To me it is always interesting how one part of a person’s life leads onto another and how sometimes “things” happen when at the time a particular instance may be something we don’t like or is something we would not have chosen turns out to be a real learning experience or a reminder of something in the past.
During the Vietnam War I joined the Air Force Reserve, not so much to avoid the draft but I felt that I wanted to serve my country and the Air Force would be the best avenue for me to pursue.
Also about that time I started my career with UPS and when I acquired apermanent area it happened to be in a neighboring town from which Igrew up. I was very satisfied with this stroke of “luck”.
Time passed and as 1968 came to be, my time in the Air Force wasgetting short, I only had about 18 months left to serve. Life was marching on, I was getting married in July and we had bought a house ,we were all settled in to live our “normal” life.
Reality hit in March of that year, my unit was suddenly called toactive duty.I was slated to ship out the first of May and due to thefact it was only going to be a year away we decided to make the best ofit and get married before I left.
When I had enlisted in the Air Force the plan had been for me to be on flying status and train as a load master on a C- 119. During my basic training new orders were received putting me in base supply instead.This didn’t make me real happy as I was looking forward to flying to such places as New Orleans, New York, etc. on the week-ends, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to handing out t-shirts for 6 years.
Now, at 7 AM, three days before I’m scheduled to leave for Nam, the telephone rings, it’s my mom asking if I still had to go to Vietnam.She went on to say that she had just heard on the radio that my unit had been de-activated, how did she know what unit I was in, don’t think I ever told her?
Immediately calling the Wing Commander, he informed me it was true,they had decided to only take the airmen on flying status, the supply units would be staying home. Then reality hit. If I had stayed on flying status, I would be going to Vietnam. It was at that moment I realized that handing out t-shirts in base supply wasn’t so bad after all.
I immediately called my supervisor and relayed to him the above information and that my leave of absence was now canceled, I would be back to work on Monday. Being relatively new , UPS fed me the story that since I had taken a leave of absence, my delivery area had been bid on by some one else and I would have to take another area. That was wrong but it took me years to get them to admit they were wrong.
There was something about the area that fascinated and intrigued me but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, years later I would solve the mystery.
Years later, I found myself driving up I-95 , passing Richmond Virginia and contemplating what to do for the rest of the day, a sign pointing the way to Fredericksburg, Virginia caught my eye. Since I had never been there , this would be a good time to check it out.
Totally oblivious to what I would see or find, a cemetery caught my eye. My first thought was ,”Where did that come from?”
My second thought was.” Oh, it’s a Civil War Cemetery, that wasn’t here when I was here before. ”
Where did that thought come from?
More surprises awaited me, as I drove into town I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! This town is almost a carbon copy of Vevay Indiana.The main street was very similar to the main street in Vevay, the river was on the right, and there was a Rising Sun Tavern on the east side of town. My reason for spending so much time in Vevay was to be a gentle reminder of a time in the past. I had been to Fredericksburg before.
In times such as this , I get very hungry, a lunch at the Rising Sun Tavern was definitely on the agenda. Entering the tavern, it was DeJuvu all over again. Many times had I dined and drank my favorite beverage in the friendly confines of this establishment.
Walking around the town was truly amazing, just like old home week,past another cemetery which held the remains of many Revolutionary War people, both soldiers and towns people, entering the Masonic Lodge I could see myself attending many lodge meetings in an earlier era.
It all came together, if I hadn’t joined the Air Force, if my orders hadn’t been changed, and if I never had the opportunity to spend time in Vevay Indiana, this realization might have never occurred, and this experience probably would never had meant as much to me.
In the last week, I had traveled to Charleston, South Carolina and now Richmond and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Much had been shown me.
My mission had been accomplished, it was time to go home and resume my “normal” life.