Thank you to Sue for this guest post and for her encouragement when my own husband was deployed in 2012. It’s reassuring to know that high school sweethearts who were separated for more than a year during Viet Nam are still happily married 48+ years later.
On his 18th birthday, in 1965, he registered for the draft.
In May of 1966 he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
He was my high school sweetheart, my fiancé, and my best friend.
He completed Basic Training, and Advanced Infantry Training and got orders for a year of active duty in Viet Nam.
They didn’t call it deployment then, they said you were “shipping out”, which I thought was curious since they were flown in. He wanted to get married before he left, so we did. He wanted to have a honeymoon, so we spent 9 days in the Adirondack Mountains in our home state of New York savoring this precious time together.
We were 19 years old. Then it was time for him to leave. It was painful. I was lost without him. I busied myself with my full time job. My girlfriends. My sister’s four kids. I stayed at home with my parents; my family was my rock.
We exchanged letters. We wrote to each other everyday. It was our only communication for 368 days. He told of long days, complained about the heat, and he helped out at an orphanage when he had down time.
I kept him up to date with what was happening in both our families. It was the longest 368 days of our lives. In October 1967 he returned home to a very relieved wife and two very grateful families.
Did it change us? You better believe it did. We were now only 20 years old, and had endured and survived this stressful year long separation. Were we much more mature and stronger for it? Definitely.
Upon his return, we drove cross country to Monterey, California to serve out his last 7 months of active duty. We probably would never have traveled to California had it not been for this assignment. We also met a couple while there from Texas, and they remain dear friends to this day.
On a night tour of Washington, D.C. some years ago, one of the stops was the Viet Nam Memorial. As I walked down the sidewalk along the memorial, I realized that my husband was no longer with me. I turned around and he was sitting on a bench with his head bent down with both hands covering his face. I went back and sat beside him. No words were exchanged.
We have been married for 47 years. We have a grown daughter and two Grandchildren. Both of us are retired now. A year passes in the blink of an eye these days. We have never lost sight of how lucky we are to have had these years together.
Sue is a retired accountant who’s been married to her high school sweetheart, Rick for 47 years. She’s Mom to Heidi and Brian and proud Nana to Megan and Michael. She’s also Mama to a fur baby, Keeya, a Keeshond.
Sue is a rubber stamper and blogger at Sue’s Rubber Stamping Adventures. She’s been stamping for about 20 years, and has a collection of thousands of stamps. Before stamping, she sewed, made dolls, and did decorative painting. In Sue’s words, “You name it I’ve tried it.”
Sue was wonderful during my husband’s most recent deployment, during which (having never met me!), she sent us both handmade cards and notes to keep our spirits up.
I mention Sue in the following posts:
Simple Pleasures: Checking the Mail (My first letter from Sue)
Amazing Women Are Helping Me Through This Deployment
Simple Pleasures: A Good Mail Day
Letters and Cards (the end of the deployment)