Beep, Beep, I’m a Jeep
by Tom Shaw (60-63)
Several years ago, someone brought up the subject of the treatment of Jeeps newly assigned to our flights. (For those of you who have forgotten, a Jeep was a newly assigned soul, first termer, and generally right out of tech school or language school.)
Looking over the postings retained by our Führer Phil, I was dismayed at our lack of creativity in welcoming these troops. I was about to label it all a Ho Hum experience, when I was cautioned by a hidden voice sounding something like Les Moon Beams, “I must warn you, don’t go there!” Therefore, I will proceed with my edited versions of these postings. My editing attempted to make the remarks suitable for a mixed audience and, for all but Uncle Willi Colbert’s contribution, provide clarity.
Lloyd Epperson (61-65) spent nearly 25 years on his Jeep mission:
“I searched all over head building east for several years looking for the all-important but illusive "Cannon Report." By sheer accident I finally found a copy at Fort Sill, Oklahoma sometime back in 1985. Like the little Japanese boy who chased the rising sun all his life, suddenly one morning it dawned on me - that if you really, really want to find the cannon report, go to the home of artillery, Fort Sill.
“They probably still have it in their musty old files somewhere if you are still searching for a copy. I'm sure a short note to the Commander, Attn: XO, US Army Field Artillery Center and School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, detailing your requirement should bring prompt results.
“Meanwhile, do you know where I can find the "QRM Eliminator”? Last I heard it was stored somewhere in the basement.”
A member who identified himself only as Smitty added:
“I don't know about the "Cannon Report". The first time I heard about it, it pertained to stuff taking place at an out of the way, little known place, called Fort Sumpter. Now about the "QRM Eliminator". That sounds more in the order of "QQQ" to me. QQQ - Ham lingo for "I can't receive you, your antenna is loaded up with bird Sheise."
Jerry White (60-66; 69-76) didn’t have any luck finding said report it until he was drummed out of Security Service:
“We had a phantom "Cannon Report" after I left (was unceremoniously evicted after my marriage to a foreign national) Security Service. It was an appropriately marked manila folder containing one page with just one word.....BOOM. We usually passed it to the newest person in the outfit. Most thought it was cute or clever. But, of course, there was always a naysayer who wanted to bring us up on charges of misuse of government property (one folder, one sheet of paper, and a bit of ink from a magic marker)!” (Was his name Felix?)
And Dick Grant (63-64) decided to research the subject:
A sure sign of having too much time on your hands is doing as I did, namely do a Google on "Cannon Report." There are about 180 entries, but the first one I found which would fit our time frame, i.e., 50s-60s is: Letter from George Novack to the SWP National Committee Majority, September 10, 1953, Documents 3 to 17 and 19 to 24 originally published in Internal Bulletins of the SWP and the International Bulletins of the International Committee:
Since Comrade Cannon's report May 18th on 'Internationalism and the SWP' we have sought to alert the majority caucus to the possibility that the Cochran faction had inspirers and allies in Paris and, if so, that the fight in the SWP would inevitably spread to a broader arena. (If you’d like to read more of this report, I’m sure Dick will point you to the proper URL. Ed). I don't remember being asked to find a cannon report, and there was too much day-to-day BS to care much about phony reports. I know the Cannon Report I found has nothing to do with whatever the guys were searching for in Berlin, just thought I'd pass it along for kicks.
And Bruno (60-65, 72-74) found that the Cannon Report jogged his memory:
“I don't know anything about the Cannon Report, but it was nice to see someone’s name on here who I knew and served with. TR+B was a good friend and we had a lot of fun. Possibly, I'll make it to San Antonio. By the way Sully was my roommate on D Trick.”
John Ferris (60-65, 72-74) fondly recalled his jeep hood:
“Pull the CANNON REPORT on me. It must have been the first day watch or first mid. Perry Ankerson sounds familiar. I was on Baker Flight from October 60 until sometime in 61 when I became a day weenie. The best flight I was ever on. I was a "Jeep" and Jerry Braun, Big Bieger and the others really helped me out. Jerry Braun was the best all-around 203 I ever met.”
Moose Amos (65-68, 71-72, 75-75, 79-80) agreed with Jerry White and remembered other tricks:
“Jerry White's explanation of a “Cannon Report” was right on. Another trick we used to pull on jeeps was to give them a handful of patch cords and send them off to maintenance to get the QRM (man-made interference) and QRN (atmospheric noise) cleaned out of them.”
Joe Covern (59-62, 63-66, 70-73) had other tricks in mind:
“Flight line and DF bearings were the items we used to send "jeeps" off in search of in the early 60s, as I recall.”
Dave Clary (72-75, 88-91) was fooled by Joe:
*I was fully prepared for "flight line" and df bearings when I arrived in ‘'72. I was too smart to fall for any of those jeep jokes. So how come no one warned me about the "average freq of the day" report?”
Goldy (67-70) really got into the averaging gig, and also came up with another search:
“I don’t remember the cannon report, but I sure did fall for the "average freq" gag in Vietnam when I arrived there out of tech school. I knew in my heart that there was no purpose to averaging all the freqs active at any given time, but by then I had learned that many of the things the AF did fell into that category (no purpose). There was also something called the EMHOR that we sometimes used on jeep 203's in Berlin.......at least until we got a woman for a flight commander.” (You’ll have to wait until the next reunion to ask Goldy about the EMHOR.)
Bill Wetzork (75-79) kept the Jeeps running:
“Don't know about a "Cannon Report," but we would send jeeps off to maintenance to pick up a "QRM Filter" (QRM being the Q signal for static), or to pick up a replacement "fallopian tube." We would also have them report the "average freq of the day" where they would have to go to each collection position, make a list of every freq copied on that day, add them all up and divide by the number of frequencies copied to determine the site's average freq. Those were the days! Tschuess!”
Terry Sweeney (71-75) was fortunate enough to train Jeeps all over the world:
“Finally got a chance to go through all the postings and the "jeep" tricks reminded me of a couple more. In Hof, and I believe, at M-Felde & T-berg as well, it was a custom to send the newest jeep on flight to go around to all positions (including Elint) and collect data to determine the "Average Frequency of the Day." The figure then was solemnly presented to the Flight Commander at the end of the shift. When I started flying RC's I learned to keep a close eye on my helmet bag (a padded bag to carry your helmet/mask in). When the turbulence and JP-4 fumes became pretty heavy during refueling, guys started tossing their cookies. It was customary to pass the newest guys' helmet bags to the pukers as barf bags! By the way, the life support shops had a rule: you puke it, you clean it! Regards to everyone!” (Seems we had a similar problem in Berlin with Jeeps coming home from their first Bock Bier Fest!)
Tom Ellis (71-74) found a use for the FLR-9:
“One long, dark night in Alaska when the northern lights were active and reception was nil, the mission supervisor sent a young "jeep" out to the "Moose Cage"(AN/FLR9 in technical terms), with a broom to sweep out the cobwebs. We used to pull the basement gag at Marienfelde too.”
Bruce Mackenzie (65-68) also trained Jeeps around the world:
“In Misawa and in Samsun, we would send jeeps looking for the key to the basement. Couldn't do that at HBE; they might have found it. I worked at Teufelsberg, and there, the Army would assign jeeps to erase tapes with an eraser. The jeeps didn't seem to mind. That task wasn't any more absurd than many other things the Army demanded of them. I found at AFSS sites elsewhere, though, those AF jeeps didn't take well to the task. On the other hand, even AF jeeps in Berlin and elsewhere were very prudent when degaussing tapes not to get their genitals too close to the degaussing machine lest the iron molecules in their chromosomes get misaligned by the strong magnetic field.”
“Maybe I'm the only one who doesn't know and I hate to be in the dark, so could you tell me what is the "Cannon Report" and the "QRM Eliminator" and what do they have to do with serving in Berlin? Thanks.”
And Uncle Willi Colbert (60-62) had to get in on the act:
“When I was in the rescue squadron (Manston RAF Station,) we had a flight engineer (SA-16) named Epperson, famed Appalachian ridge runner. We had trouble helping him in locating his fundament with both manual extremities. Is this the case here??” (And Uncle Willi really knew his fundaments.)
And finally, our Leader Berliner Phil (62-64) had a unique training session for Perry Ankerson:
“You'll recall that member Perry Ankerson accused me, his elder, of sending him off after the all important Cannon Report some years ago in the City. Recently, at the reunion, he was at it again. This time, with BIA members of good character and high moral standing in the immediate vicinity, he told this tale in my shattered presence. He stated that he had been assigned as a young Jeepster to the manual voice search position on a slow midnight shift. He went on to say that I positioned myself nearby and appeared to be likewise diligently working at an adjacent rack. SHAZAM! All of a sudden he was receiving voice transmissions in his trained language that were remarkably clear and seemed to occur on all frequencies to which he was assigned. The activity was alarming and no one was about except me and I appeared to be busy, with my head down...talking into my hands. At this point, with his heart nearly exploding, young Perry Ankerson perceived an injustice and accused me of tampering with his training regimen. Yes, he used language that I'm sure he is ashamed of now. We'll never know for sure where those voices came from that night in our City far away but we all know how difficult it is to prepare a young lad for life as a Silent Warrior. (Do you suppose Phil is also responsible for those voices some of us are now hearing from time-to-time?)
And a final note. I remember one time, back at HBE; the unit had acquired an early version of the hand held calculator. It wasn’t electronic; you used a metal stylus to push numbers up or down to add or subtract. One bright young Dash A on Dog Flight actually took the time to use the thing to find the average freq listed on the big board back in the analysis section. And, moreover than that, he was actually surprised when the answer turned out to be 125!
© 2007, the Berlin Island Association