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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc. (Read 3227 times)
Matt
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Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
May 21st, 2011 at 2:48pm
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Okay gang, what do we think about the Commander? Where did he come from? What is his back story? How old is he really? How did he become the youngest full bird in US military history? (Assuming he was 32 in 1970.) Wink
  

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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #1 - May 21st, 2011 at 3:23pm
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Well, as you know, my take is here and it wasn't easy to meet even minimum time in grade requirements. I actually had to have him finish his ROTC training and graduate BEFORE turning twenty one so he could be sworn in AT 21.

I'm the first to admit that while becoming a full bird by 32 is just barely possible, it's not all that plausible.

You almost have to have him getting some 'inside' help, whether he knows it or not -  a relative or close family friend putting in a good word and 'oiling the skids' for him. While getting on the promotion list would be based on merit, getting the actual promotion the first time every time implies there was someone looking out for him.

Putting Straker's age at a more logical 41/42 1n 1970 (as has been pointed out, historically the youngest full colonel in the USAF was 41 at the time of his promotion)  puts Straker's age during the series as early 50s. That gives an interesting twist on his relationship with Foster and nearly everyone else in SHADO.

It also means he could have been an astronaut before SHADO instead of during.

And then there's the matter of his ribbon array...  :Smiley
  

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MkIXHawk
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #2 - May 22nd, 2011 at 8:26am
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Well, the accelerated promotion could be explained by his being a member of the Astronaut Corps. Generally, military officers are promoted after every flight
  
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #3 - May 22nd, 2011 at 3:50pm
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With the extreme compression of 6 years from commissioning to having all the requirements for an astronaut - possible - assuming there was a slot available and there had been enough flights for him to get even one flight and the subsequent promotion to Lt. Colonel.

At some point he needs to have moved from the astronaut corp to USAF intelligence (a non flying position) and joined Henderson's staff to be in position to be involved in SHADO. He will also need another 10 months schooling at the Air War College or the National War College. (from Commissioning to SHADO, Straker would have spent almost six YEARS in school - flight school, flight specialization, test pilot school, MIT Master's program (2 years), War college. MIT is canon, the rest are USAF required schooling that would go with his wings and rank.

Now, I've known a number of military pilots - they don't stop flying unless they are forced to (fighter pilots especially). These are the guys flying for the airlines, FedEx, UPS, USPS. And if they can't get a job doing that, they're building ultralights. (This puts an interesting spin on Freeman, as well. He was a fighter pilot - that's canon - so unless he was told specifically that he was gounded, he's got a small plane stashed somewhere for the weekends.)

The only plausible way to move Straker from the astronaut corp to intelligence would be for him to be medically grounded with a physical condition that was not bad enough to force him out of the service. (And this is true no matter what age he was at the start of SHADO - astronaut corp to intelligence officer is an odd sideways transfer. From my own observations, people in the intelligence services tend to be recruited for that duty based on their talents - during Viet Nam colleges were scoured for Americans who could translate Russian, Chinese, etc. Recruiters (not just the CIA) were on the lookout for people with specialized knowledge of history, sociology, psychology of that area of the world and other hot spots. And once they were sworn in, that's the track they stayed on. Lt. Arnold may have left the service as Major Arnold after two enlistments, but he never got his wings.)

  

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Matt
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #4 - May 22nd, 2011 at 4:42pm
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Commander Straker:
My Thoughts:

Even though the Commander had more on screen presence and clues to his past than any other character, he still generates quite a bit of speculation in the fandom.

In order to understand where he came from, we need to look at the way he was portrayed in the series. Straker was a duty driven individual; his dedication to SHADO was his life. I also saw him as a man who had a deep caring for each and every person under his command. He was a hard ass because he needed to be. I also believe that he had combat experience, either in Vietnam, Korea, or both.

We know from canon that Straker was an astronaut and he had a degree in astrophysics from MIT. The astronaut corps was comprised of all test pilots until group 6 where the first of the scientist astronauts were brought on board. The very latest year he could have been born would have been 1938 has we know that he was a full colonel (O6) in 1970. That would have made him the youngest full bird in US military history by almost ten years.

Now it is possible that he was older, in fact in Identified one of his service ribbons indicates service in Korea. If that is taken as canon then he would have to have been at least ten years older. So that gives us a possible birth date between 1928 and 1938. Speaking of his ribbons, I take those with a very large grain of salt, as they were not consistent between Confetti Check A-OK and Identified. I think the wardrobe department grabbed what they thought would look good, not giving much thought to what they meant.

Bishop was 37 when the series was shot and it has been argued that Straker was the same age in 1980. Quite frankly that would have been impossible, for several reasons, the most prominent being time in grade.

Quite often an actor is cast to play a person several years older (or younger) than their own age and I think that is what happened here. It is often difficult to ascertain a person’s true age and I speak from personal experience as I am often mistaken to be ten years younger than I am. (So is my wife.)

My stories go with the younger version of Ed and I based my work on Deb’s bio for the Commander. The only aspect that draws any question is the issue of rank and that can be explained in several ways. (I have a story idea for that.)

The older version of Ed has some merit as well. It puts a new spin on the Straker/Foster dynamic. In some ways it works better. But the older Straker complicates my Ed/Ginny pairing. Eighteen years vs. eight is a bit of a stretch. There is also the possibility that he was somewhere in between, say 1932. But he would have missed Korea had that been the case.

I don’t think Straker’s astronaut training came until he and Collins trained to commission SID which would have been in the 1976 to 1978 timeframe. That would have happened after Skylab and Apollo/Soyuz and before the first shuttle launch in 1981. All of the astronaut groups were married men until group 5 (The Original Nineteen). This was a NASA mandate so it’s highly unlikely that he was involved in the program prior to 1975 although his ambitions were heading in that direction by virtue of his schooling. His scientific and combat background made him unique and I assume that he caught Henderson’s eye early in his career.

Since SHADO was Henderson’s project it makes sense that he saw Straker as a viable second in command and was moving his career in that direction.

I consider Straker to have been cut from the same cloth as the first groups of astronauts. These men were all patriotic, and dedicated to their duty. Most of them were eagle scouts. When Ed took over as C in C of SHADO his patriotism morphed into something larger. He was no longer concerned with just his own country but humanity as a whole and he pursued it with the very same vigor that he did as a USAF officer.
  

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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #5 - May 22nd, 2011 at 7:42pm
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And then we also have as a 'minor' complicating factor - in the real world, manned space technology hasn't advanced all that much since the 1980s and the advent of the Space Shuttle. But the universe SHADO inhabits is shown to have manned space technology in 1980 that is far beyond what we can manage even today. There is mining and research on the Moon and has been for years. There are regular service flights to those bases.

Straker can order up a ship capable of landing almost anywhere and that ship can launch small dangerous payloads into space.

So the history of space flight in the UFO universe does not quite track with the real one after 1970. But I think it's fair to assume that it tracks fairly closely PRIOR to 1970.





  

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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #6 - May 22nd, 2011 at 8:04pm
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I guess I don't worry so much about rank and age/unwritten requirements when I write about my favorite UFO character.  Because to me red tape is merely there to get around.  Besides, my dad was Air Force, and he always said that Straker could easily have been promoted beyond what was the norm for courage above and beyond duty (which sounds just like him!)  So I'm taking my dad's word over what the 'normal requirements' say.  I've written Straker anywhere from 45 (since my stories usually take place after the 1st season) to 52.  It's an age range that is very difficult to pin down to an exact year if a man has kept himself fit and well-groomed, which Straker obviously has.

For me, the things I focus on when writing about Straker are his personality, mannerisms, and treatment of others.  These are the things that tell me what manner of man he was.  The rest is all trappings. 

I usually write him as someone who has an adversarial relationship with his father (for whatever reason seems good for the storyline) and a mother who died when he was still young enough to be at home.  I write him that way with his dad, since most men do have a difficult relationship with their fathers.  And I write him that way with his mom, because it explains a few of the layers of his loneliness.

I love it that he's a hard-ass!  As Deb said once, would you want any other kind of man in charge of our planet's protection?  I love his sarcasm.  He plays the straight man to Alec's charm so well.

Men as rigidly disciplined as he comes across in the series tend to also be rigidly moral.  It just goes with the territory.  So I always portray him that way, even though on occasion I've taken him outside that barrier when given a strong enough reason.  (After all, he ditched his moral code with Jo Fraser without any reason whatsoever!)  I at least give him solid reasons for doing so when I have him deviate from his normal code in my stories.

He's also portrayed in the series as a man on the edge.  Through different episodes, we see why he is on the edge, which engenders a great deal of sympathy for him.  But nonetheless, he is there.  And I can't stand it!  Which is why in all my stories, he meets someone (a special woman, of course!) who helps him deal with the enormous load he carries.  This in turn allows him to begin to heal from the wounds that his job has inflicted, and he is able to finally relax and show that side of him that has been shut down for so long.  I love being able to do this for him!  And I won't apologize for it!  I have a deep-seated need to see him happy.  Smiley

His treatment of women in the series was exemplary.  He was always polite, always chivalrous, but also always respectful of their intelligence and insight.  He treated them as equals, except in those instances when it conflicted with his chivalry.  In fact, he was the perfect boss for any woman to have!  Never lecherous, never condescending!  Who cares if he was occasionally rude?  I'll take rude any day over lecherous!  Tongue

With men he was tougher, setting himself up as the authority figure and brooking no interference.  Notable exceptions were Alec (who could and did question his decisions from time to time without inciting his anger) and Foster (who he treated rather like a younger brother or even a son, allowing him liberties that he would instantly squash in anyone else.)  He occasionally treated Henderson with deference (probably due to the general's position as his superior officer then and now), but this was not universal, and there were several times in the series where he openly fought him.  Because of this inconsistency, I've interpreted his relationship with the general as that of a student/mentor who has outgrown his teacher, but whom his teacher has not yet trusted to be on his own.  It seems to work well with the dynamics portrayed in the show and allows for a great deal of storytelling opportunities.

Because the show rarely said anything, but left so much open for interpretation, every writer portrays the commander differently, according to their own view of him from the show.  He's probably the most controversial character to discuss, and it's easy to tell what writers think of him by the way they treat him in their stories.  I like to think that Ed Bishop would have been pleased with the way I have treated his character in my stories.  Cool
  

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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #7 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 2:33pm
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Just for giggles (or some people just don't get it.)  :Smiley
http://little-details.livejournal.com/3011736.html
  

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Matt
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #8 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 2:45pm
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Naw, say it ain't so! Smiley
  

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Neesierie
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Straker, somehow it's
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #9 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 5:16pm
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Wow!  Shocked What a crock of sh*t!  She's seriously twisted, isn't she?  Not all her eggs in one basket, so to speak.  All this so that she can justify a totally false rendition of Straker at her pseudo-site?  :Smiley

Some people have waaay too much time on their hands!  Grin
  

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I may be blonde but...

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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #10 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 7:42pm
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Well, there's no actual evidence that the original question was from anyone we are familiar with - but the question and responses are interesting, to say the least. :Smiley
  

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Neesierie
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Straker, somehow it's
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #11 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 9:57pm
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Oh, sure.  Uh huh.  Lots of people write ridiculous questions on LJ that make no sense and no one can understand.  (And have to do with trying to justify Guina's crazy timeline for Straker!)  Sure.  Okay.  Wink
  

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Matt
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #12 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 11:11pm
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Librarian wrote on Aug 10th, 2011 at 7:42pm:
Well, there's no actual evidence that the original question was from anyone we are familiar with - but the question and responses are interesting, to say the least. :Smiley


I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. :Smiley
  

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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #13 - Aug 10th, 2011 at 11:47pm
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I already have the deed to the Clinton Bridge in Metropolis.  Grin
  

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Yuchtar
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Re: Commander Straker, his backstory, Vietnam, etc.
Reply #14 - Aug 11th, 2011 at 3:12am
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From LJ
Quote:
so why not simply accept what I tell you?


Oh, man .....    Smiley

(There is no headache smiley.)

Wow, this, uh, person needs a serious attitude adjustment.

  

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