Health & Family

A call to war that happily never came

EDITOR'S NOTE: The tumultuous events of 1968 changed America forever. To mark the 40th anniversary, we are publishing recollections.

The phone call came to my office on a warm July morning in 1968.

The Army Reserve unit, of which I had been a member until one month prior, was being reactivated. All members were being recalled to duty.

The next few days were a blur. My wife was eight months pregnant, I loved my job, I had a new house with a mortgage, car payments and all the trappings of everyday life. I started calling anyone I could think of to clarify the situation and hopefully tell me that it was all a mistake. No such luck.

I finally reached a major at the Pentagon who authorized a 30-day delay of orders for me, but only until the baby came.

Christi was born on Aug. 8, 1968. One month later I found myself at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for refresher training before deployment to Southeast Asia.

I endured the training and the inevitable hurry-up-and-wait routine of Army life.

After waiting on orders for three more months, I decided to bring my wife and new baby to Missouri to spend whatever time I had left with them.

Of course, new deployment orders never came and I spent the next 15 months there before being returned to civilian life.

The war in Vietnam was still raging and I had mixed emotions about why I had been recalled, why I was never sent over there, and why my life had been so completely turned upside down in such a short time.

In some ways I felt that I had missed my war and my chance to contribute. But when I looked at my baby daughter, I was secretly glad that I was not sent. A lot of guys would not prove to be so lucky.