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Posts Tagged ‘Redstone Arsenal’

HDS MemorialSelfless courage at the moment of truth…

All bomb technicians in America go through the Redstone school, which is the only one of its kind in the U.S.; there is another similar school in England.  Located on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL the school is a joint Army-FBI effort which has been involved in training members of the 468 law enforcement bomb squads across the nation.

Why is this relevant?  A couple of years ago I attended a reunion from when I was stationed on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.  The reunion was held just down the street from the Redstone Arsenal.  I was able to tour several of the military facilities and remember the heat/humidity.  But, I’ve digressed.

The bomb disposal community is an elite and tightknit group.  They even have a special badge the technicians wear which symbolizes the closeness.  This week William Robert Hakim, a senior trooper with the OSP was honored at an annual memorial ceremony held by the Army-FBI Hazardous Devices School (HDS) where his name was added to the memorial wall.

Mr. Hakim, an eleven year veteran was killed in the line of duty a year ago when an explosive device detonated at West Coast Bank in Woodburn, OR.  The blast killed Hakim and Woodburn Police Captain Tom Tennant.  It also critically injured Police Chief Scott Russell.  Mr. Hakim was a graduate of the HDS school and taught other law enforcement officers about arson and bomb investigations.

Within a couple of days, Mr. Joshua Abrahm Turnidge (32) and his father, Bruce Turnidge (57) were arrested.  You can view the probable cause document which outlines the case against them HERE.  It’s an interesting read if for nothing else than the chronology of the events which led the arrests.  Evidence at the fathers property found Tovex, a highly-explosive gel which is routinely substituted for dynamite.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.  The trial is expected to start September 2010.

A bomb explosion and the severity of the crimes in Oregon stunned many.  I wanted to remember Mr. Hakim on this one-year anniversary.  My condolences to his family.  Mr. Hakim is survived by his wife, Terri, and their 19 year old daughter and 17 year old son who attended the ceremony.

Photo courtesy of the HDS Memorial

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LEM

LEM

Anyone who grew up in America in the ‘60s must find the present state of space travel a major disappointment.

It was the year Harley-Davidson merged with AMF, the cool movie was Easy Rider which portrayed hippies who rode choppers and Neil Armstrong walked/bounced on the moon.   Forty years ago the crew of Apollo 11 squeezed together over an eight day period and a half-million mile journey to place a plaque on the moon that said “came in peace for all mankind.” I was a child, but like others of my generation, I fully expected there to have been massive space stations orbiting the earth and colonies on the moon by now.

What a rush the space race was. Using German WWII rocket technology, both the Americans and the Russians innovated like mad to launch the first satellite in 1959 (Russia’s Sputnik); to put the first person in orbit (Russia’s Yuri Gagarin in 1961); and finally the first person on the moon (Armstrong in 1969). Clearly lunar bases and spaceships in the solar system was expected by the Twitter-first century, right?

In reflecting about the time and place I realized my path is connected.  Sort of a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing.  First were the years I lived in El Paso, TX and my father worked at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).  He spent 1968 in Vietnam working with Hawk Missiles, but on his return to Texas they were involved in some Apollo testing.  I didn’t fully know or understand the significance at the time.

And later like many who graduated from college, I joined the electronic masses at Tektronix.  In 1980 Tek sold the Patient Monitor business to pharmaceutical conglomerate Squibb (a.k.a., Vitatek) and I moved into the healthcare arena.  Squibb was on a buying frenzy of medical devices and services so it was anticipated to be a good career move.  Little did I know what it would be like working with Carl A. Lombardi (CEO) and his not so interesting view of business.  The next year Vitatek merged with Spacelabs Medical (originally out of Chatsworth, CA).

Spacelabs was co-founded by Ben Ettelson and James A. Reeves in 1958 for the express purpose of working with NASA and the U.S. Air Force on systems to monitor the vital signs of astronauts in space.   The company manufactured and delivered prototypes of miniaturized signal conditioners which measured astronauts’ temperature, respiration, and cardiac activity. In July 1969, just days after Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission , NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center ) honored Spacelabs Medical with a certificate of appreciation for its “outstanding” contributions to the Apollo Program—contributions which proved vital for the Nation’s goal of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth.

When I worked at Spacelabs we adapted the technology it originally developed for NASA for the first bedside arrhythmia-monitoring system which allowed physicians to view real-time arrhythmia data, at the patient’s side, for the first time.

Congrats to Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on your 40th anniversary and historic return to Earth with moon rocks!

LEM Photo from a visit to Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama.

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