Monday, August 31, 2009


Dear Friends,

Now, I want you to do something for me...I want you to be completely honest with me. I know what you are thinking, “Oh, my gosh, what in the world is Bob going to ask?” “Is he going to ask, ‘Really, what was that Swedish tourist girl like forty years ago?’” No! It isn’t anything as drastic as that...but, it is no less important! Do you remember when we were all stationed there at Iraklion Air Station forty years ago...thirty-seven years ago...thirty-five years ago...and we used to complain about Iraklion Air Station and Crete? Tell me if I am mistaken, but didn’t we used to say things like, “I’ll be glad to leave the ‘Rock’(Crete) and go back to the ‘World’ (USA)?” Or, perhaps, it was something like, “I can’t wait to get off of this God-forsaken island and go back to the land of fast food and even faster women."

Now, I am not being critical...I used to say the EXACT same things, or perhaps even worse. After all, I was there for a total of two years, eight months! But, have you noticed how our perspective has changed over the years since we have been gone from Crete? Sometimes I think that we used to say the things that we did about I.A.S. and Crete, because it was in vogue. We wanted to be like our friends and say the things they said, so that we would be considered, “cool”. But, in the years that I have been gone, my attitude has changed, and I think that your attitude has probably changed as well. So, how do we reconcile the differences...the way that we felt when we were stationed on Crete, and the way that we feel now? I think that Nikos Kazantzakis, in his novel, ZORBA THE GREEK, summed it up very well, when he said, “While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize - sometimes with astonishment - how happy we had been.”

Ha. Ha. I have to smile and laugh! Does that not sound like us today? When we were on stationed on Crete, we were truly not aware of just how happy we really had been, that is, until we had left Crete! And, now, when we look back on those wonderful days spent on Crete, we now realize, that for many of us, those were some of the happiest days of our existence!!!

Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead
ADDENDUM: Dear Friends, I think that perhaps I need to add a little clarification to the above post. I was not intending to imply that we were unhappy while we were on Crete, but I was implying that many of us failed to recognize how happy we had been while we were on Crete and perhaps did not realize the full positive impact that Crete had on our lives until after we had left. If I had been unhappy while I was on Crete, I certainly would not have extended for another year at the end of my initial 18 month tour, and, I would not have extended for an additional two months at the conclusion of that one year extension. AND...if I had been unhappy on Crete after my arrival 40 years ago, I would never have returned last year for a three month vacation, nor would I have returned again this year for another three month vacation. I still maintain my original conviction that we ofttimes complained, not because it represented our true feelings, but because we heard others complain, and not wanting to appear different, we echoed their complaints. I hope this will help to clarify my position.
Bob (the not-so-Silent Warrior)

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Dear Ron (and everyone else, too),

You asked me to take a photo of your "old" room in Dorm #307, so...on August 18, 2009, while I was on a mission to photograph the old Armed Force Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) building (#155) on Iraklion Air Station, I made my way over to Dorm #307. There were workers nearby working on adjacent buildings, and I knew they would run me off if they found me there...breaching the fenced-in area of the old dorms. But with the stealth of an SR-71, I slipped passed their watchful eyes...and found myself on the backside of Dorm #307. I entered the building from the middle doors about midway at the back of the building. Once inside, I made my way past debris on the floor, and various obstacles hanging from the ceiling like insulation, wires, metal framework and assorted wires. I turned left and started up the stairway...I gently placed my foot on each step, not knowing if it would bear my weight or if would collapse, burying me beneath piles of concrete and steel. Upon reaching the second floor, I peered down the west end of the hallway and then the east end of the hallway, looking to see if there were any other unauthorized intruders in the building. I turned left again and started up the stairway to the third floor, again carefully placing my foot on each step to see if it would support my weight. At the top of the stairs, I peered down the east end of the hallway; it was littered with debris but not as much as what was on the first and second floors. I walked down the hallway...slowly, deliberately...glancing into each room as I passed by. I didn't want to be surprised by some vagrant or squatter. At the end of the east hallway, I looked into the room that faced the highway. It was in poor condition. The lockers had been broken into, and the windows had been broken, but it was actually in better condition than most rooms on the first and second floors. I pulled my Nikon D200 from its case and began to shoot...

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: Ron Samson's room in Dorm #307. This view was looking south out his window.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: Ron Samson's room in Dorm #307. This was the west side of his room looking at the wall lockers.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: Ron Samson's room in Dorm #307, looking slightly southwest out his window.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: Ron Samson's room in Dorm #307, looking in a slightly northwest direction.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: Ron Samson's room in Dorm #307, facing in a northeasterly direction.

O.K., Ron, the good news is that I got the photos of your old dorm room as you requested. The bad news is that you have been called back to active duty and are to report immediately to Iraklion Air Station so that you can...CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!!!

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead

Monday, August 24, 2009


Dear Friends,

One of the most enjoyous (is that a word?) things that I have experienced while here on Crete, is meeting new people, and them sharing many of their life’s experiences with me. One of the nicest couples that I have met here on Crete is a young man, Gunter, and his lovely girlfriend, Ute, both of whom are from Germany. Each evening for the last few nights, Gunter and I have met at the little taverna down by the beach – it belongs to Popi Mavraki...and, even though there are no signs identifying it as such, I just call it, “Popi’s Taverna”.

Gunter and I discuss many topics – among them: Greek language, Greek culture, Greek music, and Greek history. It seems that Gunter and I have a mutual respect to stay away from religion and politics. This evening when Gunter and I were talking, the gentle north wind was reminding us that autumn was not far off, and Gunter asked me a question. “Robert, do you know why ‘O.K.’ is called, ‘O.K.’, in English?” I looked at Gunter. I really had no idea. I think that I had read somewhere how “O.K.” had entered into the English language, but, here, sitting before my friend, Gunter, I was completely unable to remember how. I was a little embarrassed. “No, Gunter, I don’t know what ‘O.K.’ means or how it entered the English language”, I said. Gunter had a pleasant smile and he shared it with me as he spoke, “Well, it represents an anagram from the words, ‘ola kala’ in Greek. Ola means ‘everything’ or ‘all’...and kala means ‘good’. So, ‘ola kala” means ‘everything is good’, or, ‘all is good’...or, all is ‘O.K’. - 'ola kala'!"

I couldn’t argue with Gunter’s logic. It sounded sounded logical...and it sounded rational. Actually, it sounded...”O.K.”!!!

Life is good! Or, life is ...O.K.!!!

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

ABOVE PHOTO: My new friends from Germany. Ute is on the left. Gunter is on the right. I (Bob) am in the middle.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Dear Friends,

When I returned to Iraklion Air Station on August 18, 2009, I noticed there was some renovation taking place on some of the buildings on I.A.S. There were also signs posted (in Greek) which I believe identified each on-going project and the amount of money (Euros) being spent on each project. I photographed the signs and am posting them here for you to see. However, I hope there might be someone who is articulate in Greek, and can interpret the Greek signs for those of us (like me!) who can't read Greek, and will then post the interpretations in the "comments" section at the bottom of this post. If the lettering on the signs is too small to read, just move your cursor and "click" over the image that you want enlarged.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob Armistead

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: This sign was posted at the corner of Main Street in front of what was the base library.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: This sign was posted in front of what was Building #203, the Service Club (Recreation Center), and is now the Mayor's office for the village of Gouves.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: This sign was posted in front of what was Dorm #302. There was extensive work being done on Dorm #308, directly behind Dorm #302.

UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: This is Dorm #308 as it currently looks. The entire building has been recently painted with the exterior of each room having been painted in a soft pastel color. All of the exterior broken windows have been replaced with double pane windows. It has new recessed interior florescent lighting, and there is tile being laid around the perimeter edge of the dorm. I wasn't able to gain entrance because of the presence of workmen.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Dear Friends,

Last year there was some discussion about guard towers on Iraklion Air Station. While I was stationed there from December of 1968 through August of 1971, I personally don't recall there being any guard towers on I.A.S. That doesn't mean there weren't any - that just means that I didn't notice them at the time, or don't recall them now. However, in one of my photographs taken last year on I.A.S. and published here on my blog, there was what appeared to be a guard tower in one of the photographs. I returned to Iraklion Air Station on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, with part of my quest to discover if there were any guard towers, and, if so, how many. I walked almost the entire perimeter of the base (with the exception of that portion which is under control of the Greek military). I found two guard towers: One is located at the southwestern perimeter of the base, slightly north and west of the guard shack at the main entrance. The other was located at the southeastern edge of the antenna field. I took several photos of the towers, and I have also included the coordinates if you would like to access them on Google Earth.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: This is the guard tower that is located at the southeastern edge of the antenna field. The coordinates are as follows: 35 19' 50.92"N, 25 17' 12.89"E. If you enter these coordinates on Google Earth, it will take you to the guard tower on the southeastern edge of the antenna field on I.A.S.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: This is the sign at the base of the guard tower located at the southeastern edge of the antenna field. The sign reads, "ENTRY CONTROL POINT".

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: This is the guard tower located near the southwestern perimeter of the base - just slightly north and west of the main entrance to the base. The coordinates are as follows: 35 19' 39.01"N, 25 16' 50.86"E. If you enter these coordinates on Google Earth it will take you to the guard tower on the southwestern perimeter of I.A.S.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: This is the guard tower located near the southwestern perimeter of I.A.S., just north and west of the main entrance to Iraklion Air Station. Immediately to the right of the guard tower are either water holding tanks, or perhaps sewage holding tanks. Does anyone know?
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob Armistead

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Dear Friends,
I have to say that I am really impressed! I had no idea that I was keeping company in the presence of such learned ones. The vast majority of you guessed that the "Mystery Fruit" was a fig...and you were absolutely correct!!! I had originally thought that it was some type of plum, as did my good friend Melanie. Steve G. wasn't sure what it was, but assured me that it was completely benign unless eaten - then only Greeks wearing haz-mat suits would be able to enter my apartment to fumigate it and detoxify it!
Several of you had mentioned the laxative properties of the fruit, but from personal experience I must say that it was nothing like I was expecting. If it does possess laxative properties, it must be of the mildest type.
Anyway, early this afternoon I fixed myself a nice big Greek salad, topped with feta cheese and splashed with a generous helping of olive oil and vinegar. Then for dessert I had some guessed it...figs!!!
Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob (fig-face) Armistead

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Dear Friends,

O.K., everybody, let's play a game called, "Guess the Name of the Fruit". Every day since my arrival at my little apartment in Amoudara, my landlord’s husband has ventured just across the narrow road where the apartment building is located, and picked some type of fruit off of a tree which appears to be growing wild in a vacant lot. Yesterday, Wednesday, August 12th., after having picked a small bucket-full of the aforementioned fruit, my landlord’s husband came over to me as I was sitting on my patio sipping my morning coffee and extended a plate full of the fruit that he had picked earlier. Even though I had no idea what it was, or how it was to be eaten, I graciously accepted it amid a flurry of “Efharisto poli’s” (thank you very much). I carried the plate of the fruit inside and decided to try one. Was I supposed to peel it...wash it...boil it...cook it...or just eat it raw? Well, I decided to take a chance and just put one in my mouth and bite down. After placing it in my mouth, I bit down slowly...carefully...deliberately. It was very soft - almost mushy, and sweet, but not so sweet as to be overpowering. There must have been hundreds of tiny seeds, too many to be spit out, so I just munched them. They seemed to give a slightly crunchy effect to the softness of the fruit. The plate must have contained more than twenty of the fruit, and I ate about six or seven of them. Later that afternoon, when I saw my landlord, Stella, I asked her what the fruit was. She replied, “syka” (pronounced, “see'-ka”). Then, pointing at her abdomen, she said, “Good for the stomach...tomorrow”. O.K. Did I just eat something that has the laxative properties of prunes? I pondered if I should even venture out later that evening. I stayed close to my apartment, but there was no unusual increase in my “activity”. This morning, everything was normal (I can’t believe that I am even writing about this!!!). And, after taking the photographs posted below, I came back inside and even ate six or seven more of the mystery fruit. So, what is “syka”? Well, later this afternoon, I discovered the identity of “syka”. However, I am not going to reveal what the fruit is...not just yet. I want to give you a chance to identify it before I tell you what the fruit is. If you think you know what the fruit is, just click on "Comments" at the bottom of this entry, and enter what you think the fruit is. I will reveal its identity in just a few days.

To celebrate the fact that I had successfully discovered the identity of “syka”, I ate a few more of them and sipped on a small glass of raki! Life is good!
Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob Armistead

TOP LEFT PHOTO: The fruit tree located just across the road from my apartment.
TOP RIGHT PHOTO: A nearly ripe fruit (purple) among the not-so-ripe (green) fruit.

TOP LEFT PHOTO: A ripe fruit (left) next to an un-ripe fruit (right).
TOP RIGHT PHOTO: Three ripe fruit on a plate - ready for eating.

TOP LEFT PHOTO: A fruit that has been sliced in half.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Dear Friends,
For those of you who were not lucky enough to have been stationed at Iraklion Air Station on Crete, or may not have visited Crete, I need to provide you with a little background information about raki before proceeding any further. Raki is made from grapes, but it is not wine. Wine is made from fermented grapes; whereas, raki is distilled from grapes, much in the same way that whiskey is distilled. The closest thing that I could compare raki with is Tennessee moonshine. However, Tennessee moonshine pales in comparison when placed side by side with raki. As one who has sampled both (but not at the same time), I can attest that raki is much more potent than Tennessee moonshine.
I’m sure that many of you recall the effects that raki had on us when we were young and foolish, and were stationed at Iraklion Air Station on Crete. Just about any of us who tried raki also abused it (or did it abuse us?). Most of us, at one time or another, partook of large enough quantities of raki, that, if we had died then, our bodies would be have been pickled to the extent they would have outlasted ANY Egyptian mummy. And, I distinctly remember one young airman, whose cigarette lighter had run out of lighter fluid in the mountain village of Anogia, filling his lighter with raki and then successfully lighting it! It burned with an almost clear flame...much like pure grain alcohol. And, I also remember different airmen, huddled at the base of the porcelain god, begging that Death might come quickly, but, if spared Death, swearing that raki would never again cross their lips! And, I personally recall awakening the following morning after an evening bout with a bottle of raki, with such a severe headache that I felt as if I were having a cerebral hemorrhage! But, were you aware that raki possesses other uses and properties as well? What follows is an incomplete list (the list grows with each passing day):

(1) Raki has the ability to make grown men weep and beg for their mommies.

(2) Any surplus raki that has not been consumed just prior to the new grape harvesting season, is purchased by the Greek Air Force and used in their fighter jets as aviation fuel.

(3) Raki, when taken with Viagra and Rogain, will cause one’s hair to stand straight up and then wave back and forth.

(4) If applied directly to the skin, raki will repel all mosquitoes, most other insects, and some people.

(5) If infants are bathed in raki, it will cause them to behave until they are five years old.

(6) Raki can lower one’s I.Q. from imbecile to genius.

(7) Raki can make one think that every word out of his mouth and every thought out of his head is brilliant.

(8) Lawyers love to drink raki – it makes them see everything in triplicate.

(9) When consumed while on the beach, raki will make one think that his skin is impervious to the rays of the sun.

(10) The following morning, a very large glass of raki is a great antidote against the effects of sunburn.

(11) Raki, when expelled from the body and ignited, can be used as a flamethrower.

(12) The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the furtherest “hurler” as one who used raki as the propellant.

(13) The longest non-powered flight was attributed to an airman on Crete who had been drinking raki for a day and a half. Someone accidently lit a match near him while he was expelling gas, and he wasn’t seen again until he landed in a wheat field in the middle of Kansas.

(14) Raki can make one think he can fly.

(15) Raki can make one think that he can think.

(16) Raki has been known to cause airmen to leave the Airmen’s Club on I.A.S. crawling on their hands and knees like a pack of dogs. These same airmen were known to have been given a police escort, complete with flashing lights, as they crawled on their hands and knees behind the patrol car back to their dormitory.

(17) Raki was used in Vietnam as a backup to Agent Orange.

(18) When poured into your riding mower, it can make you exceed the speed limits on ANY interstate.

(19) Raki can make one think he is a race car driver.

(20) Raki can make one think he can write funny jokes about raki.

(21) And lastly, remember: isn’t just for drinking anymore!

O.K., O.K., you guessed it! I have been sitting here drinking raki and now I'm trying to find the keys on my laptop. Actually, I’m trying to find my laptop.

Take core, stay weel, and keep in torch...

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,
Bob Armistead

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Dear Friends,

Several of you have asked about my little apartment in Amoudara on Crete. It is a small one-bedroom, studio apartment, furnished with the necessities, but not extravagant or luxurious by any means. It does, however, have everything that I need. It rents for 350 Euros per month, which, based on today's exchange rate, is equivalent to $504.34. I also pay a 20 Euro ($28.82) fee per month for water, and I will also pay for the electricity I use each month. I won't have the figure for the electricity bill until the end of August. It is neat, clean and safe. Below is a photo of the La Stella Apartment building, and photos of my apartment.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead

Upper Left Photo: The La Stella Apartments on Naxou Street. Upper Right Photo: The entrance way & patio of my apartment.

Upper Left Photo: My spacious patio. Upper Right Photo: My wardrobe.

Upper Left Photo: My living/dining area. Upper Right Photo: My little kitchen.

Upper Left Photo: My bedroom. Upper Right Photo: My bathroom.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Dear Friends,
I awoke early this morning at 4:41 A.M. to the gentle sound of waves washing against the sandy shore just half a block from my little apartment. At first I thought that I would drift back to sleep, but it almost seemed as if the Aegean Sea was inviting me to come down and watch the rising sun cast its warm blanket of golden rays across its waters like a fisherman casting out his net. By 5 A.M. I relented, got up, showered, ironed some fresh clothes and walked down to the beach. The light was still gray, neither man nor beast was up. Even the sea birds, which usually hover by flying directly into the wind and dart down occasionally to snap up an unfortunate fish that had broken the surface of the water, had decided to begin their day a little later. I stood there for a moment facing north - toward a seemingly endless stretch of sea. Then I slowly turned right toward the east – toward that faint glow on the horizon that signaled the birth of a new day. I continued turning until I faced south and could see the mountainous interior of Crete rising, reaching skyward toward a cloudless heaven. Next, my rotation brought me looking westward in the direction of Chania, but I was unable to see beyond the rocky outcropping of the small seaside village of Agia Pelagia in the distance. Finally, I had come full circle...full cycle, and was once again facing north across the Aegean Sea. As I stood there, I quietly muttered a line from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel, ZORBA THE GREEK. “‘Crete’, I murmured, ‘Crete’. And my heart beat fast’”. I am home!!!
Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob (Midget) Armistead

"Bon Voyage" from the YMCA

Dear Friends,
Something occurred prior to my departure for Crete that I wanted to share with you. Some of you may know that I work out quite frequently at the YMCA - three days a week for four hours each day to be exact. I do what I refer to as a "total body workout". Because of my impending departure for Crete, I had changed my last workout day from Friday to Thursday, July 30th. I checked in at the YMCA shortly after 9 AM and began my rigorous workout. At about 11 AM, I noticed my sister, Patsy, and her husband, George, up front in the lobby area of the YMCA, where there is a coffee machine, tea, and tables and chairs for sitting and relaxing. I was already a little tired, so I decided to sit down and relax for a few minutes with George and Patsy. While we were talking, a very special friend of mine, Melanie, came up behind me and when I turned around, she was holding a cake with the words, "Bobby, have a safe trip", written in Greek on the cake. Below that it also read, "Crete or bust". I was never so surprised in all my life. George called everyone around and said that it was my birthday (which it wasn't!), and began to lead everyone in an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday. Then, he gave me a little bag with a nice birthday card in it, plus a medicine bottle with one tablet of Viagra in it! George stated aloud that at our age, we needed all the help we could get. Everyone roared with laughter! Then, my dear friend, Melanie, gave me a very nice overnight bag with the YMCA logo on the side. By that time, everyone was wishing me a "Happy Birthday", but I kept trying to tell everyone that it wasn't my birthday - this was just a going away party! At that point they all began wishing me a pleasant and safe journey. This surprise "going away" party was planned and orchestrated by my very good friend, Melanie - one of the nicest, most pleasant, and most awe-inspiring young women that I have ever had the very distinct pleasure of meeting and getting to know. But, I should have suspected that if anyone would have a "Bon Voyage" party for me - it would be Melanie! Thanks, Melanie! You're the Greatest!!! As I reflect on my "Bon Voyage" party, I just can't help but think, "Isn't it nice to have friends - but especially, when they are as nice as Melanie!"
Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob "Midget" Armistead

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Dear Friends,

Well, here I am! I am safely on Crete, I have all of my luggage, I am at my apartment, and I am online as well! As my son woud say, "Life is good!" But, I must take it a step further by saying, "Life is good...very, very good!" I'll post more very soon.

Take care, stay well and let me hear from you.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob (Midget) Armistead