Two Ships

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How long and when have I been separated from my wife?

Barb has always said the Air Force already owned me before she came along. In many ways that was true. My oath demanded that my first duty was to my country. Though she never said it in so many words I always felt there was a certain amount of resentment that she rated second.

She was nineteen when we began dating. She was still at home some one hundred miles south of Portland, Oregon while I was stationed about forty miles north of Sacramento, California. Every time I had two days off in a row I headed for Oregon. It was a thousand mile round trip, and I chose to ignore the fifth mile limit imposed on us grunts. In June 1962 I married Barb and took to California.

Because she’d seldom seen temperatures greater than eighty degrees we rented a travel trailer in the mountain village of Rough and Ready, eighteen miles east of Beale Air Force Base and moved in. Hardly a month had passed before the powers that be cut orders as outlined in a previous post, “Can You Fix It?”.

“Where am I going?” I asked. “That’s classified,” they replied. “How long will I be gone?” I asked. “That’s classified, too. Your orders are on a need-to-know basis. Be in Base Operations prior to 0200 hours on the date indicated.”

So before we’d been married two months I left my nineteen-year-old bride in our little mountain village with only the promise I’d call her when I could.

It turned out to be “Operation Wide Path.” I was gone a week and a few days.

Then the Cuban Missile Crisis developed and I was confined to on base for about two weeks. Barb was on her own. I simply didn’t come home until the crisis was over.

Then I received change-of-duty-station orders. Our oldest daughter had yet to see the light of day. When she was five days old I traveled from Beale Air Force Base, California to Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico. Evie wasn’t allowed to leave the continental United States before she was six weeks old. She had Barb had to stay behind.

So there you have it. In the fifty-three plus years of our marriage Barb and I have been separated close to three months.

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