I'll attempt to make this short, but it will be however it unfolds. Harken back to June of 1966 – the train ride we all took (well some of us anyway) from our hometown to face the greatest challenge we would ever face – Marine Corps Boot Camp. A young, very unworldly, 17 year old striking off to be counted as one of THE FEW.
Somewhere along the trip from Dallas to San Diego I meet up with one of the nicest young ladies that a young man could ever hope to meet, also traveling west to visit family in Anaheim. It seemed to us that we had found our soulmates and spent many hours talking about what the future might hold for us together. Then at one point in the very late hours I told her that I had one of the biggest days in my life about to dawn, and it would probably be wise to get a few hours sleep. We debated her going back with me, but I esteemed her a lot more than that, and I didn't want to share her with anyone. Nor did I want any comments made that would spoil such a beautiful time together. So I went back to the sleeping car with all the other recruits and service men traveling to San Diego and points south, and she went back to the family she was traveling with. Unbeknownst to me the train made a switching stop in Barstow and sent her party on north to LA and Anaheim.
The very first thing I did upon awakening was to look for her and hope that we might spend a few more stolen minutes before we had to depart for who knew how long. I couldn't search for too long as I had to get ready to debark soon in San Diego. It wasn't until some time later, while in Boot Camp, that her letters explained what happened. Obviously the first weeks are the most tortuous, and it was a credit to her and the remembrances of that train ride that helped me maintain a grasp on my former self.
The one part to this is that while I was waiting to turn 18, as my MOS is 0311, so I would have a further vacation in Southeast Asia, I was stationed at Marine Barracks Pearl Harbor in the Security Detachment, providing security for the various access gates and office buildings. Each of us were assigned to Mess Duty to complement the mess section, and it was during this time one of her letters reached me, with about 10 mail forwarding stamps. I couldn't believe it! After all the Boot Camp letters we shared, I had lost her address, and the efficiency of the military mail system was able to locate me. I had taken a break outside of the mess hall and was sitting on the envelope reading her mail, and the Gunny yelled at me about getting back to work. Of course you know what happens when the Gunny speaks. I hauled my butt back to the serving line, completely forgetting to stuff the letter back in the envelope, and lost her address forever. That is until she found me. Yet my recollections still remain vivid to this day. She found me through the Sgt. Grit website, and my post included my email address. After all those years we recently reconnected and semi caught up with how each of our lives went. She ended up marrying a Soldier (well at least she married a Viet Nam vet) and has been married all these years.
I wonder sometime how it may have been had I paid attention to that one NOW HUGE detail of saving the letter AND the envelope.
Echo 2/9 1969