La Crosse, WI
Russian Linguist
January 1958 - June 1959

It is always difficult to write an autobiography - without it sounding pompous or self-congratulatory. And without it telling so much that identity thieves find their work already completed and ready for the taking.  I grew up in a small Indiana town/farm community where nearly everyone was relatively well-off and everyone finished high school. I graduated second in a high school class of 18 persons, just missing graduating in the upper 10% of my class. Bummer. I attended one year at Manchester College - had hoped to become a chemist, at least until I discovered that I really enjoyed alcohol, that my high school chemistry experience was a joke, and that Manchester’s chemistry program was focused singularly on preparing students for medical school.

I, like I suspect many of us, was fascinated by the Army recruiter’s mysterious non-description of ASA - he knew exactly nothing but made it sound like MI5 or something of that sort. I enlisted in 1956, did my basic at Fort Leonard Woods in Missouri, and reported for duty at Fort Devans and a battery of tests. Three plus years of Latin and one year of French worked their charms for the language test, and I was sent to Monterey ALS for the 12 month Russian course. I must admit that that was the most difficult year of my life - or it should have been. But I was only 19 years old, and I did not apply myself as I ought, with the consequence that I graduated near the bottom of my class. Assigned to Germany, I was first sent (after a short stay in Frankfurt) to Heilbronn where I made my first and fatal mistake of asking too many questions. I was offered two choices: 1) return to school for additional Russian language training or 2) transfer to the 280th Company in Berlin. I took the latter - more language training was just too much for me to consider, and I wasn’t particularly bright at the time.

My memories of Berlin laid broken and questionable for nearly 50 years, until I met together with several other 280th ASAers in Washington D.C. late in 2005. We swapped stories and memories, and I began to recollect details that I had long forgotten or repressed. We also talked about constructing a history of the unit’s existence in Berlin from 1957 to 1961 - a task that was assigned to me since I have gained over time experience in such projects. My memories (and many of yours) are contained essentially in that history - the “Social History of the 280th USASA Company.” I worked at Tempelhof in tower 5 (at the NE end, just below the Airforce).

After ASA, I transferred to Indiana University where I eventually earned three degrees:
AB in History, MAT in Social Studies, PHD in African History. IU in the late 50s and early 60s was still pre-flower children era, so we wore sports coats and ties to classes, and we studied normal stuff. I thought about concentrating in Russian Studies (but that field began to close up), but I switched to Education and Social Studies. At the same time I fell in love with Asian histories, but advanced studies there seemed too out of reach when it became clear that I would need to learn both Chinese and Japanese to become an expert in that field. I obtained my MAT in 1962 and taught for two years in Saint Louis, Missouri, before returning for IU’s PhD program - in African history which was a beginning field with lots of job opportunities (or so I had been told). In the meantime, however, I spent 3 months in Tokyo (International Christian University - ICU) as a participant in a Fulbright/Hays program for high school teachers. At IU I met my wife Nancy, with whom I continue to be married. We have one daughter and one grandchild.

From 1968 to 1996, I taught histories (African, Japanese, Chinese, World Civilizations, Methodology) at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse campus. Nancy taught courses in Sociology and Anthropology, also at UW-L. The university at La Crosse is a major feeder school to the Madison branch, and as such does not emphasize research, publications, or public relations - just factory-style teaching with grosso-sized classes and little time for professional development - unless it was in the field of teaching. La Crosse treated me well, but it was perhaps not the best of choice. But we did participate for two years plus in Malaysia in the Midwest Universities’ Consortium for International Development which prepared students ‘there’ to finish coursework ‘here’ for degrees in economics, computer studies, and business education. I did receive a Fulbright/Hays Fellowship to study at the American University in Cairo in 1989. I retired in 1996, after which I have spent my time volunteering, researching/writing, and traveling to that part of the world I enjoy the most - SouthEast Asia.

My research interests have tended to focus geographically on the countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea/Conakry on Africa’s western coast. I have written about the transition period before the beginning of colonialism (pre 1880) when that region was changing from a commerce in which slave trading played a major role to one where commodities (peanuts, hides, timber, wax, etc) came to prominence. I also have concentrated upon slave insurrections and social/political transformation along the coast and within African social units during the same period. Research on African topics, unfortunately, involves time, travel and expense - something of short supply in this household and at UW-L. In consequence, I also have written about the expansion of Black settlers along the Mississippi River and of the history of Black settlement in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Google me or check me out on


BI 130 000 000