Monday, June 01, 2009

A Warm Fuzzy From A Friend

Tonight I received a very touching email from an old Army buddy. He is a member of my email group of old Kagnew Station friends. I recently admonished the group for being too political and for their one line obscene comments (that are made all in jest and friendship). It’s not that I mind obscene language; I hate one line emails. I feel that email should be the same as writing a letter and sending it to a friend (would you waste the cost of a postage stamp on what you have just written?).

I knew my re-found friend Paul (Loopy) for only a very short time at Kagnew. I was a new guy and he was a short timer. I have one black and white picture of us sitting together in the enlisted man’s club (Oasis) with several other guys and two local young ladies. He was more of a friend of a friend than a personal friend. But he was a character that one could never forget. He had a quick wit with very good verbal acumen. I, as well as others in our group, had searched the Internet for years seeking him. Surprisingly he found us.

I would like to share this email which he sent to me tonight:

Every so often I sit back and think about members of my family who I knew so well but never "really knew." I grew up with my 2 brothers and my sister who were all a bit older than myself. As each reached the ripe old age of eighteen, they one by one moved away from home to begin their own lives. The people I thought I had known became strangers as they formed new friendships, new experiences, and new ideas and ideals.

At eighteen, the age when all young men believe that they know everything, I was learning about myself and my world. My eighteenth birthday was celebrated as part of a basic training company at Fort Ord, CA. I made friends there. I served in other units from Fort Lewis, WA to Fort Huachuca, AZ and then got out of the Army. There were more new friends at each new duty station. I re-enlisted in 1965 and found myself at Fort Devens, MA, the place of my birth. My Father was a career Army man stationed there in 1942 with the 18th Inf. Rgt.

My return to Fort Devens was as part of the Army Security Agency, which was totally misnamed as we were training in Intelligence, not Security. I served in different duty stations during the last 4 years of my hitch. It was at Kagnew Station, a strategic listening post located atop the Hamassian Plateau in the then Province of Eritrea, Country of Ethiopia, where I met more young men who I called "friends."

Many years have passed since I last saw or spoke to any of them and some I knew of but really didn't know since we all wore the facade of the people we wanted so desperately to be seen as being. About eighteen months ago, I happened upon a web site dedicated to that long ago duty station and while scanning the visitors log, happened upon several names of old room-mates. Only one had a current phone number and I became reacquainted with a group of these grizzled old Vets.

This group of old Vets remind me of the family I used to have when I was a kid. The vulgar jokes, ribald stories, exaggerations that become greater every time an old story is retold, petty spats, hurt feelings and making up again all remain just like they were in those old days of my childhood. These men have become my family because of all the shared experiences, good and bad. I have come to depend upon the morning ritual of turning on the computer and checking for incoming mail. This group of men have been together as a support group with an annual reunion for a number of years before I stumbled upon them and I know that they looked for me as they did each other.

Due to my responsibilities as a full time caregiver for my bride of almost 40 years, I am unable to attend their reunions, but I hope that they know that I am with them in spirit. My bride asked me recently how long I had known these men. There was only one answer I could possibly give her that would tell her, them, and the world just how much they have meant to me. That answer was, "Not long enough!"

Loopy


Thank you, Paul, it made my day!

The Beach Bum

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7 Comments:

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My sentiments, exactly. rwh 058 "D" trick 1964-1965.

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