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BaseCamps

On the main page here, I posted a map of all of the basecamps I was present for, at least as far as I can remember. My memory was aided by seeing the sign I'm squatting next to. The other guy in a similar pose is Don Bailey, who was a helicopter pilot and I think the one I flew with the most often.

The basecamps varied from buildings like the old schoolhouse in Tabriz, to tent camps usually inside a compound.

A couple of specific memories of the basecamp in Iranshahr (no photos, sorry to say): One evening we saw the sky turning black, and thought it was a dust storm, so we all retreated to our tents. They were two-man hex-tents; I've forgotten who my tent mate was. The storm turned out to be a cyclone, in this case like a very wide tornado, and it essentially flattened everything.

I have vivid memories of us lying on our backs across a cot, trying to hold the canvas off our bodies by pushing up on the nearly-horizontal tent pole because the canvas was painful. It was pitch black, and my face was in pain; I thought I was blind and that my glasses had broken into my eyes. I remember thinking "This is scaredest I've ever been!"

Then it was over. We heard that it was less than 15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer. The painful canvas was caused by nickel-sized hail being driven at probably over 100 mph, no way to know for sure. We had quite the cleanup, but no serious injuries.

Another thing that happened while we were working out of Iranshahr was a chance meeting with a couple of American writers. They were trying to find a road that was on their maps, but really it was just a track and the "main" road we were on was one-lane dirt. It happened that we had been down their "road" so we were able to give them directions.

We ended up camping for the night together. They were following the path of Alexander the Great, and were on the return from India. They were headed for Persepolis which was the second pass of the spot for Alexander after burning it the first time; he died not long after in Babylon.

The writers were Helen and Frank Schreider. After talking with them a bit I realized that I had read a serial in the Saturday Evening Post in the 1950s about their trip in an amphibious vehicle from Circle, Alaska, to Tierra del Fuego. 20,000 miles!

In The Footsteps of Alexander the Great was the cover article in the January, 1968 issue of National Geographic. The cyclone got a mention, but we did not. I've included a cover picture from the issue at the end, below.

As you can see, we had an Iranian sergeant who was a fire breather. Don't try this at home!
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BaseCamps BaseCamps
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