In the mid 60’s, we were in the middle of that Vietnam conflict. A very large number of the fellows that I attended high school with were also serving or preparing to serve. My plan was to join The Indiana National Guard. This would allow me more time to assist in our family businesses.
Most of the fellows that I ran around with were also making their decisions and beginning their own military service. None of us were exactly sure of what we were getting into and how things might turn out.
On the very day that I was supposed to sign my papers and take my oath, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. Our country virtually came to a halt for several days. It was about a week before our government was back up and operating. I wasn’t inducted into the Indiana National Guard for about a week. I believe my induction date was November 27, 1963.
The next spring, I was scheduled to begin my basic training at Fort Knox, KY. I had been assigned to the aircraft maintenance repair unit for the Indiana National Guard. My eight-week training at Fort Knox started in April of 1964.
After basic training, we were given a 2 week pass before going to the advanced training portion of our service. I was back home and really enjoyed my short time. My next training assignment was going to be at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Because I would be returning home after that training, I was allowed to drive myself to Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
I was one of the few guys in my training unit that had an automobile available for time when we had some free time.
On one of our free weekends, several of us climbed into my car on Friday evening to leave the base and have some fun. We were driving south toward Baltimore to find a good place for dinner when I noticed something that I almost couldn’t believe. I saw an automobile pulling a small vacation house trailer in the lane to my left and just about 4 cars ahead of me.
I had the opportunity to pull up next to it at the next traffic light. I honked my horn and waved. Inside that automobile were my mom, my dad, my sister and her roommate at IU, Sandy. I knew that mom and dad had this trip planned but I had no clue that it had started. My classmates in my car were also shocked. We had a great weekend and my sister and her roommate both stayed in contact with a couple of my classmates for a few years.
It was about this time of the year when I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. One of my best buddies, Ron Browning was in the U.S. Navy and he was stationed some miles south of Baltimore. We stayed in contact and made a plan to meet in Baltimore for a weekend. I picked him up at the Baltimore bus station and we began the most memorable weekend we could have even planned.
During our Saturday and Sunday weekend pass, we attended a Baltimore Orioles major league baseball game. This was a late season game maybe even a playoff game. We also went to a Baltimore Colts NFL football game. The Colts were still in Baltimore at the time and they were just a few games into the season. Finally, we also attended a Baltimore Bullets NBA pre-season basketball contest.
I’m sure that was the only weekend that this could have been possible. Just think about a couple of young guys from Southport being stationed near Baltimore and able to have a weekend that offered a pro baseball, a pro football and a pro basketball game in those two days.
As I used to hear on television all the time, “I love it when a plan comes together”.