06 June 2008

The 4 Seasons of the CAL ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

From the Citizen Soldier side: I've been writing about my adventures in police work and Iraq, but I've never written about some of the "good old days" in the California Army National Guard. (One weekend a month my ass.) I got out of the "real" Army in the 1970's. I stayed away from the Green Machine for a long time. Then one night I was having a cup of coffee with a cop friend of mine from another department and he mentioned that he was in the Guard. I asked a few questions...then before I knew it I had signed up.

I joined a Combat Engineer unit near where I lived. It was great. They had all kinds of big trucks, tractors, dozers, and guns to go with them. We were like construction workers with machine guns. I had gone to a short Engineers school and became MOS qualified so I could do my job. I loved the Combat Engineers. Not only did we get to build things and play with guns...but every once in a while we got to blow stuff up!

We came to call the missions the State called us out for the "Four Seasons of the Cal National Guard" they were Earthquake, Flood, Fire and Riot (after 9/11 we added the fifth- War.)

October 17, 1989. I live in the area where the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland As are the "local" base ball teams. So when they were both in the World Series on this date, I was at home getting ready to watch the game on the TV. There was nothing that could prevent me from seeing this game. Baseball is the greatest sport in the world.
October 17, 1989 5:04 PM. Just as I was cracking open a cold beer....the TV went blank. Then a few seconds later, my house started shaking so bad that I could barely stand up. ( when a big earthquake hits, it's like a rolling action. It started south of San Francisco, then rolled in all directions....it took out the power in the city, then a few seconds later it hit where I lived.) My 6 year old son was upstairs and he began to scream. I had told him where to go if there was an earthquake...but how could I expect a 6 year old to actually remember that under a 7.1 earthquake?

IT shook like hell for what seemed like days. I got my family under the dinning room table (it was made out of Oak and if the house fell, at least we'd die under a nice table.) The shaking stopped. I we waited for 5 more minutes....no after shocks. OK we lived. I got up and had everyone go outside the house while I checked for gas leaks etc. Almost everything was OK.

Then I called the Police Dept where I worked to see if they needed me. But the phones were not working. An hour or so later when the phones were working, I called the PD again. The officer said he thought everything was ok and they didn't need me. So then I called my National Guard unit. They said they had no calls yet (the phone lines at the the center where still out...so nobody knew for awhile how bad it was.) About 70 people died in what became the Loma Prieta Earthquake, or the Quake of 89'.

I went to bed about 10 PM. At 10:20 PM the National Guard called me. They said the grab my stuff and come on in...we were needed.

To be cont.

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