Tag Archives: Canal Zone

And so it begins

On June 9, 1976, I started Air Force basic training. On June 9, 1980, I started classes at Southern Illinois University. On June 9, 1989, I arrived in Japan to teach English. Today I published The Panama Affair. Coincidence? I don’t think so. After almost two years of writing and revising and then writing and […]

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City on Fire

Nearing the end of my novel about Panama and the exciting conclusion which takes place during Operation Just Cause. Will Kevin Rooney save the friend who betrayed him by the stealing Inez, the girl of his dreams, away from him ten years earlier? Will Buck Smith, the CIA agent, allow his Panamanian friend, who he […]

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Panama Daze

Here’s a real photographic blast from the past for you! Bud Tristano, this guy I was stationed with at Howard Air Force Base back in 1978 sent this photo to me the other day of us standing next to Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the canal. Thanks for the photo Bud!

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Goofy Falls Revisited

It is always so cool when something I’ve blogged about—especially an essay about the time I was stationed in Panama or growing up in the Illinois Valley—generates some comments or reconnects me with people from those periods of my life or places I’ve lived or visited. Today it was someone coming across a blog I […]

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Getting inked for the first time

I hadn’t given much thought to getting a tattoo when I joined the Air Force but when I got to Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone in September 1976, my first duty station, I had a change of heart: three months later I was ready to be inked. What brought about this […]

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Goofy Falls — Somewhere in Panama

I can’t recall the first time I heard about Goofy Falls when I was stationed in Panama at Howard Air Force Base from 1976-1978 or understood why it had been called Goofy Falls in the first place but for many people stationed on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, it was an alternative to […]

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Pictures for Lily, Part 2 (concluded)

On the day of my big date with Lily I threw on the best shirt I owned, splashed on some Mon Triomphe (it was either that or my roommate’s Old Spice), “dragged a comb across my head” and like the song also goes “made the bus in seconds flat”—but even if I didn’t, another one […]

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Crossing the Isthmus of Panama with Howard and Other Stories — Part 4

Let’s look at the scorecard thus far.  It’s 1976. I graduated from high school on June 3; six days later I was at Lackland Air Force Base doing my basic military training. On July 4, we could stay up past 9:00pm to celebrate our Bicentennial. From our barracks’ windows we could see a fireworks display. Happy […]

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Crossing the Isthmus of Panama with Howard and Other Stories — Part 3

  When I first arrived at Howard AFB in September 1976, there were very few airmen below the rank of E-4. From what I understood, before I arrived most of the airmen stationed at Howard had served in Vietnam—either at bases in Thailand or Vietnam. Whether or not that was true or not, or one […]

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Crossing the Isthmus of Panama with Howard and other stories — Part 2

I had been at Howard Air Force Base for just a little over a month before my friend Howard Hakkila arrived. It was great to see him again and we quickly started hanging out and having fun when we were not working.  One of the first outings that Howard and I went on was to […]

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