In October 1971, the commander of the Communications Center assigned me to the swing shift as it had the largest workload. I would work from 3 to 11 p.m. at night. Our shift had more work that the other two shifts combined.
This one night when we got off work, we had a very heavy rainstorm. One of my men, Sergeant Goldberg, who carpooled with me, was driving south on Route 95 to our homes in Dale City, Va. The bridge near Fort Belvoir was down. The heavy traffic on this highway came to a stop. It must have been hours before the highway patrol came by and informed us that we would have to turn around the best way we could, and drive back the way we came. This was in 1971, and there was no other way to get to the small town we lived in.
It was a mess getting these vehicles turned, and heading north again. I got the idea of driving to the house of my sister-inlaw, who lived in the small town of Springfield, Va., and asking her to put us up for the night. It was early morning when we got to her house. I woke her, told her about the bridge and used her phone to call my wife. She had a place for us to sleep and fed us early the next morning.
The bridge was still down, but would be fixed late that day. Because the bridge was down, I knew our department would be shorthanded, so Sergeant Goldberg and I went back to the Pentagon to work the day and swing shift before going home late that night.
I thought our boss was going to cry when we walked into his office. I made arrangements for Sergent Goldberg and me to take the next two days off and slept most of those two days.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)