Life & Duty

Life & Duty

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a€œThe fact of being a citizen of the United States of America offers the opportunitya€”not the guarantee, but the opportunitya€”to live an extraordinary life, a€ Les Joslin writes in the introduction to Life a Duty, an autobiography in which he proves his thesis as the relives the first seventy years of his American adventure. He shares these years in twenty chapters that comprise this three-part volume. Part I covers his family heritage and early years from 1943 to 1967, Part II his U.S. Navy career from 1967 to 1988, and Part III his life in Oregon from 1988. From Part I, Chapter 5, Summer 1965 on the Toiyabe National Forest... That wasna€™t the first time Ia€™d dealt with an armed citizen, and it wouldna€™t be the last. Some of the challenges of my fire prevention job had nothing to do with wildfire prevention but everything to do with the fact I was sometimes the only public servant around to handle a situation. It had to do with that sometimes gray area between official duty and moral obligation. The previous summer, on my way to Twin Lakes, I detoured to check the dump Ia€™d burned a few days before. Suddenly, I heard shots, just as the Lone Ranger and Tonto did in the opening scene of almost every episode, and what I saw as I neared the dump scared me. A big, beefy, fortyish man standing next to a late-model Cadillac sedan was firing a high-powerd rifle.... Hea€™d heard me coming, and turned as I stopped the patrol truck. He didna€™t look particularly threatening. But there were serious unknowns. I didna€™t know him. I didna€™t know what he might shoot at. I didna€™t know he wouldna€™t shoot at me. From Part II, Chapter 10, November 1979 aboard USS Kitty Hawk... On November 28, I got up, showered and shaved, put on clean khakis as usual, and started toward the wardroom for breakfast. The usual scent of salt and jet fuel was in the air, and I had a lot on my mind. I descended two ladders to the hangar bay, only to be brought up short by bumping my head on a helicopter that wasna€™t supposed to be there. A quick look around revealed seven more RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters that their HM-16 markings told me belonged to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Sixteen, not part of the shipa€™s air wing. So thata€™s why the swing south to Diego Garcia! Theya€™d been flown there, probably in C-5As, and had flown aboard last night. Had I actually slept through flight quarters? I forgot about breakfast, climbed the ladders back to the 02 level, and knocked on the door of the flag N-2a€™s office. a€œThis isna€™t going to work, a€ I said as he opened the door. a€œWe cana€™t fly those helicopters into a city of five million hostiles and rescue fifty hostages.a€ a€œThey dona€™t want to hear that, a€ he replied, and closed the door. From Part III, Chapter 15, Summer 1992 on the Deschutes National Forest As I walked toward the fire, I began to think. Am I doing the right thing? After all, Ia€™m just a contract wilderness information specialist, not part of the fire organization. I hadna€™t been to the Deschutes National Foresta€™s fire school. I didna€™t have fire clothing. I didna€™t have a fire shelter. Except for a canteen, I didna€™t have any water. And Ia€™d turned in my last red carda€”the fire qualification card that rated me as a crew bossa€”in 1966 when Ia€™d left the Toiyabe National Forest to go on active duty in the Navy. That was twenty-six years ago! Should I be doing this? Sure, I answered my own question. Ia€™d started out in the a€œold Forest Servicea€ where everybody did everything. Ia€™d done this many times before, in the days before fire shirts and Nomex britches and fire shelters. Ia€™d had five fire seasons on the Toiyabe, been on a couple big fires. ... I knew this business. I knew how to keep out of trouble. About the time I resolved that little issue, I was at the fire....A Vision for the Future At the end of the 2001 field season, temporary employees of the Deschutes National Forest were asked to fill out an exit interview to assess their employment experiences. As I wrote in a cover letter to Forest Supervisoranbsp;...

Title:Life & Duty
Author:Les Joslin
Publisher:Xlibris Corporation - 2014-06-05


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