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[Table] IamA 96 year WW2 veteran, architect, and engineer. Still going strong and have my wits about me! Ask me anything!
|which particular thought kept you going forward during the hardest moments of your fights? what would you advice to someone with 23 years old?||Hmm.|
|When in action, your objective is both defense and aggression. An activity in each is such that you have thoughts for little else. If you're aiming at a target, your one thought is to get it. And at the same time, being prepared for the next one. And you can't be thinking about last night's date or anything else. Your thoughts have to be zero'd in on what you're doing because if your mind wanders, your enemies are going to take advantage of it.|
|Concerning the future and regardless of your aims and ambitions, your principle activity must be study and education. Education in your chosen endeavor is always good because nobody can take it away from you. I feel that education is the answer to almost anything.|
|The military also looks favorably on education too. The Kimmell family's first doctor after WW2 was a guy that got all of his training and education through the army and he had the same qualifications and certifications that any civilian doctor would have. In my case, every sailor is given a battery of tests and the navy determines what his qualifications are -- how smart he is, his IQ and so forth. I went to two schools before I ever went to sea. Specialty schools to study fire control equipment -- all electrical type stuff. The big guns were controlled by electric hydraulic systems -- that's what moves them and so forth. The computers and the like were all handled by the fire controlman. It's one of the things that if you get this kind of training in the navy, you can go into almost any electronic-type work after the navy.|
|My brother Earl went to two universities studying electrical engineering and became an instructor in aviation radar.|
|You have seen a lot of changes in your 96 years across many countries. What has been your favorite innovation? Not necessarily the best or most amazing, but your favorite.||Heaven's sakes. What's an innovation? Uhh|
|There's been so many changes! I think it would have to be...|
|See one problem we had being overseas and plans being drawn elsewhere, if there was a change in plans we had to put a guy on an airplane with a roll of drawings and send him there. Now, all you have to do is punch a key on a computer and it goes over there.|
|I think it would have to be the internet and the ability to transfer information. For all of those projects, for every one of them the design drawings, the conceptual drawings were prepared in the US. In most cases, the development of construction drawings was done by an architectural engineering firm in Europe. We had a firm in Italy, one in Germany, and one in Greece. And all these documents that were used in construction were made out of the country, so any time the job changed the work was done in a foreign country the person had to hand-deliver drawings.|
|the below is a reply to the above|
|Let's not forget that for a long time, every technical drawing was completely hand-drawn. They still teach these skills, but today must designers use computer software to perform the same tasks. I've had to hunt down 30-year-old drawings of equipment in a plant. My boss and I spent about half a day just finding it. When organized properly, computers are simply faster than we are, for the same reasons you mentioned. You might not realize how incredibly ready it has become to go from concept to fan drawing today. For a basic design, I can get a working drawing in a matter of minutes. At a previous job, my boss had to compile sales reports from hand-written till reports. After we got an old computer, I helped us move to Excel tracking. It wasn't perfect, but it helped him move from needing a week to compile the report to just a few hours. Needless to say, he was pretty happy with that! Computers are absolutely amazing, and I don't envy the tedium you dealt with during difficult jobs.||I've always hand drawn all my plans. In fact, I wouldn't want to necessarily admit this but I've never made a computer drawing. I never learned how to use CAD. I had advanced to the point where I was telling other people what to do with software.|
|And see even the time preceding the computer drawings, many of the drawings for important projects were put on linen and drawn in ink. I made several of that kind. One was a seating layout for a college basketball stadium in Bowling Green, Kentucky.|
|What did you do to pass the time on the ship in WW2? Was there time for anything lighthearted or was it work 24/7?||Laughs|
|There was little free time. Our task force was an offensive unit and our free time was occupied mostly by preparation for the next action. What free time was available for the most part the crew would play cards, maybe have a chance to write a letter home, and just shoot the breeze.|
|From these comments you can assume there was little free time. My task force participated in five invasions and was task force 77.4.3 at the Battle off Samar. Our unit was known as Taffey III.|
|This invasion was beyond the range of the airforce's land-based airplanes and the navy, through the use of our aircraft carriers, provided air cover for the protection of the land forces during the invasion. In addition, we had surface action with units of the Japanese Navy to prevent them from having access to the invasion beaches and our soldiers.|
|the below is a reply to the above|
|Taffy 3!!?? The battle off Samar! OMG!! This is so incredible. And you were fire control! Front row seat for the entire action. Question; Why hasn't a movie been made about this action yet? I've been reading about this since I was 12 years old in the 80s.||A lot of people are asking that question actually. Supposedly there has been a script written, but they're searching for funding. I heard about it here or there maybe at one ship reunion.|
|the below is another reply to the original answer|
|Aj_Caramba: Sorry for probably stupid question, but a while ago I read about fight of Taffy 3 with Japanese navy (The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors). Is it the same unit you mentioned? fatruff3: That is the Taffy 3 he mentions. His ship he mentions above is DE-341 the USS Raymond. His ship was a destroyer escort and was part of the actions. It landed some hits on a cruiser and also launched torpedo at the Japanese force. The Raymond was also targeted by the Yamato's secondary batteries at some point in the fight but from what I have read was not hit. I only respond since I would suspect Vern is done with the AMA. If he has anything to add or correct me on feel free!||Yep, that's all right.|
|Yes, this is that unit. In fact, I've met the author of that book.|
|Do you have a favorite project from your days as an architect? If so, what made it particularly memorable for you?||Definitely the monument to Thurgood Marshall. I'm trying to think of how to word the "why" though...|
|Well... He was the first black justice on the Supreme Court. He was very active in equal rights programs, especially the Supreme Court's overturning of "separate but equal" education which was a culmination of his work prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court.|
|Here in St. Louis there was the Dred Scott case and it was chaired by Judge Taney and Judge Taney was a resident of Baltimore, MD and so was Thurgood Marshall. The state of Maryland had recognized Taney's accomplishments and the African American community disfavored the attention given to Taney because of the Dred Scott decision. And it was a long process before recognition was given to Thurgood Marshall by approving the funds to build the monument to him.|
|What was working in Libya like? In the times you spent in Muslim countries, were you ever single and if so what was the nightlife like?||I guess as a foreigner, you must consider yourself a guest in the country in which you're working. You have to live by and respect their rules and regulations without sacrificing your freedom. I was able to do this without any problems. Things like their holy day being a different day of the week than your own, it isn't always acceptable that people of Christian faith worship in public there. These things can be done but you must be thoughtful and adapt on how to do it.|
|The construction in Libya was a challenge because of language difficulties and scarcity of materials and skill of the workforce there. There are solutions to all these issues and they can be overcome. Solving these problems is what makes it interesting in working in a foreign country.|
|I was never single during the period of my career when I worked in the Middle East. Nightlife in Muslim countries varies depending upon the country and how strict they follow their religious beliefs. Generally speaking, in most countries, nightlife is negligible. Private clubs are available. For the most part, in my situation, fraternization was not advisable for political reasons.|
|Social relationships were questionable because you never knew the background of the person, who their friends were -- what they believed and so forth.|
|Whose leadership did you admire serving in the war? Whether it was at the time or now looking back. Thanks!||Admiral Nimitz in the Navy and General Patton in the Army.|
|Nimitz because he took the disaster of the attack at Pearl Harbor and developed and fought the Japanese ending up in our victory.|
|Patton had a drive for victory that he would absolutely never accept defeat.|
|What would you tell your younger self?||I guess this question almost gets at "what would you do differently if you could talk to your younger self?"|
|I guess it almost sounds conceited to say that I wouldn't change a thing.|
|Do you feel superior to people who have already lost their wits by age 77? Or is it more of a “there but for the grace of God” type of situation?||Laughs|
|Hell, I don't feel superior to anyone. I advocate taking life serious, but see the humor in everything.|
|opinions on biden and trump ?||The two names shouldn't be spoken in the same breath. Mr. Trump, I wish him well, but he was never qualified to be president of the United States.|
|And really for that matter, I don't think Joe Biden is really the right man for the job right now either. We need a younger man with imagination and fire and passion for the job. If you ask me who would that be, I don't know right now. I just have to know that Joe will surround himself with the right team.|
|the below is a reply to the above|
|is that bernie sanders ?||Maybe, but the stuff he's been preaching for years is what's being adopted now. Bernie has the skills necessary, however we must remember that there's no "I" in team. I think even more important than the one single person running for president is the people they appoint to their cabinet and the people on their team. He needs a team.|
|Given all that is happening in our world, it's obvious that history repeats itself. What do you think about what is happening and how can we solve it together now that we live in a digital age? Thank you for your service – I am a filmmaker as well as photographer (my username is because I actually photograph cannabis full time for a living), and I have done documentaries and I wish that I could sit and interview you! I bet you have so much knowledge to share with the world.||You know what I think about is just pretty much a canned answer. We have to regain our respect in the world, re-establish relationships with our allies, and, by fully understanding the events of history, plan accordingly for the development and maintenance of our weapons systems. We have to establish skilled R&D teams to satisfy our defensive needs.|
|You grew up in some pretty uncertain and scary times (through a lot of events that take up most of our history classes....) How did you make it through the Great Depression, WW11, the cold War etc. without losing hope? The world today feels like its spinning out of control and only getting worse, but looking back, your years growing up had some major world crises too... so I guess I'm wondering if it felt like the world was ending, how you got through, any advice for this 22 yr old...||Well I was a baby during lots of that. I was in kindergarten during the depression. We didn't really realize it was so bad because everyone was in the same boat. We always found something to play with, though it may have been a tin can or something we found around.|
|Living was tough because money was scarce. Money being scarce it was handy to have a pear tree in the yard because -- well like now if you want a snack you go get a bag of potato ships and a soda or whatever, but back then if we got hungry we'd go out back and get a pear off the tree and that was our snacks. Since pears were a main item on my diet and since now I'm old enough to make choices, I'll always pass up pears. They're still tasty and that kind of thing, but I have a choice and I exercise it and I get me a ripe peach.|
|In elementary school years, the main item of dress for boys at least seemed to be blue jeans or bib overalls. I was so tired of that attire that once I was in the position where I, as a young adult, I could purchase my own clothes, at that point in time, I scratched blue jeans or denim off my to-do list. So, to this day, I've never worn blue jeans. Though in the navy, we did wear dungarees. But I wasn't satisfied with just the straight-leg military issue dungarees, so I'd take them to the tailor and make them into bell-bottoms. So even then at that time, I never thought high of blue jeans. Back in the periods of hard times during the depression, it was the poor kids that wore the blue jeans.|
|As far as the political atmosphere in later years and what conditions I experienced like political unrest on a world-scale, I've always been optimistic. I knew my from military experience, that if you worked as a team and had good equipment you can pretty much turn back your foe. And while these activities ran on, revolutions and wars and whatnot, I was concerned and I kept current as to what was happening and I had learned to cope with that. In all honesty, had it been necessary I would've put my uniform on again, but I had already made my commitment to spend the rest of my life doing constructive things rather than destructive like in the war.|
|I did have one experience in the field where a revolution was taking place because I had been building in the area in Iran when the Shah was overthrown. I had to get my team out of the area, which we just managed to do. But then the world went on and so did we.|
|So out of all the corvettes you’ve owned, which one has been your favourite? and what’s your thoughts of it going mid-engined?||My favorite is the C7. Everything about it. Of all the cars I've had including a Mercedes and the other US manufactured cars, the C7 is the best automobile I've owned. The workmanship, the quality, the fit of the body panels, the sound of the engine. It's just a winner, as far as I'm concerned.|
|I like the mid-engine. But my hang up is I think the purchasers of the car during the first year's run are really the ones who are testing the machine and if there's any blip here or there it'll be fixed. So I never buy the first year's run.|
|Given all the crazy things you have seen happen throughout your life, what do you think is our country’s biggest challenge going forward? Also, what’s your favorite WW2-related movie (one that strikes you as the most accurate)?||Because of the current conditions and what this country has endured the last 3 years, our major task is to re-establish our position in the world and try to regain the friends that have been lost or at least the friendships that have become tainted. So our biggest challenge is just taking the necessary steps to re-establish our position and try to regain the confidence of our neighbors.|
|Then on the work that our country and other countries have to do is to deal with the issues of climate change. Here we need to get right with race relations. We have many many problems that we can cure, if we only have the right team in place that's so motivated to do it. I think these are solvable problems and these issues are just a few of the major ones, but there is no problem that if we as a country cannot solve. I think we have the ambition and the ability to push forward and resolve them. It's not going to happen overnight, but we have to dedicate ourselves to it and work at it. I contend we can deal with these issues and that we can resolve and it's based on what I've already experienced. As a country, we fought two wars -- one in Europe and one in the Pacific -- at the same time. Not only that, we as a country provided all our allies with the materials to make war against our enemies. We fed our people, we made the materials, and united with our allies we won the war. If we can do that, we can do many many things. We've proven that when we sent a man to the moon. The space program is amazing all that it's accomplished. What's on the planning table now is amazing, going to outer space, mars, and the like. I firmly believe that all we have to do is review our history and apply the same initiatives to these current problems, then success will be ours and all the countries of the world will be much better for all of it.|
|As far as the army movies are concerned, I like Patton. I've always been a champion of his and I think that movie was well done, factual. Hollywood didn't play too many games trying to turn it into fiction. There are several Navy pictures. One that represents the destroyers in the submarine warfare is Enemy Down Below, I think. But there's a long list of exceptional war movies. In large part I think it was because I think 5 or so of lots of major motion picture directors were involved in the battles. While it's never possible to show the true horrors of war on film, you can see that good attempts are made to show facts without glamorizing it.|
|If we want to think about war movies from an entertainment standpoint, there's Kelly's Heroes and then of course there was Mister Roberts. The Midway film was good. I liked Saving Private Ryan.|
|Thank you for your service. Do you feel like you’ve had enough time? I’m only 36 but time already feels like sand running through my fingers and I can’t seem to grasp enough.||Well you know in that regard, I'm 96 but I feel like I'm 39. So I hope there's still some more time for me. Life is interesting and there's more projects that I'd like to do because my mind is still active, I still have a good imagination, and I still know what looks good and what looks bad architecturally -- I don't have to go out and buy a bunch of ivy to cover up what I've done so nobody has to see it.|
|I hope there's lots more sand in the hourglass, so to speak.|
|Now, as in that past, I've always been very concerned about my diet, how I spend my time. It's not that I've been fanatical about it -- it's just that it dawned on me that the Lord gives us a good body at birth and it's up to us to take care of it. So I've always been concerned with diet, exercise, and the like. And it's made me what I am now, which I guess is why I feel 39.|
|So I hope that whatever it is you do, I hope you stop and think about food, what you drink, exercise. All those things in moderation is what it takes -- you don't have to go crazy and become an olympic star or anything like that. You can have a good productive life just by taking care of your body with healthy living.|
|Who’s your favorite president?||Oh heaven's sakes.|
|I think as far as favorite president, I'd have to cast my bet with John Kennedy. Because being a navy man, we have to stand together. I was on a destroyer, he was on a PT boat. He was in the Guadalcanal, I was in the area too later on. He died too young -- we were never able to get a true measure of his contributions to the country. John Kennedy actually chose to serve. Unlike some others who may have had a bone spur or something of the like...|
|What is your normal diet like? How do you stay healthy?||Oh gracious sakes.|
|My diet... To a large degree, I've eliminated red meat. I know I'm not a rabbit, but I eat a lot of vegetables. I try to get regular rest. As far as the content of the food I eat, for the most part it's heavy on the vegetable side. Occasionally I'll have me a martini or a bloody mary or two. Because you know with your solid food you have to have some liquid ;).|
|Now getting back to the serious issues... I have been blessed with good genetics and I have no serious medical problems. The blood pressure and cholesterol, all those things, are as they should be and I have increased my exercise routine. At this point in time, I just try and take care of it and just live correctly as far as food intake and everyday activities. I don't really TRY to do anything, like I'm not going to get up and play touch football. In order to maintain proper exercise, I do have a trainer who comes to my home 3x a week and I don't know that I'm being conditioned for a marathon or anything, but I think I'd rather spectate than participate there.|
|Hi Vern, thanks for the AMA. I was wondering if maybe you knew my grandfather, Jerry Woods? He was a boatswain in the Navy and was supposed to be on the Oklahoma when it was bombed, but he was on leave visiting my grandmother. He was also stationed in the Pacific after the attack, and reading his diary his handwriting gets shakier the farther into the war it gets. Even if you never met him, I thank you for your service. I wish I could have met him before he passed in ‘86||I would like to have met him, too. But I never had that opportunity. One source of information related to your granddad, you may be able to obtain through the USS Oklahoma reunion group. Just about all ships have such an organization, but there should be information about the Oklahoma and its crew members.|
|How do you feel about the current generation? I see news that many veterans dislike how the flag+anthem is treated, aswell as how our age acts/goes about our social life. Tiktok especially.||I don't even know that much about TikTok but...|
|I believe that the younger generation will respond as necessary whatever the conditions are, I believe they'll come forward. I believe the future is with them. What I've experienced recently as far as the political activities here in the country, it seems like in 90% of the cases it's the younger generations trying to get us back on the right track. It seems there are many issues that the older generations are tolerating or not having the guts to stand up and say "no".|
|So I have all the faith in the world in the young folks. I know their entertainment is a little different than what I've experienced, but every generation thinks that way about the youngers. If we give the young people a chance, we'll be headed in the right direction.|
|Hi sir! As a Filipino who grew up in Saudi Arabia, I guess my questions are where in Saudi Arabia did you work and how was your experience there? Also, thank you for your service! 💙||I had two projects in Saudi Arabia: one was a university in Riyadh and the other was a hospital addition for a hospital in Taif. Prior to that point in my career, I had built 5 hospitals so it was because of that since it was a hospital for the Royal Family in Taif. It was a good experience. Of course the unusual thing about working overseas is that not everyone speaks English so it's a challenge to conduct business when you have multiple languages on a production site. But we all speak language and that's through drawing. And frequently if there was a question and you didn't have the words, all you had to do was take your pencil and draw a picture. In that regard it was fun.|
|I had one project, might've been in Iran, it was almost like a meeting in the UN. We'd call a meeting and we'd have just about every nationality around the table. Luckily, the language you didn't know, somebody else did. I was lucky to have an architect on my staff who went to the University of Berkeley who knew Farsi. So I'd ask him something in English, he'd translate it into Farsi, somebody would translate it into French, and so forth.|
|Thank you for your service. We owe your generation a tremendous debt, and I’m personally grateful for your military service and your life’s work. How did living through WW2 change you? Did people think the world was going to end? Were there any signs to you that the US was going to pull through okay, or was it unclear what the outcome would be?||At the declaration of war, I personally, and anybody I was associated with, had no doubts that we would win. We didn't care how difficult how might it be, but we were optimistic and convinced we were going to win. You can find something wrong with anything, somebody would probably complain after finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that the pot wasn't big enough. But I never doubted it for a minute.|
|My experience in the war really set me on my career because it was at that time that I decided I was specializing in destruction and the like and that when we won and I got out, I was going to spend the rest of my life doing constructive work. That led me to architecture and engineering. That was a change that sent me on how I would spend the rest of my life. Really in that regard, in my career, I had every type of project. I've probably had about 10 churches of every denomination, lots of schools. I did do work for our Defense Department and built Navy Bases for Iran and, during the Vietname war, a basecamp in Cambodia. So I did have some work that the only way it could be justified was that it was defense and trying to win a war and set things straight. But all of my work, private and commercial, benefitted society.|
|At any point during the war did you fear that the axis powers would win? And hitlers generalplan ost would be implemented. Also how aware was the common soldier of the large scale "liquidation" of the jews, poles, slave etc.?||The war was worldwide and a serviceman could be in one area and not be aware of what was going on on the other side of the world. In my situation, I was in the navy and we were fighting a pacific war. So the only thing we knew were the things that we would get in a little newspaper that we would pin around the ship. And the source of that information was from our radio operator. So I didn't have knowledge of what was going on as far as Hitler, Patton, and the war in Europe. I didn't know until after the war about the concentration camps and the ill that the Jewish population had suffered.|
|It wasn't until I was discharged back in the US and started reading up on the history that I'd missed that I found out what had happened in Europe. Then I became aware of the concentration camps, slave labor, Holocaust, rocket projectile attacks on Europe, and the so forth. Because I was in the part of the world were the atomic bomb was dropped.|
|Was there ever a point where you really hated your enemy? Did you reconsider your views on them and change? If so, what made you change?||I have some difficulty answering that because never in my life have I hated anything. I went to war because I felt it was my responsibility that we had to defend our country, defend our families in the like. I shot at him because he shot at me. Luckily for me, I was a better shot than he was. My war in the pacific was against the Japanese and I didn't hate them. They were coming after us we had to defend ourselves. The object is to win and so, in that vein, that's why I performed firing those guns and the like. I guess you'd say I was firing at an enemy I didn't hate. I sure didn't approve of his actions and so on and the guys on my ship had the same attitude.|
|Course there wasn't much we could do to a kamikaze airplane because his one motive was to destroy us and himself with us.|
|What was Iran like before the revolution vs after?||I was in Iran prior to the revolution. Prior to the revolution, I feel it's a good country. Good people and so on. And so often happens, the wrong people get in command and lead you down a wrong road. The Shah had his problems and his people rebelled. Rulers who develop an oppressive atmosphere for the people, they don't have a fair and reasonable distribution of the country's assets and alike, trouble is ahead. And it was for the Shah. And my team and I were able to get out of the country just as the revolution was happening. I haven't been back since, but it's a good country and good people. In civilian life back in the US, I've had several architectural teams with several Iranian architects on it. My relationship with the Iranian people is great.|
|What made you want to join the navy? Did you always have a desire to fight for your country? Or did other factors force you in to service?||I joined the service because I felt it was my obligation. I volunteered and my father had been in the navy in WW1. It seemed that our family had always been navy-minded. I was a senior in highschool when war was declared. I wasn't drafted -- I volunteered. I went into the Navy about 9 months after my older brother did too. The navy was my first choice then and it still is now for any person as far as service to their country for service to their country, discipline, and physical betterment. In my case, I gained an education there, learning to follow orders -- while it's sometimes not pleasant, it's something everyone needs to learn.|
|What skill would you insist on being taught to our youngsters?||It's hard to select a single skill... Because if you're into automobiles there are certain basics that you need to know: change oil, change a wheel, know the basic laymen's items and so forth. If you're thinking about education, I think more attention must be given to the history of our country so that the younger generation can be well-steeped in history and understand what's gone before them and what they might do at some point to defend their country.|
|I believe firmly in immigration but I believe firmly that the people who immigrate here must learn our history and our language. Once they're here, they're Americans. History has shown what contributions immigrants can make if the door is open, but their knowledge of our history is important as well.|
|Who was the bravest person you ever knew and why?||It's difficult to single out one person in particular, but I know that the group would have to include the fella that taught me how to fly. We made one flight from Evansville, IN to Kentucky for some customers that were going to the Kentucky derby. After the derby, we were going to take them back to Evansville. At the race track, a storm developed on our flight path. We had to make a determine whether or not to fly, stay on the ground and wait until the next morning. Our passenger wanted to get back to Evansville so the decision was made that we would fly that night. Since this was an area that we frequently flew in, we made telephone calls to people on the ground along our flight path to ask them about the weather. When all their answers were favorable, we were able to make the trip. On the way, we encountered the cell of the storm -- the airplane was all over the sky, up and down and all over. We really experienced Newton's law of motion that every action has an opposite action. The storm was so bad that the water was coming in the ports that normally bring in fresh air. We were right in the storm and the lightning bolts were such that we had to turn the lights on in the airplane because our eyes couldn't adjust fast enough to see the instrument panel.|
|But that pilot was certainly a very brave person who kept his thoughts together, was well organized, and was able to control that airplane when it was going every which way. For everything, I believe there's a humorous side. During that incident, the lady who was a passenger had had a quite a few juleps at the race track and she thought she was on a rollercoaster! She was having quite the time rolling all around.|
|But this guy was brave and kept a clear head and brought us back fine and dandy. During WW2 he had been a sailor and had been on a submarine and had also gotten through that with his life and there he was tempting fate again and came through with flying colors.|
|I turned 40 on Friday and never knew either of my grandfathers growing up. I feel like I've been missing sage wisdom and the enrichment only a grandparent can bring. Will you be my grandfather?||Laughs|
|Sounds great. Let's have at it. See what kind of trouble we can get into.|
|What do you like on a pizza?||I like meat pizzas. Italian sausage, pepperoni. I like green peppers. I guess the pizza I like is the one that the local pizzamaker calls Farouk. Bobe's pizzeria in Vincennes. Some people would call that supreme. It's just got all the meat and everything on it.|
|How did you feel when you first heard about the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?||The reaction was one really of satisfaction. Because you have to remember: we had those kamikazes that were deliberately flying their airplanes into our ships and killing us. We didn't have many favorable feelings towards the Japanese and we had been notified that we were part of the invasion force going into Japan. We all wanted to get it over with and go home.|
|Our first reaction was one of thankfulness that it had happened. Then later in life we had a chance to think the whole thing through about the number of people that had been killed. At the same time, we were betting men that we would get out and that we would get to go home.|
|How do you feel about the new C8 Vettes?||Well I know it's a good automobile and I have all the confidence in the world in it. I know it's going to take over and continue on building to the records established by the C7. In fact, as I understand it, thats' really the reason they built a mid engine car instead of a front engine car. I like it, but at this point in time, I haven't been able to examine the car and I look forward to doing that. But I think it's going to be a good one and perform well on the racetrack.|
|I vote aye.|
|Hey I go to school in Vincennes! Small world. Are you originally from Indiana?||Yes! I was born in Vincennes, Indiana June 6 1924!|
|After the war, I went to Vincennes University then transferred to Washington University in St. Louis.|
|I was associate architect on the first permanent building built on the new campus there at VU. At that time, it was the student union building but it's become something else now, not sure what.|
|Would you say that your life was good?||Yes. When the war was over, I set my ambition and goal and I think that I've accomplished that. I tried to make my life one that would be pleasing to my family and I think that's the case, I don't know if I'm being flattered or not. All in all, I'm pleased and I've accomplished what it was I set out to do. I'm proud of what's happened and what I've done with my time here on Earth.|
|What’s your favourite childhood memory?||You know I don't think I have one...|
|My favorite childhood memory were the frequent visits I had with my grandfather. He was a good storyteller and as a little kid I ate up every word.|
|Reading through your replies makes it very clear that you have kept a very open mind and continued to stay critical with your thinking. In recent years both my Grandfathers have trended in the opposite direction (aka become Fox News fanatics) which has been disappointing to say the least because they were at one point very tolerant people but have lost that. Do you have any advice on how to stay plugged in/open minded/critical (as you clearly have) even as you age and the world changes more around you?||Oh boy. Now that's difficult to answer. Well I don't know what my answer would be to that really.|
|I have just always tried to see humor as part of life and, in my own way, determine what war I could win because of what battles I selected to fight.|
|I chose really to see the good in people and activities and happenings and so on and I intentionally divorced myself intentionally from anything that didn't fit that profile. I discovered that worry got you nothing, that you weren't making a contribution, and you're making yourself miserable. So I guess to that extent, I made a conscious effort to stay open minded.|
|And I was that way in my youth, so in my senior years it just became my way of doing. I just sort of fell into that way of thinking because that was just me.|
|Additionally, my profession was to "create new". We'd start with a blank piece of ground and at the end we'd have a building. So, my life since 1946, has been a sort of manifest of that attitude. Building hospitals, schools, churches, you name it, so there was always the satisfaction of contributing and walking away with something to be proud of.|
|I sure do notice that "Fox News-iness" happening to some of my peers. At that point, there's no turning back. It's just ingrained and they see the worried side of life and haven't determined what contribution they can make to make things better. It's just all around a more negative attitude than a positive and happy one.|
|I don’t really have a question, but you remind me of my Grandfather♥️. He was a POW in Berlin in WWII that led a successful escape...he was in the Army, 78th infantry, “Lightning Strikes” division. After returning stateside, he worked as an engineer & electrician for RF&P (railroad). He passed away almost 10 years ago, but he will always be my hero. Thank you for your service & your willingness to do this AMA...& thank you for reminding me of the admiration I still feel for my Papa. Actually, I do have a question, what habits did you pick up while in the military that you still have today? My Grandfather was early to everything & his shoes were always matte black, like his combat boots, & polished daily. He also taught all of us grandchildren how to kill someone with our bare hands which highly pissed off my grandmother.🤣||I'm happy that I can generate some memories! I'm sure your grandpa was a great man. One thing I formed a habit of is being punctual. Never late. Generally 5-10 minutes early. The thing early that stuck with me the longest, which I experienced when I sat down to do this. At this point in life, I do my own laundry. It's a chore you just have to do. When it comes to putting clothes away, we learned to roll our clothes in the Navy. So to this day, any day I do my laundry I always roll it the same way I did in the Navy back in 1942. So that's a few years ago, but it's been with me all these years. And when it comes to packing, in the Navy we had a sea bag, you could get the most clothes in that bag by rolling clothes a certain way. All the travelling I've done, travelling in a suitcase I still roll the clothes as I did in the Navy days.|
|Did anyone else read every OP response in their head with their best 90+ year old man voice?||Laughs|
|When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?||My interest had always been in drawing and art. I was interested in that field, but being young there was nothing specific. I just liked the area.|
|I was always drawing pictures or whatever. Even to the point where my teachers at school would get on my case because I'd be drawing pictures instead of focusing on my lessons.|
A routine first contact operation VII
I apologize for the delay, real life has reared his ugly head and sadly there are many things which must take precedent over writing a small internet story. The problem should alleviate itself in about one and a half weeks.
Earlier part / Next part (It'll happen)
The ship had already landed when I arrived at the starport, excellent, or terrible, who could really know? What mattered was that until now there had been no conflict and they were apparently preparing to peacefully initiate contact with us.
As I got out of the car, taking care to thank the driver for getting us down here far quicker than usual, I already saw Catherine Leclerc, the captain of the honor guard, as well as Bertrand Cartier, the current mayor and administrator of the starport quarter.
„Your excellen…“ He stopped himself when I frowned a little. „Oberst, there’s been no sign of trouble so far.“
"Where’s Major Castillero?“ While he was usually supposed to stay at the side of his protégés during their duties, I couldn’t see my former adjutant right now.
„He’s staid at the reception area in case they decide to disembark immediately.“ She told me, as both of them started following me while I made my way towards the landing area.
"Good thinking as usual. Your second was left behind to take command of the formation?“ We walked past the first guard post, both dressed in dress uniforms, ready to provide a proper exit for the incoming delegation. The starport itself slowly filled itself with more and more onlookers, though we had planned that it would become more and more the closer we'd get back to the exit.
"Alright then, have you already implemented the requested measures?“ As we turned right we came upon another guard post, though this time there was also an entrenched position, which was manned by more soldiers, this time in combat armor.
„The rocket batteries are primed and ready, six platoons stand ready to storm the ship at your order. By the administrators order we also deployed Ridgewell’s company in a supporting capacity.“ Leclerc told me curtly, the last part seemingly making her a little uncomfortable.
„We have strengthened the honor guard by another thirty soldiers, we also allowed another two hundred into the crowd around the ship.“ Cartier stopped, the sweat around his brows becoming a little more evident. „Oberst, I’m aware of the original plan, but would it be possible…“ He stopped, unwilling to ask the fateful question.
"I’ve already intended to take care of greeting our guests personally. You may stay back if you wish so.“ I gave him a friendly nod.
„Wonderful, while I of course appreciate the opportunity given to me, I don’t know if I could be good…“ He started babbling a little, though seeing what he had done before the liberation of his nation it was no wonder why.
"Relax Cartier. I’m certain you would’ve made every Ollakaran proud. Indeed, the general administrator has complete trust in your abilities.“ I padded his shoulder, seeing as they reacted to human gestures in a special way.
„I’m honored Oberst, thank you very much.“ He smiled, the tension leaving his body, though some uncertainty remained. „I’ll be right behind you.“
"I’m counting on it.“ Turning around to the captain, I noticed she had even polished the backside of her buttons, which gleamed in the sunlight. "You’re ready to take command of the honor guard, Major?“
„Let it not be said an officer of the authority would shirk in the line of duty, Oberst.“ She nodded, a friendly smile forming on her face. „The world will see how much the Ollakarans have grown.“
"We’re counting on it.“ We passed the third and final guard post, in total fifteen soldiers, all Ollakarans ready to present a proper honor guard. Behind them, hidden by a plain steel wall there were two entrenched positions, as well as a strike team to stop our guests if they got any foolish ideas.
As we stepped into the open I was quite awed by the ship before us. While by no means a ship suited for battle, or even particularly great at defending itself, it was still an impressive sight to behold. Indeed the elegant structure, combined with the efficient design made it stand out, compared with our barebones space port, which had been erected quickly and without care for making it beautiful or even remotely pleasant to look at. Worst of all we had to stack defenses far more than we had intended, seeing as our usual planetary defense strategy had become unfeasible due to a lack of a system fleet.
In front of the ship the support groups were currently making sure the red carpet looked excellent, watered the plants placed around the landing area and ensured the uniforms of the honor guard was sufficient for the task at hand. To be frank it all looked a little chaotic to the untrained eye, mostly because it was. In the center of this creative chaos was the easily recognizable figure of Castillero, a tall man by any account, even compared to some of our other species, towering at about two meter twenty.
"You take command of the preparation efforts. Cartier, prep the crowd right here, the administrator wants that our guests receive a proper welcome. Show them the Ollakarans see these new people only as their equals.“ I told him while already moving towards Castillero.
„Of course. Should I also take care of the crowd outside?“ Seeing that he could become useful the cogs started turning.
"Naturally, we wouldn’t want to leave the impression that we don’t honor our guests, now would we?“ We were, to some degree, operating on guesswork, but seeing as the Federation was apparently a democracy of some kind, showing them the broad public approval we had garnered should make them amicable to us. "Major, I suggest you let the guard go through two more rounds of the ceremonial.“
They both got on their way, with the sort of spirit people showed when they want to prove their worth. Before anything else I looked over to Ferrero, who seemed a little out of place.
"Now, there’s no direct purpose for you here, so you’re getting the duty to inform the central command staff of anything suspicious, alright?“
„Yes Sir, what about the secrecy of the call?“
"Use the phone over there.“ I pointed to one of the police stations spread throughout the starport. "It’s safe against tapping and it’s cable.“
„I’ll do that.“ He stopped, finding himself a spot where could wait inconspicuously. I continued my way towards Castillero, who had turned around and saw me coming.
"George, ready to meet our new friends?“ He chuckled, waving towards me to come closer.
"We’ll see.“ I stood next to him, before us the red carpet leading towards the vessel. "Quite the spectacle that one, isn’t it?“
"Honestly, I’m not too impressed. Maybe we really just came across a civilian transport. Look at them.“ He pointed towards the top. "Where’s the protection of the bridge? A well placed torpedo would completely obliterate them.“
"Fair point.“ I bit my lip a little, thinking about a good answer. "Though look over to starboard, the guns I see there should be enough to ward of most pirates.“
"Pirates, but this is an official vessel, whoever built it must really trust in their reputation to keep themselves safe.“ He shook his head. "Back home this wouldn’t have been enough to even pass customs into foreign space.“
"Huh.“ I couldn’t really find a good retort, seeing as he was probably correct in his assessment. Whoever had built this vessel hadn’t waged galactic war on a large scale, or at least had an abnormal trust in their reputation. "Anyways, was there any movement so far, are the cameras primed?“
"Cameras? You’re telling me TV production has become significant until now?“ He laughed, though he restrained himself enough to not interrupt the honor guard.
"Some things just don’t change, do they?“ I sighed playfully. "Eight month for my own, and for being human that's pretty good.“
"I’ll buy one when we’re back home, it’s not like there’s much on right now. anyways“ He pulled out a small remote.
"Recording is ready to get done though, isn’t it?“
"Tested it myself just before you came.“ He grinned, giving me a thumbs up. "I suggest you find some good words, we wouldn’t want to leave the history books something unmemorable.“
"This is a footnote, nothing more.“ I looked towards the vessel, hiding my skepticism a little. "Their first contact has already happened, and people far better than me spoke the first words.“
"Hands up and on the ground.“ He mockingly repeated it, though there was a certain reverence with it. "Don’t know about you, but that’s not the ideal opening, hope we can avoid that pitfall this time.“
"It certainly won’t be from a lack of trying.“ I grinned at the idea, though the thought of what would come after was enough to wrench my gut a little. "Again, any movement so far?“
"They landed here, good maneuver by the way, pilot is undoubtedly an expert, but after that nothing. We did some preliminary scans, though they found nothing significant.“ He tapped his aiguillette a few times. "Best guess there’s about forty of them on the ship, though judging by the number closest to the exit I’d wager there’ll be three to form the delegation to meet us.“
"Three, that’s a good number.“
I wondered what kind of people they’d send. I hadn’t been part of first contact operations before crashing here, but back then it had been customary to send a number of members of parliament, perhaps even a minister. In special circumstances chancellor or president themselves would do the honor to induct a new civilization into our ranks, though this required a truly extraordinary situation.
A member of their parliament, yes, that would be the most logical consequence, perhaps joined by representatives of the executive branch, a minister most likely, and maybe some important civilian. After all, had we not caused quite a stir with our actions so far, was this not the minimum of interest we would probably be treated with?
„They’ve scanned the ship?“ The talik didn’t look as much annoyed, as she seemed to cross off some sort of mental checkbox.
„They did, I suppose us deactivating our protective measures did it’s part to motivate them.“ While I held back my most biting tone, I hoped to make it evident what I thought about her ideas.
„They’ll know we won’t try anything dangerous. Seeing as we’re quite literally surrounded by them you might want to agree that it would be best not to provoke them.“ She once more adjusted her uniform, having switched into one adequate for a senior officer.
„There’s no point in playing nice with these people, as you yourself said they were willing and able to kill us all just a moment ago if we didn’t act according to their wishes.“ I scoffed while polishing the buttons on my jacket. „I don’t think allowing them to scan us will alleviate any of that.“
„For them it was normal protocol, Doyle apparently didn’t even have to think about it.“ Her tone became more soothing, though her look was a little suspicious. „As seen in their spaceport this group has a much more militaristic outlook on life than we do. For them violence might be a completely normal part of life. Undoubtedly something they’d share with our own humans.“
„You seem to admire them talik, or am I wrong?“
„You’ve seen the starport, haven’t you? How much has happened since we landed? The city alone is something to be remembered.“ She cocked her head. „There is much to learn from these people before we will be forced to evict them.“
„With all due respect for your newfound appreciation, we’ve got no back-up, there’s no plan B, no second option. If they decide to strike now we are virtually defenseless.“ I took a deep breath, while it was unwise to confront a talik directly, I still had to cover my bases, should this whole affair ever end up before a parliamentary committee.
„I concur, there’s no second option.“ She turned her head towards me, her eyes glimmering with amusement. „Captain, you’re a soldier, is it really so strange to climb into the Lerroks nest because you were ordered to?“
„The exploration corps is never satisfied with only one option.“
„Quite so, but the corps also sometimes get routed by sticks and stones.“ The amusement had vanished, replaced by annoyance. „Perhaps it would be for the best to put a tighter leash on it.“
„It’s no topic for now, but let me say this much. The corps hasn’t exactly performed to our fullest expectations, some in the council doubt your complete adherence to the ideals of the Federation. Though don’t be afraid, this mission should serve as an acceptable testing ground to see whether or not they were correct.“ She looked around, stopping at one of the entrances. „Didn’t you give Zilkov the order to join us?“
„I did, he only has to get a more fitting uniform ready.“ Trying to ignore her thinly veiled threat I pulled out my phone and called him.
I only waited for a short time, seeing as he quickly picked up.
„Lieutenant Zilkov, how can I help you captain?“ He asked, his voice was unusually relaxed, though I wasn’t certain why.
„We intend to leave the ship within the next five minutes, so I want to know how long it’ll take you.“ Turning away from the talik I hoped this would prevent her from listening in on everything. „Is there a problem?“
„No captain, everything’s fine, I’m on my way, it’s not every day you get promoted to Lieutenant Commander.“ Though he chuckled at the joke I felt there was a strong sense of uncertainty.
„Well, if this works well enough we’ll perhaps be able to make it permanent.“ I chuckled as well, ending the call.
„Don’t put your trust into the wrong people.“ The talik said, apparently standing right behind me.
„What?“ I spun around, standing face to face with her. „What’s the meaning of this, how did you even sneak up on me?“
„Sneaking up? Quite the contrary, the boots are noise-dampening, that’s all.“ She cleared her throat. „You trust the Lieutenant, I understand why, he’s quite like you were back in the day.“
„Talik, I’m merely making sure this mission becomes a success, despite the circumstances.“ I ground my teeth to suppress any less amicable reactions.
„Don’t get blinded by false nostalgia captain.“ She maintained her cool tone. „Lieutenant Zilkov has just spent significant time with one of the customs members who boarded our ship, from what I could see on the cameras I placed in the cargo bay they had a long and intense conversation.“
„No talik, you will not imply that one of my own people would…“
„You're right captain, I do not imply, I’m certain that at this point in time Zilkov has at least minor sympathies for the local population. While generally a good thing and in line with Federation policy, the special intervention of the humans makes it likely this sympathy also covers them.“ She glanced around, making sure we were truly alone. „His behavior before this expedition, for example traveling to the human systems and staying there for an entire year, shows he may be a human sympathizer, at worst a human fan.“
„Then what do you want me to do? Tell him to stand down, place him under arrest, perhaps even ordering a direct transport back?“ At this point I was justified in becoming a little enraged. After all, even if she was a talik she had no right to so openly doubt the dedication of my direct subordinate. Especially one like Zilkov.
„To the contrary, he must join us. Studying his reaction of what will come will prove valuable, more so because he will understand parts of human culture which perhaps are alien to us.“ She held up her hand, the scales shining in the dim light of the exit bay. „But he must be viewed with caution and we must make certain he is given no opportunity to act in a way harmful to the Federation or the non-intervention doctrine.“
In theory the order given had been easy for Zilkov. To be more presentable to the natives and the humans he had to assume the rank of Lieutenant Commander for the duration of the mission. Perhaps he would’ve rejoiced at the opportunity only a few hours ago, but seeing what had happened until now, knowing how much possibly was at stake had ruined the sweet taste of glory and replaced it with ash.
Indeed, while he only had to take a new uniform jacket and put the insignia of a Lieutenant Commander on them his hands were shaking and he had made a mistake twice already. Granted, he thought, few would be able to see these minuscule holes in the epaulette, but if they did he would cast not only a bad light on himself, but also on the Federation. Worst of all the captain might notice, and Zilkov would show that he was still inadequate, not worthy of the trust placed upon him.
No, he reasoned, this could and would not happen. Nekarion had trusted him of all people with this. Thus, he could not fail. Furthermore the talik would be with them, he could not besmirch her honor through his failure.
Desperate to find anything to sooth himself ever so slightly he searched his bunk, coming upon a small dose of Däukelitz, a combat stim, just strong enough to steady hands and calm the recipient. Almost overjoyed he took a pill.
For a moment he froze, unused to the taste and feeling, combining the joy of a good dinner with his tongue giving up any pretense to function. Luckily these side effects vanished quickly and only a minute or so later Zilkov already felt quite a bit calmer.
It was only an easy order, he thought as he finished it in under two minutes after the pill kicked in. The four-sided star in silver looked good on the uniform and as he put on the jacket he felt a little relieved, the air of authority he associated with higher officers kicking in, supplanting much of the self-doubt.
His phone rang, causing him to loose some of his confidence, though after he had determined that it was only the captain who wanted Zilkov to join him immediately he calmed down a little.
As he made down his way towards the captain, he allowed himself to indulge in some soul searching.
Looking at the small insignia Radnitz had given him, nothing more than the sigil which also had decorated the fighters and shuttle, he couldn’t help but feel a little torn. For one he had seen the talik, had heard her reaction towards the humans. He could not allow to show himself friendly to them in any capacity, otherwise he’d draw her ire, the mere thought of which was enough for Zilkov to clench his fists. Truly, he had to show there was nothing to be doubted about him, such would be the will of captain and talik.
And yet, as he had spoken with Radnitz he couldn’t help but be in awe. What she had told him was nothing short of incredible. If only a small part of what she had alluded to was true he was about to enter a wonderland, a place beyond his wildest imaginations. How could he not be captivated by the prospect of seeing this weird amalgamation of old and new, what appeared to be nothing less than the greatest civilizing effort he’d likely see within his life.
Perhaps, if he could find an excuse to split from them and go…
„There you are.“ The captain gave him a friendly nod. „Now look talik, I feel the Lieutenant Commander looks like a good addition to our small delegation.“
„You complement us well.“ She nodded, having once again switched to the emotionless expression Zilkov was so used to.
„Do you have anything you want to tell us Zilkov? Perhaps something about the chat you just had with Radnitz?“ The captain had taken position in front of the exit, preparing himself for finally conducting the official first contact.
„What little she said were no more than allusions, captain.“ Zilkov walked over towards him, stopping to his right, careful to not say anything which could be misconstrued.
„Then what did she allude to?“ The talik took position to the right of the captain, respectfully standing a step behind him, same as Zilkov.
„There is much love and adoration for the humans, if I’m not mistaken they might genuinely consider them benevolent guardians.“ Zilkov remembered the expression on Radnitz face, the great joy when telling him about how good the humans had been to them.
„Her reaction was genuine?“ While the talik didn’t demean herself by reacting emotionally, in Zilkovs mind it was evident she was quite concerned.
„Absolutely, though of course I’m not as experienced as you, talik, so I might’ve easily made a mistake.“
„Well then, we’ll know once we meet them in person, won’t we?“ The captain interjected before the talik could say anything, activating the console next to him at the same time. „Commander, we’re ready to leave.“
The hatch opened, sunlight pouring into the exit bay, almost blinding Zilkov for a short moment, forcing him to squint, almost closing his eyes entirely. Though seeing anything was not necessary, for his first impression of this new world would be one which needed to be heard instead.
It was a strange melody, sounding quite alien, and yet, Zilkov felt as if he had heard it dozens, no hundreds of times before, had even sung along, but no, there was no way…
„Now this is quite surprising.“ The captains voice was a little strained. „Zilkov, I hope you don’t start to sing along, though it’d be your duty otherwise.“
There, Zilkov realized what it was, the anthem of the Federation, played on instruments he didn’t know, to a tact he wasn’t quite familiar with. Of course, he thought, this was it, they played their anthem, like this was an official state visit, not some contact with a new species.
He opened his eyes, wanting to see and understand what was before them, what strange land he was about to enter.
However, the first thing he had to do was catch up with captain and talik who had already taken their first step. Panicking a little Zilkov took two quick steps to catch up, hoping there was no-one filming this horrid faux-pas.
Before the stairs of the ship there was a red carpet, looking smooth, almost as if someone had just brushed it. To the sides stood soldiers, though not dressed like Doyle, face hidden behind armor, but in light grey uniforms with peaked caps, each one groomed to perfection. The buttons glimmered in the sunlight, a spectacle for any visitor. The black boots shining enough to blend Zilkov a little, so he looked towards their faces.
Beneath the peaked caps he was met with stalwart eyes, seemingly looking right through him, the expression neutral and resolute at the same time. Truly, had he seen this look on an enemy he would been frightened to the core, so intense did he feel their stare.
This was despite the weapons they held, they were old, almost ancient. Semiautomatic rifles, probably not even able to damage modern protective vests, and yet these were polished and prepared, the soldiers presenting an empty magazine to the three of them.
And last, but most terrifying of all was the species of the soldiers, they were all natives. Be it the common soldier presenting their rifle, the NCO holding a saber which they held in a presentable manner, or the commanding officer at the very end, they all had red skin and the protrusions which qualified them as Ollakarans. The thought scared Zilkov a little, Radnitz had been nice and friendly, but there was none of this here, these people were drilled, a military unit able to fight and die for their commanders.
Looking forward he tried to find something more soothing, anything really. He spotted the military band which was still playing their anthem, also made up of natives, a native wearing a little more fancy uniform conducting them.
A crowd was standing at the sides of the starport, making photos and probably filming, though it again was also made up solely by Ollakarans.
Then, as he focussed on the end of the red carpet he could finally see the only two humans, one about as tall as Doyle had been, but the other taller than even the captain when he walked upright. A giant, though apparently he only took the second row, the other human, dark-skinned, standing in front, a friendly look on his face.
Zilkov was intrigued by this one, he hadn’t met a person of his skin tone during his trips to human space. Were they like his own species, where a different scale color made them able to work better in different climates, perhaps it would make them nocturnal as they could hide better in the night? He had to restrain himself, too exciting was the prospect to once again learn more about the humans.
They continued walking down the red carpet, followed by the stare of the soldiers, though only until they had passed them, after which the soldiers head snapped around and they looked forward, right through the soldier standing opposed to them.
"Honorable delegation of the Ederian Federation, in the name of General Administrator Amelia Landry, the PEKGU, as well as the Verwaltungsparlament I hereby welcome you to the Perkerian Integration Authority.“ The human began to speak as they came to a stop before him, using English while speaking both with gravitas and friendliness. "It is a great honor for us to welcome you as the first official visitors to the great ascendance of the Ollakarans.“ A microphone was standing next to him, his voice booming across the landing bay, so probably the crowd would be able to understand him.
Zilkov exchanged a short look with the talik, then leaning forward and translating what just had been said to the captain.
„The honor is all ours.“ The captain answered in the native language used until now, it becoming evident why he had been chosen to lead this effort, though he spoke a little slower, as Zilkov reasoned so he wouldn’t make any mistakes. „We are pleased to finally invite the Ollakarans into the galactic community and hope for a prosperous and cooperative future for our people.“ He nodded towards the human, a universal gesture as far as Zilkov was aware, seeing as shaking appendages was a quite iffy for some.
Apparently the microphone had picked him up as well, seeing as there was a rousing cheer from the crowd, who apparently were overjoyed by his words.
"Before we continue with the program I’d ask you to introduce yourself, so the people may know who has come to see how far they’ve come.“ He had spoken in the same language as Nekarion, probably to ease communication, though as Zilkov noted the other human had to suppress an indignant glare. Apparently not noticing Demming took a step back, a cameraman quickly coming in to film the captain first.
„I’m Captain Tabarck Nekarion, captain of the TRS Lerrok and the Federal exploratory corps.“ The captain said, his voice a little tense.
„I’m Commander Rekera Lioba, vice captain of the TRS Lerrok.“ The talik looked more at ease than the captain, even flashing a small smile, while also using English, surprising the two humans.
„I’m Lieutenant Commander Elbaras Zilkov, adjutant to captain Nekarion.“ As he gave his answer he noticed a peculiar shift in one of the Ollakarans, who quickly stepped away from the main group, making his way into some far off building. Besides that there a thin smile formed on the lips of Castillero.
"We’re honored by your presence.“ The human smiled back, though if Zilkov wasn’t wrong he could swear that something bugged him. „I’m Oberst George Demming, this is Major Juan Castillero and this is mayor Bertrand Cartier. We'll be responsible for bringing you to the general administrator.“
„A meeting with your leader already?“ The captain tried to hide his surprise, though it got the better of him.
"Of course, who else would be qualified to speak on our behalf when conducting first-time diplomacy?“ He started to turn around, inviting Zilkov and the others to join along.
Rejoice, after about 20.000 words more than I initially expected our intrepid heroes have finally touched down on the planet. To be honest I didn't expect this to take so long, quite the contrary, but I do tend to write a lot more than I initially anticipated. Regardless I thank you for holding out so long and indulging this story by reading it. Any feedback is welcome, questions will always be answered.
The are two things I'm perhaps a little unsure off.
First is that I might have a tendency to stretch out plot with filler. While I'd claim that all sections are decent for their intended purpose, I can't seem to get rid of the sneaking suspicion that this in fact the case and I should probably write a little more concise and not keep piling on plotpoints.
Second is the small description Zilkov gives of Demming. While it's intended to show the dynamic of humans and aliens a little, I fear it could be hurtful or insulting due to lacking execution. As such I'd like to hear your opinion whether or not it is fitting, or should be edited/removed in some way.
As a small sidenote, this is part of a greater universe I'm building and have already written hundreds of pages of material (Though nothing except this one was published until now), as such it may happen that I include things which you, as the reader, will not necessarily understand or will see as weird and obstrusive. Should you come across something like that I'd like to hear it, as it will allow me to compensate for my mistake either by editing the chapter in question, or explain it in one down the line.
If you have criticism (Who wouldn't? No story is perfect and most (including this one) will never even get close) I'd be glad to hear it.