Blog 2255 – 12.23.2021
Home For Christmas
One of the most beloved of Christmas songs is the classic from the World War Two era, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” in which the soldier promises his wife, his girlfriend, that he will be home for Christmas, “if only in my dreams.” Well, I believe if we hold them dearly in our hearts and minds and allow the Universe leeway to work its magic that dreams indeed do come true.
I was an active duty soldier durning the Vietnam War and the Universe knew that my mama had trained me well of the importance of being home with family and loved ones for Christmas and miraculous as it may sound, even though I signed up for Army enlistment on my eighteen birthday on November 22, 1968 and took a bus from Chattanooga to Knoxville, Tennessee the following Monday for a physical, testing, and induction and then another bus the next day to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to begin Basic Training, I still got to spend my first Christmas in the Army at home with family, loved ones, and friends. To get a two week leave in the middle of the eight weeks of Basic Training and even before completing the first month of a three year enlistment was unheard of then and even now, but the Universe made that happen for me and not just the first Christmas, but also the second.
My entire six month long teletype repair class that concluded the middle of August 1969 was levied into the Army Security Agency. One usually had to enlist for four years to get to be in the ASA and their specially designed teletype repair course had an additional month of training which dealt with the cyptographic gear associated with teletype equipment. It seemed the ASA was short on the teletype repair personnel in 1970 that they needed for the war effort so they waved the four year enlistment requirement in our case, the additional month of training, and held a few of us, designated for assignment to Vietnam, over in our training company as company clerks till a six month background investigation could be run by the FBI on each of us for our Top Secret Security Clearances. Early in December the ASA cut orders for us to leave our training company at the Southeast Army Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia just outside Augusta, Georgia and be relocated to Arlington Hall, Virginia, then home of the Army Security Agency, just outside of Washington, D.C. But before we were completely processed for that move the orders were changed. We were told that our security clearance were complete, which was not true at least in my case, I will explain later, and we each received order to go home for two weeks before proceeding to Oakland Army Depot, just across the bay from San Francisco for processing to fly to Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon in South Vietnam. So my second Christmas in the United States Army was also miraculously spent at home with loved ones, family and friends.
Upon arriving in South Vietnam on January 10, 1970 I began, as all the military people there did, counting off the three hundred and sixty five days of my one year tour of duty in Vietnam. The first three months of that tour, after receiving the most choice assignment to Davis Station right next to the air strip at Tan Son Nhut, arguable the most safe and secure place in all of Southeast Asia at the time, I spent cutting grass, and picking up trash around Davis Station (my security clearance was not completed yet as I had been told. I was for those first three months a “casual” reporting directly to the 509th Radio Research Group company’s First Sergeant. The 509th Radio Research Group was the designation for the Army Security Agency in Vietnam, sneaky spooks, but it was not nearly the clever disguise they thought it was. It amazed me that these “Intelligence people” had sent me all the way to Vietnam to cut grass and pick up trash.
What great lengths the Universe had to go to to make sure I spent my second of three Christmas’s at home. But there was no way that I was going to be able to “three- pete” that, or was there. In mid-November 1970, I was informed that everyone was going to get a one month drop off their year long tour of duty in Vietnam, (the War was winding down they said, but still went on several more years) another Christmas miracle tailor made for me. As with most dreams there was a slight hiccup, at first, for my orders said that after a brief two week leave at home that I was supposed to report to Asmara, Ethiopia and work my last ten months at the ASA communication center there. But after two years in the Army I understood the rules and the details of my enlistment quite well. The rules clearly stated that no hardship assignment (a hardship assignment was one so designated because you were not allowed to take a wife and family with you or because it was in a combat zone) both were true of assignments to South Vietnam in 1970, could be followed immediately by another. Secondly one had to have at least a year remaining on their enlistment to be given a hardship duty assignment and I has less than that so I called “bullshit” on the Army’s Asmara, Ethiopia plans for me and drew a new assignment after an over month long leave at home for Christmas to spend my last months as a soldier in North Carolina at Fort Bragg, near Fayetteville.
Three for three, unbelievable as it may sound to soldiers and military people everywhere, I never missed a Christmas at home during my three year active duty enlistment. During my just concluded nine years as a traveling contract inspector that has not always been the case, but most of those Christmas’s my lovely and loving wife Linda Lee traveled to see me wherever I was working, exotic places like Baggs, Wyoming, Delta, Colorado, Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Richland Center, Wisconsin, to name a few.
As my daily mantra states: “I am so glad and grateful that everything that I could ever want or need is already mine and coming to me at just the right time and it just the right way from my loving and infinite source.”
The same is true of all of us children of the Universe whether we realize it at the time or not. I recall a verse and the chorus of a song I learned in church as a lad:
“God’s way is best, if human wisdom
A fairer way may seem to show
‘Tis only that our earth-dimmed vision
The truth can never clearly know.
God’s way is best I will not murmur
All though the end I may not see
Where e’r He (She) leads I’ll meekly follow
God’s was is best, is best, for me.”
And for you too, Pilgrims.
Your friend and fellow traveler,
Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me