FRANK J. COSMANO'S SHEMYA SCRAPBOOK
May 1966 - May 1967

Up



My Shemya Log
Frank J. Cosmano
February, 2008

email

Today I am a retired research technician from Eastman Kodak Company. Born and spent most of my life in Rochester NY. Husband for 41 years until my wife passed away in 2004. Proud Father of three. Proud Grandfather of three. Now living in Lake Havasu City, AZ. However, once I was a soldier and lived on the ROCK.

I was on the Rock in May of 1966 till May of 1967, part of the Armyís ASA contingency on the island and very proud to be a member of that unit. I was a spec. 5 and a trick chief at work and a squad leader off work. It was my first leadership roll ever and an enriching experience for me. I learned a lot and met truly wonderful people. Life on the Rock was ok. We learned quickly to depend on each other to ward off the loneliness of being in such a remote place. I was delighted to find this web site and quickly signed on to upload some of my pictures from my Shemya archives. I hope that they are a helpful enhancement to this site. I read through the articles and fondly recalled my adventures of those days on Shemya. I always thought it was cool to be one of the very few people whoever walked on that small part of planet earth.

Fond Memories of Shemya in no specific order

Arrival on Shemya:
I remember the flight from Anchorage to Shemya. It was a 4 prop plane and we made a stop at Adak to drop off some Navy dependents and probably re-fuel. I think the flight took like 7 hours and they feathered two engines before we got to the Rock. I can still remember the plane straining to get over the cliffs and onto the runway. I was happy to land.

JEEP:
I think this is a good place to define this term. A JEEP was a new arrivalís to Shemya. I have a hunch it was an acronym for something but I never heard what it might be. JEEPís were victims of some minor practical jokes but mostly each one represented a replacement for a trooper that was going home soon. So there was usually a group of greeterís when you came in all looking for a person refereed to as ďMy JEEPĒ. It was then there duty to take that (My JEEP) under wing and train them. It was a great mentorship concept and it worked. I will never forget my mentor (Bob B.). He was a little older than me and had that swagger and self confidence that comes with knowledge and experience. He had that quality that I as a young soldier moving into his first leadership roll wanted to emulate. I wondered then, when it was my turn to pass the torch if I would posses those attributes I so admired in him. I hope I did but that is not something for me to measure.

Living in the composite house:
A short bus ride and arriving at the composite house was filled with apprehension but we as (JEEPís) were given a warm welcome and it did not take long to fit in. Places like the NCO lounge, the day room would become parts of my everyday life. Things like the wall god, the Gunkle, mystery meet and Opís would be part of daily rhetoric.

The best waffles I have ever had:
I remember the mess hall as being an always busy but a good place. After I left the Rock I tried to find waffles as good as they made there. Iím still looking.

Beech combing:
One of our favorite pass times on off duty hours was beach combing. I think I am the only one who never found a glass ball but had some great adventures exploring the island. Hand feeding the Blue Fox and walking out near Seal Rock at low tide. Wandering through the below ground level buildings from WWII.

Parties at the smoke house:
Each unit on the island had there own smoke house. These were also old buildings I think mostly WWII vintage. They were gathering places for parties (mostly sitting around a fire place and drinking). The Army smoke house consisted of two Quonset Huts joined by wooden building as kind of a pass through. It also housed a really nice bar.

Really long poker games:
Usually after a Mid my team would head over to the gym and we would play volley ball for a couple of hours before going to sleep. However, on the last Mid just before our break we would play poker. Those games would sometimes last the entire 2 days of our break. I could never do that now but then it was fun.

Hours of good conversation searching for the meaning of everything:
Sometimes we would just sit around either in one of the rooms in the composite house or at the smoke house and just talk and share stories of home, friends and family. Other times we would enter into lively debates and share thoughts and feelings. It was all good and tended to work as a good team building tool. It definitely had a positive effect at making us an outstanding team at work.

The Mission:
It was great to watch the team mature and to work with a group of people who all gave 100% to being the best at their jobs. Our mission was about maintaining the peace. I think we did an exemplary job doing just that. So I have great pride in what we did.

Earthquakes:
Well we all heard about the earthquakes before we got to the Rock. Some of the first stories we heard when we got there as JEEPís were of earthquake experiences. This of course left us in great anticipation of our first encounter. I was happy to find out that most of the stories were greatly embellished by the story tellers. When spring came and we got a tremor or two each day we got to build our own stories (embellished of course) to tell the next group of JEEPís coming in. We had two types of tremors the oneís that rocked and the oneís that rolled. Here is the good part. Next to my bed was a night stand on the night stand was a relatively tall stereo speaker. On top of the stereo speaker was a very heavy brass lamp. Next to all of that I laid my little head. Why that lamp never fell on my little head during a rocker or a roller. Why I will never know.

Boozer:
Beloved Dog and MascotÖHe was always on the front porch waiting for us to come home. He was never very lively or playful but seemed to enjoy a warm pat on head. We kind of assumed he was a little hung over from the night before but really he was just getting old. I did read that he passed in 1968 the year after I left. Iím glad I was not there for that sad event.

Waiting for the Mona Lisa:
I learned about the Mona Lisa very soon after I arrived on Shemya. Of course it was relayed to me by (Bob B.) with all the proper embellishments. Mona was the barge that came in once a year carrying most of the food and dry good supplies and probably (Beer and other spirits) to maintain the islands residence for a year. I also learned that when the time was near for Mona to come the supplies we had on hand were dwindling or getting too old to be good. One of the things you had to do to keep a measure on this process was to always cut your eggs (the eggs have to be over easy or sunny side up never scrambled) and if they were runny or smelly you were not to eat them cause they were old. This also meant the Mona Lisa would soon be there to remedy the situation. The other measure was that the mess hall would start serving a lot more omelets. So it was all about the eggs. Anyway as a result of that I still cut my eggs before eating them. Most people think I am nuts and ask why I donít just order them scrambled (I donít like them scrambled) but you still gotsa be careful. I did get to see Mona before I left it was a beautiful barge.

The Shemya Rag:
I read the article about the news letter called the Shemya Informer. Individuals could submit articles for publication and they would be printed without editing for spelling or grammar. It basically allowed us to share thoughts, feelings and events with all the other units. However, when I was there it was called the Shemya Rag (prolly would not be considered politically correct now days) but Iím sure thatís what it was called cause I use to submit articles to publish about unit activities and accomplishments.

Aggatu or Attu:
One of the pictures I uploaded to post shows the mountains of a near island to Shemya. I always thought that was Attu and some other postings shows this and identify it as Attu. However, I happened upon a website that describes it as Aggatu which would be closer to Shemya than Attu was. So maybe someone can clarify that for me. Until then it is Attu.

Leaving Shemya:
I remember waiting outside the composite house for the bus to take me and others leaving the Rock to the air strip. I was full of anticipation to be back in civilization again. I was anxious to be in a place that had trees, did not shake, the wind only blew in one direction at a time, the fog did not prevent you from seeing your own hand and all women were not stewardesses. I would miss the friends I had made and the rewards of a mission well done, AFRN radio and the adventures of chicken man. My experiences on Shemya would forever be part of who I am and I am proud to have served.

[Click on each of the photo thumbnails to see an enlarged version.
Click on your browser's "Back" button to return to this page]

1.
   
2.
   
3.
   
4.
   
5.
   
6.
   
7.
   
8.
   
9.
   
10.
   
11.
   
12.
   
13.
   
14.
   
15.
   
16.
   
17.
   
18.
   
19.
   
20.
   
21.
   
22.
   
23.
   
24.
   
25.
   
26.

 

Last Updated 22 Nov 2008 13:48