In the early 1960s when things heated up in Viet Nam, my printing department went from eight hours a day to 24/7 over night because all the orders and top-secret war plans we printed. Many of my friends had orders for Viet Nam.
My good friend Len Powell, who was a high-average bowler on my team, came to see me. It was early morning and he asked me to have a coffee break with him.
I could tell something was wrong. He had a good job in our command post, and another good friend of mine was his boss.
With tears in his eyes he told me he had orders for Viet Nam and would be leaving in a few days. He had come by to tell me and my printers good-bye.
I never felt so sorry for anyone before in my life.
My mind started working. What could I do for him? I knew just about everyone on base, but this would have to be someone special.
I asked Len to hang around for awhile and went to see my boss, Col. Evensizer. I asked my boss if we could get these orders canceled, that I would crosstrain Len into the printing field.
My boss made a phone call, talked to someone and hung up, and told me to tell Len he would start to work for me in the morning.
I went back to my print shop, and told Len the good news. He was a big, strong guy, and he hugged me so hard he almost broke my back. I’d never seen anyone so happy.
I trained him on every piece of printing equipment we had, and he turned out to be a good printer.
With me as a member of the promotion board, I saw that he was promoted to staff sergeant.
Len was good friends with my wife Estelle, and would call her to see when she was having pinto beans, cornbread and fried potatoes, and wanted her to invite him for supper.
Len married a nice young lady, Ruth, who worked in our headquarters. They had a son and my wife baby-sat for them while they both worked.
Sadly, after I retired and went back to California, Len died a young man. I went to his funeral, and it broke this old boy’s heart.
I’ve talked to his wife Ruth a few times since then.