It was June 1975 and I was about to meet Zaccharia, one of the most “out there” guys I’d ever met.
I was hitchhiking south through Washington state somewhere outside of Olympia. Zack picked me up and he had a very unusual story to tell.
He’d been a pilot during the Vietnam war and was an expert linguist. “You speak twelve languages?!!” I exclaimed. “Fluently”, he replied. As we passed by an air force base near Portland he tuned his radio to listen in on the pilots and translated their jargon to me.
There was more. He had ended up in a high position in the US military. In those days a nuclear attack could only be launched if the US president and a select group of people, all possessing special keys, were present to unlock the system. He had been one of those key holders.
He explained that during the 1973 Yom Kippur war in the Middle East we came very close to all out war with the Soviet Union. The insanity of the potential consequences caused him to undergo a “re-evaluation”. He escaped and went into hiding. If war had come about, he explained, many hundreds of millions of people would have immediately perished and the only possible place on the planet to survive the radioactive fallout might have been New Zealand.
I stayed overnight at his house and left the next morning.