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Tehran, Iran

Tehran, Iran was a wild and interesting place. We lived in Iran when the Shah was in power, from 1975 to 1979. There was about 100,000 Americans living over there with most of them working in defense related fields. With my Dad being in the US Air Force, worked with the Iranian Air Force.

Tehran was a cool place to live. I just wished that I had enjoyed the culture more. But when you're a teenager, all you're thinking about it girls and sports.

I have three stories I would like to share with you. They're pretty crazy…

When we arrived in Iran, the Air Force didn't have a place for us to stay. There was no "official" US military installation, so we had to live in the city. While my dad was trying to find a house for us, we ended up in a hotel for a few months. After about two weeks in the hotel we were getting pretty anxious just hanging around. I convinced one of my sisters to go downtown with me.

We didn't have a car, so we needed to catch a cab. Being the "man" in this situation, I got on the side of the road and stuck my thumb out. Well, a couple of cars few by honking their horns and yelling at us in Farsi. Of course we didn't know what they were saying but it didn't sound good. A couple of more cars drove by and someone in one of the cars threw fruit at us. After that, we said, "Okay, that's enough of our trip" and started back to the hotel. Just as we turned to walk back a car drove up. This guy jumped out and his first words were, "You're new in Iran, right?" He proceeded to inform us that in Iran, sticking out the thumb is the same thing as giving someone the "bird", you know, flipping someone off. He showed us the proper way to catch a cab (flicking of the two fingers sideways) and then offered us a ride into the city. Looking back, I can't image someone trying to catch a ride in the US by sticking out their middle finger. They probably would get the same reaction that we did.

Here's another story. This one is a little scary…

I was coming back from my girlfriend's house one night at about 10:00pm. In Iran, you can't drive until you're 21. So if you need a ride you have to catch a taxi. Well, the taxies quit running at 9:00pm, so basically you stuck catching a ride from anyone who will pick you up. This can be a little risky because you never know who these people are.

To get home from my girlfriend's house, I had to catch several rides. The last part of the trip was this long and dark road. It was about 5 miles long. I didn't feel like walking so I tried to catch a ride. Well, after a few minutes, this one car stopped. There were two guys in the front and two guys in the back. One of the rules and just plain common sense is to never get in a car on a dark, lonely road, with a bunch of mean looking men. I of course, left my common sense as home and got into the car. And to make it worse, I got between the two guys in the back seat. Talk about being stupid!

Well, the ride so going well at first, the guys were trying to talk to me in Farsi and I understood most of it. They seemed like nice guys. Then all of the sudden, they stopped the car. All four guys turned to me and started laughing. This wasn't good.

Just then, this other car pulls up with their highlights blaring in. Three guys with guns jump and open the back door and pull one of the guys out next to me. People were screaming and yelling at each other. It was crazy! Well, I did one thing… run. I jumped out of the back seat and I ran as fast as I could. I was about ¼ of a mile from my house and I knew I could make it. But hot on my tail was these guys with guns. They kept yelling at me to stop but that was the last thing I was going to do. I jumped over walls, ran down alleys and through rocky fields. I did everything I could to try to lose them, but they were still on my tail. As I was about 100 yards away from my house, another car pulled in front of me, cutting me off. I ran around the car and sprinted the last 50 yards.

When I got to the steel gate of our house, I pounded on it as hard as I could, yelling, "DAD! DAD! DAD!" Within moments, my dad came out with his 45-caliber handgun drawn. (Because of terrorist attacks and threats against the US military, my Dad was issued a pistol for protection.)

Soon after, the guys that were chasing me approached my dad. It was a tense situation at first, but it turned out that they were the police. They told my dad that the guys who picked me up were going to rob and kill me. They were suspected of doing it before and they were tailing them, seeing if they would catch them in the act.

I've got two things to say about this. Man, was I stupid! Man, was I lucky!

Here's another story. When the Iatola came back to Iran, forcing the Shah out of power, it caused all of the Americans to leave the country pretty quickly. In doing so, a lot of stuff was left behind, including our High School transcripts from Tehran American School. Back in the US, my dad had made a several requests to try to recover those transcripts because he knew I wanted to go to college. There must have been a lot of requests because our supernatant of our High School went back to try to recover those records. Unfortunately he ended up as one of the 50 American Hostages.

While the whole hostage thing was happening and after the Iranian Hostage resume mission failed, my unit (82nd Airborne Division) was put on high alert. We were packing our gear and jumping on C-141's ready to go kick some ass. But we never went and the hostage situation became a long drawn out process. At the time I was thinking, "Man, I could be shooting my neighbors or people that I know." Pretty crazy.


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