July 23, 1969
With my dad in the military, I never went to the same school two years in a row until
High School. My dad was stationed at Ft. Bliss and I was bused all four years to
Burges High School in El Paso, TX. We lived in military housing. Although we were
stable my military friends would still come and go.
My real source of friends turned out to be Valley View Baptist Church. The pastor was Rev. Jack Burton. His wife Janet Burton had a special calling to work with young people long before I ever heard of a youth minister. Mrs. Burton would organize youth parties and youth activities where I not only had a great time but I grew to learn the God and Faith of my parents was my God and Faith also.
Most of the Valley View youth, attended Burges High School so my church friends also became my school friends. One of my closest friends was Kem Wallace. We loved to bicycle on the dirt hills near his house. Kem’s first love was my friend Linda Collie. Being friends with both, this relationship vicariously became my first encounter with love also. I also learned about the harsh realities of life when Kem’s dad suffered a heart attack and Linda’s mother was given less then a year to live.
For Linda young love turned into true love, not with Kem, but another good friend Bob Thomas. Kem joined the Army and preceded me to Vietnam. Kem had written me several times while I was in training and just as he had done in love, he allowed me to visit Vietnam through his eyes while I waited for my time.
After missing mail call for a few days, it was nice to find a stack of mail waiting for me. As I read my mail I was stunned to find Kem had been killed. I had learned to accept Sgt. Denton and Sgt. Hathaway’s death because I knew that could happen in Vietnam. Although Kem was killed in Vietnam, for me he was part of another world of home, friends and church. My two worlds were colliding and I was feeling the crunch.
As I continued to go through my mail, I opened an envelope and a picture fell into my lap. I picked up the picture and looked into the eyes of a new baby boy. Written on the back were the words:
Thank you for the use
of your name. I like it
All my love,
Scott Warren Thomas.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, Bob and Linda had a baby and I had a namesake. I did not know it was possible for a person to experience so much joy and pain at the same time.
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