Thurman P. Woodfork


I was talking today with a new acquaintance from the former 661st AC&W Squadron, Selfridge AFB, MI, when I was reminded of an incident that happened at another radar squadron in Minnesota. I had been stationed in the Philippines the year before coming to Silver Bay, MN, and I had taken advantage of the cheap PI prices to have some clothes tailored while I was there.

Well, one day at Silver Bay, which was also known as Finland Air Force Station, I found myself out on Lake Superior in a canoe. Since I was wearing tailored silk slacks and an intricately embroidered short-sleeved shirt at the time, somebody had obviously talked me into the canoe trip. That’s not the kind of clothing I would ordinarily wear to go boating.

As a matter of fact, somebody must have shanghaied me out of the NCO club and over to the lake in the first place. I definitely was more at home and in my natural element on a bar stool than I was traipsing about in the woods. At any rate, several of us went out onto the lake in the canoes.

Thomas “The Assassin” Bina
Thomas “The Assassin” Bina
I don’t remember who all was in the various canoes, but I do remember that a nice, friendly young man by the name of Thomas Bina was also in the one I was in. Somebody, Bina, I believe, got the bright idea to rock the canoe. Quite naturally the canoe soon turned over, dumping me – in all my sartorial elegance – into the none-too-warm waters of Lake Superior.

I’m not saying that this whole thing had been pre-arranged, but it does seem odd that I later discovered that I was the only one in that canoe who had not emptied his pockets before embarking on our little voyage. That could make a less trusting person than I just a little suspicious. It’s also quite possible that my fancy clothes may have had something to do with the canoe overturning. Some people simply have no appreciation for style.

At any rate, everybody was gratified that I had a sense of humor and didn’t attempt to garrote any of the pranksters once we returned to dry land. I did suggest that they find out if their next victim could swim before they took him out on the lake and dumped him overboard. I don’t recall if any of that sage advice was punctuated with profanity, or not.

Well, that’s not exactly true; I can swim, but hardly at the Olympic level, although I do have a fairly adequate breaststroke on tap for emergencies. The upshot is I rarely swim just for recreation particularly when fully clothed. Ahh… memories…