Howard Flomberg undertook his short autobiography, Stumbling Through the Sixties (CreateSpace, 162pp. $12.95 paper), as a project to stay sane once poor health forced him into retirement. He takes the reader through his impoverished childhood in Queens, New York, through his Air Force career, and to the present day.
His style is breezy and anecdotal, like that old uncle you had when you were a kid who loved to tell stories and wax philosophical. Flomberg seems to have had a desperate childhood, growing up as an orthodox Jew in a difficult household. His father died when he was quite young, to be succeeded by a brutish, alcoholic stepfather. Relatives sometime helped, but money was a constant issue. Flomberg had trouble in school. He was smart but easily bored, and his grades were poor. He was chubby and wore hand-me-downs.
After flunking out of college, he entered the Air Force as the lesser evil—the other choices were the Army and the Marines. Luckily, they trained him in the very earliest computers, vacuum tube models. He was stationed in Bangkok, where, in one of the book’s more exciting scenes, he acquitted himself well in a knife fight with some local toughs.
Flomberg writes about a CIA operation, Igloo White, that placed sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and used the results to analyze the data in South Vietnam. Flomberg was flown into the Igloo White base to pull maintenance on the systems, and there were firefights all around him.
Perhaps in a future book Howard Flomberg will write more about Igloo White, an intriguing, outlandish undertaking. He should be congratulated just for getting his book in print. Like your uncle, he’s often entertaining.
The author’s website is http://hpflomberg.blogspot.com