After a year of working with a college degree in my hands, I joined the Peace Corps as an alternative to war. Well, to be honest, I thought working for a living was a poor career choice. I was ready to see the world on someone else’s money.

Within forty-eight hours the sun rose over my initial training assignment in Paintsville Kentucky, just off the Cumberland Plateau and a stone’s throw from the Lost World of West Virginia. A month into my new education, I realized they weren’t kidding, so I jumped at an unexpected opportunity to work in Africa. Lions and tigers had seemed preferable to dinosaurs just beyond the Cumberland Plateau, but not by much as it turned out.

Before the week was over, I stood knee deep in mud and some kind of animal dung, completely immersed in my new position. Literally. The job I’d so eagerly accepted entailed digging latrines with a flat-nosed shovel during monsoon season. Feeling lost and abandoned at the edge of a rain-soaked crust of earth called Tanzania, I couldn’t tell if I was crying or if it was just raining harder.

Enter a man with a slick story and three months of training. My new "handler" offered me unrestricted travel through Europe with an occasional venture into watching, learning, and reporting on terrorist activities. Once again, it was a deal that sounded better than what I had but it was a decision I rethought many times during my training under a US Marine instructor. I did actually quit about 100 times during a two week survival training venture in the mountains with the Italian Special Forces. Eating tarantulas over an open fire made me beg to go to Vietnam.

So, as you can see, The Hollow Man Series traces some of my lesser known exploits traveling in Europe during the early 1970s.

At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I was assigned to learn as much as I could about it. I was to learn about specific people and plans in Europe that might bring terror to our shores here or otherwise go against our worldwide interests. When I collected the information, I was supposed to turn it over to the professionals for final resolution who operated outside of US borders. That’s how it was supposed to work. But, when you’re young, wild, and untrained, things don’t always go according to plan. Here’s the environment I was working in:

Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But by the early 1970’s terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we now recognize. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children we see today. Targets of innocence became preferable to these people because it was the kind of shock and hurt that hit the hearts of all human beings. The fear inside us grew larger with each incident.

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Peace Corps

​Coming of Age     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage