Page one 1984 Olympic Memories 1984 Logo 1984 Logo
Behind the Scenes - 1984 Los Angeles Olympics
by Joe Payne

Thanks from

 the Olympic Committee
Diplomatic Security * 2010 Year in Review
In November, 2010, the Department of State's, Diplomatic Security signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Olympic Committee formalizing Diplomatic Security's protection responsibilities for Team USA during major international events.
Where to begin in my story of how special the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were to me.  If I begin at the end then it would include one of the most exciting and fascinating stories of transportation and Olympic camaraderie and pageantry.  I think to get the full meaning of my behind the scenes stories we should begin by going back to Tazewell, Tennessee and the hot Summer of 1984.

I had just returned from Washington, D.C. where I had been employed for most of 1983 by the United States Department of State seeking a position with the Diplomatic Mail and Pouch Department as a Diplomatic Courier.  This had been my attempt at a third Security Clearance and with the events occurring in the Middle East during 1983 all Agents doing Clearances had been pulled off their tasks to devote more time to what was eventually to become Homeland Security.

My brother, George Payne, had retired as Special Agent in Charge for the Washington Field Office, U.S. Department of State, early in 1983 and had been conversing with John Underwood,former Knoxville Police Department officer who had been Asst. Director of Security and director of internal control during the 1982 Worlds Fair in Knoxville.  Mr. Underwood had been asked to bring his team from Knoxville to Los Angeles to head up security for that event.  He invited my brother who had taken residence in Tucson, Arizona with his family to Los Angeles to interview for a position with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC).  My brother had done so and was hired weeks before the event and once the Olympics began would head up security for the Western Sector with base at Santa Anita Racetrack, Arcadia, California.

There had been talk of the Weather Underground, a U.S. radical group, planning an attack with a large quantity of plastic explosives during the Games.  Bella

Betsy and Eddie

George and Pat
George (Eddie) and our sister Betsy to left at Santa Anita Race Track the Sunday before Easter in April 1984.  George and Pat Payne during the Olympics above.

Rosenberg had been arrested for carrying 740 pounds of dynamite and other weapons for the Weather Underground, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group.

The Soviet Union and 13 Communist allies stay home in a payback for the Americans boycotting the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because of a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (See CNN News Report)  High-tech metal detectors are used at the entrance of each venue for the first time in history.   The British Equestrian Team had brought specially fitted gas masks for their team horses and had tried to embarrass the American's by putting them on to protest having the event in the smog of Los Angeles. But as you will see by my pictures the air was fresh, crisp and clean all during the 16 days of the event.

I had been busy with getting the family property spruced up in hopes of making enough money to buy an airline ticket to Los Angeles just to visit my brother for a
  short time before the games began.     I had nine acres of freshly planted timothy and clover hay that I traded a friend, State Trooper Doug Tripp mowing and hauling services for half the hay. I sold my half for enough money to buy my ticket.   I had mowed another eight acres rented from TVA and sold enough fence posts and firewood to cover most of my expenses once I got there.

My brother had been bringing many of the family out to visit. George, Eddie to his Tennessee family, had his Airstream trailer set up on Malibu Beach at the Malibu Beach RV Park, where he had spent the better part of the Spring employed by the LAOOC. This is where I took up residence once arriving in Los Angeles. I went to work immediately at Marina Del Ray in the badge processing center. I drove in with my brother as I had done years before when we both worked for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Those early morning drives were always filled with upbeat encouragement by my big brother who was known for his ability to lead and encourage most anyone he felt worthy of his time.

Snata Anita Front Gate Santa Anita Park

Knowing that once the Olympics began we would be moving the Airstream to Santa Anita Park Racetrack in Arcadia where the Western Sector of the Olympics were headquartered and that my brother would be responsible for several events taking place in that Sector the excitement began to mount as time neared.   Before the Equestrian Event began there was a parade of horses from all over the United States.  All breeds registered with any of the American horse breeding associations was represented.  I took a few pictures from behind the event stadium as they entered the arena.

Prince Phillips arrives Prince Philip of England arrives in Los Angeles.

Prince Philip the chairman of the International Olympic Committee and members of his committee toured Santa Anita Race Track to inspect the facility for the coming Olympics in 1984. Michelle Macfarlane drove her four-in-hand team of Hackney Horses, which she purchased in Britain, with the committee on board. During the ride, knowing that Prince Philip was a renowned whip, she asked him if he would like to drive the four-in-hand, he politely declined. (Pictures I took of the Macfarland Carriage)

Prince Philip, who has had more influence than anyone on the way international equestrian sport has developed, was in 2007 inducted into the British Horse Society's Equestrian Hall of Fame.

He followed in the footsteps of his daughter, the Princess Royal, who was already on that Roll of Honour.

Prince Philip remains the longest-serving President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), from 1964-1986, during which time he instigated jumping's Nations Cup series, which has evolved into the Samsung Super League, and actively encouraged the foundation of the Show Jumping World Cup, which in turn spawned World Cups in other disciplines under the aegis of the FEI.

Also added to the Hall of Fame, at the Household Cavalry barracks in Knightsbridge, were husband-and-wife show jumpers Ted and Liz Edgar, Mary King, a member of Britain's silver medal three-day event teams in the Athens Olympics and the 2006 World Championships, and, posthumously, Wilf White, a member of the gold medal team at the 1952 Olympics.

Opening Ceremonies Opening Ceremony Summer Olympics 1984 
  For the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics the peristyle end of the Los Angeles Coliseum was transformed to accommodate an orchestra, choir, dancers, buglers, and many other performers. The stage was prefabricated and assembled on the field, just outside of the track. The dancer's platforms and planter boxes were assembled over the stadium seats. Behind the choir, risers were installed to elevate the buglers and also to mask the addition of a special platform that was used during the "torch lighting ceremony". A special stairway was built at the top of the center aisle to reach the platform that housed the "torch lighting stairs". All of this scenery, except a very small orchestra riser, had to be struck after the opening ceremony so the peristyle end of the stadium could be used by the public and athletes the next day.

Opening Ceremony During the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics opening ceremony a man took off and landed in the middle of the main stadium with the help of two small jet engines fitted in his backpack. From then almost 20 years have passed by but we haven't made much headway in this direction by meeting the burning desire of the whole humankind of having its own wings like birds and fly like birds in sky.


 to top The torch lighting stairs were mechanically and structurally designed and engineered and fabricated by Ethan Silva. The hydraulically operated stairs lifted a 4'x 8' platform 30' into the air. When the stairs were closed they became flush with the surrounding stage. This picture was taken during testing in the shop.

Olympic Badge I had no idea what I would be doing during the events but had taken a 3 day training course in Security so that I could have the badge designated as Infinity.  I had attended several security briefings and social gatherings and was really excited about the prospect of becoming involved in some way in the event.  I never dreamed that I would be asked to become Assistant to the Transportation Director, George DeWitt, at Santa Anita, employed by the Santa Anita Turf Club as a Security Driver.  I had dual roles during my three weeks which included transportation of athletes and Officials and helping schedule and see that Volunteer Staff had their schedules at the beginning of each day.  My very first task was assigned about a week before the opening day.  All horses coming into the country had to go through quarantine at special facilities near Los Angeles International Airport.  It was my duty to drive the Brazilian Olympic Team's groomsmen to and from the facility for two weeks. 

This meant my day started Santa

 Anita Badge about 4:00 a.m.  I then returned to Santa Anita to pick up schedules for the seven drivers who routed officials all over the city, also making sure all cars were fully fueled and food chits were given to each volunteer for their meal or meals during their long day.  My day lasted on an average of 12 hours but with the intelligence and ability of the Volunteer Staff in Los Angeles it made my job so much easier.

We were at first told that there would be chosen from two of the Turf Club drivers one to escort Prince Philip's detail. He had of British group

 with Prince Philip course brought his own security and had his silver Jaguar flown from England and made it clear he wanted none of our drivers in his processions.  A local Los Angeles man was given the task of trying to "chase" Prince Philip's procession all around the area.  The Prince was known to spend much of his time away from the formalities of the event.  I was chosen to begin meeting many of the Royals from Europe at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and deliver them to their prospective hotels.  There were several Barons from Germany, one Prince from Russia and countless Lords and Lady's.  Many spoke little or no English so my badge and official car served as proof most of the time that I was there to drive them.  

The group of people to the right were a most delightful group of Brits that accompanied Prince Philip and the International Equestrian Federation (F.E.I.).   We were together quite often as I was assigned to drive them to a couple of other events.  I was able to secure an official vehicle and with LAPD escort took them to the diving competition at USC where this picture was taken.

Having been involved with show horse competition prior to shifting to horse racing, Alan Balch who was the competition director for the 1984 Olympic events at Santa Anita, knew that Prince Philip was a very accomplished horseman who played polo and even invented competitive "combined driving" of up to four horses pulling a carriage or sled. In fact, His Royal Highness competed at the world level. The plan was to have Prince Philip drive the Clydesdales to deliver the medals to the podium. After several dry runs the day of the ceremony the Prince as you see in the picture to the right preformed in outstanding fashion.

The letter to the left and the picture on the right are from this website commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Equestrian Event.

Now to mention another event that comes from the link above. My brother and I were in on the following situation, and as a matter of fact were in charge of seeing that Joe Fargis arrived back from San Diego and to the Coliseum on time for the closing ceremonies. We, being myself, the young lady I had picked to be my partner for the closing, Fargis, Balch and others, were all in a Mercury station wagon on the way to the Coliseum when we heard over the two-way that a helicopter had gone down. There were no confirmed reports as to whether it was an act of terrorism or an accident and it did heighten all our attention for a few brief minutes until there was conformation that it was an accident, with no apparent injuries.

Olympic organizers wanted to re-stage the final medal presentation for the crowds at the Coliseum and the TV audience tuning in to see the closing ceremonies. Medal winners, including Joe Fargis, who won gold medals for the U.S. in both individual jumping and team jumping on his great mare called Touch of Class, were given the option of taking their winning horses with them or substituting other horses for the ceremony that was miles away. A more detained explanation of what took place is on the next page.