A few years before 4:20 became a code for “let’s smoke pot,” Diane and I were married on that day, which today happens to be our 52nd celebration of that union. Why certain people chose to use this code for their activities isn’t clear to me, they just did. It doesn’t matter. What’s important to me is that we claimed it first. So, there.
To make it to the wedding I went home on leave from the Navy between duty stations to capture my bride. I was transported from the USS Cleveland, off the coast of the Viet Nam DMZ to Danang where I awaited a day for my flight home. According to the folks who made my air reservations, Okinawa was my next duty station and that’s where they ended my flight. I was a long way from Warren and on a time limit so I was a little flustered. After talking to a lot of people, I convinced them that they owed me a trip to CONUS (Continental US) since I was transported from Viet Nam and I wasn’t going to spend my 30 days of leave on Okinawa.
I was booked on a flight leaving the next day and stayed awake the entire 30 some hours to make sure nothing changed and I didn’t miss it.
When I boarded the Air Force C-141 for my flight I wasn’t prepared for the cargo they were hauling back to the states. The plane was full of aluminum caskets containing the remains of GI’s killed in Viet Nam. I didn’t count the caskets, but I felt compelled to walk amongst them, reading the names of who they contained. It wasn’t likely that I would know any of them, and I didn’t, but there was a need in me to do that. There was no pomp and circumstance involved in their loading (to my knowledge) so my little tiny bit of recognition seemed to be important. This was in 1968 when military people were generally despised by the masses.
The flight ended for me in Anchorage, Alaska where I voluntarily jumped ship and got a flight south to Portland. In Anchorage I called Diane to alert her of my pending arrival and boarded a more suitable airplane to Seattle. When I arrived there, I called Diane again to let her know that I would be in Portland in about 30 minutes.
Although Warren is about an hour’s drive to PDX, Diane made it there before my flight. Part of that was because she was driving my 1966 Chevelle Sport Coupe. It was quick, and she was determined.
She gathered me up and got me home on the 16th or 17th of April. Thankfully, all of her plans were in place for the big event. All I had to do was show up.
She selected the 20th because both of our birthdays are on the 20th and she thought I would be inclined to remember it.
The wedding was awesome. I got to marry my high school sweetheart and Bethany Lutheran Church was filled to capacity for us. It was an amazing turnout for two skinny kids from Scappoose (me) and Warren (her).
My leave period ended very quickly, too quickly, before I had to catch my flight back to Okinawa. Diane couldn’t go with me because she didn’t have her passport. She did, however, fly with me to Travis AFB, her first time on an airplane.
When she got her passport we arrange her travel from Portland to Okinawa, a trip she had to make on her own. She was a brave woman, but I knew that.
Taking that first step with me turned out to be a 20-year career for her as a Navy Wife. She professes to have loved pretty much every minute of it. So have I, and we’re still enjoying our time together.
Here’s the last selfie I took of us together at Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were when the pandemic began and everyone was ordered to stay inside.