The Konformist

Version 2.0
September 1998

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The Ghosts of November Excerpts

The following are excerpts to The Ghosts of November, an upcoming book from Jeff Brailey on his experience as part of the cleanup crew at the mass death of Guyana. It is an important view for those who investigate the carnage in those murky jungles 20 years ago.

 

Chapter 8

"Wait Until They Open This One in Dover"

Guyana is located on the northeast shoulder of South America. It covers about 83,000 square miles (216 square kilometers) and is bordered by the countries of Venezuela to the northwest, Brazil on the west and south and by Surinam on the east. Its northern border is the Atlantic Ocean.

All but about 30 percent of Guyana is made up of tropical rain forest. The country is located just north of the equator. It rains 80 to 100 inches a year and the temperatures are usually in the high 80s and 90s during the day.

Guyana is said to be one of the most beautiful countries in South America, with many rivers and waterfalls. But for most of the Americans taking part in this mission, beauty is not what they will remember about Guyana. If the jungle area around Jonestown was rich in exotic wildlife and flora, none of us noticed it because we were too overwhelmed by the ugliness that accompanies mass death. Grossly bloated bodies, deformed by so many hours of exposure to the heat of the tropical sun that they burst and deposited copious amounts of their putrid foul-smelling contents onto the earth, have a way of striking one blind to anything lovely.

As soon as the rest of the GRREG team joined the advance party and they all received a briefing from Colonel Gordon, the preliminary work of trying to identify the remains they were preparing to evacuate began. Jonestown was divided into sections and the remains found in each section were catalogued and tagged.

For the newly arrived mortuary affairs specialists who were now fanning out in to all areas of the clearing that made up the commune, the full extent of the carnage was quickly becoming apparent, as was the thought that on this unique mission, the identification process alone would be next to impossible. Only a comparatively few of the 914 bodies bore the handmade ID bracelets many family members attached to their wrists before taking the poison and even fewer had been identified by Odell Rhodes and his team of Jonestown survivor volunteers.

The condition of the bodies at this point in time, four days after the mass murder/suicide, made further visual identification impossible except for a very few like the Reverend Jim Jones himself who was among the first to be catalogued, tagged and bagged by the GRREG personnel. This was very disconcerting to some of these troops whose lives were dedicated to the business of processing the remains of human beings after catastrophic events and who prided themselves on being able to identify most of the remains they dealt with.

In a wartime situation, the ID tags worn by soldiers almost always provide positive proof of death and help to identify remains. In airplane crashes and natural disasters that involve the loss of many lives, wallets and jewelry can often be used to place a name to the victim.

But the remains of the residents of Jonestown posed problems that the GRREG team members had never encountered before in such huge numbers. Very few of the dead carried wallets or wore jewelry. By Tuesday, the bodies were badly bloated with heads resembling those of hydrocephalic children. They were in such an advanced state of decomposition, recognition was not possible. The color of almost every victim was a dark blue-black, making it difficult to determine even the ethnicity of a corpse.

The fact that nearly everyone who perished, be they Caucasian or Black, now shared the same color was a strange irony because the man they followed to their death, Jim Jones, was recognizably Caucasian. It was as if the members of the People's Temple had finally achieved a form of equality in death and the evil person who led them to their eternal end did not share this attribute.

There were name tags sewn into most of the clothing worn by the residents of Jonestown. Unfortunately, the communal lifestyle makes for the sharing of wardrobes, so many corpses wore clothes bearing two or three different names, none of which were actually their own.

The task of identifying the bodies was fouler than the process of placing the remains into the body bags. During the identification process, bodies had to be individually checked, pockets turned inside-out and ID bracelets read and recorded. This meant touching and handling the quickly decomposing remains, many of which were already displaying the eggs lain by the millions of flies drawn to the town. Maggots dotted the entire area where the bodies were.

One common form of life usually found wherever death in the tropics occurs was conspicuously missing from Jonestown and its sky. One can only speculate about the absence of buzzards, these scavenger birds that are as common in the warmer climes as cardinals are in Missouri. Perhaps these birds that feed off carrion and keep the environment clean, realized the men, women and children of Jonestown died from the ingestion of a deadly poison. I really do not know what caused the buzzards to stay away, but as an old tropical hand and a long time resident of South Texas where the birds are common, their absence in Jonestown added to the unrealness of the occasion.

By Tuesday morning, when the identification process was well under way by some of the members of the GRREG team, other began the arduous task of placing the remains in body bags.

The first attempts to pick up the bodies by grasping their heads and limbs and lifting them in to the bags more often than not, caused a limb or two or a head to become detached from its bloated liquid-filled torso. When this happened, a foul thick serous fluid would stream from the body part being held by a hapless soldier and an even larger amount would flow from the torso as it landed back down on the ground. Because the bodies were in such close proximity to one another, it wasn't long before the soil in Jonestown became a muddy mix of dirt and smelly human borne liquid.

As the first bodies were being bagged, I was sitting in our aid station in Matthews Ridge, breathing the air that was not fouled by the bodies in Jonestown. Fourteen miles is a long way for an odor to travel and being south of the commune, in an area where the prevailing winds flow east and west, we had little to fear that our atmosphere would become like that of Jonestown.

I knew the process occurring in Jonestown that morning involved the bodies being tagged and bagged where they lay, then they were loaded onto a trailer towed by the commune's tractor and driven to the edge of the landing zone built at the edge of the soccer field. The body bags would be placed directly on the Jolly Green Giants from the trailer and then flown 350 miles to Tameri Airport in Georgetown, where they would be placed in aluminum coffins that were marked with the occupant's identity, if it was known.

Every hour, the U.S. Air Force communications man in Jonestown would radio his body count report for us to relay to Georgetown. During the first hour after the operation to evacuate the bodies began, less than 10 of the dead had been bagged. An equally small number was called in after the second hour. Then, before it was time for the next hourly radio transmission, we received a rather odd request from Jonestown.

"Tell HQ we need snow shovels." was the curt statement that came across the airwaves. Snow shovels? Guyana is a tropical country that has never seen snow. How would we be able to procure snow shovels for Jonestown and why did they need them?

The call for the unusual cold weather implements was dutifully relayed to the Task Force Headquarters at Tameri Airport and from there to the U.S. Air Force Base at Charleston, South Carolina. Within six hours, three dozen snow shovels arrived in Jonestown for use by the GRREG personnel.

With the arrival of these simple tools so alien to this region of the world, the process of placing the rotting remains in body bags was streamlined greatly. Usually, six or eight soldiers, three or four on each side of the very fragile body, would lift it in unison, a foot or so off the ground. Two other soldiers would then slide an open body bag under the suspended snow shovels and the remains would be gently deposited inside.

This procedure sounds simple, but it wasn't always as successful as the GRREG team members hoped it would be. The body juices continued to flow freely from orifices and breaks in the skin, creating a slippery, gooey mess. Sometimes a heavy head, two times its normal size, would slip from the shovel and fall to the earth below with a thud after it became severed from the fragile neck.

But, for the most part, the bagging process was made much more efficient by the unconventional use of the snow shovels. A definite increase in the GRREG team's productivity was noted when the hourly reports were called in. We maintained a running cumulative total of the bodies bagged. By the end of the first day, nearly 100 bodies had been evacuated from Jonestown to Tameri Airport.

Wednesday found more than three times that number had been processed with the cumulative total reaching over 400. Those of us in Matthews Ridge, away from the actual gruesome scene being played out in Jonestown, found that figure curious because initially it had been reported by the GDF that around 400 Americans had perished on November 18. Now, here it was five days later and the body count continued to mount.

But in Jonestown, there was no mystery. After evacuating the remains of nearly 450 adult Americans who died in the massacre, it had become obvious the bulk of the residents had lain themselves atop one another, in layers if you will, after ingesting the cyanide-laced Flavor-Ade.

When the audio tape of Jones urging his flock to participate in the ritual suicide is studied and one is able to view the topography of the land, it appears the infants and babies who had the poison forced down their tiny throats by their mothers using needle-less syringes, were placed at the bottom of a slight and wide concave area near the pavilion. The toddlers represented the second wave of surely uncooperative victims to be killed and they were placed on top of the babies. Next came the pre-adolescents, then the adolescents, then the young teens, all taking their last drinks on earth in turn, or having the poison forced upon them, then taking their places on top of younger siblings who preceded them in death.

The senior citizens of Jonestown were the next to go, along with some of the mothers who were grieving because of the remorse they felt at having murdered their own children moments before. These people, young and old, all became part of the pile that appeared flat because of the lay of the land. Finally, able-bodied adult residents of the commune, either voluntarily or by force, drank the cyanide-filled fruit drink and became the final layer of what looked like 400 victims, but as actually an inverted pyramid of more than twice that number of dead.

Thursday November 23, 1978 was Thanksgiving Day, perhaps the most miserable one ever spent by the 100 or so American troops who had journeyed to Jonestown to retrieve the remains of their countrymen who died there. By now, the evacuation process had become old hat and harmless diversions were practiced by the GRREG personnel to make their hard tedious work under the hot sun seem to go by faster. One team of baggers would race another to see how many bags each could manage to fill in an hour. Grape Kool-Ade jokes were composed, repeated, embellished and memorized for repeating when they arrived back home, forever falsely stigmatizing the beverage as the drink of choice at the Jonestown Massacre. One graves registration specialist with a musical inclination composed a song about Jonestown in his precious spare time.

But even the jokes, races and songs could not take the minds of the American troops off of the football games they were missing and the parades and the home style turkey dinners that even the mess halls in Panama and the States were serving on this day. The troops in Jonestown did enjoy their first hot meal since arriving in Guyana on this day, however, in the form of Swanson's Roast Turkey TV Dinners that had been heated up at Tameri Airport and flown in by helicopter.

By Friday, November 24, the routine in Jonestown continued and the body count had increased to nearly 650. An absence of body bags had slowed down the progress considerably, but more were being flown in from the United States. Most of the adult victims of the massacre had been removed from Jonestown by this day and even the GREG troops were horrified to find most of the remains that were left were those of pre-teens and babies. A total of 270 children had been murdered in Jonestown on November 18, 1978. Many were never identified.

Since body bags were in short supply and since the remains of the children were unidentifiable, the ingenious GREG personnel decided they would put the bodies of two or more children into one body bag. By this time, the job was becoming an exhausting one and even the most rabid of mortuary specialists were ready to clean up and go home.

On Sunday, November 26, by the time the last Jolly Green Giant helicopter of the day lifted from the Jonestown soccer field, all but about 50 of the massacre victims had been airlifted out. The next time these big choppers would take off from Jonestown, it would be carrying body number 914, the last American People's Temple member to leave the commune.

Monday, November 27 marked our last day in Guyana and the official end of the mission that brought 200 American soldiers to this tropical country. I was standing on the hot tarmac at Tameri Airport, thinking of how this country I had never heard of before would be remembered by most of my generation as the place where the Jonestown Massacre happened.

I was watching as the last helicopter that left Jonestown with bodies touched down. I observed as a group of extremely tired and thoroughly stressed out young American soldiers who had spent the last seven days of their lives removing the remains of dead Americans from helicopters did so for the final time.

As I noted the robot-like movements of these men as they repeated the process of picking a body bag up from the helicopter, walking to the tailgate of a waiting truck and depositing their burden on the truck, I saw that their faces were mask-like, completely devoid of any emotion. Their Army uniforms were soaked beyond cleaning with the sweat of their own skin and fluids from the bodies of the dead they had been carrying.

As I gazed upon this depressing scene, Colonel Gordon, the gruff, no-nonsense Joint Task Force commander approached me. "Brailey," he barked, "Did y'all bring any psyche techs with you from Panama?"

"No sir," I answered, "Why?"

"They were tryin' to put that dead go-rilla into a body bag," said Gordon.

Jim Jones had a huge chimpanzee that was kept in a cage near his cottage.

Jones called it "Mr. Muggs." It is rumored that small children were put into the cage with the old chimp as a form of punishment.

During my first tour of Jonestown the week before, I saw poor Mr. Muggs. He had been shot to death. That dead chimpanzee smelled much worse than any of the human remains did.

Gordon went on, "They kept tryin' to push that big go-rilla's shoulders into the body bag, but they just couldn't get it to zip up. I watched 'em for a few minutes until one of them graves registration guys was gonna hack its shoulders off with a machete."

"Hold it!' I commanded," said Colonel Gordon in his loud voice, "Why are you gonna hack that go-rilla up?"

"Because he won't fit into the body bag, sir," was the respectful reply of the ringleader of the GRREG soldiers.

"Why are you puttin' that go-rilla into the body bag anyway?" asked the tired and confused Joint Task Force commander.

"Why, sir? WHY? Just wait until they open this one up in Dover!" was the devilish reply of the leering GRREG soldier.

Gordon told me he said to the practical joker, "Now look son, I don't mind you playin' a joke on them folks up in Dover, but I won't allow you to mutilate that poor go-rilla just to fit him into the bag."

He took the machete away from the soldier and stood back watching. This group of six graves registration specialists who had just spent more than week bagging the remains of 914 dead American human beings worked for more than 30 minutes trying to maneuver the dead chimpanzee into the body bag. As the last Jolly Green Giant lifted off from the soccer field with the last sets of human remains from the massacre on November 18, the tireless GRREG troopers were still working hard to pull off their macabre joke.

Like most of the 914 Americans returning home to the United States through the Air Force Base at Dover, Delaware, Mr. Muggs had come to Jonestown from San Francisco. Unlike them, he never returned.

Chapter 11

Party Animals

By 1600 hours, I was gratefully reunited with Samuels, Fields, our Air Force communications men and two Army fuel specialists. Sanders was also able to join us and was almost back to full strength after receiving two liters of fluids by intravenous infusion. Our little group that had been fairly isolated during the entire mission, sat together in the huge abandoned terminal building that had become the headquarters for the Joint Task Force.

We were soon joined by Captain Snow, Major Buenos and Specialists Rivera and Yoakum. The Army fuel specialists and Air Force communications men said their goodbyes and went to rejoin their respective units as did others who also had their units split up during the mission. All the different groups were gathered together and seemed to be doing essentially the same thing ours was -- decompressing after the most stressful week of our lives.

The scenario seemed to be the same with each individual group of servicemen and women. At first, upon joining together, they greeted one another and took their places sitting on their personal gear. For the first hour or so, most smoked cigarettes and stared into space. Very little chatter could be heard from these pods of people that occupied the expansive terminal building. They stared, they smoked, they apparently contemplated the awful events and scenes they had witnessed and participated in over the past several days in silence, trying to make some personal sense of a tragedy of such enormous proportions, they could not even have contemplated it until they actually were part of it.

Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, conversation seemed to grow. First there were simple rhetorical statements made one at a time by members of the groups, said to no one in particular.

There was no order in which members of units spoke and there apparently was no specific individual to whom the comments were directed. People simply said whatever thoughts happened to be occupying their tired brains at the moment. It was as if by verbalizing what was inside them they were testing the waters to see if the same ideas were shared by others around them. People were not directing their comments to anyone person. There was no cohesion to the phrases being made. The words were not in response to what was vocalized by another person.

It was like bullfrogs sitting around a pond as the sun goes down. Before the day begins to fade, the pond is silent, the creatures of the night just awakening from their day of sleep. Soon, as darkness begins to fall, one frog emits a "ribit". There is a long pause and from another lily pad comes another "ribit," seemingly unrelated to the first. Then other frogs in other parts of the pond can be heard adding their unrelated "ribits" to the flow of sounds. Soon, the entire area is alive with a cacophony of unrelated frog talk.

Members of our team made their individual comments. There was a pause. Then someone else would add an apparently unrelated verbal contribution and then a third person would verbalize his or her feelings. Before long, even the shyest, most introverted soldier was speaking his mind, even if he was speaking it to no one in particular.

This oral exercise soon became cathartic. As a group, we had all experienced different feelings and had various reactions and responses to what we had seen and heard and done over the past week. We were a lot like the soldier who had watched his friend die horribly and violently before his eyes in the track vehicle accident in Panama. At first we could not talk about it, so foreign to the comfortable normal experiences of everyday life was the horrible nightmare we had lived through these last several days. But as we slowly and individually contemplated our experience, then began to verbalize our feelings, if only to ourselves, we all opened up and soon were sharing our private experiences and thoughts, embellishing them and adding to the comments of others until we were able to face the awfulness of the past week in a therapeutic manner.

The beer and rum that was provided by the State Department, while meant to create an atmosphere of celebration actually probably facilitated conversation, by allowing us to let our guard down. While not intended for this purpose, the alcohol actually was, in a way, medicinal and helped us face the reality of what we had seen and participated in.

No one knew what time we would be leaving Tameri Airport. We had been told that the Air Force was on their way to remove us from this place of death to the land of normalcy from whence we had come on the 19th of November. By 1800 hours, the entire force except for the Graves Registration team had completed their mission, were packed and ready to leave and were well into consuming the beverages that had been bought for us. However, while the GRREG soldiers still had another day of work to perform before they too could go home, they were given the night off and joined us in partaking of the alcoholic spirits that, in a very real way, chased the spirits of Jonestown's dead from our memories, at least for the time being.

As I wrote earlier, I remember little of this final night in Guyana. When you are physically tired, only a little bit of alcohol is needed to make you forget the bad things you have experienced. My mind is muddled by the mixture of beer and rum and a very concerted effort to repress the memories of a time in my life that was extremely discomforting to me. I believe every member of the Joint Task Force that came from the 193rd Infantry Brigade in Panama indulged in the booze that flowed so freely that night. The more we drank the more we forgot and the rowdier we got. A week's worth of unbelievable stress was relieved by half an evenings' worth of drinking. Personally, I feel this was the best medicine for the bad disease we all had been exposed to.

By 2200 hours, the beverages were, for the most part consumed, except for the full souvenir bottles of Banks Beer and DM Gold Label Rum many of us packed away to take home with us. The majority of our contingent of nearly 200 soldiers were either asleep or close to it because of the shear physical exhaustion the work of the past week brought on or were nearly anesthetized by the alcohol we had consumed.

My Brigade Surgeon, Major Buenos, sat in a chair next to me. He was nodding off, fighting the effects of too much rum and not enough sleep. I noticed he had a wooden crate in the seat next to him that I did not see when we arrived in Guyana.

"What's in the box, Doc?" I asked, trying to make conversation.

"Shhhh," said Buenos, putting two fingers to his lips. "It's a microscope. I liberated it from Jonestown."

The infirmary in Jonestown had a very sophisticated and expensive training microscope with two eye pieces. Buenos decided that since everyone in the commune was dead he would add this item to his personal inventory of medical equipment.

I don't believe Major Buenos considered the procurement of this instrument worth thousands of dollars as stealing. After all, the military has a long history of obtaining needed supplies that were difficult to get through what is euphemistically called a "midnight requisition."

When I was in Vietnam our evacuation hospital had "procured" air conditioners for our wards through similar unorthodox means. The people of Jonestown no longer had a need for this training microscope, but Doctor Buenos did. So he took it. This was to be the catalyst for an upcoming witch hunt by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division in Panama that would involve every person from the 193rd Infantry Brigade who was part of the Joint Task Force.

While Major Buenos and I were discussing his acquisition of a new piece of medical equipment for the brigade surgeon's office, two C-130s arrived from Howard Air Force Base to take us home. The big birds taxied from the runway to just outside the old terminal building we were waiting in. The crew shut down their big engines and within a few minutes they walked into the terminal. The two colonels who were in command of the aircraft seemed startled and shocked by what they saw.

Here were nearly 200 military personnel who were obviously far from being fit to fight. The odor being emitted from most of us was extremely disgusting to the uninitiated and these pilots were not part of our exclusive club. The fact that most of us were obviously displaying the effects of too much alcoholic intake did not seem to bring joy to the faces of these two stern Air Force officers. I heard one of them ask loudly, "Who is in charge here."

A slightly drunk Colonel Gordon, using all the strength he could muster at the time, stood up slowly and walked toward the sober Air Force officers with as much dignity and control as he could summon. "I am in charge," he announced for all to hear.

"We can't fly this bunch of drunks in U.S. Air Force aircraft," the senior of the two pilots unequivocally stated.

 

"You not only can, you will," said Colonel Gordon with as much force as his Air Force counterpart. The two stood staring at each other for some time. Then I saw Colonel Gordon take the irate Air Force officer aside. They sat down and seemed to have a serious and earnest conversation.

Later I learned that Colonel Gordon related to the Air Force pilot all the terrible and stressful experience we all had gone through over the past week. He told them that although we all were, for the most part, in no condition to "make a movement," he would brief all of us and insure we behaved properly during the five hour flight back to Panama. The Air Force colonel seemed skeptical, but he did consult with the crews of both aircraft. After talking once again with Colonel Gordon, it appeared the decision was made to carry us all back home despite our collective sloven and drunken conditions.

Colonel Gordon called the noncommissioned officers in charge of each unit together for a briefing. He explained that the Air Force had a strict regulation that all passengers on their aircraft must be sober. While he had admitted to the ranking pilot that very few, if any of his charges fit that description, he would ensure that everyone behaved in an appropriate and professional manner. Now Colonel Gordon was directing the NCOs of the brigade to make sure his promise to the reluctant Air Force pilot was kept.

I was fortunate, with only with only five enlisted men and two officers to worry about, my group was smaller than most. Major Buenos and Captain Skinner were officers and gentlemen and I expected they would have no problem displaying the proper demeanor during the trip. In fact, Captain Skinner was actually sober. Major Buenos was fairly well inebriated, but he held his liquor well.

My enlisted personnel were all extremely well lubricated by the Guyana beer and rum that they had so liberally consumed over the past few hours. The hardest task that I faced in helping Colonel Gordon keep his promise to the Air Force was to get these five people safely on the aircraft. Once there, I was certain they all would sleep very well until we touched down at Howard Air Force Base.

Sanders had been sleeping for some time and once I was able to fully awaken him, he became a very capable escort for Specialist 6 Ben Samuels who was the most unsteady of our group. Sanders was much bigger than Samuels and had no trouble getting him and his gear into the C-130. My fellow clinical specialist was soon belted securely into a seat and he quickly resumed the deep sleep he had been enjoying before being aroused to walk out to the aircraft.

Rivera was so drunk he could not be aroused. Yoakum and I actually carried the little medical records specialist onto the plane and strapped him in. Both he and Samuels snored loudly throughout the entire five hour flight. Fields was able to ambulate to the aircraft under his own power and he also slept throughout the flight. Captain Snow, Specialist Four Yoakum and I accompanied Major Buenos onto the C-130, the officer and specialist on either side of the physician, with me carrying the liberated microscope bringing up the rear.

To the credit of the men and women who made that flight from Tameri Airport to Howard Air Force Base that November 27, 1978, everyone behaved themselves very well. I do not remember seeing anyone vomit and there was absolutely no rowdiness or untoward behavior during the entire trip. The five hours in the air did have some interesting moments however.

Combat C-130s do not have rest rooms on board. There is a tube toward the rear of the aircraft with a funnel-like device sticking out of it that is called a "piss tube." This device was designed specifically with male servicemen in mind. Unfortunately, there were around four female soldiers on our flight and these women had consumed great amounts of beer. As every medic and most other people know, this beverage is an excellent diuretic and the piss tube was a popular gathering place for soldiers on this trip.

Even the female soldiers who were not equipped with anatomical features that the piss tubes were originally designed for, used them with little or no difficulty and although the procedure involved them dropping their trousers, they did so unabashedly and without any lewd or uncalled for remarks by the opposite sex on the flight, who really didn't seem very concerned with the toileting needs or problems of anyone but themselves.

Another interesting phenomenon that occurred shortly after take off was that many of the passengers released their seat belts and lay down on top of palletized equipment so they could get a more restful sleep. Some rested in the jeep that was on board. Since we encountered no turbulents of any consequence during the flight to Panama, this was not really a problem, although it did take us some time to wake up everyone and get them strapped in for the landing at Howard Air Force Base.

Unbeknownst to any of us on the two C-130s that returned from the Joint Humanitarian Task Force to Jonestown, Guyana early that morning of November 28, 1978, General K.C. Luer, the new 193rd Infantry Brigade Commanding General had prepared a somewhat elaborate ceremony on the tarmac of Howard Air Force Base to mark our return. The Army band was present and playing when the rear doors to the big C-130s opened that dark morning. The general himself was standing on a makeshift stand with a podium, waiting to give our group words of congratulations for a mission well accomplished.

What no one who planned this elaborate reception had anticipated was the condition of the participants of this thoroughly repugnant and disgusting mission. All of us, while not aware of the odor ourselves, smelled extremely bad to noses that had not been exposed to the aroma of death for the past week. This included the band members who quickly seemed to catch a whiff of our Jonestown Perfume and lost the ability to perform the march music they had practiced for the past week without gagging and puking.

While General Luer himself did not seem to mind making his speech under these adverse conditions, the honorees were less than prepared to listen to him. Not only did we smell bad, we were tired, hung over, hadn't shaved in a week and wanted no more than to get home to a bath tub and our loved ones.

Every member of the Joint Task Force being honored by General Luer, his entourage and band that early morning, stumbled out of the aircraft unceremoniously and made their way into the terminal. Inside, we quickly became the building's only occupants as the Air Force personnel assigned to Howard Air Force Base evacuated to the outdoors and fresh air. General Luer, made a few comments as we passed by him, then stood in behind the podium on the portable platform with a shocked stare on his face.

The party was over and the hard job of telling our friends and families about our experience was about to begin. Every one of us who had participated in this mission had changed in some way and our lives after the Jonestown experience would never be the same as before.

 

The Jonestown Genocide

The Ghosts of November

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