October 2012

Meet the not-so-ordinary Fred Fogel.



One cold night in Buffalo, New York, (7 December to be exact) my 5’ 2” Mother, Beryl, bore a strapping 6# 6oz. baby named after my grandfather, Frederick. After returning from WWII my Dad, Herman Fogel, landed a job with DuPont and met my Mother while she was teaching at a women’s college. The ground had barely thawed when DuPont transferred the new family to Richmond, Virginia, where my sister, Ellen, was born. Two years later, Dad took a new job with DuPont at the Savannah River Plant (a nuclear facility among other things) on the Savannah River between South Carolina and Georgia, about an hour’s drive north of North Augusta, South Carolina - where my sister and I grew up (in the same house).

By today’s standards I was kind of a geek. Active in Boy Scouts, obtained the rank of Eagle with one palm, Order of the Arrow, God and Country Award and finally served as a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. Enjoyed working on Science Fair projects, taking a first place and grand champion in the 9th grade for a project on “testing a camera’s shutter,” and later third and second places sophomore and junior years. Between my junior and senior years in high school, attended the University of Georgia on a National Science Foundation mathematics scholarship. In a graduating class of about 200 placed around 20 - just good enough for a gold tassel.

Our high school only had two sports, basketball and football. Never was big or fast enough for the high school football team, but did play some “pee-wee.” At 5’10”, was tall enough for the basketball team, but unfortunately couldn’t dribble or shoot. The school added track when I was a senior. Not too many guys tried out for the team, so I made it. Ran the mile, but never placed.

Dad (who worked for DuPont his whole life) transferred to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the summer prior to my senior year in high school, leaving Mother to take care of the two kids. (My sister, two years behind me, attended school in Ireland before attending the University of Delaware, graduating with a teaching degree.) Upon graduating from high school, decided on a change of weather and attended Penn State University. My only claim to fame at Penn State was our dorm “house” finishing first overall in intramural sports one year. I was center for the flag football team, pitcher on the softball team, swam backstroke, wrestled (but not very well), threw horseshoes and played basketball. (Also grew 5 inches my first two years in college.)

Worked at DuPont in Londonderry (52-hour weeks, $0.70/hour) as a mechanic’s helper the summer after my freshman year, and as a plumber’s helper after my sophomore year. Graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering in 1971.

While a freshman in college, Uncle Sam needed men for Vietnam and implemented the “ping-pong ball lottery” draft. After a boy turned age 18, all the days of the year were thrown in a barrel and drawn out one at a time, letting your birthday determine the order of draft preference. The guys in the dorm threw a few bucks in a pot for the lucky winners, with the guy chosen first getting 75% and the guy chosen second 25%. My roommate was chosen first. I was second. He was a strong dude who used to turn over Demsy Dumpsters as a lark, but had flat feet which qualified him for a physical deferment. I just put it out of my mind until the Army asked me to report for an induction physical towards the end of my senior year. Started looking into officer programs, but had waited too long. The Army, Navy and Air Force all needed more time to process the application. But the Marine Corps (who needed replacement aviators for the ones being shot down in Vietnam) gave me a thumbs-up. So I joined the Marines to avoid the draft!

In basic training, being lean and mean (6’3”, 167#) definitely helped. Ended up fastest in my platoon in the obstacle course and qualified expert marksman in both the pistol and rifle. Twelve weeks later (and 13 pounds of muscle heavier) put on a “butter bar” and headed to Naval Flight School. Flew back seat in the F4 Phantom Jet. Volunteered for duty at Kaneohe MCAS (Oahu) in 1973 (a staging base for Vietnam). However, “Tricky Dick” Nixon pulled the plug on Nam before I got a chance to go. In night school while in the Marines, I completed a Masters of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Fell in love with Hawaii and its people. Left the Marines in 1976, and stayed, working for Sandy Brodie (son of Lex – tire shop) at his motorcycle shop as a service writer for a year. About the same time the Hawaii Air National Guard was converting from the single seat F102 to the two-seat F4 and was looking for back-seaters. Joined the Guard in 1977.

Shortly thereafter, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard hired me as an industrial engineer (process instructions and labor standards). Worked my way up to supervisory industrial engineer (military construction projects).

When the Guard converted from F-4 to the single-seat F-15 in 1987, transferred to the Civil Engineering Squadron. Nominated for civil engineering officer of the year in 1990.

Left the Shipyard in 1991, and became Mr. Mom in central Louisiana. My wife, Lorraine Sonoda-Fogel (half Samoan, half Puerto Rican), owed Uncle Sam a payback in a special need area of the country for helping her through medical school. (Hawaii did not have any designated special need geographical areas. Even Kalapapa didn’t qualify.) To complete the 20 years needed to get a partial military retirement, I transferred to the Louisiana Air National Guard, part time. Awarded Humanitarian Assistance Medal for help provided after Hurricane Andrew blew through. Also enjoyed serving as deployment commander in Costa Rica on a humanitarian assistance project building roads and schools.

Returned to Hawaii in 1993. Got divorced, sold the house in Oahu and continued living with the ex for about a year in Hilo (where she had established a private practice.) Unemployed and basically homeless, started looking for a job. Must have applied for 50 jobs with no success. But then noticed the Hawaii State Department of Defense (Hawaii Army and Air National Guard) was looking for a “quality advisor” for the Department Head (Adjutant General), something I had done while working for the shipyard. The guard hired me to work with the two star in the areas of quality, process improvement and strategic planning. Facilitated the development of strategic plans for the Hawaii Air National Guard and Youth Challenge (a Guard program that works with high school dropouts.) Facilitated the Guard’s State Partnership Program with the Philippine Islands. Also worked with State Civil Defense in a civil engineering, disaster recovery, command center capacity.

During the daily commutes from Hilo to Honolulu, met my now girlfriend, Kat Powell, on the plane. She was a hair stylist (specializing in color) at Paul Brown’s, lived in Volcano and flew to Oahu to work for four days at a time. After Hawaiian Airlines kept raising the “commuter fare” it became cheaper to rent on Oahu than commute, so moved back. Retired from the guard and federal civil service in 2005, and purchased the house the girlfriend was renting in Volcano.

Became active in the community, volunteering with Friends of the Park, O Ka`u Kakou, the Community Emergency Response Team, Friends of Puna’s Future, Volcano Coquistadores, and served on the neighborhood board. Founded a motorcycle club. In the first few years of retirement my girlfriend and I visited every state in the nation on two wheels, even dragging a trailer through Alaska and Canada.

Attended the CTAHR Master Gardner course. After slowly hand-clearing some jungle, started reaping the benefit of a little coffee, tea, lemons, bananas and ginger. Also trying to grow grapes, blueberries, papaya and apples (with no success so far). Spend time helping Kat with her ornamentals, try to keep the fish alive in two small ponds and of course do my best to maintain our small (20’ x 20’) house. Working towards sustainability, but mostly just ideas at this point.

Ran unsuccessfully for County Council in 2008. Threw the hat in the ring for State House in 2010, when the sitting democrat was running unopposed. Out on the road again, campaigning with my “mini me's” this year. Also entered the world of small business in 2012, raising purebred Main Coon cats with my girlfriend. Retirement sure is busy…

So if you didn’t fall asleep half way through, you now know a little more about me. Volcano is a great place to live (but I still haven’t quite gotten used to the rain). I love the country atmosphere and the eclectic mix of people who make it a great community; and hope to spend many more years here in our little corner of paradise. Aloha.