Little Rock, Arkansas

Russian Linguist

February 1958-December 1959


My journey began one night in August 1956 when two Little Rock Central High School classmates returned from basic training in the Army. Jerry Brown and I were absolutely enthralled with their tales of Ft. Bliss and Juarez. And then one evening, after consuming adult beverages as we observed the manual of arms demonstrated with broom sticks, we made a wager that changed both our lives. “Ten bucks says you won’t go down to the recruiting office with me in the morning.”


After basic training at Ft. Chaffee and a train ride to Ft. Devens, the Army split us up. Jerry got to go to Hawaii and I had to go to Russian language school and on to Berlin, Germany with a six-month stopover in Heilbronn. Over the next 22 months in the 280th I made life-long friendships and experienced things I had not imagined. Who can ever forget Chateau Brian at the Mason de France, dancing waters at the Resi, an early morning Schultheiss at the Wiener Stub’l, or Orazio Reale? After an 87 day break in service, during which I enrolled at Arkansas State College, I re-enlisted. A 3-year tour with the National Security Agency was followed by another tour in Berlin, only this time there was a wall dividing east from west and I had a wife and infant daughter. My duty station was a ruble pile in Grunewald, not Templehof (Times had changed.)


 In 1966-68 I matriculated at Georgetown University in WDC on an Army program. I sometimes shared a lunch sandwich with another Arkie, a future President named Bill. I received a BS in Languages and Linguistics and another daughter, and in retribution for the two years at a university I was sent to remote Sinop, Turkey. (Anybody ever see the movie Papillion?) I didn’t have to swim out, though, because my parole came in the form of a direct commission to 2nd Lieutenant.


 Spook school at Ft. Holabird and another six years in Munich interspersed with brief stints stateside and I wound up back in Maryland where I retired as a major in 1979. During this period a neighbor once asked my wife if she knew where I was on one of my frequent official absences. She replied, “I know where he is, just not who he is.”


 Three years in WDC as corporate recruiter for AMTRAK, and I kept hearing Little Rock calling. In 1983, I returned to run a small multi-association management company in partnership with my wife. I had long whined because I didn’t have time to put in print the stories clamoring to get out of my head, so one day she said, “Stay home and do it, but just get on with it.” For the next two years she ran the business and I wrote “Valley of the Blind,” a semi-autobiographical tale. Maybe I’ll get around to making the agent’s suggested revisions and you’ll see it in better discount book stores someday. On March 1, 2003, we tired of the daily grind and closed the business.


Political activities, singing in the River City Men’s Chorus and in a 50’s doo-wop quartet, and an occasional acting job provide the excitement in my life and I intend to commit a couple more  stories to computer memory after revising the first effort.  Meanwhile, I look forward to a round of golf, taking my two young grandsons fishing, and an infrequent e-mail from fellow “280th Rangers.”











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