"Up in Smoke" by Don Lewis, Kagnew Station -1949

In the early days (49-50), the troops were billeted at the old radio marina, which was just around the corner from the (then) American Embassy. Seems like a military atache bound for Addis stopped overnight in Asmara. It is rumored that he had in his possession, ten cases of American cigarettes, each of which contained 50 cartons. A carton of cigarettes could be purchased at the PX for a dollar, but we were rationed to a limited number each month, because they were worth a pound ($4.20) each on the black market. So, as the story goes, the ten cases were stored in the motor pool in the dispatchers office which had a door that could be locked and only a small window through which no one could pass (or so thought the Hq officers). That night, a water trailer was pulled up close to this window so that it could only be seen from one direction. My sources tell me that a young skinny GI was able to crawl through the window and pass out a couple of cases worth almost a hundred pounds each on the black market. Since each member of the motor pool had their own vehicle, it was easy for these guys to get the smokes off base and get them in them into the "bosharu" to a native who bought them all on the spot. Now the next morning, the door of the dispatchers shed was unlocked, after carefull inspection to see that the lock had not been tampered with. The cargo was moved to the airport and the atache left Asamara. It's funny, that there was never an investigation on the disappearance. I can't say that the story is true or false, but some of the motor pools guys had a lot of money for the next few weeks.


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©Copyright Rick Fortney 1998 All Rights Reserved