Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Flawed Legacy - 10

I was devastated by my loss and I guess it showed.  My boss told me to take ten days off and gave me an address of a home I could visit and be refreshed.  My secretary started to cry every time I came into her office.  She and her husband had been our guests at a restaurant when we gave them what was then, the truly good news.  I decided to take my boss's offer.

It so happened that in the house next door was another friend from Japan and he was now stationed in the Pentagon,  To make a longer story short, I only stopped at Eglin to pick up my clothes and personal items and was on my way to Washington, to the Pentagon.  Wow!  I was instantly amazed and wondered what I might be doing next.  It so happened that when the war broke out in Korea, they had   called up the Reserves in a hurry and made some serious mistakes.  People were hurt by the move and it would be my job to investigate, looking for the facts in many of the claims.

I would be given a file on each person stating everything the the government, the Air Force, knew about the individual and a copy of their personnel records, so that I knew a lot about them.  I was sent on temporary duty to the ROTC unit in the closest college to where they currently lived, so that I could "just happen to run into them" and talk about their experiences  in the call up.  Some guys had made a bad mistake, saying things they should not have said and then there were the others who were seriously hurt.  Like the reserve Sergeant from St. Louis whose orders to report were so urgent that he would lose the business he had started after WW II, his wife left him and married another man and he had effectively lost contact with his children.  Fortunately, based on my testimony and the facts of the matter, his case was reviewed and he received a substantial award to cover some of his losses.  He had confided in me that before we had met, he was seriously considering suicide.

His case and others not quite as drastic motivated me to go a good job, but the more cases I reviewed, the more I was sickened by the attempts of some to - as one guy told me, "...pick up a little extra money" merely by claiming he was cheated by the government.  "No one cares," was his excuse.

The travel and some of the stories I had heard began to wear on me and when I discovered that a Colonel I had served under in Japan was now stationed at Scott AFB, IL, I applied for a transfer and got it - and another award for my service.  Scott field is one of our oldest bases, but it was better than the beach in Florida.  Besides, they had two major league baseball teams.  While I was in Japan I had played a lot of baseball and had managed a women's softball team, made up of the wives of many of our fighter pilots.  As a youngster, I had lived and breathed through the play of "my" Detroit Tigers.  As a member of the Armed Forces, we had free admission to the games in St. Louis and as veterans, we also got a lot of "free" beer from appreciative fans.  We had to wear our uniform so we were paid a lot of attention from others in the stadium.

My job on base, however, was something else.  I did not work for my friend, the Colonel, but had a number of jobs that really did little to challenge me.  I was - in a word, bored.  I tried travelling around on the weekends, to Chicago and parts of Illinois, but my favorite was exploring the "other side" of the State of Kentucky.  Fascinating world, so unlike other places I had ever been.

Then I received "good" news.  When I had re-enlisted in 1949, I signed onto an "indefinite" enlistment requiring me to serve for three more years, but after that I was free to resign at my request, and so now, it was late August and I could resign to enter college.  That became my plan, resign, go to college, get a Reserve commission as an officer and return to the military when I graduated.

So I called my Mother in Atlanta and an "on again/off again" girl friend in Denver, telling each one, the first one to help me get in college was where I planned to live for the  next four years.  Mother won, easily.  Within a week, I had a call from the Dean of Students at Georgia Tech, hoping to welcome me when classes opened in September,  It was a slam dunk.  I was headed for Georgia.

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