Saturday, October 18, 2008

40 Years Ago

On this date, October 18th, in 1968 (40 years ago) at 11:10 am, Ethiopian Standard Time (GMT +3), I was walking on the tarmac of Asmara International Airport. I was about to board a flight to Athens, Greece, then on to Rome, Italy and from there to JFK Airport in NYC. Including layovers and time zone changes, it was a travel time of 77 hours.

As I reached the top of the boarding stairs, I gave a final salute (this was a tradition) to the guys that were seeing me off on my long voyage home. They returned the salute and I boarded. No tears on either side, just smiles and laughter.

Although you were losing a buddy, a friend, and a brother, you were happy for them. They were going home, as you would be doing yourself in the near future. I went through this ritual many times during the 6 months before I left Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia.

I have kept in contact with several of my olds friend from Kagnew. Many of us couldn’t wait until our tour of duty at Kagnew was over; so that we could return home to the States to see our families and friends. Today we will admit that we should have stayed there until the termination of military service commitment. It was a great tour of duty and some of the best times of our lives; only we didn’t realize it at the time.

The Beach Bum

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Blogger Steve Skinner said...

A work friend of mine frequently would comment that "we lived through the best of times but we never even knew it"! How sad that in life we fail to realize how we good we have it until it's way too late.

Sat Oct 18, 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the salute.

I'm glad I spent my three years at Kagnew. I left Asmara just as the great drought was starting to take hold. I remember I was crashing at Rosie's place downtown. The sight of people fighting for water from the water trucks convinced me it was time to move on.

Instead of going north like you did, I headed south to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda.


I sensed that I was in the middle of a life changing experience, so I got drunk.

Sun Oct 19, 12:10:00 AM  
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