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Others #3

Fanning Island ~ 1966 - 67  Pictures by and comments by Don Hassenbein

My tour on Fanning Island. I traveled with the equipment from Seattle to Fanning Island. This was my first time on a ship and it was quite an experience. Food was outstanding with Steak and Lobster just about every night. Seamen aboard had a sport called "Shark Mounting" in which they caught larger and larger sharks, until they caught a really big one. They winched the sharp up, shot him in the head with a shotgun and then cut his head off and brought it onboard. When shark body fell into the water, a "shark frenzy" occurred which is the scariest thing I ever saw. Debarking the ship was no fun, since the smaller boat rose and fell about 30 feet. Once on shore, we found great quarters built years earlier by Japanese but wonder why all the beds had netting. The first morning we found out when we awoke to find the netting filled with hundreds of salamanders, who scattered as soon as you yelled. Mail was air dropped and yes, once they dropped our equipment and paychecks in the ocean.

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Departing from Seattle

At sea

Shark souvenir jaw, could swallow a man

Quarters built by Japanese during war

Weather work site

Crab which challenged the photographer


There were millions of crabs on the island and at night they would lay on the dirt road, even while you were driving over them. The next morning they were all gone, eaten by their crab buddies. There were natives, and missionaries, on the Island and we participated in some of their celebrations. The natives were friendly but swimming was out of the question since the island was surrounded by sharks.



Island missionary chapel

Island children

Island celebration dancers

6th WS's Don & Ken Hermach with children

Ghinnir, Ethiopia ~ 1966  Pictures by and comments by Don Hassenbein

Photos from my Ghinnir, Ethiopia tour. It was the most challenging tour I had at 6th Weather. I was responsible for maintaining all equipment on the site, including the power generator and hydrogen generator, etc. I flew from Addis Abbaba (yes, I visited the Blue Nile bar) and landed on a dirt road (Ghinnir). Our mail, food and water were all air dropped and we communicated with our PR6 radios. Rather than living in a tent, we lived in a mud house with the Ethiopian Air Lines Manager, who we allowed to use our radio. We slept on army cots which you can see in the photo. The other 2 guys there were really good cooks and I also became one during my 6 months. The 25-Alpha site mascot was a Baboon named "Fred" after the fellow who convinced the others to keep him. I was scared to death of him, and his long teeth, but grew to become friends.

Landing field

Welcoming committee

Don's room

Our kitchen

6WS site & Fred grabbing snack off donkey

Dick Kamp & Harry Coffin with new shower

As you can see from these photos, things got better. We placed a 55 gallon drum on the roof, filled it with water and within 2 days, the other 2 guys had their first shower since they arrived. I also repaired the power generator and hooked up wiring to our mud house and we were the only house in Ghinnir with electric lights. Maintaining the site was a challenge but we really did not work that often since releasing a Rawindsonde depended on the weather and a go-ahead from HQ. We averaged about 4 days of work per month, the rest was spent waiting to be told to launch a balloon. Fred and I became best of friends until I teased him once too often (with a large turtle) and he bit me in 3 places. We made up that day. Going to the bathroom at night was scary since they were hyenas, lions and tigers all over the place. We had no weapons but great flashlights!

Don washing Fred

Fred, our site 25-A mascot

Baboon porno - X rated

Site view - all mine to maintain - gulp!

Photo of our "bathroom" shows how modern it was. It was about 50 feet from the mud house so you had to run when you went there at night (or be eaten by the animals). On market day, I "drove" my donkey to market and returned with local goods (chickens, eggs, etc). One day we found a baby cheetah but the other 2 guys would not agree to keeping her.

Our modern bathroom

On the way to market (fuel efficient)

The Ghinnir marketplace

Returning from market

Baby cheetah found in the jungle

We found a baby baboon in the jungle and the other guys said I could keep her but she was my responsibility. They named her "Donna" after me and she was a cute little thing. I was concerned about how Fred would react to her but when they met, she immediately jumped on his back which confused Fred, who was a confirmed bachelor. Since he was tied to a chain, their rides were very short. I warned Fred not to take advantage of Donna, like he had done to our legs and shoes and he seemed to understand that, especially since I had punished him before for throwing up on my bunk during one of his many "escapes". I considered bringing Donna back but it would have been impossible to do. Perhaps she and Fred got married later in life....

Baby Donna, named after Don

Uncle Fred grooming Donna

Vandenberg AFB ~ 1965  Pictures by and comments by Don Hassenbein

Photos from my tour at Vandenberg. Good news is that my family was allowed to come with me, bad news was that they put me up in a trailer park. Our oldest son John wandered away from the trailer and we almost lost him. It was great to be able to watch the rocket launches from our site.

Quonset hut with Don's son James at door

Temporary housing

Don's wife Elke & sons John and James

Fort Greely, Alaska ~ 1965 - Pictures by and comments by Don Hassenbein

Project Elkhorn consisted of artillery being fired into the center of three 100 foot towers and then determining which way the wind would blow under certain conditions. This was hazardous duty but everyone survived. Our command post was about 1 mile from the Towers. We used high-tech wind speed and direction scientific equipment.

Plug in oil heaters for cars

View from one of three towers

A long way down

Looking up tower from ground

SSgt Hassenbein, NCOIC Project Elkhorn

Don in middle, Athens on way to Ethiopia

On staging island for returning equipment

SSgt Fuller - Please help ID others

? Island -  Returning from Fanning Island

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For links to additional picture web pages taken by Doug Wilson click on:  Port Moresby #2  -  Wewak #2

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