I'll start with 1965 the year I graduated from high school. Dee and I started going steady in Dec 1965. Dee (Doretta) graduated from CHS class of 1968. We went together for three years and three months, off and on (mostly on) before getting married on 8 Feb 1969. Rev Hopkins officiated. Four days later, on 12 Feb, I enlisted in the Army. No I wasn't tired of married life! I had my draft notice and was suppose to report on 13 Feb. By enlisting I could stay home for 120 days before reporting for duty. Dee stayed in Cairo while I went to basic training at Ft Leonardwood MO. and then on to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Ft. Eustis, VA. A friend from Mound City, Gary Showmaker and I joined together. We graduated from AIT in November 1969 and were sent to Vietnam. I returned from Vietnam in Nov 1970.
Dee and I associate everything with where we were stationed so I'll go in chronological order. We lived at Ft. Hood, TX from Jan 1971 until Nov 1973. In that span we spent four months living in Newport News, VA. while I went to school at Ft. Eustis. Steve and Sherry Clark were also there and we had a great time visiting Williamsburg, VA and Washington DC. Mike and Bunny Ice were stationed at Norfolk Naval Base and we spent many a fun weekend with them.
We were transferred from Ft. Hood to Ft. Campbell, KY and reported for duty there in Jan 1974. Do you see a pattern developing. We didn't get to stay there long as we came down on overseas orders before the first year was up. At this point I had been in four years with one more year to go. When I was told that I was scheduled to go overseas I wasn't told where. Dee and I discussed it that night. She said she'd like to go to Hawaii (she's cold natured and I guess the heat appealed to her). I on the other hand like to hunt and fish and don't mind cold weather. Having only one year left on my enlistment I could've declined to go overseas and gotten out of the Army. We decided that if it was either Alaska or Hawaii we'd stay in and go. As fate would have it Hawaii was the place. God blessed us with our daughter while we were at Ft. Campbell. We'd been trying for a couple years. Dee's sister had given us a fertility doll and he was in my bedroom at my mother's house. We had enjoyed a very festive New Year's dance at the Cairo Armory (1973) and spent the night at my mom's. We blamed everything on the doll of course. Our daughter was born 12 October 1974 at Ft. Campbell. Yes, she was born in KY!
As was our custom I would report to the new duty station and find a place to live and then send for Dee. I arrived in Hawaii in Jan 1975 and they followed within in a couple weeks. The weather was great and after six months we hated it. The Island of Oahu is 26 miles long and 40 miles wide. It took 6 hours to drive around the whole thing. It was a great experience but I don't care to go back.
From Hawaii it was back to FT. Campbell. No more fertility doll and no more children. We arrived in Jan 1978 and I left for Germany in August 1979. Dee and Heather followed in Nov. We were stationed near Nuremberg. My mother took ill in May 1980 and died. Dee's parent's Charlie and Irma Diggs visited us in 1981. They stayed about a month and we had a great time. We visited two of King Ludwig's castles, Rhine River boat tour, Black Forest Clock factories, crystal factories, and took a tour of the East/West German border. Germany is our most cherished memory. We also made great friends that we still stay in touch with. We left Germany in August 1982.
Our next stop was the Holiday Capital of the South. Ft. Polk, LA. It's located in the west central part of the state. If you've never been there don't bother. It's not worth the effort. The one highlight was Dee's parents again visited. We enjoyed a fun time going to the Louisiana Hay Ride. You true country fans will know what I'm talking about. The rest who only have the clothes and the moves will say HUH! Where's that? What's that? It's the Grand Ole Opry of the deep South and is located in Shreveport, LA. All the big names got their start there. Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Elvis Pressley. You see he's not really dead, he's just playing the Hay Ride. It was a great time. While I was at this wonderful vacation land the Army though they had better use for my talents. I was selected to attend the DOD Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base FL. I was due to report Jan 2 1984. That Christmas I had several days off so we loaded up the car and made pit stops at Memphis, Cairo and Centralia. If anyone can recall the weather was terrible with ice, snow and wind chills in the - 30 range. When we got home we found that the water pipes for the upstairs bathroom had burst in our quarters and flooded the whole living room downstairs. We had left all our Christmas presents under the tree. When we first arrived at Ft Polk we had bought a new console TV, a three piece oak wall unit, a 12X15 bound carpet, and had gotten our oak end/coffee tables and white couch, love seat and recliner out of storage. What we found was the plaster ceiling had fallen on all of it. It was the hot water pipe that had burst and soaked everything in the living room with hot water. The temperature had dropped to single digit's while we were gone and the area over the living room was not insulated when the duplex was built. The same thing had happened to many similar units on base. We had left a key with our neighbor. He came home in the afternoon and saw water running out from under our front door. I only bring this up to show how much a service spouse has to deal with. I was due to leave in four days and be gone four months. That's the mess I left Dee with. As she always said "If it's going to break, stop working, or get lost, it will happen the day after I deploy somewhere". After I graduated from school we reported to our new duty station, St Louis, MO! I had trying for 10 years to get stationed there. My official title was now Equal Opportunity Adviser. Sounds much spiffier than aircraft mechanic. I learned more about myself and human nature in that four months than I had in all my life before it. I spent the next four years working in the Civilian/Military Equal Opportunity office. We bought a house in Cahokia in 1985.
I had to spend a year unaccompanied tour in Korea July 1988-June 1989. I was there for the Summer Olympics but did not attend. The shopping is great, but the quality isn't up to par. They sell knockoff's of everything. A pair of Reebok look a like's were $7. I loaded two huge suite cases with everything I could find when I flew home for Christmas.
I returned to St. Louis after Korea. I did get to attend the party in the Desert but it was much different than being in Vietnam. Let's say I had it pretty good and leave it at that. The highlight of my last two years was I got to spend the better part of it traveling back to all the places I'd ever been. Germany twice, Hawaii, Korea, and from upstate New York and Savannah, GA to the shores of California and Washington State. From sunny El Paso to the lofty height's of Colorado Springs Dee got to travel with me part of the time. We stayed in St Louis after I retired in April 1993. After my retirement I went to work as a consultant for a company in California. I still work for them. The Army command that I did business with moved from St. Louis to Huntsville AL in the summer of 1997. We had always wanted to move back home to the Cairo area so we bought a farm house and 2 1/2 acres in America. Dee's father still lives on 36th street. She has a brother in Mounds a sister in Cairo (Hi Teresa) and a sister in Anna. Baby sister Pam lives in Memphis. My sister Linda lives in Decatur, IL.
Our daughter married her childhood sweetheart in August of 1998 and both have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They were baptized together shortly after getting married. We couldn't be prouder. Danny and Heather live in Belleville and he works for the Alton & Southern Railroad. They don't plan to have children but Dee and I remain hopeful.
As for Dee and I we are rebuilding the house and plan to be done sometime before the end of the century. Should you be in the neighborhood feel free to stop by and sit a spell. If you do drop bye and no one's home it's because we're fishing the lake behind the house so bring your poles and lawn chairs and spend a lazy afternoon with us. A word of caution, this place is habit forming so if you fall in love with it, as we did, don't blame us. If Dee's a fuming it's because something's broke and I'm traveling. The house is not for sale no matter what Dee says. Please don't drop off any stray animals as we are going broke feeding the four cats and two dogs we already have. Dee just reminded me that we are feeding a blonde lab mix that wonders the neighborhood.
A special thanks to Vicki for getting PL 2000 started and to Ken for all his hard work putting this site together.