CAMPING WITH FRIENDS
PREFACE: The military, like any large organization, is a community of individuals and groups with divergent cultural, racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds. It has been my experience that these differences should be inconsequential in our dealings with each other. Accordingly, we should not be judged nor judge others in this manner. Instead the individual is to be judged by his behavior and his character not by how he/she looks or social standing. Everyone is equal in God’s eyes. And this rule should guide us.
These truths were taught to our children and guided our relationships with others insomuch as possible. Out of these beliefs, relationships were formed, friendships were strengthened and each the better for it. The following story is about friendships that lasted for just a short time but were meaningful. Memories they were the best and fondest of all.
STORY: Phyllis and I were both fairly active in the years we were in the military. Phyllis in particular, mastered a number of craft skills, such as tole painting, crochet, embroidery, oil painting, and other like hobbies which required a lot of learning and practice.
I made a fashion statement with my selection of pantsOne of activities in which we both participated was bowling. She was naturally better at the sport than I and she demonstrated her superiority frequently. We had fun and joined a mixed bowling league. We joined along with two other couples who became friends.
As we look back, they were more than friends. In a way they became family. We could talk about any subject openly and honestly, laughing and enjoying each others’ company. I should tell you more about this relationship.
The orders that I received at the end of my second tour in Vietnam was to report to the U.S. Army Infantry Advance Course, Fort Benning, Ga. We did so after celebrating a late Christmas in January.
Captain Ray Sales erecting the tent. The family arrived and settled in and before long we fell into a routine which usually included work and camping. The Advance course was a intensive 9 month examination of company leadership in a variety of complex scenarios. We sometimes worked in teams to arrive at the best solutions. This is where I met Ray, the humblest and most genuine person I met in the Army.
I don’t remember the Captain, a team member, keeping score with Phyllis. Our team was called “beats me”
His wife, Gloria was equally gifted. This is the first and only real friendship that Phyllis and I had while in the service. We had the Sales and other couples to our house for a food and games. It was such a success that other couples volunteered and it became a regular social event. We had much in common. We were career military families, attending the same School. Most of the men had recently returned from Vietnam.
At about the same time we joined a mixed bowling league. It was more than a bowling outing it was a fun with friends. Bowling scores were secondary, the joking and laughter were the main thing. When asked what we should name our team, I responded, “beats me”. And that was it. Naturally, camping was next. I called Mrs Davis, to make sure our black friends would be welcome at the lake. She explained that she would not, because she would lose other campers. I think that was a cover for her real reason for rejecting my request.
Well that settled that. Instead, we went a National Park near Callaway Gardens, about 45 miles North of Columbus.
We had fun with Ray and Gloria and their family. Look closely at the photo, see Phyllis smile.