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[NOTE: This trip journal was prepared in 2005 using original notes from the 1963 trip. In many cases where the original color slides had deteriorated too much to be used, more recent pictures have been substituted. The commentary is taken from the 1963 notes and sometimes differs from what we would say today, based on broader experience.]

Getting There Is Half the Fun

Monday, 1 April 1963. I was in the last month of my 44 month tour as a JAGC captain with the Southern European Task Force (SETAF) in Verona, Italy. We had already taken one space-available flight from Pisa to Nottingham, England, on the RCAF flight that supplied our United Nations Expeditionary Force (UNEF) peace-keeping troops in El Arish, Egypt. Now we hoped to get on the flight going the other way, from Pisa to Athens, but time was running out.

I phoned the military airport at Pisa about 9:00 a.m. and was told that there was room for us to go to Athens the next day, but that space on the return flight appeared doubtful. We decided to drive down to Pisa anyway and speak directly to the pilot to see if he could clarify matters.

Leaving our four little boys with Rosa, our live-in maid/nanny, we left Verona around 11:00 and drove south across the Po Valley, through the Apennine Mountains, past Pisa, and reached Tirrenia about 4:00 p.m. Our friends, Talbot and Blandina Nicholas, were stationed at nearby Camp Darby, and I left Jane at their house while I drove back to Pisa to talk to the pilot.


RCAF North Star
The plane was sitting on the tarmac. It was a four-engine North Star, a version of the DC-4. The pilot was there, too. I was surprised to discover that he was an American, Captain Dick Porter, a USAF pilot in an exchange program with the RCAF. He said he couldn’t guarantee anything, but that he would do everything he could to get us on the return flight from Athens. We decided to chance it and take the flight. We had supper with Blandina and stayed at her house that night. (Talbot was away.)
 

Restored Stadium
 

Tuesday, 2 April. We got up at the ungodly hour of 2:15 and were at the Pisa airport at 3:00. The plane took off at 4:00 a.m. It was a four-hour flight but, with the time change, it was 9:00 a.m. when we landed in Glyfada, south of Athens. We managed to get a USAF sedan into the city, apparently because when I phoned for a car they thought i was a Navy Captain. We passed the restored stadium and the U.S. Embassy on the way to the hotel.

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