Russell MacLeod Middleton - Journey
This site originally published in MICHIGAN in 2002.
Hosted in Burnaby, B.C., Canada
Russell MacLeod Middleton
Click to go Home
My Journey in Brief
- July 1950 — I, a WWII veteran's son, was born in West Central Michigan.
- Summer 1967 — I spent six weeks with the Haferkamp family on their farm in the village of Weddelbrook, Germany , through the Youth For Understanding program.
- Lived during the heart of the summer (mid June - mid August) at a latitude more suitable to my genetic history. (see overlay to the right ->)
- conquered homesickness.
- Sep 1968 — my first foray into the world of college academics started.
- At GVSC (it was a college in those days)
I begin to think for myself.
- enrollment was 2,000, with only 600 living on campus.
- hung out with a group of kids from Farmington Hills, Michigan.
- met a girl, who called herself 'Richard', from New York state (WOW, could she kiss).
- — Then it was the "Summer of '69" (nod to Bryan Adams)
- The last year had been fun, but not very productive.
- I needed to grow up and 'Uncle Sam' had a plan for me.
- The draft (Selective Service) was going to a lottery system in December. Student deferments were ending.
- Instead of waiting for the call to be a rifleman, I joined the United States Air Force Delayed Enlistment Program on 15 July 1969, with the intention of becoming a technician.
(According to Selective Service records my draft number was 187 out of 195 called. I had made the right choice.)
- Jul '69 — Enlisted under the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) (six year total commitment four active and two inactive, ostensibly more career choices) just days before the first manned mission to land on the Moon.
While nearly half a million concertgoers left Max Yasgur's dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York, and Gulf Coast Mississippians began to assess the effect of the Category 5 hurricane, Camille, I joined 8.2 million of my peers in answering our country's call to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
"I, Russell M. Middleton, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Robert Frost (1874-1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
My mother was not as enthusiastic about my decision to join the military as I would have liked. She didn't want to risk losing her only son, the eldest of the eldest of the eldest of this branch of the Middleton family.
Unbeknownst to me until some thirty years later, while studying Scottish History, my decision may have been a foregone conclusion. In spite of mom's best efforts to raise a peace loving son, some four hundred fifty generations of highland blood course through my veins and I wanted to do the right thing. It was probably obvious to many that Vietnam was a lost cause and was already beginning to wind down. All I knew was that it was something I needed to do.
A few weeks into Basic Training when the moment came to specifically choose which Air Force career field I wished to pursue, I chose weapons (Aircraft Armament Systems Apprentice AFSC 46230) (closer to the pointed end of the stick). The nature/nurture argument has raged for longer than my short life, but the more I learn about who the Scottish people are the more I understand myself. This web page, Military Character of the Highlanders, clearly explains the character of the Highlander as a warrior, but a close reading will also reveal who the Highland Scots are as a people. Our sense of honour, loyalty, history and the land is beyond the ability of most non-Scots to understand, yet so deeply felt as to be part of our DNA. A sense of honour and hospitality so grievously violated at Glencoe over three centuries ago that it still raises tempers.
- 19 Aug 1969 - 18 Aug 1973 — I spend four years on active duty in the United States Air Force as a 462x0 Weapons Mechanic (now called 2W1x1 Aircraft Armament Systems) on the B-52, F-100 and F-111 (civilian career prospects?).
- Aug '69 — Assigned to the 737th Training Group at Lackland AFB, Texas for Basic Training . Transformed from a civilian recruit into a disciplined, dedicated, physically fit warrior ready to serve in the United States Air Force.
August weather in Texas is a little warmer than Michigan. High
Low All time High All time Low Average Rainfall
All Time Driest All Time
August, in San Antonio, Texas. 94.7 73.6 108 57 2.57 0 11.14 August, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 80.5 58.4 102 39 3.78 0 8.46
- Oct '69 — Assigned to the 3415th Technical Training Wing, Lowry AFB, Denver, CO, for SAC Weapons Release Training (B-52).
- Without guns, bombs, missiles, and weapons mechanics, the USAF is just another expensive flying club.
- Jan '70 — Assigned to the 5th Munitions Maintenance Squadron (MMS) 5th Bomb Wing (B-52H[Buff]), Minot AFB, Minot, ND. Where I became the No. 2 man of a 5 man weapons loading team (Crazy Ammo Guys). We maintained the weapons release system of the Buff and loaded the following: the Mk 28 thermonuclear bomb (B28FI as part of a four bomb package) using a MHU-7/M Bomb Lift Trailer; a four bird package of ADM-20 Quail decoy missiles; and the W28 lightweight, Class D warhead in a North American AGM-28 Hound Dog missile under each wing.
- "The B-52, with its familiar wrinkled fuselage sides, has enough metal to make 10,000 garbage cans. The wiring in the Stratofortress is equivalent to five miles of baling wire. Its engines are as powerful as eight locomotives. And that's the way it flies, like eight locomotives, pulling ten thousand garbage cans with five miles of baling wire!" — B-52 Stratofortress from Wikipedia
- Apr '70 — 90 days ± before my 20th birthday. I'd been at Minot AFB since Jan '70 and hadn't frozen to death yet. During the weekly upload of live nukes on the Alert Pad an alarm sounds and the flight crews, of the six B-52s standing alert, race out of the Alert Shack, climb aboard their respective aircraft and start the forty eight turbofan engines. As the P&W TF33 engines screamed into life we consciously decided to continue doing our jobs. The six fully armed (36 nuclear warheads) and fueled alert aircraft taxied toward the runway all within 5 minutes. (ICBM flight time from the Soviet Union is approximately 30 minutes.) Was the nuclear holocaust about to begin? We won't know for another 25 minutes. Minot AFB was home to the headquarters of both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Strategic Missile Wing, and we were fairly certain of a high position on the Soviet's nuclear first strike target list. We did not have the luxury of sitting around waiting for the end of the world. We returned to our duties of preparing another B-52 for alert duty (we hoped). You learn an amazing ability to focus, loading a four weapon 4 ton package of nuclear bombs over your head with only inches to spare, while waiting for the blinding flash of a ballistic missile strike. The "Follow - Me" truck never got out of the way of the 'Elephant Walk'. The bombers taxied back to their parking spots and my loading crew signed off the upload.
- May '70 — Kent State shootings. What's going on? Why is the United States at war with itself? Why did university students taunt men caring rifles? Don't they know that the M1 Garand is a full blown combat rifle with maximum range of 3,200 meters and maximum effective range of 400 meters. [Teasing becomes bullying when it is repetitive or when there is a conscious intent to hurt another. Bullying, according to several authors, is a repeated act of physical or psychological aggression that is perceived to be threatening, coercive, relentless and leaves the victim feeling powerless. Bullying can include name-calling and spreading rumors, in addition to physical violence. Bullying includes a range of behaviors, all of which result in an imbalance of power. It can be verbal: making threats, name-calling, psychological: excluding others, spreading rumors, or physical: hitting, pushing, taking someone's possessions. Sometimes perpetrators make a hurtful remark and then pretend they didn't mean it by saying "just kidding." Teasing and bullying create an atmosphere that affects the whole of society. Even those who aren't directly involved can be distressed. People who see bullying can be as traumatized as the victims because they fear becoming victims themselves. And they feel guilty for not doing something to help. Crowds and cliques are the two types of groups to which the young adolescent strives to belong: crowds provide the groups' identity; cliques provide the context in which members meet each other's needs to "belong." Affirmation, belonging, and assurance that there is someone with whom secrets can be shared in very important. The insecurities that accompany this age create the need to gravitate toward those with whom they perceive they have the most in common. Conversely, young adolescents can be very mean to those whom they view as different from themselves as a way to validate themselves. So, in order to feel good about themselves at a stage in life during which they feel so awkward, they reject others who threaten their new identities. They shoot mean glances at classmates who are not in their group, name call, and in many ways act aggressively or deliberately shun others. Children are more likely to bully others if they have difficulty seeing another's perspective, tend to be more egocentric, appear to lack empathy towards others, seem to have higher levels of anger, and need power or control. Many researchers have shown that children who bully have been subject to erratic and harsh treatment at home and/or have experienced permissive parents who do not set clear limits. Sometimes, someone who has been bullied becomes a bully to make herself or himself feel better. Controlling others makes them feel better about themselves which completes a vicious circle.]
- Sep '70 — Assigned to the 320th/20th MMS, 20th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100D[Hun]/F-111E[Aardvark]), RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, UK. The F-111 was capable of Mach 2.5 and of reaching its 10 mile service ceiling in two minutes. Completed apprenticeship and became a Weapons Maintenance Specialist, AFSC 46250, Weapons Release Team Chief. When the 111s first arrived at Heyford we had to remove the guns. We were told that the Queen did not allow us to fly with forward firing weapons. In reality it may have been part of the British government's anti-gun agenda as revealed in 22 Hamline L. Rev. 399-465 (1999). The M61 Vulcan cannon and its large 2,084-round ammunition tank were carried in half of the internal weapons bay. It is a hydraulically driven, six-barreled, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires a 20x102mm round. See the Heyford Years.
- "Advice given to RAF pilots during WWII: When a prang (crash) seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity as slow and gently as possible."
- At its peak, 8,000 personnel and their families lived on RAF Upper Heyford. — Oxford Mail, 8 May 1993
- Being stationed on a RAF base opened a connection to history, especially WWII history. Declassified: What Happened To These RAF Bases Since WW2? | Forces TV
- Mar '71 — purchased a Sony TC - 850 reel to reel tape deck as the center piece of my audio equipment. "By July 1971, it could be claimed that (RAF) Upper Heyford was the largest fighter base in Europe." — Simon Pipe
- Sep '71 - Feb '72 — Fell absolutely head over heels in love with and lost all five feet four inches of Wendy Smith from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She and her sister had stayed on in Summertown, Oxon. bedsits for six months after their father and family had completed a year long sabbatical at Oxford University. Sigh!!!
- May '72 - Jul '72 — Sarah Huxley and I hooked up, she lived in Bicester. Turned out she was using me to make her Welsh boyfriend jealous. (She eventually married the boyfriend.)
- 1 Nov 1972 — promoted to rank of Staff Sergeant (E5) after 3 years, 2 months, 13 days, of active duty service.
I am an American Airman.
I am a warrior.
I have answered my nation's call.
I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage,
A tradition of honor
And a legacy of valor.
I am an American Airman,
Guardian of freedom and justice,
My nation's sword and shield,
Its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.
I am an American Airman:
Wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter,
And I will not fail.
- Aug '73 — released from active duty. And so ends 3.5 years of living & working in Soviet nuclear 1st strike target zones. Assigned to Inactive Ready Reserve until 14 Jul '75. Authorized Medals - AFGCM, NDSM.
Unofficial: Cold War Victory Medal
- ...ages and ages hence: Curiously RAF Upper Heyford escaped the attention of anti-nuclear campaigners until 1982. Upper Heyford nuclear protesters gather 30 years on "It really was terrifying. We were the ground zero target - the American bunkers in England would be the first to be targeted in a nuclear war." — supporter Annie Tunnicliffe, who lived in Oxford. "In its last years at Upper Heyford, the F-111 finally showed that it was a mature system. The 20th's F-111Es had their best maintenance statistics in 13 years in 1992, and the best maintenance statistics in F-111 history in 1993. The fully mission capable rate surged to 88.8%, while cost per flying hour dropped from $1,136 to just over $700. Also the wing scored an Excellent on its Nuclear Surety Inspections for 1991 and 1993."
"On 15 December 1993, the 20 TFW flight line at RAF Upper Heyford was closed. It moved without personnel and equipment from the UK..."
- Jan 1974 — I returned to Grand Valley State College and started studying computers by writing FORTRAN language programs using punch cards.
- Mar 1974 — I met Marlene Haas. She dressed conservatively unlike some of our classmates. We eventually ended up at her apartment door. I asked to stay the night. She said, "Yes, but I'm also seeing someone else." Being a young, horny, liberated man of the '70s, I said, "I don't mind." (I was thinking as long as she was ready to have sex with me, what she did on her own time was none of my business.) Our PASSIONATE relationship lasted until December of 1976. Some where along the way the other guy must have been let go, but Marlene and I never talked about it beyond that moment on her doorstep. Sadly I now see that our's was a mostly physical relationship. To protect myself I had not allowed myself to become emotionally attached. And I speculate that Marlene was protecting herself by not bring up the subject of a committed monogamous relationship. Sigh again!!
- Spring 1975 — I was starting to lose the vision of where college was taking me.
- For ten years my peers had spewed a tremendous amount of rhetoric about accepting people for who and what they were, but this did not seem to include those of us who had served in the military during the Vietnam Era. I could no longer see myself working in an office full of supposedly intelligent people who could not differentiate between the war and the warrior.
- Aug 1975 — I start working in a small automotive repair shop until I nearly lost a finger in an unguarded press. (a scar and stiffness when cold reminds me everyday)
- May 1976 — Next a part time job driving a school bus based on my truck driving experience in the Air Force. (2 1/2 ton, crew-cab Dodge)
- June 1976 — Now fulltime factory work including occasionally driving a straight truck (two axles). I realized I liked driving, the individual responsibility, the time alone. (Use 'view source code' to see why this choice may not have been totally random, search for CANONGATE.)
- Aug 1976 — My career as a 'professional driver' begins at the Diesel Truck Driving School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
- I submitted my resume (CV) to at least fifty trucking companies in West Michigan. The few I actually got to talk to seemed particularly unimpressed with the fact that I had attended a truck driving school. They were all looking for drivers with verifiable experience. The conventional wisdom was that drivers, especially long haul drivers, would have a major accident within the first five years as they come to terms with the fatigue issue. The trucking companies wanted the cost of this lessen to fall on someone else.
- Apr 1977 — Eventually I went to work for O. J. Larson, a retired LifeSavers executive with a new K100 Kenworth leased to CDB Inc. The contract CDB had with the Amway Corp. was to augment Amway's own truck fleet. We hauled Amway products to distribution centers in New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, California, and Oregon. I ran to the West Coast mostly because return loads were easier to find. Each trip took from seven to ten days. The first three trips in a month covered the operating expenses. The fourth trip was pure profit, so the push was always on to make quick turnarounds.
- I drove as part of a two man team. Because of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) regulations, we followed a routine of five hours (250 miles) driving while the other driver slept in the bunk. E.g. we went from the Amway yard in Ada, Michigan to the warehouse in Portland, Oregon, a distance of 2,336 miles, in less then forty eight hours, including at least six stops for food and/or fuel, plus stops at state truck inspection stations. If you plot the five hours on, five hours off schedule on a calendar you will find that it creeps around the clock so that each driver can end up driving at any hour of the day or night during the week. The circadian rhythm was not part of the regulation.
- May 1977 — Star Wars original release.
- Aug 1977 — I became lead driver when the other driver quit over a disagreement with the owner.OJ hires a third driver.
- Oct 1977 — I met Eleanor, a divorcee with two young children. She was the only women I'd met who would date on the irregular schedule of a long haul trucker.
- Dec 1977 — I quit OJ's truck. I had spent four months in a 157 cubic foot truck cab with a smoker (I've never smoked, a phone box is 63 cubic feet for comparison).
- Mar 1978 — A friend Dave Steggerda decided to try his hand at trucking. He bought a "White Road Commander" and I agreed to teach him everything I knew. By July he decided that his time would be better spent off the road. I was in the process of training some new drivers in July when...
- Apr 1978 — Due to the unstable nature of the US fuel supply, and because they were now being manufactured domestically, I order a VW diesel Rabbit. As a truck driver, even in an emergency, I should always be able to find a few spare gallons of diesel fuel.
- Jul 1978 — Sadly, I did not escape the fatigue factor. I fell asleep, collided with a car in Western Illinois and rolled the truck over. Fortunately no one was killed, but it did bring my long haul career to an end. The accident also compounded my feelings of guilt and self doubt.
- Fatigue is an insidious part of the transportation industry. As long as market pressures demand, and government regulations allow drivers to work schedules that bear no semblance to the human circadian rhythm, fatigue related accidents will occur.
- Aug 1978 — I become the proud owner of a brand-new pumpkin orange VW diesel Rabbit Mk1. Read a brief history of the Mk1 here. Also read about the Diesel Engine and the mystery surrounding the death of its inventor Rudolf Diesel.
(Although over one million were sold between 1978 and 1985, the failure rate of GM's engines ruined the reputation of Diesel engines in general in the United States market. — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
- 30 Jun 1979 — Eleanor and I marry. It seemed like a good thing to do at the time and had family implications far beyond my consciousness. I did note that my Grandmother and Aunt had made the 1,664 mile journey from Unity, Saskatchewan Canada, why was never explained. My belief now is that as the eldest son of the eldest of the eldest of this branch of the Middleton family my marriage mattered in some traditional sense, but in late twentieth century America that tradition was nearly D.O.A. (dead on arrival)
- In the early 1980's, I built a Heathkit H8 computer with a whopping 64k of memory and audio cassette tapes for data storage. The exhilaration of watching the readout display "YOUR H8 IS UP AND RUNNING" was short lived.
- The female I was married to at the time felt I spent too much time and attention on computers and not enough on her. She rationalized that an affair with her married supervisor was easier than asking me to leave the workshop. Years of depression followed the divorce (Sep 1983) sabotaging my intellectual development and advancement in the world of computers. ("I coulda been a contender." — Marlon Brando, 'On the Waterfront' 1954)
- June 1994 — I return, part time, to the world of academics at Lansing Community College. My goal is an Associate in Business Degree as a Microcomputer Support Specialist.
- I got my first email account at MSU in 1995 (unaffiliated), middle14 AT msu.edu (Anti-Spam measure; replace ' AT ' with @ to use address). This account was finally withdrawn in June 2008.
- Spring 2001 — I was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa. Based on my 4.0 Grade Point Average, I had received the formal invitation the year before, but I was still struggling to build my self-esteem. (I know 'Rome was not built in one day', but fifty years for one ego seems a bit excessive.)
- Fall 2001 — My quest to discover my place in the Universe is on going and has included:
twothree marriages, one divorce, one widowhood,
- and nearly two million miles of accident free driving as a Professional Driver. (after the accident)
- My latest interest is historical re-enacting (Living History), specifically as an 18th Century Jacobite Scottish Highland Warrior.
- Xmas 2001 Letter
- 2 Jan 2002 — Quit truck driving after twenty five and a half years to finish the Associate Degree full time.
- 7 Jan 2002 — St. Andrew's Society of Detroit - Induction Ceremony. What didn't get said.
- 15 Dec 2002 — AWARDED - Associate Business Degree. Major: Microcomputer Support Specialist. Honors: Summa Cum Laude, Lansing Community College.
- What could have taken 2 years on a focused academic track, took me 34 years on a voyage of discovery.
- Looked for full time permanent employment, couldn't even get an internship (unpaid work experience). Decided to go to Scotland.
- 4 - 13 Apr 2003 — The trip to Scotland with MacFarlanes Company.
- 1 May 2003 — Applied to study in Scotland; at which universities; and the results:
1. The University of Edinburgh
2. University of Glasgow
3. Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
4. Napier University, Edinburgh
5. University of Paisley
6. The University of Stirling
- 21 May 2003 — AS2 Acknowledgement Letter arrives, confirming the institutions, courses and entry dates I have applied for.
- 14 Jul 2003 — AS6F Final Decision Letter arrives. I indicated my intention to accept The University of Stirling's offer.
- 21 Jul 2003 — AS12 Confirmation letter finally arrived. I accepted the offer to study at The University of Stirling.
- 10 Aug 2003 — Finally!! Received the Acceptance Certificate of a place in the Course - BSc Computing Science G400, at the University of Stirling.
- I begin preparations to go to Scotland in ernest.
- 11 Sep 2003 — My First Newsletter
- Naivete and courage, how do you tell the difference? I'm not sure either.
- I totally underestimated the time and work involved in getting ready to move to Scotland.
- To Carole and her friends I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for cleaning out my condo.
- 13 Sep 2003 — Stirling Newsletter No.1
- 8:00pm British Summer Time at The University of Stirling = 3:00pm Daylight Savings Time in Lansing, MI.
- 18 Sep 2003 — Stirling Newsletter No.2
- 22 Sep 2003 — Stirling Newsletter No.3
- 9 Oct 2003 — I join the Stirling University Students' Pagan Society. A diverse collection of sensitive human beings who, even after suffering disillusionment and/or betrayal by organised religion, feel a spiritual connection to the universe.
- 1 Dec 2003 — Stirling Newsletter No.4
- 30 May 2004 — Stirling Newsletter No.5
- "I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go,
and did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted
the thought of eternal loneliness ... should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear; enjoyed
the sweet taste of a moment's love.
I have cried, pained and hoped ... but, most of all,
I have lived the times others would say were best forgotten.
At least someday, I will be able to say that I am proud of what I was ...
a soldier." — George L. Sypeck
All rights reserved. © Rm² 2003