It never fails to amaze me that even after I have lived as long as I have – 90 years and counting – there are individual days which stand out as clearly as they did way back when I lived them. Why that's true is obvious for some days. How, for example, could I forget the day I met my beloved wife Lolly? That day changed my entire life, and I am still enjoying the results of what at the time started as a casual invitation from a good friend to "meet some nice British girls."
No! That day I will never forget!
But there are many days which we all remember, aren't there? And while most of them are truly important moments in our lives, others don't add much more than – shall we say? – a few interesting, but not really very important moments.
I thought of one of those days this morning, a day of very little importance, but one I have never forgotten, and I thought I would tell you about it, and would then wait and see if it dawned on me, as I wrote about it, why I remember it so well. So here goes:
The day of which I speak was a quiet Sunday that occurred three quarters of a century ago in 1952, at a time my Air National Guard outfit was about in the middle of its allotted training period, after which we were sent overseas to Iceland, where we spent a year setting up a radar site in the DEW Line, or Distant Early Warning Line, which was to stretch across the northern part of the globe to give us time to respond if the Soviet Union was ever foolish enough to launch its guided missiles at us over the North Pole.
To say that getting ready to perform a useful duty was a long and laborious struggle for my outfit is possibly THE worst understatement I will ever make in my life. After about six months at Otis AFB up on Cape Cod I was so firmly convinced that we would just be sent back on inactive duty as a total failure that I actually requested a transfer from the Radio Section to the Mess Hall as a baker so that I could actually do some real work instead of wasting day after day learning – and doing! – nothing.
Why did I do that? Well, I was supposed to be training to be a radio operator, but in those six months neither I, nor any of the other men in the Radio Section had gotten ANY training of any type. In fact, our butt–headed Section NCO took us outside one morning and said – and I quote!: "Okay, youse guys here's what I want youse to do. Get outta here and get lost. Got it? Get lost. Just go out and melt inta duh lanscape, and be invisible. And I don't want youse to go outta the squadron area, neither. Just stay in the area, but stay outta da barracks because if you go inna barracks it's gonna make trouble for the section."
And that was that. It was November in Massachusetts, it was as cold as hell, we had been issued fatigues but no fatigue jackets, and we were ordered to stay outside and "get lost" for eight frigid hours every day. And we had to perform that act of invisibility in an area that was no more than a few hundred square feet in size.
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