Though I had served an earlier tour in Vietnam in 1965-66, I had already been told that I would be ordered back in 1968. As was the case in most homes across our country, Kay and I solemnly and silently followed the war’s progress, the raging anti-war rhetoric and the furious political debates over the war. We spoke very little about the war and the inevitable pain and separation we would soon experience. Instead, we quietly devoted our life to each other and to the present and future needs of our beautiful daughter. We simply contained strong emotions and awaited the preordained fate that would interrupt and change our life as a family.
At work, away from families, Marines openly expressed anger, frustration and bitterness over the constant anti-war barrages and the declining public and political support for the war effort. Caught between the intense strife over the war, the patriotic sacrifices of our friends who were fighting and dying in Vietnam, and the loyalty and love for our families, we felt tormented and abused. As we watched the mounting human cost in Vietnam and the verbal abuse bestowed upon the military by millions of Americans, our patriotism and pride remained undaunted while our spirit and morale slowly deteriorated.
When my orders to Vietnam finally arrived, I was emotionally relieved to be finally escaping the national agitations but forlorn and apprehensive over leaving my family. Kay and I mutually agreed to sell our Virginia home and relocate to Centerville, until I returned. Though we were saddened by leaving our home that held so many cherished memories, we knew this was the most logical solution.
Centerville is a small, friendly community. Kay’s parents and many of her friends lived in Centerville where she was born and raised. My parents lived near Washington, Iowa, about a hundred miles away. We felt that living near families would provide Kay and Sandy with the love and comfort so urgently needed during the difficult times of loneliness and despair. I would be somewhat less worried by knowing they were surrounded by the congenial nature of Centerville’s citizens, and near loved ones who would be sensitive and concerned.