Early spring of 1967,
Fort Collins, Colorado
The last of March, 1967, Jack informed me that he thought he should go to Alaska because he had heard you could make great money there. He had studied Petroleum Engineering at Colorado School of Mines in Golden under the G.I. Bill and felt if he would come to Kenai where they were drilling for oil and he could get a good paying job in the oil industry. He packed his clothes in a duffel bag and left the first week in April.
I heard from him about a week later saying he had gotten a parts man job at Ken’s Auto in Kenai. He gave me a phone number telling me it was the auto parts store number. The place where he lived did not have a phone. As everybody knows during the 50s and 60s in Alaska, phones were almost nonexistent.
I called the next week but was unable to talk to him. I called the next week and the next week as I had not heard from him. I called the third week and he said he was still working for Ken’s auto, but added that his application in at several oil drilling companies. I asked him if we could come up and join him and he said “no-no that’s not a good idea.”
So my forever working brain decided that maybe me and the kids should just sell everything we had and go to Alaska and surprise him. (That’s the gypsy in my soul working overtime!)
I called Ken’s Auto to tell him that we would be on our way to Alaska about the first week in July but the voice on the other in line said “Col. (so-and-so) NORAD. Sate your business.” I said I must have the wrong number. I was dialing Ken’s Auto in Kenai, Alaska. There was a pause and the Colonel said “How did YOU get this number and WHO are you calling??” So I repeated who I was looking for and who I had dialed. He said you have reached North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado and I need to get some information from you. After telling him exactly where I lived, who I worked for, how old I was, he also added we will have to run an intelligence report on me. And I said OK? He hung up and I hung up. I had dialed the area code for Colorado and the phone number for Ken’s Auto in Kenai.
Smiling about my conversation with a Colonel at NORAD, I related the story to Dad. He got a kick out of it also. That afternoon while I was sweeping off the porch steps, a dark green Army looking fancy car drove up in my driveway. It had some kind of Army symbol on the side. An Army person with lots of stars and ribbons stepped out of the passenger side. Two Army guys got out of the back seats and the driver opened his door and they all stood at attention at the open car doors.
The Army guy with all the stars and ribbons walked up to me and introduced himself. “Hello I’m Colonel (so-and-so) from North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, I am here to interview you because you dialed a secret number that is only documented at NORAD.” They had driven up from Colorado Springs to interview me.
I said I explained to the gentleman on the phone that I dialed the wrong number. He said that gentleman was him. “I need to follow-up on the reason why you dial the wrong number. And I need to know the number you are calling, where you are calling, and who you were calling.”
I explained again and told him who I was calling, gave him the names of the person I was calling. One of the Army personnel had a notebook and he was writing everything down.
The interview took all of 8 to 10 min. The Colonel thanked me and turned around got back in his army green car, one of the back seat Army guys shut his door and got in, the driver got in, backed out and drove away.
Still standing in the driveway with my broom, all my neighbors came walking over to see why I was so famous. It was the topic of conversation the rest of the bright, sunny, warm Colorado afternoon, as we sat on the porch steps.
Oh! That’s not the end of the story! NORAD called Ken’s Auto in Kenai, Alaska to verify that there was a Jack Bateman working there. No, said Ken he just got hired at Pan-American oil company. I do not know who else they called.
NORAD is a command station that was built in 1961, inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. They have since been revised several times through the years, from their early detection of missiles and undocumented aircraft. Terrorism has dramatically changed NORAD.
NORAD system covers all of Alaska, northern Canada and all of North America.
You have probably heard of them as it tracks Santa from the North Pole on Christmas Eve. For more information about NORAD there are several sites available on Google.