It's the late 1960s, and this U.S. Marine Corps pilot fish is charged with keeping track of more than 100,000 Marines in the Western Pacific and Hawaii — using, fish says, "an IBM 1401 mainframe and lots of cards."

Which means fish spends much of his time traveling between Vietnam, Hawaii and Washington, updating the ranks and specialties of the Marines and how long it's been since they were rotated into or out of Vietnam.

As Christmas approaches, fish is in D.C. with his headquarters counterpart, frantically working on a semiannual staffing report.

"Because only one airline was serving Hawaii, I booked my return flight for Dec. 24 so I could be with my family for Christmas," fish says. "Next available flight was the middle of January."

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