The Idi Amin Fan Club

by Capt. Ken Kahn

In 1977, I was in Frankfurt, relaxing in chair in the lobby of the hotel. The guy sitting across from me looked familiar and turned out to be from Seaboard operations. I asked him what he was doing in Frankfurt and he laughed, telling me that he was there to set up the coffee lift from Entebbe, Uganda to Djibouti that we would be doing for Idi Amin. I knew that the U.S. State Department had issued a travel alert for Uganda as a place that "poses significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens" and that flights to such places could only be flown by volunteers. I contacted our union chief, Capt. Bill Bond, and told him about the company's plan. He informed the company about the volunteer requirement. However, the company always did what it thought it could get away with. Some time later, when I was back in New York, I got a call from crew scheduling, assigning me to the Entebbe operation. I informed the scheduler about the restriction and told her that I was not volunteering. Shortly thereafter, a got a call from our boss, aka "Captain Wonderful" (CW). This is how the conversation went, to the best of my memory:

CW.  Ken, I understand that you refused an assignment.

KK.  No CW, I did not refuse an assignment; I declined to volunteer.

CW.  What is your objection.

KK.  My objection is that Idi Amin is a maniac. According to the news, he killed 100,000 of his own people and ate some of them.

CW.  Ken, he's not that bad.

Although I can be pretty contentious, I was at a loss for words. I didn't expect CW to defend Idi Amin but he had no shame. I told him that the operation could only be flown by volunteers, that he knew it, and that I was not volunteering. That was the end of it.

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