Starting right this minute, 12:40 P.M. ON Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, the day after my daughter’s 41st. birthday, I am writing.
Christina was born in Middletown Ohio in 1974. She was her mother’s third child. She is my first and only child. The early years were tough for her. she suffered a problem-drinking father ; a mother who did not treat Christina as well as Mom treated her brother Mark.
Hers was a Cinderella story. Especially after the divorce.
I was on active duty having returned to the Navy after a four-year hiatus. I spent more than three years as a single sailor from 1967 to 1970. I spent about 15 months at Kingsville Texas, a master fighter Jet training base for Naval aviators. Then, because I was asked nicely, I volunteered to serve in-country Vietnam.
I place emphasis here because while attending college after my service career, one of my inadequate and unrealistic journalism professors – apparently unfamiliar with things outside academia, said I should take the “in-country” portion out of my story as it was not necessary.
I beg to differ.
While I take nothing away from my at-sea war fighters. They were much more comfortable miles off the coast. I served alongside Navy Seals, Navy Seawolf Attack Helicopters squadrons and many Army helicopter gunships. I carried an M-16 while on patrol and wore a flak jacket on rocket resupply runs through the traffic clogged streets of Saigon. We came under mortar attack on one of the resupply runs to Long Bien, north of Saigon.
Long story short, I was anxious to get out of the Navy after this experience. But like so many decisions, this was not to be my best. After working as a labor reserve steelworker for a couple of years and suffering layoff after layoff. I decided the Navy’s Canoe Club was a better choice after all.
But, I digress. When I returned to active duty, I was pretty much a mess. I can’t say I blamed it on my war experience. Let’s just say I was unsure of my place in the world. I pretty much ignored my wife, Alice. She seemed to prefer her friends, men and women, to spending time with me. I spent three and one-half Years aboard the USS Saratoga, CV-60 as a Navy Air Traffic Controller, the same job as I always had in the Navy.
Alice favored her son Mark and treated Christina as the help. I ignored them all and drank as often as money would allow. When I was in port, it was like a competition between Alice and me to see who could spend money faster. Me guzzling or her buying things we could not afford and treating her friends to dinner on bounced checks.
It all came to an end when I was informed via a distraught Navy wife that her husband was living with my wife – in base-housing – no less while I was overseas on med cruise.
One time, I was notified to report to the Navy Chaplain. He informed me that my wife had notified the Navy she wasn’t getting enough money from me. We checked my pay record which proved she was getting my entire paycheck while I received $18.00 every two weeks in sea pay.
More about Christina in the near future. Her life did not improve for some time thereafter.