Now, I’m a little fuzzy on the sequence of events in these next few months. I’m not fuzzy on what happened, just when. I had been seeing this one young lady (whom I’ll call Penny) in particular and she decided she wanted to keep in contact, even though we’d had a really rough relationship. I think this is how it went. But, if there is anyone out there that remembers better, go ahead and drop me a line.
I went to Abilene to do my training. There, out in the vast openness of Northern Texas, I wrote a number of songs to express my feelings. I also came face to face with a big, hairy spider. Now, I don’t like regular spiders much less big and hairy ones. But, I wasn’t gonna let it get the better of me. So, I screamed for someone to “get it” and someone did. Taught that spider to mess with me!
Meanwhile, I’m communicating with this “Penny” who has now moved from Florida to West Virginia to live with her Granny, along with her cousin (whom I’ll call “Anne”). I had some Leave coming before heading overseas. So, she suggested that I stop in to Granny’s on my way home. So, I did. I took a flight to West Virginia (not sure which airport), took a bus to the closest town from Granny’s. In town, I stopped at a store and asked about where Granny’s place was. Well, the store owner knew her. So, he took me there, driving around between mountains on both sides of a winding country stream and ended up at Granny’s place.
Now, you have to admit, Granny (and Grandpa) were the nicest people you’d ever meet. They had to be to take in a traveling Service man for a day or two just so their granddaughter could see him before he headed off to war. And it was nice getting to know her cousin. She was a few years younger and very pretty, sort of shy, but not. I only remember a few things, like walking down country roads and such.
Then, I was off to home. A few weeks later I was on my way to Vietnam.
Vietnam. Wow! I have a whole lifetime of stories to tell about that year. Way too much for here. But, there basics are that:
- My first few months were just like Mash, living in a Quonset Hut with 5 other guys.
- I worked on a cargo plane, C-7, de Havilland Caribou, #168
- I preferred my camera over a gun.
- It was either blazingly hot or massively wet most of the time.
- There were people trying to kill us, once in a while.
- I wrote a ton more songs.
I’d get letters from both “Penny” and “Anne” fairly regularly. But, one day, “Penny” said she’d met someone else and so, goodbye. But, “Anne” continued to write.
So, skipping over about 40 pages of stories, it’s now the end of my tour and the USAF is retiring our planes and flying them home. We installed an extra fuel bladder in the cargo bays just so they could make it to Hawaii to refuel and make the next hop to the mainland. Well, guess who’s plane didn’t quite make it, running out a fuel and ending up in one of the bays (San Francisco, maybe?). Yep, there was a clipping from the local paper of the tail sticking out of the water with 168 on it plain as day. Dang!
Well, I made it home, and on to my next duty station of Andrews AFB, outside Washington, DC. Now that I was “home,” I was hoping that I could get to see “Anne” again. But, she had moved to Louisville by that time and it was just too far for me to travel. After a while, I gave up on the idea and told her so in my last letter. I never heard from her again.
While at Andrews, I finally decided to buy a car. Well, I made several weekend trips back to New York now that I had wheels. But, that didn’t last long. On one trip, someone ran a red light in Baltimore (outside the airport) and smashed up my whole front passenger side: bent the frame and everything. Left the car there to get fixed and was without wheels for over a month. Got it back in time to drive it home after getting my final discharge from Active Duty.
Also, while at Andrews I wrote a number of songs that I still play. But, that’s mostly covered in the other section.
Another notable event: on one of my trips home before my car got wrecked, I met one of my sister’s girlfriends. She and I got along quite well, which escalated after I got out of the Air Force.