I was walking the other day when my mind started wondering and I started thinking about the path my life had taken me. Various thoughts came to me in bits and pieces and in somewhat random order. I chuckled when I thought about when my supervisor and I were in Canada for a meeting and he spent the evening in the bar while I worked back in my room on my talk for the following day. After returning back to the U.S., I learned (while being debriefed) about how I had been followed and a foreign agent (who had been trying to get some info from me that had nothing to do with the intelligence work I did) spent many hours with my supervisor in the bar. My supervisor didn’t know about a side job I had nor what I really did, so the foreign agent didn’t learn anything about my work; but my supervisor was questioned for several hours by an intelligence agency after he returned to the U.S. Odd, how that thought came to me after looking at this path.
Those thoughts then led to other occurrences of mine and I wondered how, or if, they were connected. It all started when I was studying Aerospace Engineering in my sophomore year at WVU when an Air Force Colonel tried to convince me to join the Air Force, but I hadn’t signed up for a physical required for joining. After several discussions with the Colonel, I learned that he had been the flight instructor for the original CIA U2 pilots and that he was stashed away at WVU after Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission in Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident. Later, the Colonel made arrangements for a noncommissioned officer to drive me to Washington D.C. for an overnight visit in the winter of 1961-62 to undergo a physical that I expected to fail due to my eyesight. Little did I know that I was the only one getting a special physical that day and that the Air Force eye doctor was a fellow West Virginian whose parents lived only a mile from my parents place on the Buckhannon river and that he would give me a waiver and that I would pass my physical. I never did join the Airforce, but after that I started on a civilian career in 1963 of working for the Navy, the Army, and indirectly for the Air Force and NASA and covertly for intelligence agencies.
My story goes on as I ended up becoming a covert technical analyst for intelligence agencies while I worked at a Navy research and technology laboratory and how my supervisors never knew what I was doing and how a photograph (not one of mine) led to my in-depth involvement later. It was a simple photograph of two Russian navy sailors on a dock having their photo taken as they were about to go out to sea, but really it was information passed on without notice or discord. The issue for me was what was behind them in the photograph hidden under a tarp while being lifted by a crane onto the ship. That was one of the few photographs that I will never forget as it was burned into my brain. I can still see it in my mind today … it continues.