Monday, April 20, 2009

Thomas Paine and Me, or It's a Small World

By now, you've probably seen the Thomas Paine re-enactor whose videos have become some of the most popular on YouTube. He's also been featured – and interviewed – on Fox News, which is where I first saw him.

When I first saw the man in his Tom Paine character, of course I was quite impressed, but I honestly can't say I recognized him. But his voice sounded vaguely familiar.

When he was interviewed on Fox News, I learned that his real name is Bob Basso – and I thought, "Surely not!" You see, a long time ago, I had the great honor and privilege of serving as an officer aboard a ship of the U.S. Navy, the USS MAURY (AGS-16), a geological survey ship. One of my fellow officers was one LTJG Robert L. Basso.

I studied the videos on YouTube and the picture in my copy of the USS MAURY's 1963-64 cruisebook. While there was certainly a resemblance, I couldn't be sure. So I found Thomas Paine re-enactor Bob Basso's website and used it to contact him with this simple message:

Was wondering if by any chance you're the same Bob Basso with whom I served aboard the USS MAURY during the 1963-64 cruise.

5 days later (Bob's understandably pretty busy these days), he replied with the news that indeed he was the very same Bob Basso with whom I served 46 years ago.

Here are then-and-now pictures of LTJG Robert L. Basso:

Here are the links to all three of Bob's videos:
The Second American Revolution
We the People Stimulus Package
Thomas Paine On to Washington


And just to be fair about all this, here are then-and-now pictures of your humble correspondent, who was then known as LTJG Morton A. Goldberg:

It's a small world, isn't it?

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