Shemya is a mostly true story of Tom’s time on the island of Shemya, an outpost at the end of the Aleutian island chain of Alaska. Tom’s time was scheduled to be one year, the minimum sentence according to Air Force regulations. It wasn’t long until things began to change.
Tom was an electronic technician and was at Shemya to maintain the electronic air navigational aids that were on the island, specifically a TACAN set, a state-of-the-art instrument that gave a pilot the location of his aircraft.
From the beginning, Tom made fast friends with his soon-to-be roommate, but found that the TACAN set had some serious problems. Correcting those problems became Tom’s top priority.
Also, he saw the opportunity to develop a business out of building high-quality electronic kits and arranged to run that business parallel with his Air Force duties.
A possibility of gaining an early release from the Air Force also presented itself at this time, and Tom along with three other young Air Force sergeants did everything they could to take advantage of the Air Force wide program that they were being denied. These efforts were rewarded with an alliance with a powerful senator.
Duty on Shemya was mainly a bore for Tom and all the other poor souls who were stationed there, but due to his own efforts and the circumstances that presented themselves they were able to do their work and even have a little fun along the way.
The danger that was inherent in the island’s location and the details of his duty were an always present factor in Tom’s daily life.
In spite of all the obstacles, Tom was able to turn his time at Shemya into an enormously enriching experience.