Picture, if you will, a "Guns of Navarone" cliff. Dropping 400meters straight down to the sea, with barely discernible nooks and crannies where a only a trio of intrepid guerilla fighters like Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck and David Niven could possibly climb up, overpower the Nazi guards and destroy the Third Reich's latest superweapon...wasn't it a huge cannon in a cave?
That fits the description of a missile range the Greeks built on Crete. It was (is?) supposed to be used as a NATO test range. To me, the way the launch pads were oriented, pointing right at Turkey, I was always a little suspicious...after all, these are the same guys that built the Trojan Horse.
Be that as it may, here after many months of both good and not-so-good, hard and not-so-hard work and play, the Greeks were finally ready to open their missile range and show off to the NATO brass that they were capable allies (better than those @#$%^!! Turks!). More importantly the work had dumped a lot of NATO money (read here: US taxpayer's) into the local economy and created not a few jobs.
The NATO brass was comfortably ensconced in the Range Control Building. From their glass enclosed vantage point 400 meters higher up on the same cliff from the small rocky plain where the missile launch pads were located, they had a commanding view of the whole area. The tech reps and drummers (salesmen to you laymen) hovered nervously about, hoping the whole shebang didn't fall into the sea like Zorba's log tramway.
The Countdown started...the dog and pony show had begun! The Greek launch control officer was turning around waving to his family (sitting in the peanut gallery) while he sat at the main console and showed his 10year old son which button Daddy was gonna push to launch the Nike missile...the Greeks don't exactly run things like they do at Cape Kennedy. Ten...Nine....Eight...Stasoo! (Hold it!!!!!).
There was something moving down in front of the missile pad...right on the brink of the impassable cliff. We all picked up binoculars and zoomed in on the movement. First one, then two and then a dozen or more goats came climbing over the brink. After a few more goats there appeared the top half of a shepherd's crook and then the shepherd...an old Cretan dressed in the traditional style...black headband with fringe hanging down in his eyes, black shirt, baggy black pants and knee high black leather boots. By this time the Greek army vehicles with yellow lights and sirens blaring had arrived on the scene.
The old shepherd (we got this later from a Greek MP friend) was not only suprised to see the vehicles pull up, he was angry. He had been herding his flock up the side of this cliff since he was a boy...what did they mean by tearing up the few patches of good grazing pasture on this side of the island? Pouring concrete...indeed! It had been three years since he had herded his flock over this route and now it was ruined. He spat on the ground and gave the officer in charge a "Mutzah" (the Greek equivalent of flipping someone the bird, except with an open hand, fingers extended towards the recipient...roughly meaning: "You're a masturbator and your family for five generations back were masturbators") He whistled for his flock and herded them back down over the brink of the cliff.
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