Steve Goldsmith

July 1970- July 1971

Power plant - Bottom Camp
Click here for pictures

I arrived at Elmendorf in July 1971. Since I had just married in June, and lived in Florida all my life, I was not happy about going on a remote assignment to Alaska. My original orders were for Sparrevon, but I was diverted to Indian Mountain while at Elmendorf.
I arrived on site in August. I know that I was still at Elmendorf August 10th, because that was my 21st birthday, and I bought my first pint of legal booze right outside the gate. I worked in the Bottom Camp power plant, and only traveled to Top Camp once. When Top Camp lost their water, I was especially happy not to be there.
The Inspector General visited and decided that all of the dogs that hung around the site had to be given rabies shots. We had about eight dogs that were friendly (there were more that we couldn’t catch). Since the medic was afraid of dogs, I was assigned the shot detail, and gave shots to all of the dogs that we could catch. We had to also tag them. Since the only collar material that we had was chain, the dogs were not happy campers. Their days of sneaking up on rabbits were over, since their brass collars could now easily be heard.
For inside entertainment we drank, played poker, played volleyball, shot pool, and watched movies. Everyone knew how to thread the projector, so you could watch a movie whenever you felt like it. Since I was a shift-worker, I watched movies at all hours. Outside, we played softball and wandered about. The Gold Camp was a popular summer destination. Luckily, when I was there summer fell on a weekend. The 24 hour daylight was not always a good thing. I remember softball games after the bar closed. Drunks are not good softball players.
Indians from Hughes used to visit during the winter, when the river froze and they ran out of booze. We were only supposed to sell them beer, but we snuck them the hard stuff. Some came in dog sleds and some in snow machines. The ones in dog sleds got home okay. Some of the snow machine drivers didn’t get much past the runway – until they sobered up!
While putting up a sign in the Power Plant my ladder fell and I hit my face against the concrete floor. Luckily, I didn’t land a few feet to the left where the grates were. I would’ve been “Waffle Face,” and would’ve probably bled to death. Since I was the only one there, I’m not sure how long I was out. I remember paging someone to relieve me, and the shocked look on the face of the first arriver. I had two operations at Elmendorf to repair my fractured cheek, jaw, and eye orbit. I still have wires in my face. The hospital’s especially lonely when all of your family is in Florida, and the hospital’s in Alaska. Needless to say, I had few visitors. Alas, after about 45 days in the hospital, I had to go back to Indian Mountain. I must admit, though, it was good to see familiar faces again.
Just prior to my fall, a civilian in the heating shop offered my roommate and myself $50 each to shave our heads. We both had over 5 months remaining, and figured that no one would see us before our hair grew back, so we each made a quick $50. My roommate was right. No one saw him until his hair grew back. I was wrong. Plenty of hospital personnel got plenty of laughs over my shaved head.
I remember the faces like it was yesterday, and the nicknames. I just can’t remember all of the names. It would be wonderful to see those guys again. We were like brothers. Alas, over 35 years have passed. When I was there, I was one of the youngest.  Like me, the ones who are still living are much older now. When I left Indian Mountain, you were probably getting your Arctic Survival training at Elmendorf. If we would’ve met at Elmendorf you probably would’ve remembered. I was a very happy camper, ready to return to Florida, probably drinking more than I should have.
In 1973 I returned to Alaska. This time I was stationed at Eielson AFB, near Fairbanks.  Eielson was just as cold as Indian Mountain – maybe colder.  And, at Eielson you had to go outside. I missed Indian Mountain’s enclosed walkways. I had to work on the flight line, catching F-4s. My only daughter was born at Fort Richardson, the Army Base in Fairbanks.
I went from Eielson to another remote: Tuslog Det 187, Karatas, Turkey. I was there from 5/76 through 3/77. I got a one month early out, since I had been accepted to start college at University of South Florida in Tampa. So, after 7 years and 11 months, my military career ended.
After graduating from college I went to work for IRS. I now have 32 years of Government service, and can retire whenever I want to. It’s like “FIGMO,” sort of. We call it the “KMA” club. Whenever I want, I can tell them to “KMA” (kiss my ass!).
I’ve lived in Brandon, a suburb of Tampa, since I left the military. Today, the temperature will be in the 80’s. I don’t miss Alaska.
I’ve attached some pictures. If you look close at the one labeled “WeatherClub2,” you can see a shirtless Barth posing next to the weather shack. The guy standing in the foreground is one of the cooks.
Take care.
Best regards,
Steve Goldsmith
1204 Londonwood St.
Brandon, FL 33510