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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Glimpse into the past: Journal of Charles Arvin

View of Khorramabad, Iran by: m.gh

I seem to have hit a slump in my research and my time.  Has to happen every so often, but darn is it frustrating.  Lately my time has been spent going through files, organizing papers (digital and real), and cleaning up “stuff” in my workspace.  Yesterday I spent 6 hours cleaning out/off my desk…wow…what a difference a clean desk makes!

The one thing that has my attention, when I have time to lay my hands on it, is my grandfather’s journal from 1957.  My mother gave it to me to read when I was home last month.  It is his daily journal chronicling his time stationed in Iran working with the army of the Shah.  Yes, I said Iran.  He did a tour of duty there training the military in firing artillery.  My grandfather was in the ADA (air defense artillery) during his time in the service, and from what I can tell, had some pretty good times over there.

The journal starts on 5 January 1957 with him departing from Ft. Dix New Jersey at 1430 hours.  Grandpa traveled first to McGuire AFB then onto Lajes AFB in the Azores, Wheelus AFB in Libya, Dhahran AFB in Saudi Arabia, and then to Tehran.  From there he took a train to his home for the next year in Khorramabad.  He arrived at 2350 hours on 13 January 1957.

“Up early to get ready to leave.  Departed Tehran at 1100 hours by train. I goofed tipped the porters at the station 200 Rials = $2.64 hell of a tip for 5 suitcases.  They put one over on me. But I learned. The train is very nice European style cars first class each passenger has a Pullman birth to a compartment. I, Capt Ward, an Englishman, and an Iranian Businessman occupied the same compartment. The train is diesel Electric but goes very slow. Most of the trip to Dorude was thru the mountains. We arrived at Dorude at 2100 hours was met by trucks from the team. Arrived at Khorramabad my house for the next year at 2350 hours. What a place.”

Grandpa and the bear
One of his favorite pastimes, it appears, was to go hunting with his fellow officers.  In fact, less than 24 hours at his new duty station and he was off hunting.  I know he went hunting for gazelles, bears, duck, and pigeons to name a couple I have read about so far.  My mom has a picture of her dad with the bear he shot while in Iran, his one big game prize.  Unfortunately when it was sent out to be turned into a rug, it was destroyed beyond repair.  Mom says her dad was upset about that till the day he died.  I even remember my grandmother telling me how there should have been a bear skin rug in the house.

His diary ends on 28 November and I don’t know why he didn’t continue through to the end of the year.  He only had one more month left to go in his tour before coming back to his family stateside.  I know this is going to be an interesting read, even if it is dry at times, because it is something my grandfather wrote.  He died before I was born and all I have are the stories my family tells me. This diary is the closest thing I have to him talking to me.

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