- Dave Taylor - by
joined ONI in May 1964, directly after serving twelve years in the
Royal Air Force, mainly with Transport Command, so I was well used
to travelling the globe at the drop of a hat. I was also single,
averse to the thought of having to join a union - never had been a
nine to five person - plus the feeling of wanderlust was by now
deeply embedded in my bones.
was, I believe, one of the very first non-American employees to be
engaged by Head office, in New Orleans although I did hold a
recently issued "Green Card", and as such, was required
to spend two years in the States before qualifying for
citizenship. But that "Green Card" also had its downside,
for another requirement was that I should pay taxes. Worse
still, it also meant I was eligible for service in the US Armed
Forces - almost guaranteed at the time - so it was as well that, after
three months or so in the Pacific Northwest, ONI chose to send me off to
somewhere called Gabon (Yeah! That was the first question I asked; Where!
did you say?).
When I learnt it was in West Africa, I figured even that
had to be better than a military tour in Vietnam. Probably just as
dangerous in some areas, but at least no one was intent on killing me -
well, not every day - and I was being paid well over the rate that miners
were raking it in back in the UK - until Maggie got to them, that is!
it was, and, apart from short spells in Spain and Iran, I hardly left West
Africa for the next seven years. In fact, I asked to be transferred back
there to get away from Iran. Never did like the Middle East; like it even
less these days. There again, I'd be very reluctant to set foot in West
Africa, too, in this day and age. I've grown older and wiser, and the
sense of adventure has diminished somewhat - as it does if your life is
likely to be threatened! It appears to me that he best days are past as
far as world travel goes.
the early sixties, travel was fine, and relatively safe. Just as well, for
we went everywhere, did everything; no Health and Safety back then to
spoil the party, either, or to make things even more difficult. We were
our own safety advisors, which in my view is how things should be. Same
thing applied to flying, very few tourists, and an open airline ticket was
valid for twelve months; any flight, on any airline, to anywhere that was
within the ticket's mileage value. The right crowd and no crowding.
made my escape from West Africa - even Nigeria had been acceptable until
the Biafra revolt; lost everything in Port Harcourt, but managed to get
out safely to Fernando Po, courtesy of Mobil Oil - it was off to South
America, the US and Canada, the Far East - including China - Australia and
New Zealand, and like that. South Africa was outstanding at the time, too,
but I'd be wary of going back even there today.
joined ONI in New Orleans - still at the Fern Street office - on May 11th
1964, my first job being on the M/V Miss Helen, out of Astoria, Oregon,
working seismic for Shell, offshore the Northwest Shelf of the US.
Miss Helen as being around 80 ft (25m) in length, the seas being around 60
ft - which, naturally, precluded any shooting for the first trip (we had
to make a port call every 10 days max, for water). All I learnt was what a
"Head" was, and where it was! Spent the whole ten days
travelling between there and my bunk - almost the whole crew in one cabin!
When we finally did get to shoot, I discovered it was powder, suspended on
a balloon and thrown over the stern upon our calling the shotpoint. And as
we were working in prime salmon fishing waters off the Colombia river mouth, there was a requirement to carry a representative of the US
Fish & Game Dept, who would stop us shooting if there was a fishing
boat anywhere in sight, and there frequently was! So we fished, too,
trailing a line hung on a boom over the side, and believe me, you can
actually get fed up of fresh salmon.
second trip I was almost ready to call it a day; thought about going to
work for Boeing, in nearby Seattle. But as ONI were short on personnel, a
reasonable pay-rise and transfer to a base station on a mountain site in
the Olympia National Park was enough to bring about a change of plan. That
was me more or less hooked for the next twenty-six years! Oh, there were
other times when I felt like chucking it all in - the base station in Iran
that took three gruelling days to get to. What stopped me that time
was the fact that it would also take three days to get back from whence I
came, and I was knackered already. Then, at the end of it, what awaited me
was a ten day break in Beirut, when it was the Riviera of the
Middle East. Within six months it no longer was, and certainly never would
overseas project, that Gabon job, was numbered 84, my last was 1677,
finishing on March 25th 1990. This again was seismic, for Nopec, on board
CGG's M/V Stormy, out of Kristiansund, Norway.
contrast to Miss Helen, by the time I boarded the M/V Stormy, things had
changed somewhat. The sea's antics no longer bothered me, anyway, this
vessel was considerably larger. It carried a cellar full of fine wines,
spirits by the case, the food was French, so very good. Two of us shared a
well-appointed cabin, shots were very high pressure air, the firing
sequence computer-controlled, as was the GPS navigation. In fact, I was on
board solely as an observer/technician. And the Stormy was nowhere near a
late-technology vessel such as the Western Challenger and Nordic Explorer,
and even these were soon to be outdated by super seismic vessels which
deployed up to twelve streamers and multiple gunstrings. But the best
vessel I ever served on as far as comfort, facilities and accommodation
were concerned had to be SSL's Seisquest. They even had girls on board,
which livened things up somewhat! Employed to use their talent in the
instrument room, of course!
end, although being well paid by ONI, the writing was obviously on the
wall, so I jumped ship. I remained in the offshore business for a further
nine years. It certainly paid the bills, but by now the adventure was
almost non-existent. Although I still got to work in such countries as
China, Indonesia, and New Zealand, most jobs were in the Health and Safety
orientated North Sea, very routine and very boring, so I decided to call
it a day. I was well past sixty anyway, which introduced a degree of
reluctance by certain potential employees. I still travel, but only to
selected places - Singapore, the Antipodes, the US, the only difference is
that I now pay for the ticket. I did recently visit the Caribbean, but
found that to be far different to what it had been. It is all now very
commercial, rather than the welcoming, laid-back attitude of the old days.
Hewson - by
In May, 1970,
ONI Party Chief Ron Hewson took leave from his assignment in
Indonesia to travel home to Auckland, where he was presented - by
the Governor General of New Zealand, on behalf of Her Majesty,
Queen Elizabeth II - with the "Polar Medal". This is
awarded for "excellence in the fields of exploration and
scientific endeavour in the Antarctic". The prerequisite for
this was to have spent at least 12 months below the 70° South
parallel. Ron actually stayed in the Antarctic for 18 months
between 1961 and 1963.
Assigned to the
Antarctic job by the New Zealand Government in September, 1961, as
a surveyor with the New Zealand Topographical and Geological
Antarctic Expedition, Ron conducted surveying operations during
this first "southern" summer, in the mountainous area
between 80° and 85° South. It is an area which has elevations up
to 16,000 feet, and dog sleds were used to carry the survey party
to points as high as 11,500 feet.
As the winter months
closed in, Ron and a dozen other men retreated to Scott Base, to set up
camp. Scott Base is located at 78°5' South, where the winters are long
and cold. During this period, four months of which were total darkness,
Ron's job was to strip and rebuild all the sleds and field equipment and
to draw reconnaissance maps from aerial photos of the area to be surveyed
the following season. In addition, Ron was required to feed and care for
seventy huskies and their pups, who lived outside the men's quarters in
temperatures as low as minus 55° centigrade.
The following summer, with
Ron now appointed leader of the expedition, they proceeded to explore and
survey an area which was frequented with extremely rough ice, protrusions,
and deep crevasses. As leader, Ron now had the added burden of being
responsible for the safety of the expedition. However, it was he himself
who came most close to a fatal accident.
The incident occurred as
the field party was making a trip from a base camp in Victoria Land
Mountains, north of Scott Base. A snow bridge concealing a crevasse gave
way, and the sudden tilt of the sled catapulted Ron over the edge. By
luck, the sled wedged itself across the gap, and Ron, secured by a line,
landed on a ledge only 30 feet below, while the crevasse itself continued
down for hundreds of feet. A special ladder designed for crevasse rescues
was used to assist Ron back to the surface. (Yeah, but talk about cool!
Years later, Ron told me that, whilst awaiting rescue, he’d actually
asked for his camera to be lowered down to him, as the view from down
there was tremendous! And, having seen the slides he took, believe me, it
was all true.)
Another highlight of this
expedition was the finding of the site on which one of the legends of
heroic polar exploration was made. At Inexpressible Island, on the coast
of Victoria Land, Ron and his field party discovered the remains of the
snow cave where Lt V L A Campbell and five others of Scott’s Northern
Expedition were marooned for the winter of 1912, living almost entirely on
seal and penguin meat. After a hard and difficult winter, during which
they nearly starved and froze to death, Campbell and his party departed
Inexpressible Island and prepared to sled 200 miles to Ehri Base, at Ross
Island, where they arrived in a pitiful condition, but alive. After 50
years, Ron found the sealskin roof of the cave and other paraphernalia
left behind, well preserved by the Antarctic cold.
In March, 1963, Ron
returned to New Zealand. During his two seasons in the Antarctic, he had
traveled over 2,000 miles by dog sled and had mapped over 20,000 miles of
previously unexplored territory. In recognition of Ron's survey work in
Antarctica, the New Zealand Geological Society approved the naming of
"Hewson Glacier" and the 12,000 foot "Mount Hewson".
After two years in New
Zealand with the Department of Land and Surveys, Ron travelled to Nigeria
where he was employed to survey oil concession boundaries, and it was here
he stumbled upon, and joined up with, ONI.
Not long after Ron started
work for the company, clouds of war began to settle over the area. During
this restless period, Ron had occasion to be caught watching a meeting of
the local Shaman or "Witch Doctors" in a small village. Since he
should not have been watching their proceedings, they decided to put the
"hex" on him and advised him he would not leave Africa alive.
A short time later, Ron
was using a small out-board dinghy to move a base station when a freak
movement of the boat tossed him over-board and the propeller cut him
savagely about the buttocks. He was near death from loss of blood by the
time a helicopter was able to take him to the Shell Company hospital in
Ron received first-class
treatment, but by this time the Biafran War was intensifying rapidly. Two
months later, still recuperating and wearing heavy bandages, Ron decided,
along with many others, that it was time to assume the identity of a
refugee and evacuate Nigeria. With six hours notice, he was able to pack a
small case, and with only a small amount of cash, joined a convoy of buses
to the town of Onitsha, on the Niger River. From here he went by car to a
small airstrip, thence to Lagos. A scheduled flight took Ron on to London
where he arrived in shorts, bandaged, broke, with eight months of uncut
hair. After some delay talking his way through Customs, he stayed in
London to complete his recuperation.
Fit once again, Ron took
some less adventurous assignments with ONI in California, Alaska,
Nicaragua, Cabinda, Papua New Guinea and West Irian, Indonesia.
Probably one of Ron's most
choice assignments was as Party Chief of a 1971 operation in New Zealand.
For here he was able to get together with his longtime sweetheart - later
to become his wife - Lynne.
& Lynne in a NZ railway coach restaurant
Longton - All
roads lead to roam!
to working for ONI I had a stint with the US Air Force, including 3 years
assigned in Europe. Following this I worked for several years as an
electrical/mechanical designer including time with Boeing in Seattle,
Lockheed in Marietta, Georgia and Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach,
In the early spring of 1964
I was hired as an ONI draftsman by Al Leffler in the Long Beach office.
After a short time in Long Beach, I was transferred to Astoria, Oregon
where I helped open the winter-mothballed office in preparation for the
upcoming summer seismic season, operations commencing off the Oregon
coast. Other draftsman arrived shortly after, and I was again reassigned,
this time to the Anchorage office, working for Red Asher, and arriving
only a few weeks after the 1964 earthquake. Several seismic projects took
place during the ensuing season and two draftsman were kept busy the whole
summer. One interesting side assignment was the requirement for us to
issue 30-06 rifles and a box of ammunition to all personnel being assigned
to the field. A few newer hires were somewhat taken back by this company
requirement, but this preventive measure did save at least one life when a
base station operator was rapidly being approached by a grizzly just
outside his tent! He managed to get off one lucky shot and the bear fell
within a few feet of the tent.
At the end of the summer I
was sent to NOLA for the first time (Fern Street office) where I was given
a choice of an assignment in either Egypt or Australia. I had visited the
Med area during my time in the Air Force, so selected Australia, a place
so strange to me at the time I felt the need to look up some background in
an encyclopedia. Even after reading about it, and living there for
several years, it remains somewhat strange.
I arrived in San Francisco
where I had to obtain a visa. During the interview I was asked if I had a
criminal record. I believe I replied something like " I didn't know
that was still a requirement!". Gene Talmadge joined me, and we
traveled together from SF, via Hawaii and Brisbane, before arriving in
Sydney, where we were met by John Coffman and Bob Sosa. After a few days
getting acquainted with the GSI staff in their Sydney office (including
Andy Smith) we loaded up the Shoran equipment and headed north to
Bundaberg, Queensland, and set up our project office in a local motel.
Shortly after, I was relieved by another draftsman, and drove back down to
Sydney for another project off the coast of NSW. Somewhere during this
time Steve Sauder (and others) joined us. I recall that Steve had one of
the best base stations of all time, just at the edge of Manly Beach in
north Sydney! I believe Hans Karlsson was still on the P-202 project for
Esso rig positioning down on the Gippsland coast. Later he was replace by
Bob Sosa, who in turn was replaced by Bill Cooper, who stayed on another
10 years, or so.
While in Sydney, we had a
supply boat pull into Jarvis Bay, about a hundred miles south, and I drove
down to organize an agent to provide the necessary supplies. After a long
day, I was about to drive back to Sydney when the agent said, why don’t
you join me for tea before you drive back. Being new to Australia, I
thought that was a good idea, and a cup of tea would be just fine. I
followed him to his home in the suburbs and just as we entered and met his
wife, he said why don’t we have a beer while the wife is making
"tea". I simply thought "Aussies" were obviously very
strange, but I would go along and accepted a beer before tea. While we
swapped stories and drank the beer, the good wife came out of the kitchen
and said that tea would still take awhile and offered a second beer. It
was about this time that I noticed the wife had been setting a dining
table off in a side room. I was learning a new language. Strangely, tea
can sometimes be a reference to dinner! We had a fine meal and I started
back to Sydney about 7:00 PM. My car was low on petrol so I pulled into
the first filling station only to find it was closed? I drove a bit
further only to find the next service station closed as well and fuel was
too low to make it back to my hotel in Sydney. While contemplating my next
move, another car pulled in to use the air hose and the driver advised me
that all service stations closed at 6:00 PM. (Victoria still had 6:00 PM
pub closure at this time, while NSW had just changed to 10:00 PM closing!)
I could not make it on to Sydney nor back to Jarvis Bay on an empty tank,
so slept in the car until the service station opened the next morning.
Another very important happening was the fact that I first met Pam, my
future wife and globe trotting partner during this early stop over in
I was wrapping up the
drafting duties in Sydney, preparing to depart for another assignment in
the Northwest Territories, when John Coffman sent a telegram advising me
to hang tight in Sydney until he arrived a couple days hence. The reason
was, he wanted to reassign me to Manila, to supervise two separate shoran
projects being run by two party chiefs that were not hitting it off very
well. I had not previously met either Jack Jones or Dick Coleman, and
found it a full time job trying to keep both focused on their own
project, and not interfering with the other guys’ people, supplies, or
the ear of the common client, GSI, being managed by JT Harbert.
Upon the completion of these
two programs, I was sent back to Perth, Australia where another two
projects were starting off the WA coast, one for GSI, the other for
Western. By pure chance I again ran into Pam in Perth, who was on an Oz
style "Working Holiday" with another girl friend. Of course, our
friendship renewed and blossomed before she returned to Sydney. After
several months in Perth, NOLA decided they wanted an area office
established in Australia and I was selected to find a location and open an
office. I initially selected Kingsford, a suburb of Sydney not far from
the airport. (Not because Pam was there, but because, at the time, it was
where most of the oil exploration business was based.) Over time, I
relocated the office twice more, mostly to have better shop facilities.
The next several years were
very busy, with many projects throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New
Guinea and SE Asia. As a result, a second office was opened in Singapore,
and I believe Ted Patro was the first ONI Area Manager assigned there.
Hundreds of ONI employees passed through the Sydney office during these
busy days, a couple of hundred hired locally. In addition to Australians
and New Zealanders, we hired a number of passing Americans, Europeans and
others, most of whom were tourists on the cheap, travelling around the
world on a shoe string. ONI gave them an opportunity to have some spending
money in their pockets, while assigned to extremely remote base stations
where they could not spend a penny of it. We conducted a number of ORI
jobs around Australia too. Also, in October 1966 Pam and I were married in
Stories of events during
this time are as extensive as they are interesting. Not enough space here,
but I do recall one event involving chance. Phil Cosgrove had just
completed a project and, as was typical at the time, headed home to Sarina
Beach in North Queensland for a couple weeks. A few days later, when
preparing the client report, we found some vital information was missing.
It was necessary to try to phone Phil. At the time, I had to place a call
to the town telephone operator who in turn would connect me to Phil’s
phone. (no direct dial to Sarina in those days) I had phoned Phil (and
Gordon Owen) in this manner in the past, and the telephone operator was
always pleasant and liked to chat with the foreign voice on the other end
of the line. She was also able to let me know if either Phil or Gordon
were not home and in that case she would connect me with the pub she
thought they would most likely be in at that particular time of day.
In this last case, the
telephone operator advised me that Phil was on a sailing vessel with
friends, and would be offshore for the next several days. I questioned if
there was a radio aboard, or any other way to make contact. She advise
that there was no radio, and all she could think of was the possibility
their boat would pull into one or other of two small islands that had
phone service. I immediately requested she connect me with the first of
the two islands, and when this bloke answered he said no, we haven’t had
a boat pull in here for several days. He was about to hang up when he said
"Hey, wait a minute, there is a boat pulling into our dock at this
very moment. Hang on while I run down and check to see if anyone named
Phil is on board".
A few minutes later a
huffing and puffing Phil took the line, and his first question was,
"how did you find me?" I recall saying something like, ONI has
their ways! I did get the info required to complete our report to the
client. More on being able to track down Phil later.
The Oz stories could go on
and on, but in 1972 I was advised by NOLA to pack up and move to Geneva,
to give Fred Muller a hand in that office. Pam, and now two Oz born
children, packed for the long trip to Geneva. Ted Patro took over in the
Sydney office, which he shortly thereafter relocated to Perth, now the
centre of the offshore business.
In Geneva, Fred and I split
to workload mostly between clients. He managed the French speaking clients
and I the others. More stories from this assignment, which allowed me to
make my first expedition to West Africa. On one trip, I was called back to
the US, from Cotonou, Dahomey (now Benin). I booked the short flight from
Cotonou to Lagos, where I was to connect with the daily Pan Am flight to
New York. About the time of my departure a small plane landed, and shortly
after, a French announcement indicated the plane was ready for loading. I
mistakenly thought this was my flight to Lagos. Even though I showed my
ticket (no boarding passes in those days) to both the ground staff at the
gate and again at the steps leading up to the plane, they let me board.
Several minutes after take off I realized the plane was continuing to
climb, not circling for the short hop over to Lagos. I summoned a hostess
and with broken French/English managed to determine that we were headed
for Cabinda, not Lagos. While I was severely scolded in French, I was
scolding them back in English for the rest of the trip. I did manage to
win the big argument with Air Afrique ground staff in Cabinda, and they
eventually put me up in a hotel and flew me the following morning back to
Lagos, where I boarded the Pan Am flight 24 hours later. More good fortune
was that, about 30 days later, my lost luggage was returned to Geneva,
Vu, Rich. Exactly the same happened to me in Norway, where you would
expect better. Flying from Trondheim to Kristiansund ((KSU in airline
parlance)), I was surprised to be directed to a Boeing 737 instead of the
usual Fokker F27, so I asked the girl at the gate - who was busy talking
to her mate instead of checking boarding passes as she collected them. She
glanced at my pass, took it, and directed me to the 737. Still unsure, I
deliberately asked the stewardess when boarding if this was the flight to
Kristiansund. She said yes, and showed me to my seat. Shortly after
take-off came an announcement for a Mr Taylor to make himself known to the
crew. Turned out I was en route to Kristiansand ((KSN)), via Bergen. Same
as you, they refused to admit to the error, but they did hold the
Kristiansund flight from Bergen for ten minutes, to await our arrival,
which was as good an admission as you could get.)
When I was sent to Geneva
from Sydney, JC said that I would likely be returned to Australia in a
couple years. (This was probably more a gesture for my good wife, Pam,
than for me) Nevertheless, I purchased a new, right hand drive Mercedes,
tax free, with plans to eventually take it back to Australia. Of course a
couple years later I was not returned to Australia, but rather reassigned
to NOLA as Ray Landry’s assistant. I now had a Mercedes with the
steering wheel on the wrong side, which would never do in New Orleans. A
steering wheel on the correct side is difficult enough there. Out of
desperation I contacted Dave Taylor, who happened to be at his home in
York, and offered a good deal in a slightly used Mercedes. He agreed and I
only had to deliver it, which I did, crossing the Calais-Dover ferry and
driving up to York. I pocketed a personal cheque written by Dave on his
Caribbean bank account for the full amount. Upon arrival in NOLA I
deposited the cheque only to find that it bounced. I eventually tracked
Dave down only to hear a more depressing story. His bank had gone out of
business (absconded?) and he lost all his funds. However, my part of this
story has a good ending and Dave shortly thereafter paid me in full. Not
sure if Dave had to sell the car to pay me off, had the cash hidden
under a mattress, or what? (No, Rich. If you recall, I paid you in ONI
paychecks, over a period.)
Now I found myself in NOLA
where all the company politics meet face to face. It was also a place
where I was able to meet all the ONI folks who conducted their trade in
South and Central America, and rarely ventured anywhere else. A few others
like me had also been brought in from the cold: Fred Haar, Dave Clayton,
Al Poppe, Tom Matthews and, for a time, Harry Bridges, Phil Cosgrove,
Gordon Owen, along with others. Of course many I knew from the field
stopped by NOLA for R&R, and it was a primary job to keep them
entertained during off hours, which seemed at times to exceed the on
It was in NOLA that Phil
once again completed a project with missing information. The job was in
Eastern Canada and while most of the rest of the crew came back to NOLA at
the end of the job, Phil had requested a few days off before coming back.
I questioned if he said where he was going. One person from his crew said
he understood that Phil was going to attend a wedding for some relative
that lived in the States. Another said, yeh, that’s right, I believe he
said he was headed for Kentucky. I said where in Kentucky? No one had a
clue. I did not know my way around Kentucky but did recall that one city
was Louisville. On a long shot I called directory assistance and ask if
there were any families named Cosgrove in Louisville. She answered, yes
there were a couple listed. I requested the phone numbers and dialed the
first one. A house servant answered the phone and explained that all the
family members were at the church for the wedding. I questioned if they
had an out of town guest named Phil. She said yes suh, and Mr. Phil is at
the wedding with the rest of the family. I said, do you have a phone
number for the church? She looked it up and gave it to me. I called the
church and a receptionist said that a wedding was about to begin but if I
could be quick, she would try to find Mr Phil for me. My question was
brief so I said the conversation would be over in a flash. A few minutes
later Phil was on the line with his on-going question, "how did you
find me?" He was apparently sitting in a pew waiting for the wedding
to commence when an usher asked if he would take a call from a Mr Longton
from New Orleans. We always had our ways!
Many more stories
accumulated in NOLA, but I must move on.
Leaving ONI in 1976, I took
employment with an international engineering/construction firm based in
Southern California. In addition to construction activities, they were
heavily involved in facility management. For example they managed all the
Antarctic facilities for the National Science Foundation. I had the
experience of visiting all US sites in Antarctica, including the S Pole
station. Also visited the Russian S Pole station and, of course, the New
Zealand station at McMurdo, walking along the same pathways as Ron Hewson
had some years earlier. This new firm also kept me moving, and cumulated
in an assignment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on a facility management contract
for the Saudi Navy. This large project had 3,600 employees assigned in
this Saudi assignment I change companies to work for Litton Construction
based in Frankfurt, Germany. This involved a very large construction
project in Saudi Arabia. Our prime subcontractor performing the on-site
construction at seventeen separate remote sites was a German based firm.
On one trip to the Middle East I had the opportunity to visit with Ron and
Lynne Hewson in Bahrain, where Ron was on some sort of assignment for the
local Emir. Another major job was with Aramco when we were based in
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for six years between 1990 and 1996. During the
early part of this time we had the experience of having twenty-three of
Iraq’s scud missiles landing in the area. Of course, they were aimed at
the oil facilities, but with their unreliable guidance system, being near
the oil facilities turned out to be the safest place to be. Those that
were not shot down fell very wide of the target.
this time our two older children were attending university in the US,
after having attended 14 different schools before finishing high school.
After this project I changed companies and moved several more times around
the world. I have now retired, ending up in Gig Harbor, Washington, our
thirty-third house since getting married.
OW SAU KENG by
Jessie ...who was
the proverbial "Girl Friday" in ONI’s Singapore office
is a native Singaporean Chinese. Jessie was not unlike many
working women the world over, as she competently used woman's
in-born capabilities to be not only a successful wife and mother
to her husband, Richard, and sons, Benny and Kenny, she also
managed to become an integral part of ONI's SE Asia operations as
the indispensable right hand of Vice President John Coffman.
Jessie's position was ample justification of the pride she took in
truly being an asset in the large role ONI played in the
radio-positioning field in the Eastern hemisphere. From the time
she finished her schooling in Singapore, Jessie had been mainly
involved with the import-export business, usually working as a
clerk/typist. Those days were definitely coming to an end,
however, when she joined ONI in 1968, and began working under the
supervision of Ted Patro. In a relatively short time, Jessie had
become fully responsible for all the office work in our Singapore
location. Until, after a couple of years, her considerable
workload had been relieved by the addition of another office
worker, who took over telex, switchboard and typing duties.
Jessie's hobbies were reading, cooking (although not successfully,
she readily admitted), shopping and, for while, she joined the
tennis set. Jessie felt her association with ONI broadened her
horizons ...in the realm of personal knowledge as well as her
general outlook on life. Her vocabulary increased ("...I even
learned to swear aloud (occasionally) without being
embarrassed"), as did her poise, and words such as
"bars" and "bar girls" were no longer cause
for her to blush, as in the early days. Such are the advantages of
routine exposure to the ONI field-man, as almost any ONI girl can
testify. What this attractive young woman accomplished was
considerable, and she was, no doubt, admired by many; rightfully
so, for she held a company-wide reputation for being not only
helpful and reliable, but for usually knowing just what had to be
done, and doing it. What more could a person ask than to be so
highly regarded by one's fellow workers?
ONI files ... (or possibly San Quentin, for some!)
was mainly by third parties, so if you are not who it says you are, please let me
know! Although the majority I do recognize
Doran, worked in
Norway & Australia
by Ted Patro as ORI
It appears to work, this
ARE SOME IN MORE RECOGNIZABLE FORM
Owen & Phil Cosgrove
Warren Williams, from
War, West Virginia;
a bit of alliteration.
shot of Tony Hennessey
of Tony taken in
Glenelg, Adelaide, Oz, in 2003
Karlsson & friend, Holsk,
Sakhalin Island, USSR, July 2004
Uluru, Central Australia. Nice bike; hence the e-mail username:
Rose, 1950s ORI Raydist operator, Gulf of Mexico. From Bay St
Louis, Ms. Fred was killed when a hurricane passed through
Hoggart and wife, Christine, wedding day, Geneva.
Warmke with Geoff Metcalfe, at Peter's, NZ, 2009.
Wollen. Shoran &
Gulf Dec 1958.
Jeffries in NOLA
Jarvis in relaxed mood
?, Fred Brander, Graeme Wells
Loebbecke with wife
and son Derek
New Orleans. Geoff Rolfe-Smith, Lynne Hewson, Geoff's wife, Ron
Hewson, Dave Taylor's wife No.1.
was taking the photo.
DeLerno OTC Houston, 1982
& Ray Landry, Harahan 1979
Cosgrove and Al Devoe at
the same, company barbecue
Tzanos, trying to look busy
in the Kristiansund shop
Easterbrook and his bride, Sarintip Sombutcharone, Bangkok May
Strayhorn and his wife, Italy 1959
it up in Geneva, 1976.
Perkins, Gene Talmadge,
party continues. John Coffman, Neida, Gene
like it was a good one. Neida & Hans Karlsson, Steve, and JC
Sarentaus, a Finnish exchange student who worked temporarily for ONI in
before his death from cancer,
Paul Tzanos and his ladyfriend,
Brander in a familiar pose
Malloy & Geoff Metcalfe, 2010
Dyer - he had been in Smileys for a while.
Matthews at a Houston Convention,
wedding, Geneva 1979
Jean-Louis Derivaz, Sweden 1971
Naylor - from New Zealand
Lee, from NZ
Mathews, Haugesund 1992
Breeden, Norway 1992
Thompson relaxing in flight
Beech NZ 2011
Amohanga NZ 2011
Devoe at the editing desk
that all important paycheck
Jim (Huff) Huffman
Interesting Postcard from way
to a trio of legends (weren't
by Rich Longton
Sadly, I received the following email from Peter Warmke on September
The end of an era.
Just informed by Barbara Easterbrook that our mate Ian passed away last
night. Barbara got home at 1900 hours and he was on the floor. Possible
heart attack, but she said that’s the way he wanted to go. Completely
unexpected. He was in good nick, still playing golf and having a few
drinks now and then.
Cheers, Peter Warmke
I was saddened to hear of Ian Easterbrook’s death, September, 2016. I
initially met Ian in 1965 in Sydney, when he reported to our office for an
assignment as Party Chief on a new project in Papua New Guinea. Ian came
across as resourceful, confident and fully capable of taking on the
assignment in a very remote part of the world. Over the next several years
we worked as colleagues through both good times and some challenging
times. Importantly, through it all we became friends. In all situations, I
found that Ian was popular with ONI staff, our client reps, and the local
community. He had that infectious personality that made an impression with
all he came in contact with.
Ian grew up in New Zealand with a reputation as an aggressive sportsman
and a person willing to tackle any objective he set his mind to. After
attending a local electronics technical school, he decided to see a bit of
the world before returning to a possible job back in New Zealand. Little
did he know how much of the world he would eventually come to see.
While visiting London in the late 50’s or early 60’s, he met some
Americans in a bar who identified themselves as "doddlebuggers".
This was actually a Western Geophysical seismic crew on their way to an
offshore seismic project off the coast of Scotland. Upon learning that Ian
had training in electronics, he was offered a job and a couple days later
joined the team when they travelled to Scotland. Ian was quickly
indoctrinated into this new life style, and became addicted to the travel
opportunities and way of life in the international offshore oil
exploration industry, which covered all corners of the world.
A short time later, Ian left Western (in West Africa), and joined ONI,
where he rather quickly became a Party Chief. After his initial assignment
in Papua New Guinea in 1965, he was assigned to a number of other projects
throughout the greater Australian region. I continued to meet up with Ian
in such places as Darwin, Perth and Broom, Bass Straight, Victoria, and in
Hobart, Tasmania. On these assignments, Ian was always popular with the
employees working under him, and with our client reps overseeing the
respective field operations. He was an aggressive, hard worker, and when
on break was equally aggressive at enjoying life. Broome, Western
Australia was a one pub coastal town where seismic boats called in to
resupply and to give the crews a break from the 24/7 operation schedule.
This was typically party time, and Ian continued to be a leader. The
landlord of the Broome pub (Roebuck Inn) was well acquainted with, and
appreciated the business provided by the seismic crews during their time
off. He welcomed and tolerated their enthusiasm for having a good time.
I recall one night (2:00 am), at home in Sydney, when I received a
phone call from Broome, a replacement landlord standing in, as the regular
guy was on vacation. He advised me that the ONI crew had taken a beer keg
from the bar and tossed it into the swimming pool, where they continued to
drink from it. He wanted to know what I was going to do about it. I
advised him that I was nearly 3,000 miles away, and it would be better if
he contacted our Party Chief, Ian Easterbrook, who was a guest at the pub.
The landlord told me that it was Ian who actually tossed the keg into the
swimming pool. I stated that there was nothing that I could do to resolve
his dilemma, and I advised him that the pub would likely make more money
that evening than any normal two week period in that remote town. He
thought about this and eventually settled down and no doubt went back to
work, earning money for the pub.
In later years I met up with Ian in our Geneva office, Singapore
office, and again when I was assigned to headquarters in New Orleans. We
always had a memorable time, comparing stories about our adventures around
the world. While on assignment is West Africa, Ian gained a reputation as
a gifted golf player. On the first occasion he was in New Orleans, he was
checking into the office when Bob Suggs overheard his conversation. Mr
Suggs called out to him and said he’d heard he was a golfer (word
apparently having drifted across from West Africa). Ian said, yes, he
played a bit of golf. Bob told him to forget about signing in, just to
come back the following morning at 08:00 and they would go off and enjoy a
day’s golf. Ian was surprised next morning when Bob drove off with Ian
to the airport, where the Suggs’ private jet was waiting. They flew down
to a golf course in Mexico where they spent the day playing a few rounds.
Quite a welcome to NOLA!
In addition to various assignments in Australia, Africa, Alaska and
other parts of the US, Ian spent considerable time in Southeast Asia. He
even headed up an ONI team in South Vietnam while the war was still
underway. He also headed up the first ONI operation in China, in the 1970’s.
A group of western oil companies formed a partnership with a Chinese oil
company to explore off the southern coast. Of course, the Chinese at that
time attempted to be very much in control of everything taking place on
shore, such as Ian’s office operations, and the various Shoran base
stations. In one incident, a locally hired base station helper, located on
an island, received word that his mother had died. Upon hearing about
this, Ian immediately called for a helicopter to go out and pick the guy
up so he could attend his mother’s funeral. Shortly after, the Chinese
authorities descended on Ian’s office and advised him they were going to
cancel the helicopter. Ian replied, that if they canceled the helicopter,
he would shut down all the Shoran stations and bring the whole operation
to a halt . The Chinese were totally shocked at this blatant rebuff of
their authority, but finally relented, and the camp helper was returned
home for the funeral. The Chinese later complained to our VP, John
Coffman, who eventually, with the application of some humor, persuaded
them to forgive and forget.
After retiring from ONI, I understand Ian and Peter Warmke together
owned and operated a petrol station in new Zealand for a few years.
Following this, Ian and his wife Barbara invested in a B&B at Coopers
Beach, some distance north of Auckland.
The last time I saw Ian was in 2013 when Pam and I visited New Zealand.
In addition to visiting Ron Hewson, Bruce Burgess, Geoff Rolf-Smith and
their respective wives in the Auckland area (thanks to Lynne’s capable
organizational abilities), we drove north to Coopers Beach, to visit Ian
and Barbara at their B&B. I remarked to Ian that Coopers Beach must
have been the longest time he spent in one place since his high school
days. He replied that, yes, it was, by far. A couple years after our
visit, Ian and Barbara sold the B&B and moved south of Auckland to a
small town near the Bay of Plenty.
Jul 23, 2016. The last email I received from Ian stated:
Nothing much new here, we are in the middle of winter and I am not a fan
of cold weather, I am down to playing Golf once a week now, mainly due to
weather, all else is fine, Barbara is waiting to see a back specialist in
October, She really has had a lot of pain with her back, but still manages
to do all she wants.
They finally buried Bob Stone (an Esso geologist that many of us worked
with over the years) last week after a long delay, I think it was
something to do with the weather situation in Texas. His family talked him
into buying a mobile phone, which he had for a month or so, then gave
back. He could not handle it. Nothing has changed.
Hope you and Pam and your family are all in good health, great to hear
Best Regards, Ian
with Julie 2016
Dan Jefferies by
I first met Dan Jeffries as a teenager. He was one of my dad's
("Red" Asher) best friends, having met through ONI, and became
an integral part of our family. We fondly called him "Uncle
Dan." Any time he was in town, he would join us for dinner, or a
holiday meal, driving "The Brute," - his truck. For years I
heard about the Thanksgiving when I took a nap on the family room couch,
both dogs asleep on top of me - he had a picture to commemorate the
occasion! I was 19 at the time, so he was a part of my life for many
I worked for ONI several summers, and if Dan was in town, we always
went to dinner. One of my favourite memories was drinks at the Landmark.
The same applied when he was in California. He was always the gentleman,
even toward the end he wanted to pay for every meal. He would fight me
over the tab!
As most of you know, having worked with him, he was always cheerful,
had a positive outlook on life. Of course, I was never on a base station
with him so that may have not been the case then. But I don't believe he
was one of those who put on a good front - he was genuine, in both in
words and actions. He was always thoughtful, and willing to help others.
I had the opportunity to know him better in the last few years of his
life. Once my dad passed away, I continued checking on Dan, would make
periodic trips to visit him. He was always so appreciative, and we had
quite a few adventures! One of my favourites was when I learned about his
childhood vacations to Sanibel Island. He would drive down from Chicago
with his mom, aunt, and siblings. He specifically mentioned a trip in
1935. Needless to say, when we returned, the place had changed
drastically! He reminisced about the few buildings that occupied the
island plus the wonderful times they had playing on the beach. After
touring the island, we stopped at a bar overlooking the water, so he could
enjoy his favourite tipple; an Old Fashioned. The day I learned of his
passing, I had my first, in his memory.
Dan was a very attractive man in his youth - movie star good looking,
so I never understood why he never married. He certainly dated a lot!
During my visits, he shared a lot of anecdotes about both work and his
personal life. He definitely enjoyed a good party; had the photos to
support his good times.
I'm not sure what else to write. I just know I miss Dan, and our
conversations. I will always have fond memories of our times together, as
I know many of you will have, too. I can still hear him concluding our
conversations as he affectionately called me "dear heart." I
have never known another individual to use that term. It will always
remind me of Dan :-))
Bob started out as an Aerial Erector, I think
for cable and wireless, until he came across ONI in Nigeria, I believe,
and I worked with both
Geoff Metcalfe and Bob many times when with ONI, and always found Bob to be the most
reliable guy to have on a crew. Get him set up and keep him supplied and you
had no need to worry about his station. Once in town, on break, he was always fun to be with,
occasionally drifting off to meet up with someone or other - he was easy to
get along with so always had a wide circle of friends. I recall seeing him drinking in the hotel lobby one morning,
and remarked that it was a bit of an early start. It wasn't, he was just
winding down from a night out! He was one of these guys who knew everyone,
because he was so easy going. Like most of the Geneva crowd he eventually
bought himself a gold Rolex, and I was always worried he would be robbed of it
when out drinking - even though it would have to be a very brave bloke who
tackled Bob. Eventually he did misplace it. He didn't complain, just went out
and bought a replacement, which he still had last time I saw him.
Ever since retirement from offshore work in
1999 I have got together probably 3-4 times a year with Geoff - who
sponsors this site - and Bob, both of whom lived a one hour train journey
north of York. We would meet up for the day, have a couple of drinks, then
lunch at one of the country's best fish and chip restaurants, along the
harbour in North Sheilds, all the time
reliving our ONI days. After lunch - usually late - Bob would take off back
from whence he'd come - the pub, and his other mates. He has a
son, Ryan, who is a singer, hence the following newspaper article: It
is surely every singer's
dream to perform alongside
the legendary Barbara Streisand, so
when Ryan Molloy was asked to join her on stage just hours before
she was due to appear for the
London leg of her European tour,
his luck. Streisand,
71, had been let down by classical
trio II Volo, who were due to sing the finale
with her. The
diva's stage manager
Richard Jay-Alexander called his old
friend Molloy, who for
the last five years has
starred as Frankie Valli
in the West End hit Jersey
Boys, and begged him to fill in. 'It
was totally surreal,' Ryan, 36,said 'As
soon as I got the call I asked if I
could have the night off. 'Thankfully
Jon Lee from the pop
band S Club? said he
would cover me for the
evening. I arrived at the 02 Arena and we only
had one run-through with the band, then
it was showtime.' In
fact, Streisand was so
delighted with his performance
alongside her son Jason Gould
and her sister Roslyn
Kind that she requested
he sing with them
heart was pumping when I
walked on to the stage,' adds Ryan.
'I looked to my right
and there were 18,000
people screaming, and
then to my left, there
mean, I am just a cheeky little Newcastle boy.
It was a dream come true.'
Geoff Metcalfe was telling
me about the time he first met Bob. Geoff arrived in Geneva only to find the
Hotel Windsor - which ONI used at the time - had no vacant rooms, so Geoff
asked if there were any ONI people staying. On being told they had a Mr
Molloy, who had a twin room, Geoff asked the girl to check him in with Bob. Will that be alright, she asked, and on being assured if would, he was duly
checked in. No sign of Bob.
Geoff got into the spare bed, only to be woken at around 02:30, Mr Molloy
asking what Geoff was doing in his room. A bit of chat ensued and then all was
OK. Geoff went on to say Bob eventually got his own back when Bob was forced to
share a room with Geoff, sometime later, in Libreville, Gabon, when Bob
managed to set fire to the room. The age-old cigarette in the bed trick, when
drunk! Apparently it went right down and through the mattress.
Karlsson, 27 April 2017
Dave, Just got of the phone with Mrs Don Webb, who informed me that her
husband ex ONIer Don Web died this morning. She asked me to pass the sad
news along to you so that you may post it on your website.
Brander passed away on September 11th 2009, but there was a lot more
to Fred than many realized. See below.
in the Army in January 1946 at the age of seventeen. After basic
training, went to Germany on occupation duty with Co. B, 16th Inf.
Regt, 1st Infantry Division. Returned to CONUS (Continental
United States) in 1949 and had a break in service. In October
1949, re-enlisted and served with various units, until 1951, then
volunteered for the Airborne Ranger Companies. Remained in the
Ranger Training Command, with the 7th Ranger Co (Abn) until
deactivation of the Ranger Companies in August 1951.
again in 1952, serving four and a half years with the 6th Infantry
Regt in Berlin. Returned to CONUS with orders to the 82nd Abn
Division, but diverted to the 101st Abn. Initially assigned to Co
E, 508th Abn, then to HHC, 506th Abn Battle Group. Later
reassigned to Co E, 506th. Transferred to Co D, 327th Battle Group
mid 1961, and in 1962 transferred to Co E 327th BG. Went to Korea
for one year mid 1963. Upon return, in 1964, was assigned to HHC,
1/506 as Recon Platoon Sgt. In 1965, volunteered for the 1st
Brigade, and was assigned to C, 1/327 as 2nd Platoon Sgt. June
1965, deployed with the unit to Vietnam aboard the "Leroy S
Eltinge", a luxury liner chartered by DOD.
with C, 1/327 until March 1966, then to MACV and assigned as an
advisor to the RVN 37th Ranger BN. Returned to CONUS in September
1965 and rejoined the 101st Abn Division. Initially assigned to
HHC 2/501 as Recon Platoon Sgt, and upon promotion to E-8,
assigned to A 2/501 as First Sergeant and deployed with the unit
to Vietnam in December 1967. Remained with A 2/501 until March
1969 when, after extending tour, was assigned as an advisor to the
Vietnamese Airborne Division. Remained in this assignment until
retirement in February 1973. Remained in Vietnam as a civilian
until November 1974.
to Singapore, employed by Offshore Navigation Inc. The company
provided navigation for offshore oil survey, positioning of
offshore rigs, etc. Lived and worked out of Singapore until 1984.
Returned to CONUS and continued to work for ONI. Worked in:
Argentina, Australia, Burma, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia,
East Malaysia, Morocco, New Guinea, New Zealand, Pakistan, Taiwan,
Thailand, plus a few countries in the Persian Gulf.
From 1990 to 1995, worked as Property Manager for a Real Estate
firm, then into full retirement.
Silver Star, w/1 OLC
Bronze Star, w/V 7 OLC
Purple Heart, w/2 OLC
ARCOM, w/V 4 OLC
Air Medal, 2nd Award
National Defense Service Medal w/1 OLC
Occupation Medal, Germany
World War II Victory Medal
Good Conduct Medal, 7th Award
Vietnam Gallantry Cross, w/Silver Star
Vietnam Gallantry Cross, w/Bronze Star
Vietnamese Honor Medal 2nd Class
Vietnamese Staff Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal, w/16 Stars
Valorous Unit Award, w/1 OLC
Meritorious Unit Award
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, w/Palm
Vietnamese Civic Action Medal
Roll of Honour
Ex ONIers known to
have passed on
Frank Aug 1975
Mike Sawyer Mid
Tom Mathews Snr Nov
Robert L Suggs
George Fossier Jan 2006
George Roussell 2010
David Glover 2012
Dale Wallace Aug
Pat Ryan Nov
Thomas Mestayer Jan 2016
the following have been the Fred Muller who set up and ran the Geneva office in
the 60s/70s? Ron Coupe & myself think not, basically because of the
age given. Ron also says that to his knowledge, Fred did not have any sons.
sons, Alain and Claude, are sad to announce that the death of Frederick
MULLER known as "Fred"
in its 98th year, at the Hospital Three-Oak Geneva.
took place in privacy in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
We thank his
physician and the hospital staff the for their dedication.
serves as a letter to share.
He will be
remembered as an endearing character, generous, independent and our hearts
Plenty of space here for
anyone who wishes to send me the data,
either on themselves, or someone
they knew well.
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