bring the pheasant back, take some home, and then, go out in the afternoon, shoot two more deer. The game dealer would come pick them up. I'd get paid two bucks a pound for the deer for my day--so, not a bad day for an outdoorsman. [laughter]
SI: Yes, wow.
JK: I had a great time with that. I was a licensed professional deerstalker, yes. I also was the district commissioner for Boy Scouting out there. I ran the Boy Scouting program in the UK, which was great.
SI: Are there any differences you saw between the different national Scouting programs?
JK: Oh, yes. I mean, they were American Scouting programs I ran.
SI: They were for the kids on the bases.
JK: Yes, for the kids. The Brits had a very similar Scouting program, but they had a lot harder time getting the wilderness skills up. That was where the founder of Boy Scouts came from and Brownsea Island was where it started. I got to camp on Brownsea Island and go to Baden-Powell's house and have meetings. Those were good times, but the military has really active Scouting programs. So, it was fun to do.
[Editor's Note: In 1907, Lord Robert Baden-Powell led a camp on Brownsea Island, off the coast of England, to test out the ideas he would later promulgate in Scouting for Boys (1908). The camp and book launched the Scouting movement.]
SI: You were able to bring your family to England.
JK: Oh, yes, yes. We had a great time in England. So, in fact, my son--it was my son's senior year--he was not happy leaving wherever he was going to go there. He'll get mad for this story when he reads it, but he was moping around for a few days. Then, all of a sudden, two very, very attractive young girls in shorts and halter tops showed up and knocked on the door and invited him to a party. One of them is now his wife.
Then, having been a good athlete in Northern Virginia, where the competition's really tough, and getting over there, he wound up the captain and MVP of the soccer team for the high school there and, also, became the undefeated wrestling champion in the UK, for Americans in the UK, and met his wife. So, it turned out not to be a bad tour after all. [laughter]
JK: Yes, so, we had a good time there. It was interesting for me, because they're a classed society, still. As the senior rep to Her Majesty's Governor for Home Defense, I was with all the high-muckety-mucks officially, but, as "Stalker Jack," I was the guy who'd come in and have tea and biscuits with the local working folks that work on the "gov'nas'" estates and stuff, and get to hear them talk about the "gov'nas," and then, hear the governors talk about their help. It was really a great insight into the British society, which still is pretty classed.
JK: Yes. It was a lot of fun.
SI: You then, in 1990, went to Ramstein [Air Base, in the former West Germany].
SI: It sounds like you were doing something similar, but at a higher level.
JK: I was supposed to go to the Philippines as chief of security out there. Then, one of the general officers that I knew wouldn't let me leave Europe. So, he probably saved me a lot of trouble, because the guy that replaced me lost everything he owned in the Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, but there was no security slot in Europe at the time. So, they made me the Vice Wing Commander of Ramstein Air Base. [Editor's Note: Mount Pinatubo, an active volcano on the island of Luzon, the most populated island of the Philippines, erupted in June 1991, killing over eight hundred people.]
So, I went over to Ramstein and, essentially, I was the deputy base and community commander for the largest military installation in Europe, with both a major command headquarters and we had about sixty-five thousand military that we supported, plus their families. I had over seven hundred folks in the security and seventeen hundred civil engineers, thousands in morale and welfare, all kinds of housing areas, legal services, chapel, race-ethnic relations, personnel management, disaster preparedness and dining halls and dorms.
It became, which we didn't expect at the time, one of the three major input/throughput bases for DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, for the First Gulf War. So, it got really wild. We had a huge number of influx and on their way to the desert.
[Editor's Note: On August 2, 1990, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded neighboring Kuwait to secure its oil fields and key location on the Persian Gulf. Operation DESERT SHIELD began on August 7, 1990, when the first US forces arrived in Saudi Arabia, at the request of its leader, King Fahd, who feared an invasion by Iraq. Operation DESERT STORM, the US-led, UN-sanctioned coalition force assault on Iraqi-held territory, began on January 17, 1991, and concluded with a cease-fire negotiated on March 1, 1991.]
One of them was a C-5 [Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, a large transport aircraft], crashed right off the end of the runway. It's funny--that constant landing of aircraft, pretty soon, disappears from your awareness. I had just gone to bed, and all that aircraft noise out there, not even aware of it. There's a C-5 taking off, and then, all of a sudden, that loud noise stopped. Boy, I popped up in bed and grabbed the radio. The C-5 crashed off the end of the runway. So, I wound up the on-scene commander. We got thirteen folks out alive, but lost quite a few and had that C-5 crash right off the end of the base.
That was an interesting event, to get that all cleaned up. That was a malfunction of one of the engines that automatically went into a reverse, like you would do after you landed, just nosed it right in the end of the runway and killed a bunch of folks. The guys we got out were injured and beat up, but all the ammunition that was in there was cooking off. So, you've got all the guns, all the bullets going off. Luckily, if they're not contained, they'll give you a bruise, but won't really hurt you. It still gets your attention when ammunition's cooking off and you've got to go in there and get people out.
JK: So, that was an interesting time with that C-5 crash, but that's where the DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM [occurred]. That was funny because I met General Schwarzkopf, whose father had hired my father. So, we swapped some State Police stories about the New Jersey State Police. That was interesting.
SI: Since you were in Europe from the time the Cold War was still hot to the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union, and then, the beginning of our heavy involvement in the Middle East, how does that affect your job?
JK: Oh, yes. It was a major sea change. I was the Chief of Security in England at the time the Berlin Wall came down. So, though we were involved in dealing with that celebration, that was really when I started trying to redirect some of the ways that we were preparing for war out there for the Security Forces. [Editor's Note: The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 by the Communist East German government to prevent escape into democratic West Berlin, fell on November 9, 1989.]
Then, when I got pulled over to Ramstein as the base commander, I was totally involved in doing that. The only part of the security I was doing was making sure that what we had done with the Germans to deal with, potentially, a terrorist threat for trying to shutdown DESERT STORM worked. I was involved in that, but that was a lesser part of the job.
When I took over the next job, was as Chief of Security for all the United States Air Forces in Europe, that was the time for reconfiguring the way that we would deal with a war in Europe. I'll say some more about that in a minute, but some other things that I did there as the base commander were interesting. President Bush was coming out to meet Chancellor Kohl and we had to do all the security for that. [Editor's Note: Helmut Kohl (1930-2017) served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1982 to 1990, and then, unified Germany from 1990 to 1998.]
I was still pushing Equal Opportunity programs. So, they selected me the Commander of the Year for Equal Opportunity programs out there. So, that was the old foot in the race relations stuff still working, but, as soon as a slot opened up at the headquarters, then, I got pulled up there as the Chief of Security for all the US Air Force in Europe.
At that point, we had about six thousand troops out there and, plus, operating in ten different Allied nations. We were responsible for everything that had to do with security and law enforcement, law and order, safety, the law enforcement programs, the nuclear weapons security, all the aircraft, anti-terrorism programs, all the training with handguns, rifles, machine-guns, grenade launchers and the heavier weapons, the drug and alcohol program, the anti-military stuff, the labor unrest--but what I really focused on was reconfiguring our whole security posture.
From preparing to have the Russians come through the Fulda Gap and fight in place and secure airbases, it was obvious to me that the way the world was changing--the Soviet Union collapsed--that we were going to be sending troops places, instead of gaining troops from the States and fighting in place. So, we started reshuffling and getting guys ready for deployment. [Editor's Note: The Soviet Union dissolved on December 26, 1991.]
It turned out just to be in time, because we wound up putting the first troops into Angola and into Mogadishu, Somalia [1992 to 1995]. When Bosnia and Kosovo cooked up with the ethnic cleaning going on over there, we put the first troops in there [in 1995]. So, the guys had been prepared for it. We had them ready at that point in time.
They really ragged the Marines, and I still kid my son once in a while, because he's a colonel in the Marine Corps. The Marines, they did an amphibious landing coming into Somalia. My guys had already been there for a week. They were at the airport, watching them on television. So, when the Marines did their amphibious landing and came up on the beaches and came into town, the guys were ragging them and said, "Hey, we got everything all warmed up for you. Come on, guys." [laughter] We had to reconfigure the whole way we were operating for a deployed force, rather than a hunker-down, defend-your-airbase force. So, that was a real sea change.
Then, also in Germany, my deerstalker certifications for the European Union rolled into me being a Jägermeister, a game warden in Germany. So, I used to run French, German and American hunts and managed the deer herd on Ramstein Airbase. The Commanding General, USAFE general, the four-star, he and I managed the deer herd on Ramstein. So, it was General Bob Oaks, still a good friend.
[Editor's Note: General Robert C. Oaks commanded the United States Air Forces in Europe from 1990 to 1994.]
Then, I was the president, at the end, of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Rod and Gun Club. We had a great operation and used to hunt gams [chamois] up above the mountains around "the Disney castle," the Mad King Frederick's castle that they copied at Disney. [Editor's Note: Neuschwanstein Castle, located in Bavaria, was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and completed in 1886. It inspired Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.]
JK: Those mountains were full of chamois. So, we'd dress up like a German--you had to if you're going to hunt there--with the peaked hat and gamsbart and the loden robe and all the green. So, that's funny.
JK: I came out of there one time carrying a gams and a pack on my back. All these tourists came running over to me and were taking a picture of this "authentic German." I told the guy--they were Americans--I said, "Look, you tell whatever story you want, but I'm from Jersey." [laughter]
JK: So, that was a good time in Europe. We spent thirteen years overseas, and it was interesting times.
SI: By the time you left Europe, had your son already joined the Marine Corps?
JK: No. My next assignment was when he went into the Marine Corps. He graduated from Glassboro, [later renamed] Rowan, and then, went in through Officer Candidate School. He didn't want any part of the military early on, in his youth, but, then, he got out in civilian life for a while and got kind of bored and figured out it's not that bad a life after all. So, he wound up going in the Marine Corps, might as well go all the way.
SI: I am curious if that was something you discussed with him.
JK: Oh, yes, we talked.
SI: Encouraged or discouraged?
JK: That's his call, his call.
JK: But, I think he was used to--with the Security Forces guys, you're associating with people that always have your back. If it comes to a risk and putting their lives on the line, they're there for you, and that's a little harder to find in civilian life. I think that was part of it. The getting back with that kind of camaraderie, I think, was an interest, too, for him.
SI: I am curious--after the Soviet Union fell, did you ever go into any of these areas and visit, or have any inclination to do that?
JK: No. But he's been to all of them, running those major Marine Corps exercises in Eastern Europe.
JK: But, no, I didn't. One of the things I didn't mention to you that was really strange was that, after all these years of defending, learning how to kill Russians and defeat the Soviet Union in a war in Europe, when the Soviet Union fell apart and West Germany was trying to unite with East Germany, they largely funded a whole series of housing units for the Russians that were in East Germany, but they did it in the Ukraine. Then, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Ukraine was independent, says, "Ain't no Russians living here."
So, they were homeless when they got out of there, basically. A bunch of them were living in railroad cars, trying to get by in the winter. So, we wound up running bake sales and all other kinds of things, at Ramstein and other bases in Europe, to raise money to send to Russians, to take care of their families--so, talk about the world changing.
JK: Zipping by you. From all those years of training to defeat them, now, you're helping feed their families. That was really interesting.
SI: Let me pause for a second.
SI: You were in Europe until 1993. You obviously were not losing people in a combat situation, but you must have had some casualties in that long period.
SI: How would you deal with stuff like that?
JK: Well, you have to do it personally.
JK: With the families and the funerals. Yes, all the ones that are military-related, you've pretty well got a good ritual that even the spouse understands. They're less hard, and you still can get the discussions with people. I think it's the ones that are suicides or accidents, those are the ones that are actually harder, because there's no real good process to deal with that. They're the ones that are harder. It just has to be a personal link up. You've got to read the person who's the spouse and the family, see how to handle that, and, fortunately, only had a couple of those.
We had a vehicle bombing in Turkey that I'm not sure wasn't more criminal-related than terrorist-related, but killed a young kid, a young enlisted guy. In that one, they basically went back home, shipped all that home. They dealt with it there, but that would've been a tricky one, because it just wasn't clear that he wasn't doing some things on the side that got him killed in that. So, I don't know how that all turned out finally with it, but that was one in Turkey that was unpleasant. The family was still back in the US and that was handled back there.
SI: In the 1980s, the US military came under increasing scrutiny from some sectors of the European population. Did you notice increased friction with the local population?
JK: No, no, a lot of that was media only. The only real conflict was the one I mentioned, the Ground Launch Cruise Missile women who were demonstrating against the nuclear weapons in Europe. That was constant in there, yes. I had more interaction in the States than I did over in Europe. As I say, we found out later, the Russians were funding them. So, that was after the Soviet Union collapsed, but that was pretty constant.
It was funny, too. The politicians had gotten together and decided that, at Greenham Common, the Brits should be the outer perimeter and the Air Force should be the inner perimeter, which was the opposite of what we'd done for a long period of time. So, we did that for one major demonstration. Some of the ladies had the habit of rubbing themselves in feces and running up and embracing the security troops. Our guys were ready for that and the Royal Air Force Regiment, the so-called Rock Apes, aren't. They beat the crap out of some of the women. The policy changed and the Air Force was out on the perimeter and the Brits were on the inside again. [laughter] So, that was a fun one at Greenham Commons.
JK: Other than the anti-nuclear stuff over the Ground Launch Cruise Missile, and that was focused a little bit at Molesworth [an RAF airbase utilized by the US Air Force at this time], but primarily at Greenham Common. That was being funded. That's where I tested all my sensor systems, so, that worked out all right. Other than editorials once in a while in the paper, the local Brits, especially anybody thirty or over, still saw the Yanks as the World War II saviors, really well-received and very hospitable, good relationships.
SI: Going back to an earlier issue, did you see changes or similarities in how drug and alcohol abuse were affecting the Air Force at this time?
JK: Yes. They got down to almost really, really minimal impact. You no longer had the Project 100,000 personnel, which were people who really weren't qualified to be in the Air Force, but were brought in anyway because you're too short of people. They were gone. You had more applicants; except for pilot slots, you had more applicants than you needed. So, you're picking really good people. By then, it was well established culturally that, "Do drugs, you get fired." That had got down to a noise level.
Now, one of the spinoffs is, the alcohol policies worked well enough that there was an unintended side effect. Basically, the officers' and NCO clubs wound up really running short of money. So, you'll find on most bases a combined club--one section, the NCOs are in, the other, the officers are in--because they just can't afford to run the clubs the way they were, because people just aren't drinking the alcohol the way they used to. So, that was an unintended side effect that came out of the alcohol policies, but DWIs are way down. All the mistakes that used to be made in aircraft maintenance and vehicle maintenance, drunk driving accidents and stuff, are just way down.
I haven't seen statistics lately, but I suspect they're still in the same boat. When I retired, that had nearly disappeared as a major issue. It was a regular discipline annoyance that you had to deal with once in a while. It was nothing like during the Vietnam era, where half the junior enlisted troops in the Army and Navy and forty percent in the Marine Corps were doing drugs. So, that had gone.
SI: When you were at Ramstein, you received an award for Equal Opportunity.
JK: Yes, yes.
SI: Were there still issues that needed to be addressed?
JK: Oh, yes; I mean, nothing like they were. It's not levels of hostility, but the people who feel it's unfair treatment. They're not getting the job they want, not getting promoted, not having the opportunity to get training courses they want, the feeling there may be some racial elements or ethnic elements in that.
That's the kind of thing now, not taking over dining halls or burning down the building or something. It's the, "I don't feel I was treated equally." You still have to manage that, but, if you can build a high-integrity program that they trust, then, that fades into routine personnel business. That's what we were trying to do.
Also, in Germany, it was complicated because you had a lot of German workers and the German workers are unionized. So, you have the union issue. Also, in my experience--I don't know if it's still true or not--there's a higher racial prejudice thing among Germans, the traditional white Germans getting really upset with the Muslims who are filling their country.
JK: And it spreads over into other darker-skinned people. The Germans were really upset with it. I mean, you go down to a classic German square, there'll be Muslim parents around the corner and got their kids out with a tin cup, trying to get money, begging. That's just a violation of German culture that you wouldn't believe. That's not the current day--that's way back when. They would get really upset at that, the huge percent, number, of Turks in Germany and more and more Arabs coming in and their cultural threat. You're seeing a right-wing pushback on that now, but that was just starting when I was out there.
So, if you've got unionized German employees who have some reservations about working with minorities, then, you've got to deal with that, in a union environment. It gets complicated. You've got to really pay attention and work those issues. So, those kind of things, but nothing like mass demonstrations, taking over a building on the base and taking a dining hall that you have to negotiate, and then, take back, with potentially Security Forces going in to get them. Those days are way back in the Vietnam era.
SI: If US Air Force personnel had legal incidents off base, would you or your forces be involved at all?
JK: Not really. The lawyers would handle that, lawyer to lawyer. I'm trying to think if there were any isolated places where we had off-base enforcement. No, I think they were all gone by the time I was out there. You had to keep a good working relationship with the German police. Again, in England, we built an integrated system to have them involved in our perimeter defense, being aware of what's going on in our perimeter and helping us out with those kind of things. Under the status of forces agreement, no, they handled that. They may hand them back to you, but that'll all go through lawyers, not Security Forces.
SI: In 1993, you came back to the United States, to Kirtland Air Force Base [near Albuquerque, New Mexico].
JK: Yes. I took over command of the Air Force Security Police Agency. Now, it's called the Center, Air Force Security Forces Center, but, then, it was the Police Agency. It was at Kirtland. It's now moved down to Texas, to San Antonio. That's basically the organization that provides oversight and guidance to all thirty-five thousand Security Police men and women worldwide. So, they oversee the implementation of all aspects of the security program and that includes the management of nuclear stuff and physical stuff and sensor systems.
Also, we had the Air Force prisons. We closed Air Force prisons and we wrote contracts with the Navy and the Army and the Marine Corps. I was the warden for the Air Force elements of Charleston Brig, the Miramar Brig and the Leavenworth Prison. So, we were responsible for the Air Force components of that. So, I got to be a prison warden for a while.
As I said, we ran the military working dog school down there in Texas, both for the Air Force and for the Secret Service, and then, all combat arms training and maintenance of weapons. We oversaw all of that. We oversaw the Security Police training programs, the personnel security clearances and all that, the industrial security--how do you keep your physical plant safe and secure and all those elements?--security education awareness for the general military and family population. Then, we also managed all the Security Police equipment, including weaponry and armored vehicles and everything else; started with drones at that point in time, with some experimental stuff on a small scale. We managed all of that.
Also, what we didn't have that I got started was a futures branch. Basically, that whole role is, "What technology is out there? What's coming in technology? How do we apply that? How do we stay secure?" It was also the beginning of the time for computer modeling. So, we worked with some contractors and we built a joint tactical simulation system that basically was a simulation model. You could plug all the parameters in. You can fight your base defense wars, but, whichever one you're doing, you could fight on the computer first, then, tinker and see what worked the best, and then, take it out in the field and try it and see how it worked.
In later years, near the end of my time, the Joint Chiefs and the Department of Energy both tested a whole bunch of systems. Our Air Force Security Police system survived, and that was the one they used for a long time to start simulation of combat engagements and, especially, air base defense. It was a pretty good model for small-unit combat. It's past, way past, that now. It's much more sophisticated now. As they roll artificial intelligence into it, it's getting even better, but we started with the early stages of trying to make that work. I really used that later in the Department of Energy, after my civilian life started.
Then, I was still doing the athletic stuff. I ran the JFK Fifty-Miler to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. That was much more painful than it was ten years earlier. [laughter] Then, I don't even know how they got my name, but they made me the grand marshal of the rodeo on Military Appreciation Day. So, I got to ride stagecoaches around the arena and all that stuff, which I don't recommend as an experience. I don't know how they got around the West in those things before. [laughter]
I was going to stay one more year, but, then, I got a job offer from Los Alamos National Laboratory. They had terrible safety practices and terrible training practices up there. They confused live rounds and blanks. They blew a guy's chest out in a training exercise and killed him. So, they fired everybody and made me an offer I couldn't refuse for a lot more money to retire a year early and go up and take over the armed security at the Laboratory, initially. Then, later on, I took over the whole program, but, initially, I took over the pro force that was pretty hard broke. That's how I got the Los Alamos National Lab.
[Editor's Note: The Department of Energy oversees the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, originally established during World War II to conduct atomic weapons research as part of the Manhattan Project.]
SI: All right.
JK: They couldn't tell the difference between blanks and live ammo and put eleven rounds in a guy's chest.
JK: So, fired everybody.
SI: To wrap up this session, let me ask more questions about the Air Force. You were there during the beginning of the post-Cold War draw down. Did that affect you? Were you losing personnel or resources?
JK: Yes, we were drawing down. We were getting smaller, but, at that time, there was no compelling need for more. The bases in Europe were shrinking. We were down to fewer bases in Europe, fewer bases around the world, but, when you're no longer confronting a Soviet threat, you need fewer resources. The Security Forces, it was much harder to get stuff in the budget; then, obviously, that all changed on 9/11. That took care of turning that around for a long period of time.
So, for a period of time, the force was shrinking. Bases were being closed and security footprints were drawing in. The numbers of nuclear weapons you had to secure were going down. They came out of some countries that we had them pre-positioned in and fewer in places like Turkey. So, all that was going on, but that wasn't a deprivation of resources. That was an appropriate readjustment after the threat changed. Terrorism had not yet--even though it was happening intermittently--it had not turned into an ISIS or an Al-Qaeda or that kind of systematic, borderline, low-intensity conflict kind of stuff.
SI: In the middle of this, you had the Somalia operation and Bosnia-Herzegovina; I do not know if that started before you left the Air Force.
JK: No, yes, it did. Somalia did. Bosnia-Herzegovina was after.
SI: It had, yes.
SI: Which entailed the military getting involved in civil unrest in those countries.
SI: How do you adjust your agency's mission to that kind of role?
JK: Yes, I didn't have to do much of that. I'd already moved on from the Air Force, but General Mattis has the best ideas on how to do that. He and Petraeus, as they could, after the major screw-ups that happened in Iraq, they were able to adjust a little bit. Essentially, they became--can't think of the right word--but civil-military agents. They were working across the board to solve local problems and help local leaders, help local leaders to make things better, but there's no way to recover Iraq.
[Editor's Note: Secretary James Mattis, a retired US Marine Corps general who served from 1969 to 2013, finished his career as Commander of US Central Command (2010-13). He served as Secretary of Defense from 2017 to 2019. David Petraeus, a retired US Army general who served from 1974 to 2011, preceded Mattis as the Commander of Central Command (2008-10), then, served as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (2010-11), before being named Director of the CIA (2011-12).]
It's still broken, but the stupidity of the way that Rumsfeld and--what was the name of the civilian that was running operations in Iraq?--they'd come in and fire everybody who knew how to do anything, fire the whole military. All of a sudden, all the people who know how to fight war are unemployed, with no money, because of their party, every community leader is demoted--and nothing fills the gap. I mean, it's just the stupidest thing you could ever do. Generals Petraeus and Mattis fought it like mad. In their areas, they did a decent job, on a small scale, but, overall, it was just a mess. Then, it was just "Amateursville" and Rumsfeld's ego.
[Editor's Note: Donald Rumsfeld served as the Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 and from 2001 to 2006. Colonel Killeen is referring to Paul Bremer who led the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004.]
In fact, General Shinseki wound up getting squeezed out of being Chairman of the Joint Chiefs because he objected to it. He told Congress what they really needed. He said he wasn't worried about winning the war--that was going to be the easy part. The hard part was going to be stabilizing the country afterwards. Rumsfeld basically parked him, disregarded him and had him retire early, because he thought he was pumping for money when he just was really telling you what experience tells you--if you have a country that disruptive, you're going to have to do a period of time to let them get back on their feet.
[Editor's Note: Secretary Eric Shinseki, a retired US Army general who served from 1965 to 2003, ended his career as the Army Chief of Staff (1999-2003). He served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2014.]
So, all that Iraq thing--then, they started to get a little bit better, and then, Obama shuts it down again. You've got to go in and start it over. I mean, it's just Amateursville, but I was in the civilian life before all that really started.
SI: Does anything else about your time in the service stand out that we skipped over?
JK: Nothing leaps to mind. I think we covered a lot of territory. Basically, it was a great experience. I never planned to stay in the military, but, once I got hooked on trying to solve problems that hadn't been solved before, like the drug issues and the racial conflict and all that stuff, finding ways to ameliorate that and make progress, it just was intellectually and professionally so exciting and challenging that I wound up hanging around. Then, after that, terrorism showed up. So, I mean, that's just been a really good run, a lot of fun.
SI: Yes. It seems like people who are in positions of dealing with new problems tend to face an uphill battle. You were in a military geared towards fighting a large war with the Soviet Bloc, essentially. Were there areas where you felt like you were facing a lot of resistance? You mentioned the one issue with the thesis on terrorism, but were there other areas where you were maybe bringing in new ideas or something like that?
JK: You talking the drug and alcohol or the terrorism, or both?
SI: Either one.
JK: Yes. No, the racial and the drug and alcohol got to be such a serious problem--that commanders didn't have answers to--that they were looking for somebody who could take it on and figure out how to make it better. I mean, they were getting killed politically and in their effectiveness figures in maintenance and discipline rates and all that stuff, people taking over dining halls and getting ten days until they get the dining hall back from the black folks who took it and all that stuff going on. They had no answers; that's outside their experience. So, there's no question of lack of support then.
Reconfiguring the deployment of security troops in Europe, I had a real advantage there in that I mentioned that the fellow who helped me manage the deer herd on Ramstein Airbase was the Commanding General in Europe, General Bob Oaks. So, if the Commanding General is with you, you don't get too much resistance.
JK: So, the one funny story, we had a tree out behind my house there. Usually, when I had to hang a deer for a day or two before I got a chance to butcher it, I'd hang it in that tree out there. I had one woman, one wife, who I think she was a lieutenant colonel's wife, but she just hated hunting and hated killing animals. She was going to do a formal complaint against me. Her husband about choked, because it wasn't my deer--it was General Oaks'. [laughter]
So, no, he was really receptive. He very clearly understood that the game had changed once the Soviet Union was gone. He was seeing this stuff going on around the world. He knew the task in Somalia and he knew what was going on with ethnic cleansing. So, he was looking for solutions. We had a good personal relationship and he trusted me. So, there was no obstacles whatsoever. I had full support to be able to do it. So, there was no resistance, but that was unique, I mean. He's not very healthy right now, but we were good friends for quite a period of time and strong support.
JK: So, I never hit any major obstructions. There's one minor time that there's one obstacle. General Bennie Davis was the Director of Personnel Programs when I was working on the Air Staff. I worked for him when we designed the original drug programs and really got things started. I was in and out of his office all the time. He got promoted to be a three-star and Director of Personnel.
[Editor's Note: US Air Force General Benton "Bennie" L. Davis (1928-2012) served as Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Air Command from 1981 until his retirement in 1985. He became Director, Personnel Plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel in 1975, then served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel from 1977 to 1979. ]
They brought in a sharp fighter pilot, but he had no administrative experience at all. He ordered me not to ever go to see General Davis anymore. Everything came through him. So, General Davis is sending me a note, "Jack, what's going on with this?" I'm not allowed to answer it. Pretty soon, he's pissed and he said, "Get your ass up here."
So, then, the two-star went with me. He said, "Sir, I've told him, I'm the guy that has your job now, not you. I don't want him in contact with you. I'll take care of it." General Davis said, "You'd better make it work." About four months later, he was retired. [laughter] They got a new guy in, because he did that across the board. He tried to stop information from flowing to General Davis.
JK: And Davis would get a call to go to "The Hill" and talk to a Congressional staffer, "I'll see you in three hours." He's got no information, looks like a dummy, because this guy's keeping information from him and saying he's going to manage it all. Davis got fed up with it. It wasn't just me. So, that kind of obstruction happens once in a while, but it doesn't last very long when you're in a hotspot. So, he was up there for a two to three-year tour and lasted four or five months and was retired.
SI: General Davis was the head of the Personnel Office for the Air Force.
JK: For the Air Force, yes.
JK: He was, first, the Personnel Programs, as a two-star, got his third star and was Personnel for the whole Air Force. After that, he got his fourth star. I think he was Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Air Command at that point. When you're sitting in Washington and you've got the Congressmen after you every single day, you don't keep the boss from hearing bad news.
JK: You don't do that, [laughter] because you're going to mortify him when he gets over there and some staffer who's twenty-four years old knows more than the General does about his own operation. That's not going to last long, and it didn't.
So, that kind of obstruction, I never really encountered that for any period of time, but the no-holds-barred, direct information, "good, bad and ugly," you better pass up and decide how you're going to deal with it or you're gone. That's part of that, "You do that in combat, people die." So, I mean, you get in the habit of straight talk. If you don't, you don't last, no.
JK: They used to joke about, "You damn security cops, you get your promotions--ninety-five percent of you make colonel." I said, "Did you ever do the calculation on how many got fired on the route to that?" [laughter] The rate goes way down.
JK: Way down, yes. You just can't tolerate people who are screwing up protecting the nuclear arsenal, just can't do that. So, it's interesting, isn't it?
SI: Yes. As a final wrap-up question, looking at your career in the Air Force, what would you say was your most vivid memory, whether we have discussed it or not?
JK: There's a bunch. The C-5 crash was one biggie.
JK: The whole process, at the time, of reconfiguring the way we secured airbases in Europe was a biggie. That wasn't a one-time event, but that was a biggie. The experience of getting crucified by Congress for the crash on the deck of the Nimitz was another significant one. No, just off the top of my head, they kind of leap to mind.
JK: The potential civilian airliner crash at Carswell Air Force Base, when I was a new lieutenant, I was too stupid to know it. [laughter] I didn't know enough to make that up near the top of my list, but that would've been if I knew more about what the risks were there.
JK: Because all you need is for him to crash and spin off and take out three bombers with nukes on them and break them open, and then, have the radioactive issue. They wouldn't explode, but you could have radioactivity scattered all over the runway and dead civilian bodies--dodged all that, but that could've been a significant emotional experience.
SI: Yes. If there is anything else you would like to add to this session, feel free.
JK: I don't think [so].
SI: If not, I will save my questions for next time.
JK: Sounds like a plan.
SI: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
JK: Absolutely, absolutely.
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Transcribed by Jesse Braddell 10/6/2019
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 4/23/2020