"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Nov 10, 2013

A Soldier's Old Wife's Tale

Hail Veterans!
I was never in the Armed Forces but I was an Army Wife, so I figure that’s about as close as you can get.

There’s no question that I support our troops; always have.  But when I married in ‘74, those fellows didn’t exactly get the recognition, nor appreciation, they deserved.  It was still too soon following Vietnam, and people weren’t exactly rallying ‘round the military’s flagpoles.  I’m very glad that’s changed.

Now I’ve never seen Army Wives so I can only hope it’s not unflattering; people form bad opinions so quickly.  The Army wife-life I remember included chores like spit-shining boots and ironing fatigues,with pockets designed to torment.  I stood alongside, smiling, for each promotion photo; I may have even received some sort of Certification of Appreciation myself.

Only problem was, I could never keep my mouth shut, which was pretty much a requisite in a spouse.  In all fairness, maybe I just inherited my family penchant for  shooting a rabbit with a buckshot. I phoned General’s hot lines; I argued with Commanders if I got their ear.  My husband had more than one talking-to from a superior.

But I digress.  There was no war going on at the time, but our missile-men husbands dutifully worked their shifts at the site, situated on a remote Germany hilltop.  Nike Hercules missiles were being replaced by the new Patriots, and  many of the guys were chomping at the bit to test them out for real.

I began my Civil Service career in Kaiserslautern, West Germany, as a Clerk-Typist for the Military Police. It was one of many positions reserved for Dependent-Wives (DW) who traveled overseas with their spouse.  That meant a 12 or 18 month tour was automatically extended to 3 years, so if you didn’t have children and didn’t want to go crazy, you worked.

It was good to observe other military men in different occupations, because it gave me a better sense of what my husband was experiencing, and working in the Traffic Section helped with my German parking tickets.
One dreary winter workday I was listening to Armed Forces radio, and called to request anything by Bob Dylan, dedicated to the Kaiserslautern MP Station.  The DJ played Everybody Must Get Stoned, which pleased my boss not at all, but tickled most of the MP's.

I drove my husband to work in the early morning hours; took care of things while he was TDY; packed up household goods alone; and pretended to enjoy those military reviews.  They’re OK, but sitting in the blazing sun for hours isn’t fun.

Therefore, in addition to all the troops this Veteran’s Day, my proverbial Red Hat is off to Military Wives like pal Rita, who managed to stick it out and whose son, along with his Dependent Wife, still serve.  It’s not an easy job; I wasn’t successful at it, but I can’t complain.  I made lifelong friends, got to travel, received my college degree, and learned to make ham hocks and beans and green enchiladas.  Yum.

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