Skip Navigation and Jump to Page Content    The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center  
Veterans History Project (Library of Congress) ABOUT  
SEARCH/BROWSE  
HELP  
COPYRIGHT  
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Kevin P. Suares [11/11/2011]

Eileen Hurst:

Today is November 21st , 2011, and I'm interviewing Kevin Suares at Central Connecticut State University, in New Britain, Connecticut. Interviewer is Eileen Hurrt from (in audible). Now then, for the record, would you state your full name, your date of birth, and your current address.

Kevin P. Suares:

My name is Kevin Suares, I was born on the 2nd of June 1971, and I currently live in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Eileen Hurst:

Kevin, were you drafted or did you enlist?

Kevin P. Suares:

Enlisted. I think pretty much in the time that I was in the service it was almost 100 percent voluntary enlistment.

Eileen Hurst:

Do you recall what year that was?

Kevin P. Suares:

1994. It was November 2nd, 1994 was the first day.

Eileen Hurst:

Where were you living at the time?

Kevin P. Suares:

At the time, I was living with my mother in New York--in Richmond Hill, New York.

Eileen Hurst:

Why did you enlist?

Kevin P. Suares:

Well, pretty much I needed money for school. There was--I'd pretty much hit a lull in my life and I think that - at that time--it was probably the best thing for me--it was definitely ... I wouldn't say I was running away from something ... but it definitely gave me a new perspective.

Eileen Hurst:

Was this the year after you graduated from high school?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. I had graduated-- I'm originally from Trinidad, and I'd graduated from high school before I'd left--this is probably--I graduated from high school--I'd just turn 15-- so I was probably-

Eileen Hurst:

You graduated from high school when you were 15 years old?

Kevin P. Suares:

Uh-huh. I was--actually it was about--I think it was two weeks after my 15th birthday. So I went to (inaudible) College and graduated in form five in 1987--it was in there--so--I'd graduated from high school from some time. I was actually one of the older ones in boot camp.

Eileen Hurst:

Which branch of the service did you enlist in?

Kevin P. Suares:

Air Force. The funny thing about that was that I showed up to the Navy recruiter's office ‘cause at first I figured that I wasn't going to join the Marines or Army it was either going to be the Navy or the Air Force. And so I called the Navy recruiter and went into his office and it was a small space in New York and there were like seven recruiters in probably about like a 30 x 20 office--it wasn't very large - like you had desks and spaces in the middle for that and then you had a partition were the NCUIC [inaudible] sat behind them--I'm assuming--I don't think I ever saw them--and had a great discussion with the recruiter he was like, "Yep, you know you'll make rank quicker in the Navy--you know--and at the time boot camp is like eight weeks--you know--you'll be all set--it was either eight weeks or three months--I can't remember which--you know--you'll be all set. If you want to learn something you stick your hand up, you know, and you show that you're willing, you know, and you can learn lots of stuff--especially when you're on board." "And sounds like cool, great. Sign me up. And he turns to me and he says, "Well, just for perspective, I want you to walk across the hallway and go talk to the Air Force recruiter and see what it is--see what it's like over on their side and then when you're done, come on back and we'll take care of you." And so I was like, "Okay." And I walked across the hallway and there was Sergeant--Tech Sergeant at the time--John Brown. So a black guy probably about 5'3"and a former police officer--Air Force cop--who was doing recruiting duty. And what was interesting was that it was him by himself in this office--and standard desk--he had posters on the floor--kind of bare--all right. But he was really easy-going, he was low-key, and he was like, "Yeah, yeah, you know--there's that rank thing with the Navy but our boot camp--six weeks--you know--you'll get through that--and you know, we tend to take care of our people a lot better than they do." All right--I'm new to this--okay, this is sounding good--you know--he did the low-key and slow approach and after awhile it was like--you know--this Air Force gig is sounds a lot better. So I went back to the Navy recruiter and said, "I'm going to stay across the hallway." And the look on his face was like, "You're serious?" And I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, I'm going to go Air Force." And so I signed up Air Force.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you sign up that day?

Kevin P. Suares:

Well, I think within a little time. I remember I had lost my green card--which is fairly serious, and so I had to apply for a replacement. Sergeant Brown, to his credit, actually came and helped me go through that process and stuff and vouched for me. Not that I needed it, but just to see if we could speed it up. And I probably delayed my enlistment by probably four months.

Eileen Hurst:

Wow. When you finally were able to get your green card, where did you go through your induction in basic training?

Kevin P. Suares:

MEPS--was at the Multi-Entrance Processing Station was at Fort Hamilton, New York--it's pretty much of a joint base that is almost exclusively for, for MEPS purposes.

Eileen Hurst:

For what purposes?

Kevin P. Suares:

Military Entrance Processing Station or MEPS. That's where they do like the testing--the initial medical testing. All your paperwork and everything there, and I remember actually walking in there and there was a Tech Sergeant Carasco--Air Force Tech Sergeant--and she was pregnant at the time and she was the nastiest person I think I met all the way through the process. Cause when I told her why--when she said "Why aren't you going in right now?" "Well, I lost my green card." She's like--I remember her looking at me going--"You serious?" "Yeah." And she said, "You really don't have a green card, do you? You're just making this up." And I'm looking at her--do you have six heads? Are you dumb? So kind of got through that, and I was pretty glad actually not to have to see her again. She was--she was not a happy person at all--but went through MEPS--I thought the funniest thing was--the night before you leave they put up in a hotel and you know, we're all--what we call rainbows, we're all wearing like different colored shirts and stuff and we're like all hanging out and stuff then, you know, they get the call--the wake-up call, because you leave on the bus--a certain time you meet downstairs--and you get to the--you get to the MEPS and the first thing they do is give you a breathalyzer test and if you fail that breathalyzer test--all right--for any amount of alcohol then you're delayed six months--and two people failed--so--

Eileen Hurst:

How long did you stay at MEPS_____+ basic training?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. MEPS is just processing. So essentially once you get there--you get to the hotel--you get there, they then ship you to the hotel so that you then you sleep, you spend the night. You get there for the night back there, they feed you and do your initial processing and then you're on a flight to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, which is, as far as I'm aware, is the only basic training location for the Air Force.

Eileen Hurst:

And how long was Basic Training?

Kevin P. Suares:

Six weeks. We started second of November-- I think--we started with you got there like maybe two days early. And we were the last graduating class before Christmas, because I remember that year they had shipped or I had gone out for technical school--which was at the Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas--we had gotten there--it was either December 23rd or 24th--and I checked into--and I checked onto on-base hotel and I remember sleeping for the first in a long time actually getting enough sleep and waking up--which I think kind of cut me a break because normally that does not happen.

Eileen Hurst:

What was your Basic Training like?

Kevin P. Suares:

I think that's when you first realize that Basic Training is just a mental game. That there was a lot of like yelling and shouting and screaming and all the good stuff. And I think the hardest part was just like a week and a half and when you're just starting to get into the groove of things. I was an Element Leader--the way how the structure works is that everything is broken up into squadrons. Ours was the 332nd Squadron--if memory serves correct--and then under the squadron you have the training--you have the training, you have your training groups and you have a dorm chief--you have a dorm chief which is the one of the recruits that's in charge of everyone. Above him is your TL or training leader, who is an enlisted member, and then you had Elements which were about ten guys--ten to twelve guys--and I was one of the Element Leaders. But basic--

Eileen Hurst:

How did you get to be an Element leader?

Kevin P. Suares:

Initially I didn't. And the guy who was our Element Leader failed miserably, and before that I had asked--I don't know a little gumption--I walked up to the TL and I said, "Sir, you know, if the opportunity arises, I'd like to be an Element leader." And I think probably like within the first week this guy got demoted and he wasn't exactly a--he wasn't a great people person. He was kind of really like introverted and shy and in the middle of marching somewhere I think he wasn't loud and finally the TL was like, "Stop, stop, stop, stop. Go to the back, go to the back." And was like, "Suarez, get up here." And I was like, "Huh?" And he said, "Lead the Elements out." And I pretty much became the Element leader and it stuck until I graduated.

Eileen Hurst:

What were your duties as an Element Leader?

Kevin P. Suares:

The hardest one was the fact that since we had to post rotating shifts--the element leaders rotating shift always happened between the hours of 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., so pretty much that night you had--since you went to bed around 10:00 you got like three hours of sleep and then you had to get up and you were in charge of a bunch of troops. I mean, it's your first real leadership, and I don't know--I had some--particularly one guy in my troop--a guy by the name of Allen--I can't remember his first name, but he was an interesting one--and what made him remarkable was that--it was a little different, he was definitely struggling and we constantly had to carry him through to make sure, you know, that all his stuff was squared away, helped him polish his boots, and all this stuff--and then week four--just before we went to the rifle range in week five-- one of the other Element Leaders went to help him do something and he reached--this guy reached into his personal drawer and there was a bunch of pictures that he had drawn and the one on the top was of a guy in green with a rifle shooting at a whole bunch of other guys in a group and there were like--this isn't kosher--and they went to the--they went to the--they went to the enlisted guide and they got him out of there--they got him out of there in a matter of probably an hour-- forty-five minutes he was gone. But, yeah, there were some pretty scary people that you meet.

Eileen Hurst:

Do you have any recollection of any of your instructors in Basic Training?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah, I think you're always going to remember your TL. I think that--

Eileen Hurst:

Do you remember your Sergeant's name?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. I remember his face but not--his--he was a bit brusque--as you expect him to be. I really learned a lot from him. I learned a lot in terms of leadership, of both what you are supposed to do and what you're not supposed to do and why they were like that. That it was pretty interesting. But there were quite a few of them some of them were more interesting than others. One of them actually--a Staff-Sergeant--I think his last name was Panic--was a reservist from Texas--the area and he had that was like fake meanness--which I've come to appreciate now--but at the time you were like, like this guy's like an animal and there was another one within the training group called Beaumar, [Phonetic] Staff-Sergeant Beaumar, who ended up later on at Cannon Air Force Base--but that's another story--but he--these guys--I remember Panic--one day--we're in our last week and he called us all and he and he said-- cause they give you stupid rules to follow in basic training just to see if you follow them--obviously you had to fold your T-shirts a certain way and then the ends of the T-shirts you literally had to sit with a pair of tweezers and tweeze them all straight--so you have these shirts--which were cheap cotton shirts and you wash them once and the ends of the shirts are obviously like the map of Italy and you had to sit there with a pair of tweezers and pull these things all straight and make sure they were all nice and level-- and I remember him telling us--he says, "Wanna know what my rule looks like?" He says, "I get my laundry and I throw it in the closet," he says, "and my T-shirts--I don't even hang them up. I just throw them in there too and I go in there and I dig through them. And when you get out into the real Air Force--that's what it's like. But when we are here--this is how you gotta do it because this is we teach you and this is, you know, how we tell you to follow these instructions." And he goes on and we're sitting there--and this was probably like one of the funnier parts of it because, you know, and he was actually talking to us. Like we were really people for once--so it was pretty funny. So he was fun. Beaumar was another one--he used to call--he used to call everybody "Chuck," you know--and it didn't matter, you know, guy or gal--"What's up, Chuck? Are you smart today, Chuck?" It would be like--you'd be like at--at the time you were terrified of him and then after a couple of weeks you realize, okay--you he's was just--

Eileen Hurst:

Now in your training in Basic, at that point, did everybody get trained for exactly same thing you hadn't specialized yet?

Kevin P. Suares:

Correct. Not until you go into technical school--tech school--did you specialize. There you are basically learning about the Air Force, standards of dress--there's actually what they call the Airman Training Order--which I still have a copy of--all the things that you need to learn. At the end of the last week of Basic Training they do a physical fitness test--which was six laps on a track that you had to do in under 12 minutes and then you had to take this test and if you failed the test, then you got the recycled. So in order to become an honor--what they call an honor candidate--which means you got a special badge--a special medal--you had to basically get no demerits--so what we call 341s--which were these little pieces of paper that they gave you--and any time that you got into trouble basically, you basically had to turn over a 341--which instead of doing push-ups --they were of the mind--they didn't need to do push-ups except for PT anymore--but found interesting. So if you didn't have any demerits, then--and you aced the test--which means, I think you got better than 80 percent and you clocked under 11:30 for the run, then you became an honor graduate. And I think in--within the two flights that we had, which was our flight and the brother flight--we had one honor graduate and he was like--he was like--I think he was like a pad cleaner or something for Basic Training. Basically he scrubbed bird--pigeon poop off of the--off of the under pads underneath the dorms--so he was pretty much like a nondescript guy--what pretty much did what he was asked and kept his head down--you know--interesting guy.

Eileen Hurst:

After your six weeks at Lackland, where did you go?

Kevin P. Suares:

On a bus and drove somewhere between six to eight hours to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. I think at that point was when I found out there is an ugly side to Texas, because everything--the landscape was just gray there was nothing pretty about it. The rocks were ugly--it was just a large wasteland going through this--there was little vegetation. I remember the bus ride. I remember passing Baylor Medical School and thinking, "Hey, that's where Dr. Debenki [Phonetic]--that‘s where he's from." That was probably the most interesting thing other than lunch.

Eileen Hurst:

How long did you stay at Sheppard?

Kevin P. Suares:

A little longer than I had to. I was--once I got to Sheppard I applied to be a student leader--what they call a rope"--because they would wear these ropes--these ropes.

Eileen Hurst:

Ropes? R-O-P-E-S?

Kevin P. Suares:

Ropes. They would wear these ceremonial ropes around your left shoulder--and it pretty much it indicated that you were a student leader and there were three grades of student leader--there was green ropes--pretty much was the lowest level--and then there was a yellow rope - which meant like you were an intermediate and each group had a--one red rope which was basically the guy that who was in charge of all the ropes and I was a green rope almost the whole way through.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you have to have special training to be a green rope?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah. Actually they even gave us--we went through leadership training, and they even gave us a little certificate--which is in the packet over there so-- Learned quite a bit, but I think after my four hours of learning and all this other good stuff and doing well as a rope, the best piece of leadership advice came from our red rope--who was this Puerto Rican kid from Chicago. Very, very down-to-earth - Can we use bad language on this? No? Okay.--But his basic thing--because he came up to me one day and he says, "You know, sometimes to be a leader--you have to be a dick. There's just no other way about it, you get there, you do your thing, all right--because sometimes they won't listen otherwise you just need to get your point across." And I kind of scratched my head, cause I was trying to be this nice guy all the time and it didn't quite work--but all through my leadership positions afterward--it's kind of proven to be true sometimes. But I mean it doesn't have to be all the time, but I think there are sometimes when you really have to be forceful and I think that's the best piece of leadership advice I have ever gotten--as strange as it is.

Eileen Hurst:

Now at Sheppard--why were you at Sheppard? What kind of training were you getting? Were you there for the rope training or--?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. Sheppard had sponsored probably quite a bit of tech schools. They were part of what at the time were Air Education and Training Commander--A-E-T-C--and they taught undergraduate--they taught flight school for pilots--like jets and stuff--where I first--where I first saw my first--T38 where I first saw my first F16--which was kind of cool because I think we had been there like 4 days and were in city clothes and I decided to walk down to the flight line were some--some F16s were taking off and you don't realize how loud an F16 is until your--until you're probably about--oh, I don't know--I was probably about 75 feet from the runway when this thing came and you are seeing it in the distance and it's starting to gain speed and it's coming towards you and you're like, "Oh, it's cool, it's kind of huge and stuff,"--and then you get closer any you hear [sounds] and by the time he was right next to us--I think he had full afterburner on and front gear was up--and he was probably about--say anywhere between from five to ten feet--off, off the runway and it was the loudest thing I had ever heard in my life to that point. And it was like, "Wow. Okay, yeah. This is not what I see in the movies." It was really, really, really loud. I can't really explain to you what it's like until you experience that. Needless to say I kind of avoided being that close since but--

Eileen Hurst:

So what was your purpose at Sheppard School?

Kevin P. Suares:

We were--I was part of the--correction--I had an ASVAB score--this goes back to my recruiter. I scored 97 out of 99 in the ASVAB--Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery--which was the highest score that my recruiter had ever gotten. I remember the next morning after--I woke up to the phone ringing and he was like, "You never believe this. You never believe this."And I was like--"You scored 97." And I was kind of like half asleep going, "So--what does that mean?"

Eileen Hurst:

What's that stand for--Armed Services--

Kevin P. Suares:

Vocational Aptitude Battery. Here, I think, they allow you to take it in high school. I had pretty much--you know--I thought it was fairly easy. I didn't think it was too much--and there were people failing that all the time--so and I thought it was kind of okay.

Eileen Hurst:

So because you had scored high in that, they decided they would train you--

Kevin P. Suares:

I was pretty much eligible for anything that I could get into--that I was qualified for.

Eileen Hurst:

So you could choose what you wanted to specialize in?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. In Basic Training what they do give you a list of things--basically they give you a list of all the choices you have for career fields and they make you make a list from one to ten of what you're interested in. And I think my first four or five were medical. I think my first one was cardiac tech, but the class was full apparently, so I ended up being a pharmacy tech.

Eileen Hurst:

So that is where they put you to be pharmacy?

Kevin P. Suares:

Sheppard is the training school for all biomedical sciences-- that is where their school is--really nice little building at the time was pretty modern--I haven't been back there since.

Eileen Hurst:

How many weeks of training for pharmacy tech?

Kevin P. Suares:

Three months.

Eileen Hurst:

What kind of things did they teach you?

Kevin P. Suares:

Everything. I mean, we went--you think you know about medicines and you think you know about medical--

Eileen Hurst:

Did you have any previous medical training at all?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. Not before then, but it started off with simple algebra and that kind of stuff which we aced--most of us it wasn't an issue. Then they started getting into medical terminology and that kind of stuff and eventually--the two toughest courses were what they call Drug One and Drug Two, where you had to learn probably close to two to three hundred drugs, side effects, what they do, what they are for--class--drug classes--it was just a really intense cram fest.

Eileen Hurst:

How big was your class?

Kevin P. Suares:

Twenty-five people. 20 to 25 people--actually, no, it wasn't that huge. I have a picture--I have a picture of that class--so probably about 12, 12 to 18, but we had a new class probably every month.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you have physical training or was it all classroom training?

Kevin P. Suares:

All class--there was--at this point--the physical requirements in the Air Force were once a year so you were pretty much done--you passed it in Basic Training--you were good for the year.

Eileen Hurst:

After your three months of pharmacy training where did you go?

Kevin P. Suares:

I went to--I was selected to go to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, but I'd ended up staying at basic--sorry--at Tech School a little longer. I had passed--the class--but being that--but being that I was a rope--I pulled what they call desk duty. Basically--I was--what they call the "Officer of the Day" where I'd check people's IDs and stuff at the front desk. And there was this one kid, who was a known troublemaker, who was restricted to the dorms, who decided that he was going to--the dorm passes are essentially what tells the people at the front desk what group you belong to--and what they do is that they--there are what they call phases--when you first get into - when you first get into tech school--you're in phase one--where they try to--where the rules are structured so that it's pretty much a lot like what you do in basic training. If you leave your room, you have to be in full uniform, you can't go out after certain hours, and that kind of stuff. Phase two is a little more relaxed where you can wear civilian clothes in the dorms, but once you leave the building--phase three you can wear civvies anytime, and phase four you don't have to march to class--which actually was really a big deal--you can actually drive--if you have a car--if you have friends with cars--but generally didn't get into phase four until you had been there a really long time. I ended up being in phase four but for other reasons. This guy-- had taken--the cards were--they are probably about this big and they fit like in a wallet and what they would do was there was a red stamp that they would put on the thing to tell what--to signify what phase you were in and this guy had taken a red marker--and he was in phase one--had drawn two other ones in there and this was a really, really big dude. I mean, he was easily about 6'1"--he was fairly well-built and I think crazy is an understatement--all right--but apparently had been warned and was going in for court martial and then I bust him and so I was retained as a witness to his court martial--and so pretty much they were like--well, it's nice that you're a student leader and all, but you got to stay until his court martial. You can't go anywhere. So it ended up putting about three extra - I ended up being there three extra weeks after school was done. Because once they told me that--I was like--the last part of our class was a self-paced module you could do as long as you want--so I basically like made it last--I just stretched it out as long as I could--until finally I was like--no, I don't need to do this anymore. So I finished it and pretty much they put me on base detail--so I was mowing lawns and doing all sorts of crazy stuff. But the only thing good about that, was I got phase four. So I could come and go as I please--relatively speaking--but pretty much during the duty day, I was doing all sorts of crazy stuff.

Eileen Hurst:

So after that guy was court-martialed you went on to McGuire?

Kevin P. Suares:

I left--went for home for ten days--where they did--there was a gig where you got to go home and help your recruiter for like 10 days--and so I did that. Not to mention I was--

Eileen Hurst:

Was it the same recruiter that recruited you?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yep. Yep. Went and talked to high schools and did all sorts of fairly interesting things wore BDUS in the middle of Queens, New York--it was kind of funny, actually. I remember one day I'm going in and here I am, you know,--my hat's all nice and perfect, my uniform is all nicely pressed, the boots are all shined and stuff, and I run into this guy whose was wearing BDUs and he has like dreads and has this like tosh hat--and, you know, his boots are--I'm sorry--and the bottom of his stuff is all out--he was just civilian just wearing figuring that this stuff was cool, you know wearing it, and then he runs into me and I'm looking at him like who is this idiot? And he just kind of looked at me-- okay, okay-- with beard and mustache of course and I'm like clean-shaven--because I had a mustache up until the time I went into the military and pretty much since then I shaved it off. I think it grew back once, and didn't like it. So I tend to stay clean shaven ever since.

Eileen Hurst:

Now did you help the recruiter could you [inaudible] can you live at home____+?

Kevin P. Suares:

I was at home. Well, I was home but pretty much you had set hours--like you had to be at the recruiting office and we were fairly flexible. We did a lot of cool stuff, and so, you know, I'd go to these schools and stuff and talk to people. And I remember getting into somewhat of an argument because this was one girl--I was speaking at an auditorium and this one girl walks up to me and says, "So why should I listen to you if women cannot serve in combat roles?" And I was like, "Well, keep fighting for it. One day you might get it." And she said, "Nah, I want nothing to do with you." And I said, "Okay." Not much you can argue about that; it's policy above my head.

Eileen Hurst:

What did you do when you went back to McGuire? Was that for more training?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. McGuire was my--what they call a permanent duty station. At that point I was done training, and I became--and became a worker bee. So I was assigned to the hospital--which was actually on Fort Dix, and the med group which was the 305th medical group--the dorm was actually an Army dorm--an Army barracks with an Army chow hall in the barracks itself which was kind of cool. And everybody else would come to our barracks for chow, because at that time, Fort Dix--when I first got there Fort Dix was drawing down as an active duty military base and there were a couple of active duty guys who were around we had one who worked in the hospital--

Eileen Hurst:

Now Fort Dix was Army?

Kevin P. Suares:

Fort Dix was Army but it's right next to McGuire. McGuire, at the time, did not have a medical facility so the Air Force ran Wilson Air Force Hospital--which was previously Walton Army Hospital, but, at that time, they had pretty much they had drawn down the services because it was a really old building and kind of scary in some of the floors up there were kind of scary. I believe it's been torn down, but I haven't been--I haven't been around there to find out. Our housing was actually on Fort Dix--which was kind of cool. At the time, you could actually drive through Fort Dix--this was before 911 and actually a lot before they really, really locked down stuff.

Eileen Hurst:

So what year was this--you would have been--

Kevin P. Suares:

1995. It would have been about June of July of '95. But yeah, at the time you could drive through Fort Dix, you could actually drive up to the facility--which you can't do now and then we started restricting--because the pharmacy was on the ground floor right next to the main entrance to the hospital. And there was a driveway that went right up, and we used to allow pharmacy patients to park--they were handicapped slots there and they could park and go-- and come in and get their refills and whatever and leave. And now I think--somewhere around near the end of when I was there--they blocked it off and prevented people from doing that. I think they were--they were--some bombings or something and kind of scared that people--

Eileen Hurst:

So you were a pharmacy tech at the pharmacy at Fort Dix?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yes.

Eileen Hurst:

And that's where you would report to work every day? Correct?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yes. Correct.

Eileen Hurst:

Your barracks were right there at Fort Dix too?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yes.

Eileen Hurst:

So you were an Air Force guy in Army territory?

Kevin P. Suares:

Well, it was Air Force guy in what became an Army Reserve Base. Even the cops switched over from active duty military folks to reserve folks and then to what we call the rent-a-cops--which were essentially civilian police. It was kind of interesting, yeah.

Eileen Hurst:

Were there a lot of other Air Force guys with you, or were you the only one?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. Everybody-- Air Force ran the hospital.

Eileen Hurst:

So they were all Air Force personnel?

Kevin P. Suares:

In the hospital we had one--when I got there--we had one Navy guy and we had one Army tech and I think both of them didn't reenlist and they just, you know, they just went through--but, yeah, that was the work environment.

Eileen Hurst:

So and this was your duty station for your entire enlistment?

Kevin P. Suares:

Correct.

Eileen Hurst:

What would you--what would a typical day be like for you? What kinds of things would you do as pharmacy tech?

Kevin P. Suares:

Because we didn't have--we didn't have inpatient services--we had same-day surgeries but nobody ever stayed overnight. We had a 24-hour emergency response, but other than that, nobody actually stayed there. Most of the time you basically prepped them and transported them to like Mount Hollywood--which was like the closest civilian hospital--for emergencies or stuff. In some cases we had sort of an E.R. that ran to until I think like 10 o'clock at night-- where we would come in and people would be stabilized or be seen and then they could--or then they would either leave or, you know, be transported. For me we had relatively normal duty day. Starting at either 7:30 or 8:00 and basically cover pharmacy shift. And we had new prescriptions and refills--refill windows were we would prescriptions--the refills the refill side of things basically were two people that ran the entire place, and you would fill anywhere between 1500 to 3000 scripts a day.

Eileen Hurst:

You, yourself? One person?

Kevin P. Suares:

Two people. I just crank it out. It was fairly automated--the system that we had was fairly new. It was a system called BAKER--it was run by the Baker Company. And there were--the more popular drugs were located in these canisters that once they went through the computer--and they were electronically called in by people with the telephone--you just dial in your prescription number and it would set it up and then the printer would print out the labels and Baker sales would go to work and you'd have medicines in a little chute. Basically you'd take--you'd find the label, get the bottle, fill the bottle with the appropriate medication, you know, and then you'd place it on top of the label and then somebody would come through and check to make sure the label matched the amount of the--of the drug strength and stuff--and at that point they would put the label on. And you had like--you had these little stamps--actually, I had my stamp--I was number ten--and the stamp would go--first on the left side--that's stamp on the left top side of the label is the one and [in audible] and the one on the top right is the one that checked it--and so pretty much somebody else's eyes were almost always on it. And in most cases there would be a pharmacist checking, but not always. The neat thing about being in the military is you can actually run a military pharmacy without--without a pharmacist.

Eileen Hurst:

Wow and you're filling that many prescriptions in one day, did you ever make any mistakes?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah, we made mistakes. Obviously you have checks and balances in there to try to minimize that from happening, but it does happen occasionally. So even in the civilian world they had. But what was funny when first I got out, my first--when we first moved to Connecticut--I got a job with CVS and I remember in my interview--after I tell them--because the guy asked me--he says, " So what are your certifications?" "Well, I'm a National Certified Pharmacy Technician." And he says, "Well what sort of volume did you do?" And I told him, "We fill between 1500 and 3000 scripts a day." And he was mind blown. He says, "My entire pharmacy does probably about 2500--and we're one of the biggest ones in the gulf." "Yeah, I can handle that." And he thought I was cocky. No, I'm being serious. This is normal for me. And you get in there and basically you didn't have a choice. People would be waiting for their stuff, so you just knock it out.

Eileen Hurst:

So you worked pretty much a regular work day?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah.

Eileen Hurst:

And then go home?

Kevin P. Suares:

A fair bit, yeah.

Eileen Hurst:

Were you free before work and after work to come and go as you please; to do what you want?

Kevin P. Suares:

Pretty much. Obviously you're still in the military, so if you're assigned to special duty or something like that then, no. But which I ended up being--but yeah, you were pretty much free to come and go as you please as long as you showed up to work. And if you didn't show up to work, you either had a really good excuse or it's one of the few jobs you could go to jail for not showing up. But the dorms were about a ten minute walk away across--

Eileen Hurst:

You lived right there on base?

Kevin P. Suares:

We lived on base, there was a path between the dorm and the hospital and pretty much we knew by--to the second of how much time it took to get from the dorm--in bed asleep--to being at your duty station by 7:30 when the windows went up. It was kind of funny. My roommate and I would sleep in our in our shirts--basically be in shirts, underwear, and socks--and you'd be asleep with you boots and your BDU pants sitting right next to the bed--and the alarm clock would go off at 7:10 and you would basically swing around, put your feet right into the pants and boots, pull everything up--right, you know--tidy up, cinch up, grab a shirt, go grab--you know, brush your teeth--and what was funny was that probably if you were standing outside like at 7:10 you would all of a sudden see everybody like flying out of the dorm rooms and getting into their cars and, "Hey, can I have a ride with you?" "Yeah, you can ride with me." Or the--or the mass exodus of people down the--down the path--and the people at the end usually running because you figured they were late--you know--because you everybody was in place by 7:25 and so at 7:30 the windows went up and that was it.

Eileen Hurst:

So how long were you at [inaudible]?

Kevin P. Suares:

Pretty much my entire--for the three years and ten months--or whatever it was I was there. I met my now ex-wife Barbara in basic--sorry-- in tech school. She was in my--what they call the--basically the grandfather--we were their grandfather class. I remember walking into --

Eileen Hurst:

Was this the tech school at Sheppard?

Kevin P. Suares:

At Sheppard. I remember walking into the--into her room because--for our we went to school half-day--so at noon we were done, you'd come back, you'd get something to eat and then between 1:00 and 3:00 you had an afternoon study session and the ropes where responsible for going--basically through the rooms and making sure--that one, that they were there, two, studying--you know and not goofing around and she had just gotten there and I remember walking in and her roommate--like turns and smiles and said something and stuff and she like slowly turned around and looked at me and she said something and I remember looking at her and the first words I ever said to her were--were, "Yeah, you're from New England aren't you?" "Yeah, from Rhode Island." And we became friends after that.

Eileen Hurst:

And then you married her?

Kevin P. Suares:

Not then, no.

Eileen Hurst:

Oh, so?

Kevin P. Suares:

No, I don't.

Eileen Hurst:

So when did you get married?

Kevin P. Suares:

We got married in June of '96. So it was some time after that.

Eileen Hurst:

So you had already [inaudible]

Kevin P. Suares:

I was already at McGuire, and she actually was also pharmacy tech. She had gone--she was stationed in Mississippi at Keystone Air Force Base--which is in Biloxi--which is the same Air Force Base that they--the hurricane hunters used to fly out of--the C-130s that were flying into the hurricanes--and she was a pharmacy tech there--and theirs was actually a full hospital--which was kind of cool. And when I-- I was playing soccer and I blew my left ACL--the--I had two surgeries scheduled and in between the surgeries they gave you 30 days of leave. And pretty much I'm not going to sit in my dorm room doing nothing--so I hopped on space available or space save flights from--I would drive down to Andrews Air Force Base and get military space--A flight--which was fairly constant--down to Keesler and then from Keesler, I would fly back space A again to--strangely enough it would go straight to--McGuire--all right, so I'd fly back and the next day I would take a space A from McGuire to Andrews, pick up my car and drive it home. But--

Eileen Hurst:

So when you tore your ACL where did they do the surgery--at your hospital?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yep. The first one--was--the first one was ah--yeah, there were two surgeries. The first one--for some reason they never did an MRI to find out it was actually torn. They did exploratory surgery. And so the first one was done at Walson--I went home--I went back to the dorm the same day--actually stayed with friends on McGuire. And the second one was done at Mount Holly Memorial Hospital in New Jersey--in Burlington, New Jersey. And that one I actually stayed overnight for.

Eileen Hurst:

What can you tell me about Walson Hospital?

Kevin P. Suares:

It's probably about eight stories tall--I actually have a picture of it over there of Barbara and myself in front of it--it was like an orange-brick building. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s it pretty much was a fairly large happening hospital--Army--staffed by Army. And by the time I had gotten there, it was--there a lot of issues with it and the Air Force had or Army--I can't remember which--had revamped the bottom three floors for use and they were using--I think like the sixth or seventh floor--to store stuff. Occasionally, I got to go up and into those higher floors and the beds were still there and in some cases they were still made and you'd see like the standard hospital stuff--but everything was covered dust--it was pretty interesting. And the only good thing about it that once a year we'd go up to the top floor to watch fireworks for July 4th--because the Army would put on fireworks, and it was probably the best place to watch fireworks--and obviously not everybody could get in. So it was pretty exclusive--you had a couple of people that worked at the hospital that were there--that was pretty cool.

Eileen Hurst:

And you think that that was torn down now?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah, it's no longer. The Air Force built a new facility--which actually our pharmacy chief had a hand in designing--and that's where their -- that's where their running out of. I think the--I left in '98 and I think somewhere around 2000 or 2001 is when it was commissioned. And that's actually on McGuire Air Force Base Proper.

Eileen Hurst:

Kevin, what was your rate?

Kevin P. Suares:

I left--I was enlisted--I left as a senior airman or an E-4. I had the option to reenlist or to join the reserves or National Guard--I think at that point--I had had a string of bad commanders--Barbara had broken--had shattered her right her elbow broken her left hand in an accident--and just--we just--I was driving--I was driving down to Bethesda twice to three times a week for physical therapy and for her appointments and stuff and we did that for a year and something and we just didn't get any help. And at that point I felt very--I felt that we were better off out--instead of being in--and so I left.

Eileen Hurst:

I'm going to now ask you some questions about your daily life. How did you stay in touch with your family--now you never actually left the United States [inaudible]?

Kevin P. Suares:

Correct.

Eileen Hurst:

So how did you stay in touch with your family?

Kevin P. Suares:

It was pretty easy because--being that I was in New Jersey and--my mother at the time was living in Queens--so it was just a drive home--it wasn't that big a deal. I remember in tech school--I had a lot of people that wanted to trade with me, because this was considered to be--from a geographic standpoint a great assignment--so anybody that lived on the east coast--you know--wanted it badly--but one of the guys who was like really, really, really, wanted to trade with me--was going to my Minot Air Force Base--and when I found out that the nickname for Minot not was "why-not Minot" because it was considered to one of the--it was considered to be a cold-duty station state side--and, you know, they issue you your mukluks and your over- jacket and I'm going North Dakota -- McGuire--a really tough one. One of the guys actually had Guam, and I seriously thought about it for while.

Eileen Hurst:

You are allowed to trade with people?

Kevin P. Suares:

As long as you met with the same qualifications--yeah. And I could go anywhere__so obviously the guys that were going to Germany didn't want to trade or anything. This one for Guam he badly wanted to trade me.

Eileen Hurst:

So when you were stationed at McGuire, could you go home on weekends and stay at home if you wanted to?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah. As long as you weren't on-call, you could go. I mean essentially you became as much of a nine--of a real job as--you know--as it was. I mean, I coached--

Eileen Hurst:

A typical nine to five job?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah. I mean I coached a soccer team and had a--I played on the Bay Soccer Team for awhile-- I did things outside--it was--the only the restrictions became when you got onto deployment status-- or something like that--where then you of obviously were--but even then, I think you were restricted to--I think it was like a two or three hour radius. You had to be able to get back to base within a certain time period. And I remember on weekends-- I think they extended it to five or six. So when Barbara got out prematurely she was--she was what we called "boarded out"--she was--she got out on a medical board discharge. Her parents were in Rhode Island-- we would drive up on like a Friday evening and then drive back--I would drive back on Monday morning to go to work, and that was permissible.

Eileen Hurst:

What was the food like? Did you have--did you have like have a dining room in your barracks?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yep. When we were single the dining room was there. The Air Force dining facility--okay, here comes my first commander story--the Air Force dining facilities were considered--and still are considered--to be the best in the military. You get really, really good food and they're like simple little things--there were televisions in the dining halls--so you could actually like watch--you could go and get as much food as you wanted--for all four meals of the day--if you wanted.

Eileen Hurst:

Four meals?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yep. You had breakfast, lunch, and dinner and what they call midnight rations or "midrats"--because, obviously, the base runs 24 hours a day and for some people that was lunch. Usually midnight rations--midrats--would be a combination of--you can get eggs or stuff--like breakfast food--or they would have left-over from dinner so--and the food was actually good. We would get steak every now and then, we would get-- my last day in the--I remember going across to the Army-- to the Army chow hall and the choices--I kid you not--were either steak or lobster tail. I wish I was getting--and at the time--because I was married and I was collecting what they call BAS--basic allowance subsistence--I paid two dollars and forty cents for--a--for a lobster tail.

Eileen Hurst:

Two dollars and forty cents?

Kevin P. Suares:

Two dollars and forty cents. That was the daily rate-- the rate per meal--you walked in you paid it, and--

Eileen Hurst:

So when you mess hall you paid --

Kevin P. Suares:

Well, at the time you paid -- because I was on BAS -- if I was single living in the dorms I wouldn't pay, I'd just show up and with my ID and go in--but because I lived on base housing--you didn't live in any barracks--any dorm--they would give you the thing.

Eileen Hurst:

What's your commander story?

Kevin P. Suares:

The -- when I first got to McGuire--because the, the chow hall on McGuire was closed for renovations--they were giving everyone on the base BAS and they--well, pretty much for us, we would get the BAS--which was basically like a bonus in our salary--but we were still eating at the chow hall on the Fort Dix -- right--we weren't paying--we were just showing our ID--everybody was doing it -- I was told that's normal. So we said fine. Then the chow hall reopened, and the chow hall had one on McGuire--right -- McGuire for a sense of reference--was probably about a 15-minute drive from the barracks--from where we were -- because basically like you have to drive around Fort Dix-- you know, go through the base, get into a central area and stuff--so it was like a good 10 to 15 minute drive--so it wasn't something you could do everyday--all right. We would eat there occasionally, but it wasn't something that you wanted to try to do every day. And one day--probably about eight to nine months after, after I'd gotten back -- after they'd given us back--sorry--they had brought the thing on line -- the chow hall online -- I get a call that the commander wanted to see me. And so I go down there and I'm dressed in regular clothes and she turns and I walk into her office like, "Ma'am, did you want to see me?" And she is like this, "You will get dressed in uniform, you will come back here, and report to me." And I'm thinking--okay. So go get dressed, come back, and I stepped to the door and she starts reading me my rights. And I'm like, "What did I do?" And she's like, "You've been collecting BAS, and you never notified us that you were collecting BAS." "Yes, I did," like, "we all did. Like a whole bunch of us. You know, we're like--we're like, we're still getting this. And we keep reporting it." And we--a whole bunch of us actually got letters of reprimand, because we didn't notify them sooner. And the very next--my very next paycheck was exactly twelve dollars --where I had bills and stuff--basically they cut it out--they cut us all off--which we found unfair because there were a lot of people that got the debt forgiven by order of the Secretary of the Air Force at the time who was Sheila Whitnall.[sic]And doing all--I mean there were people that kept getting it and we kept saying, "Look, this is the situation, a lot of us got it," a lot of us from mike under her--I mean the other commanders were like--"Yeah, okay, it's our skew up -- it's the Air Force's screw up--don't worry about it--you know--we'll waive it or we'll take it piece by piece or whatever." And I remember going across to--I remember telling my, my supervisor like, "Yeah, 12 bucks--you know--I got stuff to do." And I remember going across to--to the finance folks and talking to--and talking to the NCOIC and I remember the airman there asking the NCOIC, "Can they do this?" And the guy is like, "Yeah, they can do it; it's not very fair." All right then, I said, "Look, if you give me half now and half the next paycheck, I can take that." I said, "But, you know--" And even after I'd gotten mine straightened out, there were still guys collecting it for months afterward. And, and she basically screwed them to a post. There were a lot of letters of reprimand--there were a lot of -- one guy she even threatened to court martial because of it. But his supervisor, who was a good friend of mine stood up for him and said, "No, we came to you and said -- " And she really turned a lot of people off of-- of the military.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you always have enough supplies you know for the [in audible] and the prescriptions?

Kevin P. Suares:

We were a little -- we were in a unique situation because we would actually get--probably the largest budget in the hospital, all right--and that's essentially what it was spent on. And we-- "we" being the pharmacy in more than most cases the pharmacy chief and the superintendent would dictate us to how the money was spent--in purchasing drugs. We had a set formulary that was mostly generics. We had a high dollar drug program for stuff like Interferon and other drugs that were not common but that you needed, all right. Because at the time--this is before Tri-care was fully implemented--anyone with a military ID card could go to the pharmacy and get drugs for free. It didn't cost you anything. Now this is everything from birth control to whatever--but it had to be an a formulary. And I remember when Viagra first came out-- it had out a couple months -- and a guy -- a retiree walked up to me and he says, "I want you to get me some of that there Viagra. " And I tell him, I said, "Sir, I'm sorry, I can't because it's not on our formulary." And he got mad at me, and actually screamed at me. He says, "If I were some sort of a general, I'm sure you'd do it." "No, we wouldn't sir, because it's not on our formulary." So yeah, it provided for interesting times sometimes, yeah.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you ever feel pressured or stressed on your job?

Kevin P. Suares:

It's still the military. The--one of the interesting parts of what I did--in 1997, Barbara and I went on vacation to Trinidad for Carnival--and I was gone for three weeks and when I came back I found out that I was "selected"--quote un quote--to be on a -- what they call a "Mobility Augmentee."[sic] Which meant that I went over to the passenger terminal at McGuire--because we were -- we were a mobility an inter-mobility command base-- you had cargo planes and we moved cargo and people all throughout the world and I -- that's where I actually learned how to drive a bus and to work a forklift and do all the these really interesting things--because essentially I augmented them during what they call an O-R-I or an operational readiness inspection--and the ORI started it off by moving the entire mobility section--so basically you had all these people that were--that could be mobilized to set up and go somewhere else and basically play war--in this particular case it was a--they set up camp in New Mexico and they had--basically shift--they shipped all your mobility people from McGuire to New Mexico.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you go to New Mexico?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. I stayed--I stayed and played with the buses and played war games and stuff at the base. They didn't want to make us feel left out.

Eileen Hurst:

So why did you have to learn how to drive a bus and a forklift?

Kevin P. Suares:

Oh, essentially I had to learn how to do everything that's the guys at the passenger terminals had to do-- even though it wasn't my primary FSC--so--

Eileen Hurst:

It had nothing to do with with your medical skills?

Kevin P. Suares:

Zero. Zero. I was--I was a warm body that was selected. That was it--and so which actually turned out to be great in some ways and not so great in some way. Because I get there and I qualified on almost everything -- I learned how to drive a stair truck--which is these trucks that would go up to the airplane and you basically had this like step--this huge stairs on your back and you would learn how to like position it to the side of an airplane. And I learned how to drive a deuce n half--which is a two-and-a-half ton truck -- deuce - two-and-a-half ... two-and-a- half ton truck. And, I mean, I had a lot of fun learning--until--then I realized that this was going to give be an on-going process for about--I think I did it for about 14 months--and well, what happened is that I would work my job for--however long--and then they would say -tomorrow you're being --because they were having these exercises every two weeks--so I'd work two weeks for my job, go, sleep, show up the next morning worked 14 hours at the passenger terminal and basically you'd work the 14 hours, you would go home, sleep, get something to eat, and then go back--right--because essentially you didn't have time for anything else and you just did this for as long as they said that the exercise was going on.

Eileen Hurst:

So typically how long would you be doing that during an exercise?

Kevin P. Suares:

For 14 hours. 13 to 14 hours.

Eileen Hurst:

How long how many days?

Kevin P. Suares:

Two weeks.

Eileen Hurst:

Two weeks straight?

Kevin P. Suares:

Two weeks straight. There were no weekends. And you would do this--basically go home sleep, go home sleep, come back, and so I worked at the passenger terminal. I'd do both the regular stuff-- as well as--as well as the war games stuff. I mean there was one time that they told us -- all right, there's--there's a bomb threat being called in. You have to move out all of your--all of your operations into a bus--and so basically we packed--and this is like 1:00 the morning -- its freezing out -- so we packed everybody and everything into a bus so we could get our hands on--all right, move then and the guys who were there for normal passengers and stuff--because we were still running space A flights and all that stuff, you know-- they were like, "Ha, ha. Good for you," and laughing at us while they were in there just doing everyday normal stuff.

Eileen Hurst:

So do you have any memorable experiences of that time?

Kevin P. Suares:

A lot of really good friends I made there. What was good about it was that I got to play with all these neat toys, I got to climb all over aircraft. First time ever I touched a C5--I'd go up and, you know, and interact with the pilots and get loading documents and actually learned what like real Air Force was. Right, I mean, as a medic, you get some of it, right, but a very small smattering--this is actually operational Air Force--so it was a lot of--of fun--I mean, I learned a lot about aircraft and all sorts of other things, but then the people at the passenger terminal found out that I was enthusiastic and I was a quick learner and after that first time, I got put on midnights--I got put on graveyard shifts--so for the rest of that 14 months I was running the two weeks--two weeks. I was on--I was on night shifts and that was brutal because it would screw up your sleep schedule and--

Eileen Hurst:

Did you do the same thing for each [inaudible] shift?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yeah, yeah, but it's hard--I mean their job is not easy it--their job was not as mentally tasking as mine was--all right--because, I mean, you're basically trying not to make mistakes, you're doing pharmacy stuff, and, you kno, the occasional--whatchamacallit--IV and stuff like--that I mean you screw someone could die. All right, with these guys you make mistake and it means that somebody's bag ended up at Tully in Greenland rather than in New Mexico--which could suck, but it's not fatal for most people. Speaking of which, there was one of the NCOs at the passenger terminal was born in Trinidad and grew up in the States and so we kind of clicked. And one day one of the SPs--or the security policeman--gave him a ticket and was really, really nasty to him, and the guy was being deployed to New Mexico. And this guy is like--shook his head and said, "Okay, let's see what happens." And he took his bag and walked over to a bin that was going to Thule in Greenland and threw his bag in the bin. So this guy gets to New Mexico and didn't have a change of underwear or a change of clothes or anything for quite some time because obviously the bag had to go to Thule, spend a couple of days--they realize, hey, wait a minute, nobody's claiming this, ship it back--right--at that point--okay, we'll throw it on the next flight--so he was without a bag for probably like five to six days easily--you know--so--that's kind of when you learned you don't piss off--you don't piss off the medics, you don't piss off the--you know--you can even--you can even piss the cops off, but there were other people that -- The standard thing in Air Force was that the medics controlled your shot records, and I remember one guy coming in one day and he was swearing up and down because his wife had gotten a ticket from this guy -- it turned out actually to be the same guy. And he went into his medical -- went into this guy's medical records, pulled out his shot records, and shredded them. And this guy's was--deployment candidate--so when they found he didn't have any shot records he had to get all his shots over--every last one of them.

Eileen Hurst:

Now--

Kevin P. Suares:

I don't remember his name, so I can't be -- I can't be held accountable.

Eileen Hurst:

You want to tell me a story behind the broken glass?

Kevin P. Suares:

When I was single, there was a--within the dorm obviously there was a leader for the dorm. He was a senior airman by the name of Louis--his last name escapes me--but Louis drove a Ford Probe and one day they had a birthday party for one of the guys at a bar off base.

Eileen Hurst:

This was Sheppard?

Kevin P. Suares:

No. This was at McGuire -- Fort Dix-- all right. And Louis was in charge of the--basically he in charge of us and we were all good friends--and actually I got invited to the birthday party for some reason--I can't remember why right now I couldn't go--and the party--now I'll just leave these on the top here because they become relevant later on--the party--you know--I decided not to go--I went to bed and the next morning--I think I had to go out to referee a soccer game-- and I remember leaving probably about 6:30 in the morning to go to the game. And there was an area about a block away from the dorm on one of the access roads that was roped off in police tape--and I couldn't see any cars--there was a tree there right by the Fort Dix Information--the Information office which was closed obviously because it was a weekend. And I couldn't really see much, so I just kept going. I come to find out--Louis drove his car with his girlfriend-- who was civilian and her best friend--who was also a civilian, the best friend was in the backseat sitting in this middle--Louis was driving--probably doing the average--somewhere between 80 and 90 miles an hour and had been drinking--both had been drinking-- and nobody was wearing a seatbelt. He hits a bump -- it's not a very big bump-- because I've driven over the bump several times after that -- he hits this bump and apparently started veering off and hit the tree square--doing--as I said--between 80 and 90 miles an hour. His girlfriend was ejected from the car, she landed on the asphalt; he was ejected, landed on the grass in front of--in front of the Base Information Office. The girl in the backseat--basically the car split in two -- the girl in the backseat was cut off at the waist and died at the spot -- and this is somebody I had met casually--I didn't really know her -- I knew his girlfriend a little better. Louis--I knew and I knew that he had had a pretty rough life and he had pretty much patched himself together and was--you know--trying to get there. His best friend was following probably about two minutes behind and gets to the accident scene and realizes what's going on--tried to do CPR on Louis' girlfriend, and realized that he couldn't do CPR forever--he needs to get the help like our training. Went to the dorm, pulled some guys out, was banging on a couple doors, went out, and by that time--basically the, the hospital had responded to cause he had called the hospital. And here's Louis, who is one of the--who is one of the medics--all right--unconscious, on the ground, bleeding--the girlfriend is bleeding from the nose and her mouth and everything else. The other one is dead, it is blatantly obvious, and they have to scoop them up and take them. Both girls died that night. One died instantly, the other one, I think was dead within the hour.

Eileen Hurst:

Now you said banging on door, did you--?

Kevin P. Suares:

I was on the second floor; I didn't hear a thing. I slept right through it. If I was there, I would definitely have gone for help. But, yeah, they were--the two girls where dead. Louis had broken his legs; he had really bad brain damage and stuff. He was in a coma for most of the time--no response. Eventually he was moved from the hospital to a VA rehab facility, and about three months after that, he also died--which was probably the best thing because had he stayed alive, he'd still be--he'd still be in jail for--for two cases of manslaughter--vehicular manslaughter-- I mean--I went to the funeral of the girls. I spoke to one of them's dad -- I mean--what, what do you tell these people? But--after we found out what was going on and stuff, I went to the accident sight and I picked up two pieces of glass that were from the windscreen--which were what these are--and it's kind of like a reminder to me that--you know what--this is, this is drinking and driving -- close to home. And it literarily was close home--it was a block and a half away from the dorm--right--what was interesting about the story was that--a whole bunch of guys that went to--it was probably about nine guys that went to the party--got together and decided that they were going to collude and say that there was no underage drinking and that they weren't at the same party that he was. And the investigators were kind of going through this and they were like--no, there's something fishy here. And they spoke to one of Louis' girlfriend's best friends--whose name is Portia and she fingered them all. She said, "No, he was at the party, he was at the party, he was at the party, there was underage drinking there, there was this, there was that. " And a lot of guys--they court-martialed a whole bunch of them and a lot of them got Article 15s and lost a stripe -- one guy lost two stripes. It was bad--it was really, really bad. It was a very, very sad thing. And in some ways I'm glad that I didn't go to the party, but I'm not much of drinker then or now. I've been drunk once in my entire life, and I think, I think this more or less was kind of resolution of that. You know what? It really isn't worth it. That hit hard, that hit hard home, because I mean--he was a really good guy. And he had, he had his issues, but, you know, he had a really rough life, and the family didn't deserve that. So, yeah, that's my story of the little glass that I keep. And take it out every blue moon and look at it.

Eileen Hurst:

Do you have any other memorable experiences that you recall from your service?

Kevin P. Suares:

We had a call once--we had many--but we have to pick and choose because we only have two hours. We had a call once where--because we active reserve--we're a reserve base--reservists had taken a deuce n half--and a lot of the roads on Fort Dix-- Fort Dix is a very, very large base-- there are tank ranges, there's all sort of stuff and a lot of these -- a lot of the roads that go in there--it can easily take you--you know--twenty minutes--half hour, forty-five minutes to get to some parts of the base. And the Army reservists, I remember was driving a deuce n half and doing probably 60-65--and the vehicle's not made to do this -- and he flipped it -- going around the corner and it took the ambulance close to half an hour to get there. By which time he had severed two of his fingers into the roadway. I was--I had done the ride-a-long -- I can't remember why--but I was actually there at the ride-a-long on the ambulance--and he had severed two of his fingers--cause he holding on to the top of the thing--the wheel with one hand -- he was holding on with the other hand -- it had probably been this way since--but it ended up cutting two of his fingers off and both passengers died -- both passengers were ejected and he was charged with vehicular manslaughter, in that case--brought back to his reservist and brought on to active duty and spent time in Quantico. So -- the military is a great place to be from; it's not necessarily a great place to be. It's been a very good asset to me in my life. It's a lot of the things I learned, and I still have as part of my being and my personality. It's taught me a lot of leadership skills and definitely things, but a lot of the lessons that you learn from the military are really harsh. A lot of the people that you serve with, you know that they can get orders tomorrow morning and you'd never see them again. Thank goodness for Facebook. A lot of us are like talking and communicating and stuff, because we spend quite a lot of time with these people -- a lot of time -- a lot of developmental periods of your life with these people. You form bonds; you form friendships. It's not very easy mentally to switch off.

Eileen Hurst:

What did you think of your fellow sergeant?

Kevin P. Suares:

Airman? [Laughter]

Eileen Hurst:

I know better.

Kevin P. Suares:

I think the biggest thing that you realize--especially when I went through basic training and I had to deal with Airman Allen--the guy with the pictures of guns--is that not everybody in the military is as great hero that civilians want them to be portrayed as--you know--they're in some cases--they're very much everyday people--and don't get me wrong--because I believe that we owe a lot of them a lot of our--a lot of our gratitude and thanks and--like the World War II guys that just came home and just wished that it never happened. A lot of them joined because they want to be Rambo, or they want the glory and don't realize what exactly it is to be in the military. And I remember--especially as active duty where you would work hard to try and get--you know--you have your qualifications, you have your--whatever--and you're working hard to get those things to keep them up to do--you know--to do this--this is your job, this is what you do for a living. And then you'd have a reservist that would come in and be like, "Yeah, I want to do--I want to do all these great qualifications. Can I get it done in a weekend?" And you're like, "No." And then somebody would pencil whip them through, and you'd be mad. And a lot of times--active duty both--would get really, really--get a negative connotation to a reservist because of this. Just before we came in here we had -- we-- we saw a National Guard--Full Bird Colonel--who walked through the parking lot without a hat. Some people may say that it's "nitpicky" but I mean, it's a respect for the uniform thing. And I got mad at him--right--even now--I mean, I've been out of the--out of the service for almost 12 years. And you know what? When, it's stuff like that -- still, still, resonates with me, you know. It's made me be my ADD nature or something, you know --but--

Eileen Hurst:

What did you think of the officers?

Kevin P. Suares:

You had good ones and you had bad ones. Air Force is a little different, and I think Air Force medical was--as probably--was probably the most lax in terms of relationships with officers. I made some very good friends with officers--that now days, I think with fraternization, it would be kind of frowned upon, but I mean they were people too. A lot of them I'm still in very good contact with, and, you know, we still have good friendships. And I don't think -- and there were some of them--like my commander--that eventually we figured out that basically she hated men, because the only people that got in trouble with her long-term were men. We had some really bad commanders that probably without which I might still be in the military. But when you get to the point where you don't trust the people that are leading you, it becomes an issue. I had--I started actually the project for the first website for McGuire Air Force Base--all right, this was back in the day when the Internet was a little young, I was a computer guy--I was a computer geek that just happened to be doing medic stuff--but I still wanted to do computers and I'd go out and help them as much as I can--I remember laying cables occasionally for McGuire--or for McGuire--or for Walson infrastructure stuff. And then I decided that I wanted to help write the first webpage, so I did. You know--met with commander and, you know, came up with ideas and stuff and a master sergeant got wind of what I was doing and said that he would help in the project--and was like, "Sure, you know, you have stripes--you can probably help get through. And I went and visited all the commanders for the different parts of the hospital, and they were all enthusiastic except mine for mine. You know, she was, "Why do you want to do this?" "Well, ma'am, because I think that we'd be good having a public [inaudible]" "What is this going to impact my time? How is--" And she started like giving me the nth degree. All the other commanders were like, "Great. What do you need How can we help? You know, this is a great push. You know, it would be great for the hospital." And I remember--like immediately after about 30 seconds with my own commander--being on the defensive because she was like, "What, it's a good idea?" So we put together the webpage and I submitted all my stuff to this master sergeant -- we publish it and he takes my name off and took full credit for it and both he and my commander ended up getting a medal for it. And I didn't.

Eileen Hurst:

So you said you were a computer geek back then which what would lead to your career when you got out of the service which was --

Kevin P. Suares:

I got out of the service and--pretty much I had been keeping abreast with computer stuff. I was computer geek before I went in and computer geek after. While I was in, I taught--I'm sorry, I coached soccer. I started actually the first Fort Dix youth--whatchamacallit--soccer teams. We had two teams--I think they were U10 and U12 at the time--and we basically--Barbara and I started the two teams. Initially, we had done an indoor league at Fort Dix--because they actually had the boards and everything--we got them to put the boards up and we ran our own league there and we made money for the base.

Eileen Hurst:

Was this for kids or adults?

Kevin P. Suares:

Kids. I think the oldest was U16-U18. So we did--we did that, and then we figured out there was a need--so we went ahead and formed the two girls teams and we coached--we coached the teams. And after I think one season--I'm sorry actually a year, it was a complete year--I had moved to Bordentown and pretty much we took some of the players from there, moved to Bordentown, New Jersey and coached out of Bordentown. And then from there, came here, and started coaching here--when we moved here. But --

Eileen Hurst:

I know you still do that now.

Kevin P. Suares:

Uh-huh.

Eileen Hurst:

Did you go back to school after your military service?

Kevin P. Suares:

I went -- I was actually going to school during the--during the time. I did the GI Bill. Which, at the time, you paid a hundred dollars from your first 12 paychecks--which was rough, because you weren't getting paid very much,all right. So you paid that and then if you went to school in the Air Force--at the time--the Air Force was probably the best of all the services to do this--they would actually -- as long as you got a C or better, they would-- C minus or better--they would pay for tuition. So you basically you wouldn't pay anything. You would sign the slip, they would forward it to the base, the base would pay it. So I got quite a few classes done that way. Worked towards my community college with the Air Force Degree--which at the time, I believe, was the first time that you could actually get military training and get college credits for it and worked towards the degree. Now I think all four services have something of the equivalent. And the Air Force would actually go a step further--where you would have classes on-base. There was actually an entire education thing, and they would pay--they would basically bill paying for the degrees. And there was--education was majorly pushed. After a while I think they had to end the program of paying for it wholesale. And it was only after I got out that I ended up using the GI Bill and going to school.

Eileen Hurst:

Do you recall your last day in the service?

Kevin P. Suares:

Yes.

Eileen Hurst:

What was your last day like?

Kevin P. Suares:

I wore dress blues. I remember that--I remember I went to work. E-mail was still in its infancy, and the system that we were running on was based on a--a unit system--it was kind of a proprietary thing, so it was all green screens we didn't have--we had one machine that ran Windows in the thing--and I played a prank on my--on my supervisor once--anyway. But yeah, I remember going in dress blues and stuff. And I remember writing an e-mail to everyone in the pharmacy--just saying, you know, "It's been a great four years; it's been wonderful. Thank you for working with me. I've not been perfect or the best or the greatest, but, you know, I'll definitely remember and cherish you all, and thank you." And pretty much hit "send" and walked out. And the next day the code on the pharmacy door was changed as per protocol--that's normal--cause I didn't work there anymore. And I think I had 30 something days of leave. So I was working at--I got a job--one of soccer parents -- this is where soccer came in--one of the parents on the soccer team--who we were very, very close with--like really, really close--ended up getting me a job at--what was then Antex Information Systems--so it was a computer geek job--not making a lot of money, but enough so that we could survive and then some. But the office was in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania--so by that time we had moved off base--we were off base for like the last nine months--and I was driving an hour and 15 minutes each way to King of Prussia from Bordentown, New Jersey--a lot of times working the night shift. So I was leaving home at 10:00 a.m -- I'm sorry--I was leaving home at 9:00 to get to work for 10:00--10:30--and coming home at 7:00--leaving work at 7:00 p.m.--but without that--I think was pretty much the foundation for where I am now. Because without that real practical experience and them willing to take a chance on me, I don't think I would have gotten a system admin job anywhere even close.

Eileen Hurst:

And what are you doing now?

Kevin P. Suares:

Now I work for Central Connecticut State University as a system administrator. Previous to this, I worked for the system office for nine years. One of the things that I've done at Antex--which became part of Siemens--which is actually now part of Siemens--which is a Fortune 500 Company--is that I did Lotus Note Support and before I got to Antex, I never even knew how--I didn't know how to spell Lotus Notes. But I learn, I got certified, and then I came here and answered an ad in the paper one day--it was in the Current--and I answered the ad--found out that--that I was there, they needed a Lotus admin and so I submitted and whatever--got called for an interview about a month and a half later, went to the interview, and didn't hear anything for two and a half months. At which time, I had already started another job and--Ernie Marques, who was the human resources director at the system office at the time, calls me at home one day and like, "Is this Kevin?" "Yeah, this is Kevin." "This is --" and he introduces himself. And he is like, "I'd like to offer you the job." And I remember going, "It's been two and a half months, are you sure you have the right guy?" I literally told him this. And he's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah," and we talked salary and stuff and I was like, "And you're serious?" And he was like, "Yeah, we're very serious, we're very serious." And so I started. Which is kind of funny because years later I did--I did a tribute to Ernie at his retirement--a lot of pictures and stuff of him and his parents who had died by that time and his growing up in Cuba and stuff--and one of the final slides had '... are you serious?' on there and like inside joke--so not--

Eileen Hurst:

Kevin, how did your military service affect your life?

Kevin P. Suares:

Wow. I think like the world--the world moves on time--you know--before Christ on Anno Domini. I think that the change in my life was pretty much just as dramatic. I mean I was self-assured and stuff before then, but I left the military, one married, two with a lot more experience--worldly experience--with a lot more friends that I still have to this day--a changed attitude, completely different outlook--a lot more mature. I don't think that there really could be another way to say that, that it was definitely a positive influence in my life. Good lumps, bad lumps, indifferent, and not all the things that happened in the Air Force were wonderful and great, but it's a decision that I think I would do again-- especially at that time of my life. Part two of Kevin Suares' interview.

Eileen Hurst:

Kevin, you got out of the Air Force and you went into civilian life and you went [inaudible] doing some computer work, but you--you used your military experience then to do something with the Navy Seals--could you tell me about that?

Kevin P. Suares:

After I had gotten divorced, I dated a navy corpsman, a female navy corpsman, and while we were together--she actually was an involved in a program where the Seals would do a -- kind of like an induction--an indoctrination program out of two places-- one at Grauten[phoenetic] and one at Kings Point, New York.

Eileen Hurst:

Do all the Navy Seals do their training there?

Kevin P. Suares:

No, no. What this was -- people before they joined the Navy--before they signed and they were talking to recruiters and stuff--and they were interested in becoming Navy Seals--would go through a -- basically a physical, a bunch of physical tests and stuff in preparation for them to go to BUDS--basically the introduction to Seal training. And what would happen is that if they went through the training and they passed these guys' test--and these were all--these were all Seals--there's no such thing as a former Seal--these guys where all Seals and most of which them were either active duty or reserve--and I got to meet some really, really, interesting people this way. But they would run these tests and if the candidate passed them, then they would get the approval of these guys -- these Seals--to go forward. And these guys would give them an idea as to what it was like in real life--you know, and what, what, what the training was like--what the pipeline was like, and all that stuff and essentially they needed help both from a medical capacity and also people--more bodies being there --to assist and obviously being former--being former medical and knowing something about the military and having -- and being the __ of previous secret clearance, it was a lot easier for me to be able to interact with these guys--and knew what the military was, right. And these guys where green--they were completely green, and they would probably a little more trusting for the military Seals to accept me. And so we would go down there and basically take care of medical issues. Obviously--

Eileen Hurst:

You went to both bases or just one?

Kevin P. Suares:

We would go to both. It counted as reservist time for my then girlfriend, and for me it was--you know--got to meet some really neat people and--you know--got to help them in a program that was still somewhat in a testing phase--that actually going up all the way to a--to the Chief of Staff in this Navy as to whether this should continue or not.

Eileen Hurst:

Did it continue?

Kevin P. Suares:

As far as I know it's still--it's still running.

Eileen Hurst:

So what would you do when you'd be down there -- would you do this on a weekend?

Kevin P. Suares:

These were done on Sunday mornings. These where done on Sunday mornings so--

Eileen Hurst:

And you'd be like the in-house medic?

Kevin P. Suares:

Well, I was secondary. My girlfriend would be primary. I would be secondary and if she needed assistance in doing something--I mean in most cases it was just a safety valve--these guys where fairly, fairly healthy. You know, we a couple--we had a few incidences, but they were, but most of them were minor. In most cases you'd end up--like the guys who you were lagging behind or hurting--we'd would kind of like be okay, yeah, run next to them keep their spirits up and that kind of stuff. But what they had to do was--that there was the first part of it was in the pool--where they had a special side stroke that they had to learn--that didn't break the surface, your hands didn't break the surface. So it was all underwater, and they had to swim a certain distance in a certain period of time in this stroke. And then they would get out within a certain time period had to do a prescribed number of push-ups and sit-ups--I think they had to do--it was like 60 push-ups in two minutes--and they had to do a certain number of pull-ups and they also had to do a bar hang--where basically they would hang from a bar for a certain time period--which sounds easy-- but isn't. I've seen these guys and it's--it's brutal--all right--and they would do the push-ups and sit-ups and all this stuff--and they had to do it within a certain prescribed time and then they would go out for a six-lap run around a track--all right. And all this had to be done in a certain prescribed time--and so basically from the moment that we got there--which was usually like --I mean, usually like 6:00 a.m. 5:30 - 6:00 a.m. and they would start the process and just run all the way through. Some of them--like you could do just the swim and once they were done with the swim--you know -- they could leave or they could stay and watch. And once they passed a swim portion, then they would go onto the push-ups and sit-ups and then the--and so it was like a graded thing. But essentially I was there and helped them out for over a year in doing this. This is--is the same program that Lieutenant Mike Murphy, who is now Congressional Medal of Honor winner, went through. This was part of his indoctrination. I never met him but--well, correction, he was back, I think, for a Christmas party--and actually when the accident--when the accident happened with the helicopter that went in to save them and we lost all those--we lost a bunch of Seals--I found out because they had heard about it that morning--you know--because we were their doing one of the things and they were talking about it.

Eileen Hurst:

What incident are you talking about?

Kevin P. Suares:

Mike Murphy had led a bunch of guys in Afghanistan, I believe--and they got--they were overwhelmed through a fire--through a firefight and so--a bunch of Seals went to provide support to try and get them out and somewhere along the line then the flight--the aircraft was shot down by--by opposing forces--possibly Taliban, possibly insurrectionists--using like a some sort of missile. So they lost I think between eight and twelve Seals that day, in addition to the guys that were with Lieutenant Murphy--so he--as I said--he ended up getting a Congressional Medal of Honor. There were quite a few Navy Crosses awarded--Marcus Latrell wrote a book about it -- I think it's called Lone Survivor -- that I've read--but, it was not a good day for the U.S. Military.

Eileen Hurst:

Had you--the Navy Seals that you were working [inaudible] say that you had to do their training?

Kevin P. Suares:

Happened to be there with--yeah, doing a thing, and they were talking about it. And to a man -- you could cut the tension with a knife in that there. There was actually quite a few guys that were retired--what they call the UDTs --the Underwater Dive Teams. One of them, his name was Ben-- his last name escapes me at the moment--was riskly [phoenetic]--this was the precursor to the Seals--and he would tell us and he would tell us the stories and one of those stories that he said was when he was being recruited for UDT -- one of the chiefs turned to him and asked him says, "How well can you swim?" And he says, "I don't know, probably eight to ten miles." And the chief stopped and kind of looked at him a little funny and said, "That's okay, we'll teach you how to swim." He passed away sometime back, and I had--I have-- I have pictures of actually of him and his grandson at one of the Seal events in Greenwich that I forwarded to his family afterward. So I have a--I actually pictures of--they do a demo every year in Greenwich and I have a pictures of that--of Seals doing the demos and stuff. And come in with a helicopter and they do--they do like a fake blow up of cars and fake terrorists and stuff they--and give--they let civilians shoot like M60 machine guns and stuff.

Eileen Hurst:

Kevin, did you join any veterans' organizations after you left the service?

Kevin P. Suares:

I've been asked to join the VFW-- which I kind of turned down--most of the guys are a lot older than I am. I think now it's starting to change but, but I've also did--I've also done work with the American Warrior Organization which helps take World War II Veterans to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Veteran's Memorial. And from what I understand, they are also starting to do the same with the Korean Veterans--although the Korean Veterans Memorial is probably better known and more people have seen that--it's been around longer.

Eileen Hurst:

So how many flights have you been on with the American Warrior?

Kevin P. Suares:

Thus far I've been on five. I've been on the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth--third to seventh. The last one was seven. And as we speak, I believe there's another one planned in April or May of 2012. 2012. I go down and I act as trip photographer, guardian, bottle washer--whatever they need me to do. But it's kind of one of the--it's I feel that it's my way of giving back to the guys--the World War II guys basically came back from a war that was extremely physical, and they didn't have the technology improvements that we have where--you know--these guys flying in World War II aircraft--they're shooting bullets and there are no missiles--you know--it's basically bullet against bullet--real dog fighting. Nowadays it's--okay, we'll shoot you down from 20 miles away--30 miles away. I just feel that it my way of giving back to these guys--these people--both men and woman, and I've met some very awesome people -- I've met some very cool people. Heard a lot of really interesting stories and even that by itself has changed my life a lot.

Eileen Hurst:

You stay in touch with any of your former friends?

Kevin P. Suares:

Amen for Facebook. I think that--definitely every couple days we get word or news or--you know-- things happen--we find out about each other in our lives. One of them just moved to--she moved from New Hampshire to Texas, because of her husband's job. She--both he and they met actually at Walson working together. She worked with me. He worked--he was, I think he was with a physical therapies or medic. They met there. So you see their kids and stuff. You see--you know--kids of people that you served with. And you hear about marriages and divorces and all the good stuff. But, yeah, quite a number of people we stayed together with.

Eileen Hurst:

Do you have any reunions?

Kevin P. Suares:

Not really. A lot of the folks are still on active duty--really scattered all over the world. I know of two of them. One is in Japan--actually, more than two -- one is in Japan right now, one is serving in Germany and has been there for some time, and one is--where is Drew? Drew is somewhere around Fiji or somewhere around there. Posted on Facebook the other day--pictures of him going to some really funky beach--you know--and we are freezing up here in the northeast-- in our blizzard--you know--lost power for 10 days and there he is posting--you know--nice, warm, tropical beach.

Eileen Hurst:

So you haven't had any reunions where you all get back together, but you stay pretty much in touch because of Facebook?

Kevin P. Suares:

We stay in touch. Occasionally I will see one of them--my former NCOIC lives in New Jersey--so she's been up her a few times--her daughter was looking at colleges and so we kind of-- I hosted her here. One of our--we--at the pharmacy we had a lot of retirees who would volunteer, some of these guys were-- a retired fliers--actually one of the them--his funeral is today as we--definitely after we speak--Lieutenant-Colonel George Swan--he and his wife Ann volunteered. He was a World War II, Vietnam, and Korean War Veteran--and really, really, really awesome guy. Really down to earth. You'd never believe half the stuff he'd done, cause in most cases he wouldn't say--which is the humanity that I find of about these World War II folks. A lot of them were like--it's over; it's done with. I did what I had to do, and they moved on with their lives.

Eileen Hurst:

Kevin, is there anything else that you'd like to add or any stories you can remember that we haven't covered in this interview?

Kevin P. Suares:

There's a lot. There's a lot of stuff that probably hasn't been said, and probably won't be said. But I enjoyed my military time. I think that in some days I think that probably-- I probably shouldn't have left, and some days I think it was a good thing that I left. But I try not to have regrets anymore, because if it weren't for coming to Connecticut, I wouldn't have met the people that I know now and the friends, the relationships that I've developed and cultured and so-- and I wouldn't have been involved with the American Warrior. I wouldn't have done a lot of the things that I did do. So as I said, no regrets. Not to mention we don't have enough video tape for those stories. HURRRT: Well, do you have one favorite one?

Kevin P. Suares:

I was living on base housing, and our -- at the time we had really nice condos. That was--ours was a three-bedroom condo on Fort Dix--that actually after we left they tore down--which was a shame because they were--they were probably no more than like four or five-years old. And the way how the blocks were, were that it was shaped kind of like a u-shaped with a road as an artery and then you'd have the road in middle where you'd have pack parking in the middle--and you'd have a lot of recruiters and a lot of--a lot of different services because it also served as housing for like Little Grove and other places. The guys next to me where Marines--all right--stationed at Little Grove. The guy -- one of the guys across the street and his wife and his--well--two daughters--he was a recruiter, he was a Marine recruiter- and really rough, brusque guy--and one day I was at home--I can't remember why--but I look out my front window and I see smoke pouring out of his--out of his front window--and I'm talking about like --not just little smoke--we're talking about blue smoke--just like shooting out. And I bang on my neighbor's door-- cause he was home--I can't remember why either--he worked at the hospital and I knew him fairly well-- he was Navy--and I told him I said, "Hey, go call the fire department--I want because I think that they're still home. Somebody's in there." And I bang on the door and again no response. And I'm thinking there's somebody in there--right -- so we got to figure it out--what's going on. I break in through the front windscreen--the window was open, so I pulled the screen out, threw it aside, went in. Low crawled through the house; tried to find somebody. Find out that there was nobody home. They had--they had a baby and what had happened is that they left a pot on the stove with a bunch of baby bottles that were warming and the water had evaporated and the baby bottles were plastic--they were melting and you had this blue smoke everywhere--which was what it was--but if something had happened we wouldn't have known--you know--and so I still--I still risked my life--I still went in there. And they were--they were--they were beyond grateful, all right. Because as I said, if something had really happened--thankfully nothing happened--we got out okay--but, I remember that it wasn't even a thought that you know what, somebody is in there--they need help. I'm here, I got to do it and I went in.

Eileen Hurst:

Do you want to tell me the funny story about the joke with the green screen that you played on the commanding officer? Before you said something with the computer screen?

Kevin P. Suares:

Oh. Oh, yeah, that was my supervisor. We had two Windows machines and by this time--I mean, I could program, I knew DOS, I knew a couple of things--and a lot of our work was done on floppy disks--on three and a half inch floppies and so he had this habit--we didn't have to log into these things you basically switched them on they ran--and he had a habit of--he would stick his disk in and he would like run the program and somebody was doing like word documents and whatever. And one day I set up a batch--I put a batch file on the program and he stuck the disk in and he hit enter to try and run the program, and all of a sudden got this little black curser and it said, "This is a virus, don't take the--don't take the--don't take your disk out otherwise it's going to be deleted." And it basically was doing a bunch of reads on the--on the floppy drive so the light was going off light crazy. And I was standing at the front window looking at him, and his whole face turns white. He grabs the button, the thing flies out, and on the screen there's like, "You bad boy, you, I just torched all your files--da-da-da." He was just furious and he was swearing up a storm. And then by this time I've lost it--I've absolutely lost it--and like on the ground laughing and he was like "What's the hell your problem?" And so I told him and he didn't find it at all that funny. And I said, "There's nothing wrong with your disk." I said, "It was just a joke I was playing on you," and --and he just kind of--

Eileen Hurst:

But he did -- even though it said, "Don't take it out," and he did take it out.

Kevin P. Suares:

Oh, he yanked it out as quick as he could. As I said his entire face--you know--went from like sheet white to beetroot red and he was pretty mad. And we did--we did--we did a few things like that. One of the guys at the passenger terminal was dating this girl--fairly seriously--they actually eventually got married, and I walked up to him one day--as we were rotating in--so basically I had just come from the hospital--and I walk up to him and I'm like, "Hey, congratulations." And he's like, "For what?" And I'm like, "Oh, she didn't tell you? Oh, oh, nothing." And he's like, "No, no, what?" "Nothing, nothing. Absolutely nothing." And he's like, "Are you putting me on?" "Yes, I'm putting you on. Just don't worry about it there's nothing, there's nothing great, there's nothing wrong or whatever," and I kept him going for about six hours--seven hours. Until finally he calls, he calls his girlfriend at work and he's like, "Well?" And she is like, "Well, what?" "Do you have something to tell me?" And she's like, "No." She really doesn't know. And he comes back to me and he's like, "Are you putting me on?" Like--"Yes, I'm putting you on. There's nothing you need to know--it's--you know--you're all good." And I think we had him going for a couple of days. So--cause obviously she didn't know what he's talking about and -- you know and he's coming and asking and I'm denying and, "No, no, no. It's just a put on--it's just a put on." You know. We're still good friends -- well, we're Facebook friends now--so. They're divorced--but that's okay. I had nothing to do with the divorce. So lots of stories.

Eileen Hurst:

Well. All right. Thank you, Kevin.

Kevin P. Suares:

You're welcome, Eileen.

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us