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Jerry Olson

Supply, transportation, deactivation

23 May 2011

Guestbook Entry

First Encounter of a Strange Kind (government contracting)

In 1975, I quit my job at Dayton Warehousing in West Fargo, ND and moved to a small farm place north of Edinburg, ND. The rent was $60 a month. I worked for the John Deere Dealer in Langdon, ND setting up machinery.

I also applied for a job with Pan American World Airlines which was the prime sub-contractor to Federal Electric at the MSR (Missile Site Radar) at Nekoma, ND, 22 miles from Edinburg. After about a month, I was offered the position as a warehouseman in supply.


I had never seen the place until the day I started. My boss was Ed Skates. I was assigned to the tool crib. Bruce Schimmel (I believe it originally was Schimmelleski) was in charge -- great guy with a pretty wife. He & I became good friends.

The first hurdle was getting my security clearance. I remember spending hours filling out the security forms (13 pages). I made an 'error' on the form. As I had grown up in a Christian home, honesty was my nature. There was a question that asked "Do you now or have you in the past used marijuana?" I answered "yes". Good Lord, you would have thought I was a convicted felon.

I believe it was NIS (or NSSI -- something like that) people that called me to the security office for questioning. I had to raise my hand and swear to tell the truth. They grilled me about the marijuana. Where, When, Who did I get it from, Who else was there and on and on and on. Hell, I was an 18 year old college student in 1968 at the time looking for a good time. I couldn't tell them much except the lady I met was pretty nice. They ended the interrogation saying they would be back.

A few days later, my dad called and asked what I had gotten myself into. It seems there were a couple of Feds in town (Souris only had about 200 people) interviewing all of my references. I explained to him that it is part of getting my security clearance for my new job at the MSR. I remember telling him I was surprised they would bother going to Souris, ND and simply wrote it off as these guys had nothing else to do and they were trying to justify their jobs.

About a week later, I was called back to the Security Office for another interview. This time, after raising my hand, they started really giving me the third degree. Seems two of my references (both Lutheran pastors from the University Lutheran Center, NDSU) had been members of the CAABM (Citizen Against the Anti-Ballistic Missile System). And here I am trying to get a security clearance for the ABM Site, Nekoma, ND. Things were not looking good.

About that time, my wife, Sue, left me. Shortly after that, she passed some bad checks and had a warrant out for her arrest (another story) that fired up the security investigation of me again. I got called back into the security office again. I was hit with questions I couldn't answer nor did I want to know the answers. Where is she, who is she with, what did she need the money for and on & on & on. I was hurting pretty bad by now and about ready to say screw this & walk away. Understand, I started to work for Pan Am on August 4, 1975 -- it is now October and nearing the end of my 90 day probation period.

The farm place I had was only a mile or so from Sue's folks. I had talked Sue into bringing Shawna (our 3 year old daughter) back there while she did her thing. I spent time with Shawna everyday. It also gave me time with Sue's dad, Orville. Orville was a simple farmer with strong principles. He told me to tell the NIS that I need a job and in order to keep this one, I needed the clearance. If they weren't going to grant it, let me know so I can get another job and move on.

About two weeks later, near the end of my probation, they called me back to the security office. The NIS guys were pretty fired up to tell me what they had found out. This meeting I refused to raise my hand and just sat there. They proceeded to tell me where Sue was and who she was with. She was with one of my best friends from college. At this point, I wanted to cry, break something or just run away.

I told them I was curious with all the investigation and these meetings, they had only mentioned once that Sue and I have a daughter -- why? After that, I told them what I felt. I need a job to support that little girl. I have not used marijuana in years. I do what ever and whenever my boss wants me to do it -- go talk to him, Ed Skates and I gave them his phone number. If you guys are going to give me a clearance -- do it -- if not, let me know right now so I can find another job. My little girl is more important than this clearance.

A week later, the security officer called me and told me to come down to the security office. I went 'not again'. I was met with a bunch of smiling faces that led me to the photograph stool for my new ID. I guess that day I was promoted to 'Authorized Personnel'.