Not the best news as I was going to miss a big New Years celebration with my girlfriend, Marilyn Hosbach from East Tawas, Michigan, but to not be at my company when they left would be the same as desertion, which did not have good consequences.
So off I went spending new Years Eve on a jet back to Hawaii that was nearly empty. The only plus was each of us were given a full magnum of champagne since the flight had so few passengers.
The great surprise when arriving at my company, was that I had been transferred to another battalion as just a grenadier. The First Sargent had the last laugh. I now had to face the reality of all the training I had missed. True to my nature, I believed I would find a way to survive, and I’m here writing this story.
Now more than 50 years later things have not changed much. Viet Nam for me was simply not the nightmare so many endured. It was bad enough, but I chose not to focus on that. What was worse than Viet Nam was losing my Dad just a few weeks after getting back in a car wreck. This again only deepened my feelings of abandonment.
He was able to demonstrate his feelings with my three sisters, but never with me. Anger was generally what I created with Dad, but he usually responded in silence. Hugs and terms of endearment were not part of my Dad’s way. He did show it in other ways, but what I craved were the physical. I got neither from my Mother or Father.
My father an I had always had a strained relationship, as I was not the dependable worker or son he would have desired. My Dad was all that and more. While I would haphazardly get things done, it was usually not in a way that pleased my Dad. My greatest challenge was wanting to do things my way, not Dad’s or Mom’s. I’m not sure if I was typical for a teenage boy, but I was definitely irresponsible.
To make matters worse, I tried to cover my tracks with contrived accounts, or in other words mistruths. Commonly known as lies. My acting career started very early in life, as my performances on a daily basis were very convincing. This was good on stage, but not for everyday life.
So after Viet Nam, Dad and I had a new respect and relationship. I was a battle tested veteran, which my Dad was not. While he was part of the reserve forces in Japan during WWII, he never fired a shot. Now he could look at his son as having lived through something he had not. Most active military always ask themselves the questions of, “what if?” So for the first time we saw each other with different eyes and attitudes. Then in a flash he was gone.
I was twenty, and nearly ready to strike out on my own. A few more months in the Army and I was free. Free to continue my survival in life feeling like a stranger.