November 2, 2016 is the 46th anniversary of the day I left to join the U.S. Army in 1970. I signed up three months earlier and chose the date that I would leave. I went to Marshall University’s final home game of the 1970 season in October and was really impressed with quarterback Ted Shoebridge and place-kicker Marcelo Lajterman.
After a couple of weeks in basic training, we (new recruits) settled into a routine of getting up way too early, lining up and marching to the appropriately-named “chow hall,” or as it was locally named, the Mess Hall. On Sunday morning, November 15, just before I was ready to go out the door to breakfast, I heard something on the radio about a crash of the plane carrying the Marshall University football team, and all who were aboard.
It was several days before I received the newspaper clippings from my mother. Among them (victims) were two people I knew, one of my sister’s coworkers -- Donald Booth -- who filmed the team’s games, and MU athletic director Charlie Kautz, who had been my teacher in two Physical Education classes. He had been generous and helpful as I tried to learn to swim. A good fellow in my book.
So, each year when this date comes around, my mind wanders to the experiences I had from November 2, 1970 until January 20, 1971. It was the beginning of an important three-year experience that allowed me to meet people from all over the United States, and allowed me to spend two very full years in West Germany and gave me the chance to travel all over Europe.