Korean War Legacy Project

Duane Baxter

Bio

Duane Baxter was born in Cleveland, Ohio and was working for the railroad when he enlisted in the Marines in 1948. He chose the Marines because both his father and older brother were Marines. He became a specialist in radar and moving target indicators. During the Korean War, Baxter was assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and trained military personnel who were being deployed. After the war, Duane Baxter had a long and productive career for IBM, expanding on his technology experience in the military. His pride in his service is evident.

Video Clips

The best breakfast!

Duane Baxter describes, with great memory and awe, the amazing Sunday morning breakfasts he got while stationed at Quantico.

Tags: Food

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjwUT3ACtg4&start=343&end=395

The Role of a Forward Observer

In this clip, Baxter describes how stateside personnel, such as himself, contributed greatly to the War effort through training personnel who were participating in wartime airstrikes.

Tags: Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjwUT3ACtg4&start=675&end=748

A Military Family

Duane Baxter comes from a long line of military members. He explains that he joined the Marines because his father was a Marine in WWI and oldest brother had served in that branch during WWII. He states that while his own children weren’t in the military, he has several nieces and nephews that are, including some that are officers.

Tags: Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjwUT3ACtg4&start=1792&end=2053

Video Transcript

0:00
I’m Duane Baxter I was born in Cleveland Ohio I lived in Cleveland until I was
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four years old and then I moved to a suburb of Fairview village it’s now been
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renamed Fairview Park ok and when I was 12 years old we moved to the farm and at
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that time I was six miles from Michigan and six miles from indiana my
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grandfather had a stroke and my mother wanted to be near my father was a
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railway mail clerk and he was able to us switch runs from
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he formerly ran between Cleveland and Chicago and then after we moved he
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ran from Toledo to
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elkhart indiana so at the age of I played football in high school but I was a little small I was
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hundred and sixty five pounds I played tackle it gives you an idea what kind of team we were
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however we did when this when I’m junior year we won the conference championship
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and my senior year we tied for the conference championship at the age of eight
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I went to school to college at Ohio Wesleyan University and I was there
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for two years and in the summers I worked on the rails in fact in high
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school I started working on the railroad I was maintenance of way which we called yet
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need answers
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understand the term but it’s an old term anyway in 1948 I decided that things
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weren’t going well and I decided to join the Marine Corps and i enlisted and went to
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Paris Island for boot training one curious thing about boot training as I recall
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about the 12th I think of the 12th or 14th week we were out of the rifle range
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and I recall very vividly peeling the blisters off my hands my hands I was
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getting soft and other guys you’re struggling but I I was reasonably good
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shape than when I graduated from boot camp I went to norfolk virginia are
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portsmouth virginia which is right across the river from each other at
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Portsmouth I trained to be what we call us sea going marine at the completion of
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the training I took a short leave over new years and when I got back they
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assigned me to a ship in the South Boston naval shipyards in Boston the ship moved all
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of ten miles while I was on board I was on board until the end of January
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through the middle of April and what we did on board the ship was prepare for
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mothballing and in order to do that you had to scrape all the rust off the
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inner bottom you know there’s major ships have two hulls one is the waters
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on the other side and the other one it has this crawl space in between when
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we got this
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rust all scraped off then we put cosmoline?not comsoline but a green colored
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paint anyway it gave off tremendously strong fumes and I recall one time we
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were down there painting away and we were equivalent to getting drunk and we were
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throwing paint at each other and there was a corporal upstairs up at the top and he
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was supposed to be we were only supposed to stay down there for like 20 minutes
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and he left us down there for over an hour and the lieutenant came by and asked
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what was going on he could hear us yelling and screaming down there not screaming but making noise
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those guys down there and he says about an hour he says get them out of
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there now I don’t think he had that job long after that but anyway from there just
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before we left there the sergeant major called me in the office and asked what I was
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planning on doing when and he said when you get to quantico just keep your nose clean don’t
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get in any trouble and then you put in for Great Lakes school
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he says you’ll get it
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ok so I went down to quantico virginia and quantico has the best food you can
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ever ask for it’s an officers training area but there were
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they had about 200 men there whose job it was primarily to set up problems and
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stuff for that part of the officers training ok so that they could see how to handle
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people and stuff like on Sunday morning they always had a special breakfast you’d go
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in there he had this big iron stove and half the drove had on it steaks the other
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half had big slices of ham on it and then he must have had three
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stoves he was making eggs and you’d walk up and he said how many do you want and how do
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you want them and he’d reach in any he could take two eggs in his hand
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crack both of em drop em among the things they were outstanding breakfasts cause you
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could have steak ham and eggs for breakfast which was a great thing to do it at
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least for me anyway I was there for a couple months and I went up and saw the
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warrant officer and he says yeah how’d you like to go to ET school at Great
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Lakes and I said that sounds good so when I was getting ready to leave he pulled
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out this notebook and in the notebook he had a page for each of the ships that
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had been decommissioned cause there were several of them at the same time that I was and on that page he
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had listes the men that was on it and what school he had sent him to he was
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sending them to the top schools he could find and any of the military and
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all because some of them went to tank schools and some of them went to
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mechanic schools where they fixed engines and trucks and stuff like that and he says you gotta take a
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test and we’ll see if you can go to Great Lakes so I took the test and i
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know i flunked the test I mean I knew enough about electronics to know that I
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didn’t know the answers to the question but come July I was on my way to Great
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Lakes at great lakes I went to et school electronics technician school and I only had to
8:04
repeat two weeks one time that’s because I didn’t understand tube theory i
8:09
couldn’t understand how they worked finally after the second week I
8:13
had a pretty good idea how they were so when that was over this was in about the end
8:19
of January 1950 well I went to radar advanced radar school in San Diego so when the
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korean war broke out I was in San Diego in the radar school and I had just been
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assigned to take another four weeks for what they call moving target indicator
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so I graduated from that school in the last of August 1950 well in May they had
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come around and asked us where we wanted to go when we graduated from school
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well my home being in Ohio I figured this is a free trip home so anyway
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the guys who asked for the east coast went to the east coast the guys who asked for
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the west coast which is about 50 50 on the class they went to korea ok well
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when I got to
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Cherry Point cause I was assigned to the 2nd airwing they had an operation going on
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at camp lejeune they had a there a larger marine air base at
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Cherry Point hundreds of planes down in lejeune they had four Corsairs and a couple
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of Bell helicopters that was the extent of the aircraft there but they also had
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several radars and one of the radars was TPS 1B they wanted to
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install the moving target indicator on it well in order to operate the moving
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target indicator they had this little hercules engine was a 4 cylinder
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engine and I would get everything tuned up and when everything tuned up it used less
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power when it used less power the engine didn’t keep up with it and it would
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raise up the bowrings would go too high and then everything was shut down and
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sometimes and burned out the klystron to they had these what we called light
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house tubes in it ok anyway I was a corporal by this time but I was working with a
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staff sergeant who was sent to a school in Brooklyn
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and there he learned about the MPS 4 i think anyway when he came back he
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was there for about nine months and then he got discharged and i kind of replaced him but
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anyway we maintained the radar there and our job was to train the forward
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observers and even though I never made it to korea the forward observers that we
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helped train through the fact that we kept the radars and stuff going probably
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accounted for about ten to twenty times as much as the average guy on the ground did
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because he’s calling in airstrikes and at that time you had to be an officer
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and a pilot in order to give a pilot directions we had all of the air
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controllers in the problems we ran in Lejeune was we had a group of officers and
12:03
that’s what they did they were learning to be controllers and these are the guys
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when they got to korea that would be right on the front lines and they
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would be calling in airstrikes and I always told people that while I didn’t get to
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Korea but I probably helped kill more north koreans than by far the average did but that’s
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what I did and I was at Lejeune then until I got my discharge in
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1952 the Korean War was winding down at the time and I had been involuntarily
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extended and the extension ran out on the 2nd of July so my service record
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reads three years 11 months and 30 days
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I got out one day early so that pretty well covers my career in in the marine
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corps after I got out I went to Tri State College in Angola Indiana which
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was about 20 miles from my home in Ohio and I learned to be an electrical
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engineer while I was there and I always tell people you heard the joke you know
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there’s a joke goes around that last week I couldn’t spell engineer and now
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I are one well I can’t spell either anyway I graduated from there in 1955 and the
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recruiting guy from from IBM invited me to Kingston New York where they were
14:06
setting up a military well if you’re ever heard what they call the dew line the dew
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line was across the northern part of the country and it was designed to
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intercept the russians should they attempt to fly in the united states and i
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was reasonably good at arithmetic and I says like I got this plane flying in at 2000
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miles an hour and i pick him up six hundred miles away the earliest where’s
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he gonna be when we it takes 20 minutes to scramble ok he’s already in and
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dropped his bombs before they got there to me it was a stupid thing to do the
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whole dew line the idea that everything was a waste of money because there was
15:00
no way it would have protected us but it made people feel good so I guess that
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it was ok and anyhow after I went to work at IBM i worked in Kingston for
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about eight years and mostly working on the actual xd1 and xd2 were the forerunners of
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the dew line package and then I was designing DC1 and beyond that one of the
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interesting things about it was that they had this call one time it was a safety issue and
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they had this deal they were checking the insulation on wire and they were putting 1000 volts on it
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and this guy was feeding this wire through this thing well it was possible that he
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could get a shock from a thousand volts well you get hit with a thousand
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volts you know and I had to redesign that so there so he wasn’t in
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danger of getting hurt and I also find what they called a dialog box tester and
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that they had different you know
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well these diodes were set up so that they would pass a signal when their proper
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combination came up they would pass a signal and tell people that something
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was going on so after I finished there I went to research and at research I worked
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with a Paul and I can’t remember his last name but anyway we worked on the
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reason I got down there was they were building this machine it was
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character recognition machine they needed somebody that could do power supplies among
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other things but they needed they brought me down there as a circuit
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designer and i designed several circuits and there was another guy came down there
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the same time and he was supposed to do the power supplies for them he’s worked
17:50
about six months and they weren’t getting anything done the manager down
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there asked me if I could take a look at it well three days later they
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were on the air very simple thing to do they were using
18:08
commercial power supplies and in addition to that I built a display unit for them
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then after after that I went down to research well anyway eventually
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they sent me to Rochester in Minnesota and my job out here was to get this
18:30
character recognition machine working for the Social Security Administration
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and we had a lot of fun doing that anyway we did it when that was finished
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when I took over the advanced technology group the guy who’s my boss was sort of promoted
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out of the job and he wound up working for the division president eventually I
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never got any of that
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stuff but I did become the technology manager and as technology
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manager I helped design the ups code and the ups code is used all
19:19
over the world now to identify one of the stupidest things that they did is
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it’s got five numbers on either side
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well on the left as you face the code on your left hand side all those five
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characters which have a tremendous number of combinations available
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identify the manufacturer they could have done it with three codes and on the right
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hand side is basically a part number and that part number is used to identify
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what kind of groceries it is each digit has ten different possibilities I
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don’t think like I think its ten billion possible combinations and that’s
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all they’re not gonna run out of numbers anytime soon but anyway I did
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work on that I helped to specify the maximum and the minimum line with the
20:29
maximum bandwidth so one of the guys
20:35
there was a guy by the name of Joel Fox and in May 1972 I went down to see what
20:44
was going on well he had this idea for a UPC code and but he was trying to sell
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what I called I think he called it the bullseye code well in order to scan the bullseye
20:59
code you have to go through the center
21:02
well when you’re moving and you have to go through the center it’s almost
21:07
impossible to hit the center I got back talked to my boss and said that code isn’t going
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to work so that then we changed it to a code that you’re working with now you
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know the design of the code sober and then a group in Poughkeepsie that
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actually came up with the coating line thickness and the spacing determine the
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characters on and that was done in Poughkeepsie so that’s a little known
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fact that Joe fox touts as he’s been the designer of the UPC code he did not
21:53
he had nothing to do with that design he wasn’t even in the room art hamburg and I are the
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ones who designed
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the code I don’t know for what its work
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Dick Tracy who used to be the lab director in rochester knew who did it for
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years he said I should get out and tell people about it he passed away last
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year so he won’t be bothering me about it anymore I never knew exactly what avenue to use to explain it but other
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things I had a guy come out one time he had this problem we were trying
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to do a drop test when you drop a box how do you measure what’s going on well if
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you drop it from like twenty inches on the only time you care about is that
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last couple millimeters as the box touches the floor and does whatever
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it’s gonna do and only one corner well I told them how to do the set up a laser so
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they could do that as far as I know they’re still using it so I did that then I had a
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group of guys I had one time i had three managers former managers who had decided that
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they didn’t want to be managers anymore but they didn’t want to go to work for
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me so and we did a lot of
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great things you know and over time in addition to that I managed three machinists for
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some reason I had no I mean I know what a machinist had what he did and these
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guys if you needed something they could make it i mean out of metal that is
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one of the other things I did was I got one of these machines that is numerical
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controlled machine and brought it and got it installed and they were gonna work on a device that that I
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had been working on and they didn’t know how to use it so it lasted about a year or 2 it went
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but I got into designing storage disk storage in california they were building
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disc storage using an iron oxide surface iron oxide is what is called
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rust the way they made those they would cut out the desk polish it and then
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spray water on it and expose it to a high temperature and then it would rust
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well you could take you pinky on it and
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scratch across it and destroy the disc and it was irrecoverable well
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I had been talking to a Dave Davies from 3M and at 3m they had developed a
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disc which was made out of plastic but it had a track on it that track you can program
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it several different ways but the most often used is to have the thing zig zag back and forth as it important
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goes you could follow the action and that’s basically what your
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CD is today it’s basically that well dave davies and one of the guys they wanted to ship that technology
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to tuscon well none of the guys that were supposed to help transfer to tuscon thought
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well the Japanese are smarter than we are and what he wanted to do was to move it
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and he did he moved all our technology that we had developed over a period of two or
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three years and move it to Japan so a lot of people think that the Japanese developed
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the CD they didn’t we did it here in Rochester it was sent by an IBMer
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from Tucson to japan and given to em i asked him one time what guarantee you have that they won’t
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use it on their own products oh we got a side up how long one year they were
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producing their own stuff before before we were because ibm just took longer to
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to release a new product
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well in 1987 I decided to take an early retirement I was 59 years old and then I
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went as a consultant IBM had several lawsuits people were suing ibm I they love to sue
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IBM because what they did is
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after they collect two or three years they finally settled with this guy they gave
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him he was a nuisance ok he was tying up a team of lawyers which was costing us
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around 10 million dollars a year he had when it got down to he
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had himself and a secretary working for him and that’s the whole company and they paid
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him off with like twelve million dollars just to get him to go away the guy had
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no case at all in fact i proved that what case thought it was a lie and what
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happened is there’s a law a patent law that if you disclose something publicly you
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have one year to file for a patent if you don’t file for a patent within one year it becomes
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public domain
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well i found out in my investigations I found a letter from this guy
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to this guy from a lawyer telling him you’ve got to file this patent well the guy bust around and
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he didn’t file until the 19th or 20th of December well he had demonstrated it to
29:04
company and i found
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the paperwork on it he had demonstrated to this company in
29:10
November or December and I found paperwork showed him i had when you travel with
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technology you have to record it and stuff like that and he recorded flying to Denver
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Colorado with one of these drives in hand I think it was the first weekend in
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December but they didn’t file until a year and 10 days later my father was a
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marine my oldest brother was a marine it’s a family history type of thing presently
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today that I have nieces nephews and stuff like that there’s probably 10 or
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15 of them some are officers my father was in ww1 he was at st. michiel, argonne, he was in
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4 major battles and my oldest brother was in the 4th Marine Division from the time
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it was formed until it was disbanded and the 4th Marine Division was on Saipan Tinian raynor and iwo jima
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those were major battles in World War iwo jima was probably well the only more bloody one was Okinawa but your iwo jima was a key battle
31:03
when we were bombing japan if anything went wrong they wouldn’t make it back
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when they after we took iwo jima in fact before we had actually taken it they could land at
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iwo jima and get serviced and put back in the air iwo jima was a
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turning point in the war which allowed us long-range bombers to bomb Japan people
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know about the atomic bombs but in some senses the worst thing that happened in
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Japan was the firebombing they would they ahd this phosphorous they would ignite it they would burn tokyo almost
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burned to the ground because in Japan
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everything is built out of bamboo and where people lived was easily burned and that’s the fire bombs
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although in World War 2 I had a brother in florida he was a B-seventeen gunner I had
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another brother in Luzon he was in the airborne my oldest brother was the marines they were all
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scheduled to land in Japan the first week of 1948 was it ‘48 no it was was it 1946 I don’t know
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but they were all scheduled to land before
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they drop the bomb well 2 of them on the Japanese
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the Japanese accepted our terms unconditional surrender my one
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brother was actually in Tokyo on the 3rd of September the day after they signed
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a peace treaty my oldest brother had already he was on board ship heading for
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Japan and they rerouted the ship to Los Angeles and my other brother was
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scheduled to fly to japan from florida and he didn’t go so nobody in our family ever criticized dropping the a bomb
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was
34:16
I have just one son and one daughter are you talking all I had three older
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brothers and three younger sisters you know all about all of them still is exept for my family I have one son and
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a daughter and neither one of them were in the military my son has a problem and he would never pass the test when I was working at ibm I had this one guy working for me and he still lives in Rochester so I won’t mention his name
34:54
he was drafted and he went down and he had some kind of condition where
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he had
35:14
he would generate little particles on his eyelids and it would interfere with his ability to see but the guy was brilliant and he went in and he was gone less than two weeks until they discharged him because they didn’t want someone with his condition in the service but he works well he’s probably retired now
he and I used to take lunch together once in a while they couldn’t have children so they adopted a couple of oriental girls beautiful little kids what did i learn from it
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i learned to take orders i’ve not been very good at taking orders
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my boss at IBM one time said we were walking down a hall with my boss and his boss and his
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boss said if there’s a group marching by and one is out of step with
36:40
the rest of them he’s right they’re wrong