Kay and I both knew that the very nature of the wartime separation, regardless of the unalterable events Vietnam could present, would require her total resolve and an unwavering spirit. We knew that being apart would be a supreme test of courage, perseverance, and our love for each other.
On the evening before we were to leave for Iowa, Kay and I were given a farewell party by fellow Marines and their wives. Throughout military communities, there existed a binding friendship among families in which moral support, sincere understanding and strong encouragement were constant virtues. Friendships were preciously valued. There was no flag raising patriotic hoopla as Americans left their families to fight, suffer and possibly die in a war a half a world away, and there were no gloriously grateful welcomes when we returned. In 1968, departures to and returns from the war were kept intimately private among small circles of friends and family members.
At the farewell, my brothers-in-arms presented me with an officers’ sword as a going away gift. Though I was supposed to purchase the expensive item after I’d received my battlefield commission in 1966, I didn’t. Since I was in a temporary officers status, I figured I’d be reverted back to an enlisted rank when the war ended. When the commanding officer said some nice words about me, Kay’s eyes sparkled with pride and affection.
During my 30 days leave of absence before departing for Vietnam, Kay and I rented an inexpensive but comfortable two-story house on the friendly and peaceful street of Haynes Avenue in Centerville. We immediately engaged in furnishing and arranging the house so we could have the remaining time for our private family activities. Each morning, the citizens of that beautiful town would smile and wave as I took my long runs to stay in physical shape for the upcoming ordeal.