Mad Man # 8
“What do you mean, Sarge?” Bob Gale asked, alone in the conference room with Shriver. “The school year is over. It’s the end of April. The students spend May studying for finals. It’s a tense time on campus. I don’t think we should impose ourselves. We hit Wisconsin at a perfect time. But there won’t be another perfect time until next fall.”
Shriver wasn’t having any of that. “What’s the nearest equivalent of a school like Wisconsin?” Shriver wanted to know, disregarding Gale’s protests. “We need a big, liberal-learning place where you have contacts?”
Shriver was on one side of the long conference table, leaning back in his chair, asking questions. Gale was on the other side, keeping his distance, pacing back and forth. A moving target was harder to hit, he kept thinking.
“Michigan,” Gale finally answered, sighing. He had to say something. There was no turning back. Haddad had abandoned him. Doug Kiker had disappeared. And, after all, he was the newly appointed Director of Recruitment.
“T’rffic!” exclained Shriver. “You know, that’s where it all started. Michigan. That’s where the president made his first pitch for the Peace Corps during the campaign. You can’t go wrong. Just get the same group to go with you. Advance and follow-up.”
Gale left the conference room and called Rockefeller. He called Pat Kennedy. He called Camilla Sorensen. They were all willing to go again. Once more for the Peace Corps. But the plot thickens. It won’t be so easy this time. Rockefeller was on his way to the Philipppines. He’d be back, he said, but a day or two late for the big blitz.
Rockefeller reached Ann Arbor, Michigan, one day after he had arrived back in Washington from Asia. He was exhausted.
Gale, meanwhile, had gotten Rockefeller into a ‘situation.”
Gale had met a young woman, Lennie Radly, a student at the University of Michigan. She wasn’t an ordinary student, however. She was, in fact, the sister of one of the first two PCVs to die overseas.
A senior, and the chairman of the Students Committee, Lennie and her friends were ready to work for the Peace Corps. She was a prime candidate to join the Peace Corps, but her parents had ordered her not to join. Nevertheless, she worked night and day on the Michigan campus for the Advance Team from Washington, and then she heard that JayRockefeller was coming to campus.
Jay was not only six feet six, young, and handsome, he was also nice and intelligent. (Oh, did I mention rich?) He was, in the phrase of the times, ‘a catch.’
“I’d love to meet him,” Lennie asked wisfully to Gale. “I’d love to be introduced to him.”
In Coates Redmon’s words in her book, Come As You Are, “Gale was seized by an uncontrollable urge to right the wrong done to the Radley famly by cruel fate in taking their son as one of the first Peace Corps casualties, and by a desire to thank Lennie Radley for all of her help to the Peace Corps’ advance team at a key university that Shriver was going to watching with a beady eye. And Lennie was so likeable, so intelligent, so deserving. ‘Lennie,’ said Gale, with the certitude of a person who had just mastered Advance Astrology, ‘you have a date with Jay Rockefeller.'”[End of Part # 8]
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An excellent place to end this chapter.
Lennie’s brother, Larry from Chicago and David Crozier from Missouri were the first two PCV’s to die in an Easter plane crash in the Colombian jungle. The plane , a DC-3 ,was overloaded with Colombian holiday seekers, pigs, chickens and pineapples and missed clearing a mountain top on its descent into Quibdo, the provincial capital of the Choco .
Shriver, in a testimonial act , named the former CCC camps, than Peace Corps Training Camps in Puerto Rico, Camp Crozier and Camp Radley.
Crozier’s last letter to his parents stated he would rather die in Peace Coprs service for his country than in the jungles of Vietnam. Ironically, it was a team of Green Beret’s, on R & R in the Panama Canal Zone, that flew the recuse helicopters that brought out the bodies.
Awfully good stuff about Bob Gale – My wife and I worked on four “blitz” campaigns after returning from the Philippines where we were Volunteers.
True story: Group 7, of which we were trainees, was the largest group up to that time [June 1962] to go overseas. Once we reached Manila we embarked on an inter-island steamer for Zamboanga, the major city on the west coast of Mindanao. PC/Washington had sent along an “escort officer” by the name of Jay Rockefeller.
The second day out I got to know him and invited him to have a beer – San Miguel beer exported by the Philippines is among the best brewed in the world and among the most potent – I drink it to this day.
Rockefeller said he would love a beer, but confessed he didn’t
have “any cash on him.”
I loaned the future Senator from West Virginia five pesos which he promised to repay when we reached Zamboanga.
Of course, in the confusion of arrival both of us forgot about his modest debt and to this day I have dined out about those days when I had to loan money to a Rockefeller!
Dick, I can add to your wonderful story about Jay. He and I were on a recruiting trip together. On the plane returning to DC, I pulled out my expense report form and was filling it out, fumbling through my pockets and briefcase for receipts. At one point, Jay looked over and asked what the heck I was doing. I explained, and he then asked if he had to do that too, I started to show him how the form worked, and he seemed only to be more and more confused. So, I gently explained that he wasn’t really obligated to do it if he didn’t mind not getting reimbursed. That ended that dicussion.