The Other Crossroads – Fort Dix and Dover
Besides the Ocean City – Somers Point crossroads that changed many people’s directions in the summer of ’65, there were two other nearby places of note where major changes in directions were made – Fort Dix in the Jersey Pines and Dover, Delaware.
Fort Dix, where Jim Croce, “JJ” and many others received their basic training, is adjacent to McGuire Air Force Base, where many servicemen departed and returned to after deployment overseas, especially Germany and Vietnam.
Fort Dix is where Croce’s drill sergeant, “Big, Bad” Leroy Brown was given responsibility for training all of the dog soldiers who were considered troublemakers, including Croce, “JJ,” Jimmy Hendrix and dozens of others who just didn’t fit in with the regular recruits.
Leroy Brown was from the South Side of Chicago, and he was a bad ass mother, but he also had a soft spot in that he liked good music, especially the blues, but he liked all kinds of music and was fond of saying, “There’s only two kinds of music, good music and bad music, and I knows the difference when I’s hear it.”
Besides being the top drill instructor, Sgt. Brown was also responsible for the base band, seeing that reveille and taps were played at dawn and dusk every day, that the flag was raised and lowered, and that musical entertainment was provided for officers, politicians and celebrities who visited the base.
Brown also had a key to the canteen, and knowing all of the guys in the band, he got the best of them to jam in the canteen after dinner every night, and also had this little tight group perform for the soldiers as they were getting ready to go overseas and when they returned, as a sort of farewell and welcome home serenade.
While many guys fit in and played with Brown’s jam band, a few stood out, including Elvis, who harmonized with them on his return from Germany, when he was met at McGuire by Nancy Sinatra, who also sat in and sang a song with the band at the Dix Canteen. Hendrix came through there too, with his left handed guitar, but few really took notice of his greatness, and he hadn’t started playing the weird stuff yet, so he was considered just one of the guys.
Private Ronald Hawkins made some musical friends in the service, and took a particular shine to four young black recruits Sgt. Brown introduced him too, a pair of brothers and two cousins who could really harmonize and each played an instrument and jived well with Hawkins, who called them the Black Hawks, but when they got out of the service, the southern white roadhouses where Ronnie Hawkins performed wouldn’t let the Black Hawks play because they were black, so he had to recruit some white kids from Canada to back him, the guys who became the Hawks.
Conway Twitty, then known as Private Harold Lloyd Jenkins was also there, and was beginning to make it as a rock and roll star, and along with Elvis, inspired the Broadway play and musical “Bye, Bye Birdie,” about rock and roll star “Conrad Birdie,” who is drafted into the Army, much to the dismay of his fans. While Colonel Parker wouldn’t let Elvis sing with the Army band or entertain the troops as part of the Special entertainment troop – because the Department of Defense would own the recording and copyright, Conway and Croce and others did entertain the troops, and themselves.
Jim Croce, who wasn’t in the base band, but came around to jam with the group in the canteen after meals. “JJ” also sat in with them on occasion, and was himself serenaded twice, once when he left for Nam and again when he got off the plane on the rebound.
If you got serenaded by the Leroy Brown Dix Canteen Band you were one of the lucky ones. The ones who didn’t make it back alive from Vietnam were put into flag draped boxes and sent to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where over 50,000 American causalities were processed over the following decade.
DIX and DOVER – The Bermuda Triangle Nexus
Dover Air Force Base was where a military cargo plane took off from one sunny afternoon on a routine mission to deliver two nuclear bombs to a Strategic Air Base in Canada when shortly after takeoff, one of its engines suddenly gave out and it began descending quickly.
The pilot kept his cool however, and after running through a number of emergency procedures that failed to work, he tried emergency procedure 3-D107A – eject cargo, and so with the flip of a toggle switch, the rear cargo bay door opened and the skated pallets with two multi megaton nuclear bombs rolled out and before they could splash into the ocean the plane pulled up fast and safely returned to base.
The two multi megaton nuclear weapons however, crashed into the sea somewhere off of Cape May, New Jersey, and floated to the bottom of the ocean, out of sight and out of mind, an incident kept out of the news by the military powers that be, and generally forgotten about until the summer of ’65 when the movie Thunderball was released, and related the story Ian Fleming wrote about the international crime syndicate cartel SPECRTE fishing out two nuclear bombs lost in the ocean and using them to blackmail the world.
Did Fleming know about the two nukes lost off Cape May?
Could some terrorists find them and retrieve them?
Could some fishermen with long line nets snag them?
Where were the bombs and could they be retrieved?
What were those Russian fishing ships doing off the coast of Cape May and what were they fishing for?
How long would it take for the metal casings to erode through releasing the plutonium poison into the sea and polluting the entire North Atlantic Ocean?
When this "Broken Arrow" nuclear accident happened, they just covered it up and didn't even bother looking for the bombs, but the Thunderball movie got some officers at the Pentagon thinking, and one general, who didn’t want to take the fall for someone else’s mistakes, ordered some Colonel to get the answers to those questions, which would also send another dark cloud over the last few weeks of the summer of ’65 at the Jersey Shore.
Stay Tuned – More to Come