tv Oral Histories CSPAN April 18, 2015 5:02pm-5:54pm EDT
. the first time i ever sat in an airplane was at the civil air patrol, indicated that took off beside me. off into the wild blue yonder. i was always intrigued with the military, my dad had been a chief petty officer in world war ii and in my family, nobody ever graduated from college that i was aware of. when i was a senior in high school i applied to the air force academy. we did not have a lot of money. i applied truly to be considered. best to late to be considered -- to late to be considered. i was in high school and there were announcements anybody
interested in winning a navy scholarship, go see the guidance counselor. i thought that could be me. i went to seize the guidance counselor and i found out about something called the navy rotc. delusion and fees at $50 a month on top of that -- tuition and fees and $50 a month on top of that. i got a scholarship and went to ohio state. the rest is history. david: you will to ohio state in 1964 -- you arrived in ohio state in 1964. senator tom carper: how do you know all of this? have you been talking to my mom? [laughter] david: your bio sheet. can you talk about how it was to be a midshipman in 1964? the vietnam war is going on in the popularity of the war is
declining -- and the popularity of the war is declining. can you talk about being a midshipman in all of this? senator tom carper: i will go beyond that, april of 1970. i remember coming back from one of our flights in a restaurant outside of the officers club. they played music, you could have the meal other. -- out there. the b-52s were coming from a strike in the late afternoon or early evening and there was a huge wave of b-52s coming in to land after the bombing mission over vietnam and they played a big song by crosby, stills nash, and young. it was about the shootings at kent state.
i was down from ohio state at the time -- i was on from ohio state -- gone from ohio state at the time, but they literally sent everybody home in the spring quarter. that is what it was like in 1970. i left and 68. the mood on campus was not that polarized. there was a strong sentiment against the war felt by a lot of people. in rotc you wear the uniform one day a week. the other six days a week you are just a regular college student. the people that were rabid spoke up against thethere was a strong sentiment against the war felt by a lot of people. war a lot of cases they were friends. it is not like they held it against you personally but if you wore the uniform you stood out and symbolized the military.
david: do you remember mayday parades -- i remember mayday parades, demonstrations were the students would put flowers in the barrels of the weapons -- we did not carry weapons in the mayday parade. there was sort of a friendly dissonance. those who were not in uniform demonstrating against us, nothing unkind or intimidating but you felt it. the day you wore the uniform you were different. david: you talked about your summer cruises. senator tom carper: when i was a midshipman and i went to penn state. state. -- midshipman i went to penn state.
in my freshman year, we did -- we headed off to newport island. i was there in the year that bob dylan was booed at the folk festival. we went out into the atlantic ocean to do exercises on a destroyer. i remember the most exciting thing was that we got stuck in a hurricane at sea. it was a real test of our stomachs and our will and our manhood. the other thing i remember from that cruz was being signed -- that cruise was being assigned to the engineering department. they put you in the hardest part of the engine room, steam blows on you. i like to work out every day at the y back in delaware.
sometimes i go into the steam room and that is cool compared to what it was like in the engine room. but it was a good experience. you find out what is is like to be the lowest of below. -- of the low. david: this was an old world war ii frame. they were modernizing in the early 60's. you are talking about a destroyer at the time that was pushing 25 years old. you rock and roll out there. senator tom carper: writing out the hurricane was an adventure -- riding out the hurricane was an adventure. getting bounced around in your bunk trying to eat a meal in your quarters. i remember thinking maybe i do
not want to be on a ship. maybe there is a better life out there for me then navy aviation. david: you did mention civil air patrol so obviously you have the error bug -- air bug at an early age and this did nothing to dissuade you from this. can you tell me about the decision-making process? senator tom carper: the second cruise was at the end of my sophomore year. it was bifurcated into two parts. we went to little creek, virginia, this school. i remember going there a couple of days early with one of my best friends from ohio state gary also a midshipman. we camped out on virginia beach and went to a great concert. earlier in the summer, in
newport, i was there the same night that bob dylan was booed. a year later we were on virginia beach and we went to a concert by the byrds, the academy of full grown. -- academy of full -- if you told m -- epitome of folk rock. we learned to fly these tiny plants and had a pilot instructor and did all kinds of flying. some of the guys got sick, i did not. i thought that this was fun. we have a great marine officers out of navy rotc at ohio state. the best officers that i trained under from the time i was a midshipmen were the marines.
some of the enlisted personnel were excellent as well. i was drawn to the marine corps i think because of the mission and thesome of the enlisted personnel were excellent as great respect i had for the officer and enlisted men that trained us at osu. my junior year, before my senior year, was long beach california. it was a great duty. we would go out mondaywe would go out monday morning fly around the south pacific southeastern pacific, and come into court on friday afternoon and have the weekend off. on monday do the same thing again. it was fun. they did not put us down in the engine room. we were treated more like a junior officer and learned a great deal about the operations part standing watches and all. we were taught a course not too far from mexico. we had a growing mexican population in california.
someone on the ship, the skipper or somebody, asked me, i spoke a little spanish, to teach spanish classes. one of the extra things i would do was to teach troops to speak spanish. david: i served for a year and a half. senator tom carper: on active duty? david: from 84 or 85. david: did -- senator tom carper: did anybody on the crew mentioned me? [laughter] david: they were a salty crew, it was possible. [laughter] david: it is probably razor bladed by now. good you just address -- could you just address the affiliation you had at the midshipmen brigade at ohio state? senator tom carper: i cannot remember for sure. i was on the military council at ohio state which was the are the
air force, navy, rotc. i was involved in that from the time i was a freshman. i enjoyed that. we had a military ball every year and on my senior year i got to be in charge and put together a big debts. -- big dance. we brought in this group from canada that the mamas and the top was had discovered -- the pappas had discovered. it was the first time we had rock 'n roll at a military ball. there was also a traditional orchestra. david: what did you study at ohio state? senator tom carper: i thought i would major in political science but i changed my way halfway through to economics. i never regretted it. economics a lot more helpful for me as state treasurer.
when i was in the house i served on the banking committee so it was very helpful or. -- helpful they are. -- helpful there. it was more helpful than a major in political science. a lot of what i do is actually economics. david: going on to death senator tom carper: when i -- going on to -- senator tom carper: when i graduated from ohio state i did not want to stay in the navy forever. i wanted to do my time and serve, i liked the movie but i wanted to do my time and be on to other things -- the navy but i wanted to do my time and be on to other things. i was interested in business and thought what can you do in the navy? i could be a supply officer and that would use my undergraduate training.
but i was also interested in aviation. it was his very tough choice and in the end i almost flipped a coin and ended up going to pensacola. i could have been a pilot they taught us to fly my junior year. i did not want to stay for the extended period of time to become a navy aviator. five years instead of sex. -- instead of six. thought i would try that. david: you knew going in, it was the five-year instead of the six-year commitment. now it is a five-year commitment if you are a pilot. going in, most aviators at the time they want jets. they want to fly jets.
senator tom carper: i like the idea of landing on land every night. the idea of sleeping on my bed. being on a ship and trying to land floating landing strips, that was not what i wanted to do. i wanted east coast. i wanted to be close to ohio state so i could see my girlfriend who i dearly loved. instead i got p3aw, -- p3s, west coast. b310 was the training squadron at the time. i love the pensacola, beautiful white beaches. i loved spending time with the guys that i flew with and the introductory courses in airman ship. we went from there to corpus christi, texas.
i really like corpus christi. i remember we got to corpus christi, one of my buddies from pensacola and i from baltimore we got out to corpus christi and we wanted to be able to live in the economy. the deal was if you showed up at the officers quarters and they had room for you that is where you were going to be for the period of time that you are stationed. they got filled up and there were no vacancies. i said, would you step the orders to that effect? the next day we went out and found great accommodations, the guest quarters of a ranch for this millionaire family. tennis court, pool horses. so that is where we live. it was dirt cheap.
incredibly inexpensive. we were getting paid as ensigns and we were getting flight pay and rooming and quarters. it felt like we had more money than we had in our life. we were probably making $5,000 a year. we would fly, they were teaching navigation how to navigate planes. we flew missions over the gulf of mexico to see what we were doing. it was fun. i loved being in the plane being in corpus christi flour bluff, texas. i have met two people in my life that have heard of fkowerbluff. david: at that time were they flying beechcraft? senator tom carper: uh-huh. bamboo bombers down and pensacola.
-- in the pensacola. we had a bigger player in texas but it was fun. great men -- plane in texas but it was fun. david: then you would be assigned to the replacement air group at the west coast. was it determined early on you would be going to the p3 community or did they make the determination? senator tom carper: i do not remember. it was around corpus christi that we learned we would go to the west coast instead of the east coast. it did not make my day. i wanted to use toast because of personal reasons i mentioned earlier. i love asia, -- loved asia, lovely people there. david: take us through it. the training squadron.
senator tom carper: we first went to san diego and i live on the island, a beautiful place. coronado. two-story frame house, five of us lived in. we started to learn a lot about warfare. that is where they began steeping us and that knowledge. out of that for the, some people ended up in the three airplanes. -- p3 airlines. i ended up salt over san francisco were my patrol squadron was. -- south of san francisco where my patrol squadron was. flight service lasted four or five months.
when we got to the squadrons it was april of 1970 and my squadron was about to deploy. i went to the parking lot and went to the hangar of my new squad and they said packed up, we are going. david: can i what the specific job was that you were being trained to do? senator tom carper: the p3 other 18 per -- had an 18 person crew. three of them were aviators, their jobs were to fly the plane. the two naval flight officers, a navigator and the tactical coordinator who coordinates the group. -- the crew. during the time i was on active duty a new designation was created called mission commander so that whoever was the senior pilot would be the mission commander. they had to go through special
curriculum. you could be designated as a mission commander. my last year in the squadron i earned the designation of mission commander. when i went to the reserves in pennsylvania after my active duty the reserves do not have a mission commander designation. they did after a year or two. i still flew in the same airplane and the reserves. p3 became designated mission commander there as well. david: take us through that first deployment. or i guess the three deployments to southeast asia. talk about how that goes. your objective was to attract soviet submarines? senator tom carper: when we were home we flew a lot of missions halfway between california and hawaii. the soviets would go on station with boomers, ballistic missile
submarines, yankee class. we flew most of our missions against yankees but they had other models. in any event, we were flying missions. probably a three-hour preflight. studying the oceanography and understanding the target. do our free flights and charts and then take off. we would fly 10 or 12 hour missions. three hours and root, on station for six hours, three hours to fly home. postflight, take all the stuff on magnetic tape and d brief with the same folks that briefed us and sent us out: hours earlier. the idea -- out two hours earlier.
the idea was to know where the nuclear submarines were so that we would know where to look. we would create these tracks. the soviets would send a sub out, it would be on station for 16 days. we would know the route that they followed and we would have a good idea of when it came back six months later and where it was going to be working. -- be lurking. it was a great game of cat and mouse, matching wits against soviet sub skippers. you did not want to split them. -- spook them. david: the tools you were using sonor buoy patterns.
can you talk about those techniques? senator tom carper: just like you when i have individual fingerprints, submarines and the ships have -- and ships have acoustic fingerprints. it can be hard to tell the difference but if you actually have the ability to analyze visually the acoustic signature they are quite discrete. during the time i was on active duty we went from not knowing where we were with any great accuracy to knowing with considerable accuracy where we were, where we were putting the sonar, knowing exactly what we were looking for. sonar vector tell us that only that there was a ship but that there was a submarine over there, the direction. we actually made a lot of progress in the short time i was privileged to be on active duty.
david: what were the skills that were most important for you to have in that position or for anyone to have in that position? senator tom carper: i have for five principles -- four or five principles. the first is to do what is right. the second is to do everything well. the third is to treat other people they way we would want to be treated. the fourth is to never give up. the fifth is to surround myself with people smarter than me. what i tried to do was to put officers and enlisted people, the best people in my squadron that i could find. from the moment we took off on the mission to coming off station, we were still monitoring the sonar that we had dropped, looking for submarines and trying to detect them, even as we were on the way home. just having excellent people on the cruise was important.
the other thing was training hard. i would lie in bed and go through the flight in my head. it is like a game, thinking about a game that you are going to play the next day for quarterbacks. i would lay out the flight in my head against the soviet subs. so i think preparation is important. the other thing is not giving up. i kept my crew motivated. david: were these principles for by your numeral experience? senator tom carper: the were embedded in part when i grew up but i think the navy certainly they can do, we thought we could do anything. when i got in my slot on active duty after we left, we thought we were the best around.
david: certainly, the analogy is fishing, you have to have patience. i imagine being a mission commander you have to use extreme patience as far as listening and putting it together. senator tom carper: patients on the part of the officers but great patience on the part of the enlisted crew, especially the people who are analyzing the acoustic data, looking for the line on a page to see if maybe that could be the clue you're looking for. the patience they had and the fortitude for staying on the job. i have some guys, jim the chief petty officer, he was so good.
david: discuss the active-duty when you deployed overseas. you talked about flying out. you made three deployments to southeast asia. where were you base that? -- based at? senator tom carper: the first time we went to the philippines a little label air station across the bay from manila. just a little petri base. outside of the door was a little community where we would go and get in trouble. you could catch lunch and/or cross to the big city, -- and go across to the big city, manila. lou would be people walking around with machine guns sometimes. i thought they were a very sweet, friendly people. made us feel welcome.
i especially liked that we had our own middle station and there were not too many, very special. when we were not there, you were flying out of the island. they pulled the p3as out of vietnam because they kept getting blown up. somebody finally said, why do we want to keep them in vietnam were they can get blown up, we can flow that -- fly them out of taiwan, out of the philippines. our missions over there were for the most part to fly anywhere from a couple hundred miles to less than that of cost of -- off the coast of vietnam. usually fairly low-level missions. fly 5000 feet to do our surface searches and drop down to as low as 200 feet to take a look at
vessels. we did a lot of photo reconnaissance, gesturing to keep track of what is pouring in and out of the south. took a lot of pictures of ships going into vietnam to see what kind of cargo they might be carrying. we look a whole lot for junk. considering the hours that we flew it's not like we went out and found a couple every flight. we'd be lucky to find a couple every deployment. i was -- i must say, i was very busy. i worked in a place with a lot of shipping traffic. with not very good navigational systems. make sure you know who you were, keep your standoff distances from the places you are supposed to be standing off from. make sure you are at the right altitudes.
try not to set off any kind of incident. long missions started regularly. i'm a member in the philippines -- not in the philippines, but in thailand, we would probably get up about 3:00 in the morning and the idea was to have had breakfast, finish your preflight, the airplane ready to take off at first light. fly a long mission. i can remember when your, it was just rate flights, comeback and land. david: admirals and walt is now the cmo. senator carper: one of my heroes. i love him. david: one to get your take. -- wanted to get your take. with the all-volunteer force
how was that as far as the quality of the enlisted folks? senator carper: i know some of the folks who have been in the navy a long time bridled under his leadership. i like him. i got to meet him later on in life. and, of all places, delaware, as a congressman at the time. the group was trying to raise money for a vietnam memorial. bob hope was there. i like to work the room, shake hands with people at tables. i'm working the room, and i said hello to bob hope, said high to general west moreland, and i came up to this one table. i said "has anybody ever said you look exactly like admiral zumwalt?" he said, "people have said that." [laughter] i mention my core values earlier. try to do what's right, do everything as best we can, treat
other people he way you want to be treated never give up. i really thought he treated people the way he would want to be treated. he was more focused on families. i member we used to go overseas for six months at a time. a lot of people would not see their families for a half year. home for eight months, overseas for six months. that took its toll on families especially our enlisted personnel. zumwalt i think, really did care about family life and trying to reduce the divorce rate that we had and was mindful of the fact that kids need to see their dads. i like that. plus, the idea that he let us grow beards. if you wanted to have a beard, you could have a beard. people had sideburns. for us in that time in california, that was great. david: did you do that? did you grow a beard? senator carper: i looked just like you.
actually, my sister provided a copy of a picture with me and my beard. for a documentary they did when i ran for senate a couple of years ago. i looked like a cross between g.i. joe and abraham lincoln. not that combination, i suppose, for a navy guy. three overseas tours. one was philippines and thailand. the second was okinawa and guam. every month, we would cycle into -- most every month into buddha pal -- utapao. they turned me right around, when i were out of every 48 hours from midnight to 1:00 a.m. -- the air-conditioning in the summer was powered by water. they did not use it, so we got
to be in okinawa for the whole summer with no ac and not much water. one out of every three weeks, we would go to guam, and it always rains in guam. it rained, like, every day. we get off of our planes and go over to our quarters, and we would just take a shower. just enjoy the definition. this is old saying "guam is good." we thought it was great. loved it. actually went that to okinawa and by the end of the summer, we refitted our p-3's with a dispenser that can shoot out para flares, lighting devices. they would come down over the water and light up whatever was on the water. you could use them at night. we would use boats to see the clouds -- seed the clouds in
order to try to make it rain. i remember when it finally arranged, we danced in the street. -- when it finally rained. david: i'm looking at the time here. do we have time for about 10 more minutes? ok, good. we talked about the overseas deployments. at that time, the war in vietnam -- in 1972, of course, you have the north vietnamese offensive and then the christmas bombings and everything. i don't know where you are in the cycle of that time, but you obviously are making some observations. what was your thinking at the time? senator carper: i cannot speak for everybody in the squadron -- i was hoping we would hit a settlement and that the war would come to an end.
during the vietnam war, we never landed in vietnam. some of the people i have talked to the first time they ever set foot in vietnam was when they were shot down. that was about part of the deal to whoever landed there. i'm a member going back to vietnam and actually landing as part of a six-person congressional delegation i led in 1991. all vietnam veterans, including a guy named peterson, a congressman from florida. we were trying to find out what had happened to our pow's and mia's, and the vietnamese and laotians had not been very helpful in terms of opening up and sharing with us their records. they were great record keepers but not being very helpful.
a lot of information in museums and archives, but they were just not sharing very much with us. we were all convinced that the u.s. effort was very successful, and i got a real good briefing on the state department and worked closely with the state department and department of defense going into vietnam and spent a fair amount of time with our own teams in southeast asia. we literally were in cambodia the week that this counterfeit ring was broken. it was at a time when a lot of americans were convinced that our guys, our mia's were being held captive. we had pictures, the cover of "time" and "newsweek" of people alleged to be americans. even knew what their names were from the war, folks that were missing, but it turned out that they were russian nationals. the pictures had been taken out of the russian versions of "time" and "newsweek" and bootlegged and spun back to us as american pow's, but we
actually got to be there when that was being found out. we had some great meetings with leaders of different countries including the brand-new leader of the at nam, who had just become the secretary. i would like to think that the earnestness of our congressional delegation made an impression on the vietnamese. we were there at a time when the bush administration, bush 41 -- president bush was saying to the vietnamese "this is a roadmap for normalized relations. you do these things, we will do these things, and eventually, it will lead to more normal relations," and the vietnamese were not having any part of it. they felt they were being set up and if they did things, we would safely move the goal post on them. we tried to convince them that we would not do that.
if they really did the things they were being asked to do, we would make sure we reciprocated. i got to be presiding over the u.s. senate when, gosh, about 10 years later, we took up u.s.-vietnam trade normalization act. pete peterson went on to become the first u.s. ambassador to vietnam. got to call him on the phone right after. david: leaving the active navy going into the reserves, the reserve squadron had a reputation as being as good as the active guys. senator carper: i mentioned my active duty squadron went from being sort of a ho-hum squadron to winning awards for
excellence. i left after that it moved across the country to delaware to get an nba and run for office when i was 29 -- get an mba and run for office when i was 29. i hooked up with the squad to start graduate school. i got to this reserve squadron that had been moved down from some place in new jersey. they were in new york and moved down to pennsylvania, and they had p-3 airplanes. they were modified, pretty decent plane. a little bit like a step back but not much. not like going to a p-2 or some other kind of airplane. an airplane i was pretty much used to. in terms of being able to use it effectively, in terms of people really being serious about the mission, not especially. i'm this firebrand. i think people thought i was
going to stay and be chief of naval operations. i was so committed. i loved what i did and we worked to have the best crew, fly the best missions, and in everything, we are committed to excellence. i got to my new reserve squadron, and they just were not that with it. i stayed with them for 18 years and we got to be pretty darn good. i like to think that some of my fervor and determination dedication to the mission, sort of rubbed off on them. i had the opportunity to not only become a mission commander there as well, but have my clue flight -- have my crew fly a lot of missions in the mediterranean and atlantic but also have some jobs, including the desk if flight checks to the cruise, take the cruise out and train them. i got to be trained officer for my squadron and department head. in 1982, november 1982, i have
been state treasurer for six years, but in november 1982, i was elected to congress, for the only congressional seat. i was selected for promotion to commander which put me in the pipeline and eligible for commander of a squadron, which in navy, you always want to be commander of the ship then commander of a squadron. in one month, elected to congress, selected for promotion to commander. how does life get any better than this? i got to congress, and two months later, i found that i could no longer hold a mobilize will position in the reserves. the other thing is you could not be paid, so you could not pay your squadron, and could not fly my airplane. in my airplane, i could not fly my mission with the people i have flown with the last six years, and i was crestfallen
because i loved the mission and i loved the guys i flew within my squadron. the secretary of the navy at the time, i called him. i asked how you get through to be secretary of the navy and still fly and stay current in the airplane, and he says he has a special waiver from the chief of naval operations. i said that's what i want. i did not want to be paid, but i wanted to continue to be able to fly the airplane and stay current in the airplane and fly the missions. i got to do that for -- gosh another 12 years. stayed with my squadrons continue to fly. one of the great ironies is you and a how you trade airplanes back and forth from active duty -- they get older and trade them down to the reserves keep maintaining the planes and a
gravy avionics and electronics and they are perfectly good airplanes for a long time -- upgrade the avionics and electronics and they are perfectly good airplanes for a long time? one of the planes i had in the patrol squad, when you are the plane commander or mission commander of the aircraft, the tactical coordinator or flight engineer, you had your name printed on the other side of the fuselage of the plane. the plane that had my name on it ended up coming through pennsylvania. my name was gone, but same number. six-digit number, so you knew it was my old plane. wrapping it up in the very same airplane. david: any follow-up questions? david: i'm just wondering and a larger sense how military service shaped your way of life and your service now in congress.
senator carper: as governor, i was commander-in-chief, and they actually had a commander-in-chief who is something of military and was very much interested in your missions and actually paid a lot of attention. i still do that as a number of the senate, and i did it as a member of the house. when i was in the house, we ended up in a military skirmish down in panama. we ended up in a war in the persian gulf. now 2002, we could end up in another scrape in iraq. i thought it was helpful to have some military experience. we do not have a whole lot of people in the house and senate who served on active duty. i just think it is a help prospective do have. i think because of the experience i have, i bring some expertise. i think it's a huge help. the other thing is people look
at us to be leaders. i was trained to be a leader from the time i was 17 as a freshman at ohio state. history will show a kind of leader i have been in congress in the house or senate, but i think those leadership skills and i'm privileged to serve as leader of a nation. david: what do your sons ask you about the military? senator carper: my younger son, ben, who now is 12 -- he is just captivated by things military. we talk about battles. we talk about aircraft, tanks. we went through a time where he just could not get enough of tanks. without aircraft. we talked the war in iraq, how would we do it, what was the approach? interestingly enough, he does not have much discipline or bearing, how to gap and make his bed.
when he wears his boy scout uniform, it's really with his shirt out but he loves military history. loves it. his bigger brother is about a year and a half older. he is ramrod straight, organized, driven p looks like the guy who could receive no later on -- guy who could be cno later on. so far, he has not expressed any interest. we will see. david: i guess the final question is in the aviation community, there's a lot of camaraderie, and i guess that applies here to the senate. is there some parallel their? senator carper: i remember when i was on active duty, the only people that ever called me tommy besides my mom for the people i served within the only people who call me connie besides my mom of the people i
served with in the senate. there's a closeness. you find a special unit when you are in the senate. i really felt when i was on active duty and in the reserves but especially on active duty, i thought that was very much part of it. my crew but with the squadron as well. david: i think that's a wrap. i appreciate your time. senator carper: thanks very much. >> with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span2 we complement that coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearings and public affairs events, and on weekends, c-span3 is home to american history tv with programs that tell our nation's story, including six nick series. the civil war's 100 50th anniversary, visiting battlefields and key event's, american artifacts, touring museums and historic sites to discover what artifacts reveal about america's past, history bookshelf with the best-known american history writers, the
presidency, looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief lectures and history, and our new series, reel america featuring archival government and educational films. c-span3, created by the cable industry. >> all weekend long, american history tv is featuring saint augustine, florida. the city was settled by the spanish explorer and 1565. our comcast cable partners worked with c-span cities tour staff when we recently traveled to san augustine to explore the city's rich history. learn more about saint augustine all weekend here on american history tv. shannon o'neill: we are at the
san augustine lighthouse and museum. this is the location of florida's first lighthouse. there was originally a lighthouse built here sometime in the late 1600s and in the 1700s, it was turned into a functional lighthouse. after florida became a state they kind of what some money into it, made it into a lighthouse with an oil lamp, and they realized it was going to fall into the ocean, so they started building the current lighthouse we had today, and that was completed in 1874, and the old one fell into the ocean in 1880. the current tower we have has been here since 1874. the purpose of the lighthouse here -- there's kind of two. one is to serve as a location reminder to all of the ships in the area, so each lighthouse has its own individual day mark and night mark. our lighthouse day mark is the black and white stripes with the red top.
no other white house can have that. if you see that white house -- that lighthouse with those colors, you know you are in san augustine. we still have our original 1874 lens, and it has three bull's-eyes on it, and when they rotate, basically, the beams are 30 seconds apart. a steady light with 32nd flashes is what it will look like when you're on the ocean, and that is our unique night mark. we basically serve to let sailors know they are in san augustine and let them know where the port is so they can safely be guided inside. the lighthouse still comes on every night. as a museum, we maintain that now through volunteers and that and donations. we actually came in and restore the lighthouse and the original keepers house, which was from 1876 and we have preserved those for future generations so they can see how the lighthouse works, how it was operated. the keepers that live here -- it was like a military post for them. they and their families lived here. they worked a and night. it was a very tough job. 219