"Tidbits of Information" by John "Jack" Hannigan

The late fifties and early sixties was exciting times in Asmara. Politically the whole middle east was changing. The Suez Canal was closed and the merchant and military ships had to either cross the Pacific or come around the Cape in South Africa to bring us our household good, automobiles, px and commissary supplies and even our surface mail.

Incidently, somewhere in my archives [still packed away], I have pictures of the SHIFTA that held up the Americans returning from Massawa just below Decamerie. That happened just before I arrived and was the talk of the Base. I also have picture of a beheading in Yemen. On the lighter side, I have a picture [which I am in] of the KAGNEW STATION HONOR GUARD for Emperor Haile Selassie with Col. Robert Harris after Haile returned from South America to reclaim his THRONE in the sixties. Somewhere, I have an arabic newpaper that announces the death of the Emperess. That was an interesting time. KANU could not operate during the time of mourning. I think it may have lasted for 30 days. Haile would not allow Charleton Heston's Movie {he had the famous chariot race} to be shown in Eritrea and even on base. The Crowned Prince was killed in an automobile accident on the Massawa Road. Locally in the Asmara Bosch, there were public hangings of criminals.

After The EMPEROR reclaimed his THRONE in Addis Abeba, he held public hangings of the Rebel leaders in Addis. These hangings made the Front Covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK. Haile put an embargo on these magazines in Eritrea and Ethiopia. During this time, the local Ethiopian Army stood by Haile and protected the Americans at Kagnew with the Armored Vehicles and Weapon that we gave them in early sixties. Quite exciting times. American dependents were told to pack one suitcase for each person in the family and take all the necessary medication and be ready to move out. The Evacuation Route was the Massawa Road to Decamerie {State Department Airstrip} or on to Massawa where the Marines were suppose to come ashore and protect the dependents while the American Military maintained Kagnew Station.

One of the Operations Teletypewriter Repairmen, Don Hancock, wife was a nurse working in a local hospital. The UN built a new Hospital state of the art for the Sixties. Haile had not opened it when I left in October 1962. All Eritreans and Ethiopians use the old medical facilites.

Ever Vigilant


All materials, pictures, whatever, except where noted.
©Copyright Rick Fortney 1998 All Rights Reserved