On June 1, 1971, I became a civilian after 22 years in the Air Force. My wife, Florine, and Amy, our daughter who began her sixth grade in Woodville Elementary School, moved back home to Georgia and decided to settle in Habersham County, as it lay between my folks in Rabun County and Florine’s folks in Banks County. Here, in June 2017, we still abide, except Amy is now married to Keith Pointer and they have two children, Alex and Kelley who are in college. I’m amazed that so much has happened since coming home.
From my childhood years as a boy growing up on a farm in lovely Germany Valley, Rabun County, Georgia, I feel life has been an amazing journey that gave me opportunities to experience many far travels all across our amazing country and the vast Pacific Ocean to experience Korea in that war, then three interesting years at Clark Air Base on Luzon Island, and lastly, to serve in Vietnam.
On the journey to Korea, I crossed America on a train and then the Pacific Ocean on a troop ship, an experience I enjoyed without getting seasick. I was fortunate to ride a Japanese troop train from Tokyo to Fukuoka to catch a plane to Kunsan, Korea. The tracks passed Hiroshima and the train was halted to let us see the total destruction wrought by the atomic bomb. The quaint villages, farms and houses along the way revealed old styles that are mostly gone by today.
I loved train travel from my youth when the old steam driven train used to come through Clayton each day, blowing its lonesome sounding whistle. A cinder gave me a sore eye a few days once but I went on to travel a steam train from Atlanta, Georgia, to San Francisco, California. I still recall a midnight scene of Salt Lake City, Utah, with large snowflakes floating down upon the streets.
While serving at Clark Air Base, Luzon Island, my wife and I, with others, did missionary work where we entered homes built of bamboo walls and thatched roofs standing on stilts. The poor villagers and farmers were friendly and helpful. Although my childhood home was built of clapboard walls and shingle roof with wood burning fireplace and stove, in comparison the poor Filipinos made me realize how blessed I was to grow up in the United States.
In Vietnam, the nearby mountain people lived in similar bamboo huts on stilts, with villages surrounded by barbwire and moats to defend against enemy attacks. A first visit to a family, and to sit on the floor and drink rice wine in a section of hollow bamboo through a straw was a revelation of poor people existing on a poverty level in a violent land, I don’t take freedom and safety for granted even in America.