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Dad didn’t start writing letters again until February after he was already in boot camp, so I’m going to try to fill in some of what happened in the meantime.

I had once heard a story about dad and Bob going to enlist in the Marines together, but one of dad’s cousins got had just been killed in Vietnam and grandma flipped out, so he went into the Army as a sort of compromise, leaving Bob all alone in the Marines.  I emailed my mom (R.) to ask about it and what happened in the ensuing time between Denver and the Army.  Her reply:

“No. they both went down to enlist in the Army, but the Army wouldn’t take Bob, because he was so little (125 lbs.) so he walked down the street to the Marines. They took him on a medical deferment with the idea of him building muscle and gaining weight; that never happened but they keep him in for the duration, only kept him stateside.”

My grandmother did confirm that my father had lost two 2nd cousins in Vietnam and the whole family was on edge about anyone else going, but it didn’t factor into what branch he served in.  Dad was very patriotic and both his father (my grandpa) and his uncles had been in the military during World War II so that just added to his feelings of obligation.  His father was part of a tank unit.

Grandma also mentioned that she had a number of letters that he wrote to her, so I’m going to pick those up this weekend.  If there’s anything compelling we may get a couple of letters to his parents included here as well.

I just realized that I haven’t mentioned this before, but Bob died from cancer in 2003.  He had been battling on and off for over three years and the last time, when I realized he might not make it through, I decided to sit down and talk to him about my dad.  I have some audio tapes that I will attempt to digitize and post as well.  At some point I would expect several daily posts to be audio only.

Mom sent me another email later the same day:

“What I’m remembering about your dad is that it was only a week or two after he came home for Labor Day, he was back for good. I believe he got his old job back at the DS service Station. Both, he and Bob went to the local enlistment office to check on the status of their draft number. There was a list, and as your number got to the top of the list, it was certain that you would be drafted; having no choice of where you went or what you did when you got there.

So, when their numbers got close to the top they headed to [a larger town nearby] for enlisting. I really don’t remember if his mom had an opinion about the whole thing. I know that they wanted him to go back to college but he felt an obligation to service because so many of his friends were being drafted and why should he get out of it because his folks had the means to keep him in college. Besides, college would be there when he got back and maybe then, he would know what his major would be. His folks wanted Civil Engineering, but after a couple of years, he changed to Economics. There was a math class that he just was not able to master in the requirements for engineering.

I don’t remember what I thought about the whole thing either. I was finishing my junior year in high school and knew we were really too young to get married….although, one night, he tried to find the owner of the service station to borrow enough money for us to elope. I’m sure glad he couldn’t find the guy. It was one of those: you do but you don’t, things.”

UPDATE: My sister just reminded me that grandma was a member of WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).  More info on them can be found HERE.

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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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