My day at the rifle range was finished when First Lieutenant Tarry (my executive officer) handed me my orders. I was stunned and remember feeling sick. “This can’t be right, I have a year retention of duty.” Immediately I went to headquarters and confronted the Squadron First Sergeant. He explained that I had re-enlisted as a Corporal and my subsequent promotion to Sergeant meant all future orders would come from Headquarters Marine Corps . . . I basically hadn’t read the fine print in my contract.
How was I going to explain this to Jenny? We had only been married five months and were not prepared for this turn of events. I knew she wasn’t going to be happy with this news. When showing her the orders it was all code to her so I explained, “These are orders to Vietnam.” She looked at me as if it’s a Halloween prank but reality sunk in quickly.
Kids started coming to the door with their Trick-or-Treat bags and I passed out treats while Jenny stayed out of view. She was grim faced and puffy eyed with a growing pile of Kleenex. It was the most miserable Halloween we have experienced.
We didn’t sleep much that night . . . Jenny made a decision to return to Fresno State and finish her degree while I was in Vietnam. In retrospect it was a relief for me, as I had guilt feelings about her not finishing college after completing her junior year. We now had 50 days to make a plan and get things in order.
Next edition: How did we get here?