In 1959, I was given TAD orders to inspect contract buoyes on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska. I was stationed on the Coast Guard cutter Clover, a 180 foot buoy tender-ice breaker, home ported at Adak, Alaska, one of the Aleutian Islands and a Naval Air Station. It was my first assignment after OCS.

I was flown by a USCG airplane 1,043 miles from Adak to Kodiak, then by another USCG plane 391 miles from Kodiak to Bethel, Alaska where I was picked up by the owner of a tug boat who was the civilian paid by the government to maintain the buoys.

After the inspection, he drooped me off at the Air Force Distant Early Warning (DEW) staiton outside of Bethel to spend the night. To my surprise, there was no gate house with a guard in it. I walked into the building. I saw lights coming from an office. There was a First  Lieutenant sitting at a desk. He looked up at me and in a surprised tone, said, “who are you?” My uniform did not seem to make any difference. I gave him my name and told him why I was there. He asked for my id card which I gave him. He then asked for my shot record which had to carry in those days. After looking at it, he picked up the phone and called the station commanding officer. A major came through the office door on the double, looked at my Id card and shot record then he questioned me for some time. He then picked up the phone and told someone to raise Naval Air Station, Adak, on the radio to confirm my identity. After that, he told the lieutenant to put me under house arrest until my identity was confirmed. I was a bit unnerved and thought I was going to be locked up in a brig.

The lieutenant told me to pick up my flight bag and follow him. He took me upstairs to the 2nd floor to a bedroom with two bunks, told me to leave my flight bag there and follow him. I thought he was taking me to a cell. We walked to the end of the hallway, he opended a door and we walked into a big room that had a bar. He told me to sit on one of the bar stools and asked me what I wanted to drink. He poured it, poured one for himself and we had a nice conversation.

We were in the bar for quite some time because they could not pick up NAS Adak on the radio. One of their sergeants was a ham radio operator and he finally reached a Navy ham radio operator at the Naval Air Station and my business and identity were confirmed.

The following morning, the lieutenant drove me to the airport. When we said goodbye, I thanked him for the USAF’s very hospitable imprisonment.