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I suppose there are kids who dream of becoming the next James Bond and grow up reading spy novels. Not me. I spent my childhood building drag racers in the hills of Oklahoma and Texas.
When I went to college, I picked a really boring major—chemistry—with vague ideas of becoming (yawn) a hospital administrator. I signed up for Army ROTC simply because it paid my rent ($25/month; living was cheap in those days). The only vaguely out of the ordinary thing I did was take Russian. The repercussions from that have been endless.
As a newly minted second lieutenant, I owed the Army two years' active service. Naturally, I requested hospital administration as my duty assignment. The Powers That Be saw that "Russian" on my transcripts and sent me to spy school.
I learned how to plant listening devises, steam open letters, and discretely follow people through the seamy sections of a city (in a suit, no less). The Army then used my newly acquired skills to spy on the good citizens of Houston, Texas. We ran operations against everyone from the John Birch Society to the American Communist Party and the SDS, and had a great time. In fact, it was so much fun that I thought, Maybe I'll stay in the Army. The downside to staying in the Army in 1967 was that I knew I'd probably get shipped to Vietnam. So I volunteered.
The Army sent me to Vietnamese language school, where I spent months learning how to say lots of useful things like, "Don't piss in your well." Then I flew to Vietnam. As a volunteer, I got to pick my assignment. I'd been in the Army long enough to know that people living in the jungle as "advisors" tended to have a nasty casualty rate. I wanted to be in a unit, surrounded by a whole bunch of guys in green uniforms to protect me. I ended up at a big base camp north of Saigon, as a counterintelligence officer with the Big Red One.
I spent my days running agents and playing hearts. About half way through the year, my fishermen and woodcutters starting telling me the North Vietnamese were planning a major offensive around the time of Tet. Of course, that was in the days when everyone from General Westmorland to the politicians in Washington was talking about "the light at the end of the tunnel." A big North Vietnamese offensive didn't fit in with that rhetoric, so the reports of my fishermen were discounted. Then, one dark night in February of 1968, I went out with a patrol of ten guys to capture a half dozen Vietcong who were supposed to be gathering at a nearby village. We were hiding at the edge of a rice paddy and watching the path to the village when the entire 273rd North Vietnamese regiment came sweeping down the valley toward our base camp. Yup, we'd essentially smacked right into the Tet Offensive. I have never run so fast in my life. And I learned a valuable lesson about fishermen, generals, and politicians.
I came back from Vietnam a captain. After more schooling, I caught a really tough duty assignment: Hawaii. I was responsible for keeping track of the North Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian forces for the Ground Order of Battle Section at the US Army, Pacific. I spent a lot of time flying into Thailand to meet with the CIA and drinking wine with my Aussie counterparts in Canberra.
But nothing good ever lasts forever. In 1972 I went back to Vietnam, this time to Saigon, making frequent trips with Air America types into Laos and Cambodia. I can honestly say, Mel Gibson got it right. The less interesting parts of the job involved preparing intel reports for Kissinger and the Peace Process. After that came three years in Colorado, and then it was on to Washington, D.C..
My first assignment with the Defense Intelligence Agency in D.C. was in the East European and Soviet logistics division, where we tried to establish enemy capabilities. It was our job to answer the question, What can the Soviet Union do, and how fast can they do it? I also spent some time in places like Peru, surreptitiously snapping pictures of airports and military installations. This was a more photogenic side trip.
I then shifted to the Army Intelligence Command. It was here that I became involved in what the government called "Human Improvement Studies," which included remote viewing. I soon found myself attending spoon-bending parties, learning about neuro-linguistic programming, and walking on fire. The Army even sent me to the Monroe Institute for a few weeks to learn how to have out of body experiences and remote view. I personally wasn't very good at it, although I witnessed some amazing things. After that, I joined the newly formed Intelligence Division at the Army Material Command, where I was Deputy Director of Intelligence. This time my job was to answer the question, What are the Russians building? I also had direct responsibility for the security of classified programs, which meant I was given access to all of the Army's black R&D programs.
By that time I was a lieutenant colonel, I'd been in Washington for over ten years, and the Army was making noises about sending me to the wilds of eastern Turkey. I started thinking it was time to try something different. I was offered a job as head of security for an oil exploration company in sunny Louisiana. I retired from the Army and moved to New Orleans.
It didn't take me long to realize that running security for a civilian company is pretty boring. I decided use the training the Army had given me in neuro-linguistic programming and organizational development, and moved into the field of human resources. I took up SCUBA diving and started going on Earthwatch programs in places like Borneo and Costa Rica and Barbados. It was at this time that I also started writing fiction.
I joined a couple of writers groups, where I met the novelist Candice Proctor. She was writing a book that involved an out-of-body experience, and I told her about my experiences at the Monroe Institute and about remote viewing. She said, "Hey, that'd make a great thriller series!" Five years, a marriage, and a major hurricane later, here we are.
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Candy's fun bio