Books & Writings by SPam McGee

Alaska Short Stack Stories, Series I, II, & III ~ Alaska's Deadliest Sin-Drill Baby Drill ~ Alaskan Company Man ~ Eklutna Lake Worrier ~ From the Fifth Floor ~ Hannah Cove ~ My Journey to Landes House ~ Poemetrics ~ Quinn the "Tanik" Eskimo ~ S.O.S. from Beaver Lake ~ The Teachings of the Swamp Fox ~ Trans-Alaska-Pipeline Funny Stories ~ Spirit Dog & the Ghost Wind


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Monday, December 5, 2016

An Alaskan Hero

~ Junior Leslie ~
40-years ago: It was November 6th, 1976 - a date which would become a milestone in the construction of the historic 800-mile long Trans-Alaska-Pipeline. Towards the southern end-of-the-line down Valdez way, a mountainous drop-off called Thompson's Pass waited for sticks of 48" cold steel pipe to be welded together, so that much needed North Slope oil could then be transported to refineries in the lower-48. It was the Arab OPEC oil-embargo that gave the "Green Light" for this project, as citizens from "California to the New York Island" were tired of waiting in line for gasoline, at a price many could not afford. But this section of the pipeline was treacherous, especially in December when it was not unusual to see 12-feet of snow dumped on the wilderness terrain during a 12-hour work shift - not to mention hurricane like gales that sent the wind chill factor to hell. It was a wet snow, flakes as big as a baseball, so hypothermia followed us around, haunting us to death. And the rumble of surrounding snow avalanches, scary. But time was running out, and when many seasoned welders balked at arcing a stick while suspended in no-man's-land on the side of a mountain with a death defying grade, it was Junior Leslie that stepped forward to get the job done. Intimidated yes, but not afraid. At the end of that grueling day, the pipeline was complete and his hero legacy lives on today. Had it not been for workers like that found up and down the Alaskan pipeline...well it worked and is truly what makes America Great.

The Ballad of Junior Leslie
(tuned to Johnny Cash's Ira Hayes' ballad)

Hugh Leslie...
Hugh Leslie...
Call him welder Junior Leslie
Not sticking rod anymore,
Just the bad ass Henrietta Texan
That fitter who heard the call

Gather 'round me Cheechako
There's a story I will tell
'Bout a brave American hero
You should remember well.
From the halls of the 798
A proud and noble brand
Who helped tame the North Slope oil patch
Going north to Alaska's wild land

Down in the ditches a thousand times
The steel pieces ran a pipe
'Til the engineers talked of Thompson's Pass
And the almighty progress stopped

Now, Humble folks were hungry
And their anxiety grew with caution
This challenge came to heads,
When a volunteer stepped forward
And forgave the oil man's wrath

Call him welder Junior Leslie
He won't answer anymore
The bad ass 798er
That fitter who heard the call

Leslie battled Thompson's Pass
With beanie on his side
As 500 others watched on
Horrified by the fright
And by the time come sundown
Walking back down unharmed
Signs this battle was over
Old Glory be, smile we did
As among the men held high
Was the man we knew so well

Call him fitter Junior Leslie
He's not sticking rod anymore
The bad ass Henrietta Texan
That welder who heard the call

Junior returned a hero
For what they said couldn't be done
Celebrated along the line
Honored by the brotherhood
Everybody shook his hand
Honored as a man's man
And soon the oil flowed.

Call him fitter Junior Leslie
He's not sticking rod anymore
The bad ass Henrietta Texan
That welder who heard the call.
Never once letting this country down.

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