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"The Tech Rep" by James Michener; Continued

At the end of seven months, five of the tech reps return to the United States for their next assignment. The sixth man stays on in Burma, caring for all the Lockheeds in the country. Alone, he settles into a strange and sometimes wonderful life, with an apartment in Rangoon, a hangout in Mandalay, a bar in Myitkyina where he leaves a change of clothing, and a hut up in the mountains at the far end of the line. He often takes a Burmese mistress, or two or three at different airfields, and after he's been in Rangoon for any length of time he is apt to argue bitterly against our State Department men, or the Foreign Office types from London, for he has become Burmese and defends their interests. He is much more sympathetic to their problems than to those in his own country.

The years pass, and he remains in Burma, servicing Lockheeds. He can handle not only the flying problems which develop, but also the maintenance, the servicing of brakes, the overhaul of radios, and the replacement of the hydraulic system. His technical knowledge is formidable. At times he keeps the whole Burmese fleet of aircraft operable; without him the planes could not fly. And he functions in any weather, at any altitude, in any emergency. If one word were used to describe him, it would have to be competent. He can do things. He can keep aircraft flying, and if a pilot were to conk out, he could fly the plane himself."

To be continued!

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