Airway Pioneer Member
Fred Grode

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I was born in Bristol, SD on Feb 29,1920. I joined the U.S. Navy in May 1938, reporting to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center after working in the Civilian Conservation Corp for about a year after graduation from Bristol, SD, High School in 1937.

I spent seven and a half years in the Navy, starting as a Seaman Radio Striker aboard the USS Maryland in Long Beach Harbor, CA, in September 1938. I subsequently transferred to the USS Indianapolis, a heavy cruiser and flagship for Vice Admiral Andrews, at Pearl Harbor in April 1940. The flag moved to the carrier USS Lexington after the attack at Pearl Harbor.

I crossed the equator on February 6, 1942, and Japanese planes attacked the Lexington on February 20. Lt. O'Hare shot down five Jap Betty bombers, received the Medal of Honor, and eventually had Chicago's airport named after him. The Lexington was sunk in the Coral Sea next time out, but I wasn't on board.

I served on the USS Appalachian in the Pacific, and we were organizing in Manila Bay for the invasion of Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped and the war ended. We dropped off occupation troops and returned to the U.S. where I left the Navy in October 1945.

I moved to Los Angeles, completed a one-year course in radio and TV electronics, and worked for Western Geophysical and Air Associates. CAA hired me in December 1947 to be a Maintenance Tech SP-8 for an OFAC station that was planned near LA but never built. I consequently worked at the Los Angeles Airport tending communication equipment and the old cylinder Dictaphone recorders at the ARTCC.

I spent April through July 1948 at an emergency landing strip near Green River, Utah, relieving another tech in training at Okla. City. The strip was very, very isolated, serving the LA-Chicago airway. We generated our own power and the only contact with the outside world was the Morse CW circuit with St. George and Bryce Canyon INSACs.

I was an electronic tech at Santa Barbara, CA, from 1948 to 1957, then SEMT/Sector manager at Rock Springs, WY, from 1957 to 1972, which was named Sector of the Year in 1971 for the Denver area. I was Sector Manager at Billings, MT, from 1972 until my retirement on July 31, 1975, after 35 years of government service.

My wife Ruth and I remained in Billings for about a year, traveling in our motor home. We have been living in Sun City West, AZ, since 1979. We visit our children every summer and enjoy international travel and Navy reunions. I play tennis and golf, then bowl in the winter. I also volunteer as a handyman for Interfaith services doing minor electrical, plumbing and safety jobs.

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