November 22, 1963
Yes, this article is about BDSM -- but like the BBC-TV program "Connections" with James Burke, you have to go all the way to the end to see how all of these points form a nexus of events. The first two paragraphs have been written to give you, the reader, a little feel for the world of 1962.
During WW II, the Japanese had invaded China and declared the entire country to be part of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese had built biological and chemical nerve agent labs on the Chinese mainland, and used Chinese citizens as test subjects.
Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Chinese people during WWII, was a US ally and helped defeat the Japanese on their western front. After WWII, and after Chiang Kai-shek had regained control of the Chinese government, Mao Tse-tung and the "Red Chinese" took control of the country, and set up the "Peoples Republic of China" (PRC). Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan and set up an new anti-communist, Chinese government on the island of Taiwan. The Taiwanese referred to themselves as the "Republic of China" (ROC).
Because Chiang Kai-shek was "fighting communism" (the PRC), and he was an ally during WWII, the US government poured millions of dollars and a lot of "advisors" to help support Taiwan. As part of this support, the US Seventh Fleet provided an on-station Task Force to show naval strength in that part of the world.
The Taiwanese government and the Republic of China (PRC) disputed the ownership of two islands, Quemoy and Matsu, in the China Ocean between the two powers. These islands were an international trigger point, and it was thought (at that time) the fight over the ownership of these islands just might trigger an all out war between China (being supported by Russia) and Taiwan (being supported by the US), causing an all-out world-wide nuclear war.
Since Quemoy was about eight miles offshore, it was well within the range of land-based big-bore guns. Starting in October 1958, and for quite a few years thereafter, the PRC would fire onto the islands on a regular basis.
The US government under President Eisenhower poured millions of dollars in aid to support the Taiwanese and their "fight against Communism in the region". Anti-aircraft missles to clear the air of Russian built MIGs were "loaned" to the Taiwanese. Several eight-inch guns capable of firing nuclear shells were installed. Hundreds of amphibious vessels used during WWII were sold to the Taiwanese, ostensibly for "scrap metal". Instead of breaking these ships up for scrap metal, they were upgraded. They were outfitted with much more weaponry than the US had ever designed these ships to carry.
When the Duncan visited Kaohsiung, I was amazed at the number of 20cal, 40cal, three inch and five inch guns that were mounted atop almost every building in the city. Most of us in the Navy at that time used to joke that we were there to "Keep the ROCs on the island as opposed to keeping those PRC's on the mainland".
In 1960, one of the primary debating points between Nixon and Kennedy was "should the US Government continue support of the Taiwanese government".
JFK & PT-109
Obviously, many Americans were affected by his death, but I think there was a special linkage between JFK and most American sailors. JFK had been a member of the Navy during WWII, piloting a Torpedo Patrol boat, the PT-109, based at Rendova Island in the South Pacific.
The PT-109 was sunk when it was rammed by the Amagiri, a Japanese Destroyer on August 3rd, 1943. The crew of PT-109 was in the water for four hours, until they were able to swim to Plum Pudding Island. JFK swam an additional 4k to find a better place, having food, water and places to hide from the Japanese Navy. He was able to move his entire crew (minus two men lost during the ramming) to Olasana Island and to await rescue four days later. To avoid the capture of his crew, JFK travelled to a prearranged rendezvous point to meet with PT-157 and PT-171 on August 7th, 1943.
JFK became a naval hero, and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.
November 22nd, 1963
If I ask you where you were on November 22st, 1963, you would look at me totally askance,and say "I haven't a clue! Why?" or "What happened on those dates?" Having read some of the previous paragraphs, you probably have several clues to my answer to this question.
Most of you reading this body of work are probably to young to remember, but the 22nd was the day that John F. Kennedy was shot while in Texas. I'm not going to rehash all of the theories, conspiracy or otherwise, about JFK's death. I am going to tell you about my experience on these two dates.
I was stationed aboard the USS Duncan, and we were just off the coast of Taiwan as part of the naval task force with a aircraft carrier as its centerpiece. My duties included maintaining a long range (300 miles plus!) AN/SPS 43 radar system.
On the 22nd, when our task force received the news of the JFK assassination, we immediately went to "General Quarters" (GQ), and we remained at GQ for nearly forty-eight hours. It was not known if JFK's death was a single point event, or if it was but a small part of a impending global event.
When GQ was announced, the Duncan was closed up, tight as a drum, to defend against any attack. The entire crew were at "white-knuckle attention" (WKA) for several hours. Civilians seldom experience WKA; unless you are a pilot trying to land an aircraft in really bad weather; or a driver in those few hundredths of a second prior to an impending auto accident.
After being at GQ and WKA for several hours, it became "almost obvious" that the JFK assassination was a single point event. At that time, we remained at GQ, but we were released from WKA. We were allowed to open doors (allowing us to get a little fresh air) and start a rotation of crews for bathroom breaks. The galley/kitchen was opened and they started making sandwiches and coffee for the remainder of the crew. Like I said, we were at GQ for nearly forty-eight hours.
Those forty-eight hours meant being forced to stay in one place, contemplating the potential for World War Three. GQ is a time of weighing life, death and mortality. A Marine chaplain once said, "There are no atheists in a foxhole". For those moments, minutes or hours of danger, your body undergoes a tremendous transference of stored body mass into muscle driving energy. It is not uncommon for people under stress to lose several pounds of body mass in a fairly short period of time. The second problem comes weeks or even months later. Depending on the level and length of time a person is subjected to stress, a person develops Post-traumatic stress disorder: "PTSD". During WWII and Korea, it was called being "shell-shocked".
When I talk to people who have actually faced potential life/death situations, I have always found it amazing how many people change their entire viewpoints of "what is important to me" and of life in general. I think that people who have been faced with these issues fall into three categories:
- those who "confront their memories", overcoming the event and becoming stronger,
- those who "avoid their memories", retaining repressed memories which they won't even talk about, and
- those who "bury their memories" and are ultimately crushed by the event and develop PTSD.
One of the things I discovered about myself during those forty-eight hours was that I truly, personally wished to be in control - it reinforced my "Master persona". I, as a person, enjoyed the idea of being the dominant person in my relationships.
I also decided that I did NOT like the idea of not knowing what was happening. I vowed that, if those in power should so decide, I should survive, I would strive for knowledge and intellect.
I also found that I wanted to treat friends and family in a positive, constructive manner, and that I, as an individual, am charged with protecting those around me.
I discovered that I truly enjoy adrenaline as a drug of choice. I enjoy flying and driving sports cars. I enjoy the feel of a bound female moving beneath me. I enjoy the power that being a Master allows me.
Over the years, I have also found that the heights of your emotional experiences are defined and limited by the depths of those emotional experiences. Like your body, you can become inured to your emotional or psychological environments.
A little historical trivia
- During WWII, Claire Chennault developed "Flying Tiger Airlines" to fly war material (and to provide fighter support) from India, over Japanese held Burma, to provide support to the Chinese government being led by Chiang Kai-shek. This flight plan required flying over the Burmese mountains, and was known as "flying the hump".
- In 1942, Chennault and his group of Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk aircraft (with their distinctive tiger teeth painted on them) and their pilots were inducted into the US Army Air Force.
- After WWII, many of the air-cargo pilots remained in the orient, forming the "Chinese Air Transport" (CAT), an obscure reference to "Flying Tigers".
- The CIA regularly hired CAT to fly supplies (in "surplus" C-119 Flying Boxcars) to "various agencies that the US wished to support", including the besieged French garrison at Dien Bien Phu in Viet Nam. (Hiring CAT also allowed a certain amount of deniability on behalf of the US Government.)
- When the US Government wanted to provide support to the civilian Vietnamese, the hired CAT to fly supplies in to the "freedom fighters", and CAT was to become "Air America".
- As the US buildup began, it was obvious that more supplies were needed than aircraft could deliver. Evergreen Marine was formed with support from the CIA.
- Today, Evergreen Marine is the worlds fourth largest shipping company, and holds a stake in Evergreen Airways.