Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Caught in the headlights...

Caught in the headlights...
The author of Mark's Work, at the botanical gardens inFort Bragg...

Baseball been veddy good to me

Baseball been veddy good to me
SmallBoy doing his thing in the outfield...

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
C D B's... D B's R G's

Gluten-Free Mama and Ben-Jam-Man

Gluten-Free Mama and Ben-Jam-Man
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Butterflies know what's up.

If you've seen one skink, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one skink,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Hands R Us

Marigold

Marigold
June gems

Foxy lady.

Foxy lady.
Foxes are back.

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

markyboy1231@hotmail.com

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Year Christmas Stood Still

The Year Christmas Stood Still

My “military career” was distinguished by its highs and lows, but there was no point during my tenure as a war monger, that stands out more vividly than the year Christmas “marked time.” For those uninitiated in the lingo of the service, marking time means to march in place, to make no forward progress, and generally refers to a negative experience.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as my family, in a collective effort to support my participation in an unwanted two-year stint with Uncle Sugar, delayed Christmas from December 25th, 1972, until January 8th, a cool two weeks of the tree remaining in place, with the gifts still beneath it, and the decorations still reflecting the fact that yule-tide spirit abounded.

I was scheduled for leave after being in Ascom, Korea, for seven months, during which time I spoke with family members back home a total of one time. Use of the phone in 1972 for overseas calls, was prohibitively expensive. Considering that only three months before I entered the army, the rate of pay was still $90.00 per month, a phone call would have represented a serious chunk of my pay.

On the other hand, no one in the 199th received more mail than I did, because I wrote home a lot.

[I cleared just over $300.00 per month as a member of the US Army.]
Mark? Sorry, that's Clark...

Of course, I had no idea that this was the plan; I only knew that I was coming “back to the world” for thirty days. But turnabout being fair play, I outdid my family when it came to surprises, because I altered my set of orders to read “January 5th” instead of January 8th, and rolled into town three days earlier than expected.

I used the word “altered” because “forged” has such negative connotations. I mean, what difference did it make to the Mean Green Machine whether I vacated the building on Monday, January 8th, or Friday, January 5th, (after business hours), approximately 72 hours earlier. After all, if I could not manipulate white-out and a xerox machine to my advantage, what was the use of working in a personnel service company?

On the flip side of the coin, to me, those stolen hours were the sweeter for knowing that I would get my full thirty days of freedom, in Cali, instead of having to spend ten percent of it traveling.

How DID I travel? I stuck my thumb out and hitch-hiked. When you traveled in your dress greens back in those days, and you had “valid” orders, you could go into any military base, and travel anywhere there were planes heading, free of charge, if there was room. It was called, military standby, and it served me well.

It was SOP (standard operating procedures) to leave a copy of your orders with the individual at the boarding desk, but I did not want to leave any copies of my forged orders hanging out, to catch up with me down the line. When I was asked, I was apologized profusely, blaming my lack of extra orders on a company clerk, who had a brain the size of a chicken’s.

I got away with it.
Seriously, could this man actually "forge" orders?
With that smile?

I flew from Osan Air base, in South Korea, to Yokota Air Base, in Tokyo, Japan. From there, it was a direct flight to Travis Air Base in NorCal. $15.00 bought me a ticket to LA International, where ironically, I paid five bucks to take a cab the five blocks to my brothers’ apartment in Manchester. 

I probably did not stroll in on them like Clark Gable, and if you believe that, I have some real estate available for you-cheap-about forty miles west of Laytonville.

Finding that Christmas Day had been delayed, was the icing on the Christmas coffee cake, that was also delayed, being served only on the Big Day itself. We had the traditional turkey dinner, with all of the trimmings, and I was in Paradise.

There was even Mama’s fruit cake, which I actually loved.

The entire experience defies duplication, because for my folks and eight brothers and sisters, to delay their celebration of such an iconic day in our lives, was epic, and I have never forgotten it.

I have even stopped having nightmares about the MP’s coming after me…


Rare photo of "Markie"....

2 comments:

  1. I remember that so well! It was the best Christmas ever, but not till you got home! XXOO Merry Christmas!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for saying that! Merry Christmas and much love to you and all of yours!

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