Lea Lane

Lea Lane
Location
Florida, USA
Birthday
August 26
Title
author, Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks, available at Amazon.com and on Kindle
Bio
“I’ve discovered the secret of life,” Kay Thompson, the eccentric entertainer and “Eloise” author, once said. “A lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy and a lot of tra-la-la!” And that's been my life: As a travel writer for over 30 years, I've been around the block (more like around the world), and I write true stories about interesting people and places. (Check out my travel site, Travels With Lea.) I've lived an unconventional life in conventional trappings. Been a corporate VP, worked with foster kids, acted in an Indie ("Nurse 1"), was on Jeopardy!. I've been managing editor of a travel publication, written for the Times, and authored books. OS is my home, but I also blog on The Huffington Post, and I've contributed (mostly anonymously) to everything from encyclopedias to guidebooks. Married young, divorced late; married late, widowed early, I dated lots in-between -- and survived a scary illness. After being happily, peacefully solo for many years, I'm now happily married again. I founded and still edit www.sololady.com, a lifestyle Website for single women. I'm truly grateful for each precious day, each well-earned wrinkle, my family, my cat. Truth, laughter, friendship, late love. And this blog -- on this wonderful site!

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NOVEMBER 9, 2012 1:29PM

On Veterans Day, Remembering When I Was a Military Wife

Rate: 8 Flag
 
 
This Sunday, Veterans Day, I'm thinking of all veterans and their families, and of the sacrifices of so many, who have given so much, and are giving right now.

I can identify, as my husband was called to serve in Vietnam right after the Tet offensive in the spring of 1968, when my first son Randall was just three months old. We went together to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio for army training and watched on television as Martin Luther King was assassinated. Soon after I became a newly single mom as my husband left us in a high rise on Biscayne Bay, not far from where I now live. 

Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June, and then in July, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Historic things both awful and awesome filled that year.
 
As I struggled through, my husband was a first lieutenant, a medical administrator with the First Air Cavalry. His main responsibility was dispatching helicopters to aid soldiers in need of medical help, so he was usually near and involved with the worst American losses of that war.

This was a time of the military draft. Neither my husband nor I believed America should have been in the Vietnam War, which made the experience and our vulnerability that much more intense.

My husband had been in Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) in college, and could have taken an academic deferment as the war cranked up, as he would be going on to get his PhD. But he stayed in the army right after getting his master's degree, hoping that we would be stationed in Europe. 

Instead, a recruiter brought him to Ft. McPherson in Atlanta to be his aide rather than send him to Germany. And that made my husband vulnerable to be sent to Vietnam. So for the second year of his duty, he was a part of the proud First Air Cavalry Division.

Wherever the fighting was worst was where the First Air Cav was deployed. This was long before cell phone calls and social media connections, so I depended on newspaper headlines and the "CBS Nightly News with Walter Cronkite." Night after night the screen would show horrible skirmishes, bombings, killings, and mayhem. I would never know if my husband was safe until the next day passed and I had heard nothing.

I lived on edge throughout the year. One day there was a knock on my door in the middle of the night. I was petrified that there would be two soldiers standing there, but it was just a confused neighbor. 

My husband and I communicated for a year by letter, with a couple of rushed short phone calls.  So many others were waiting for the phone to speak to their loved ones. Our words were garbled and quick.

We did get together for a Rest and Recreation week, midway through the year, in Hawaii. I brought Rand with us, a smiling baby who didn't know who his dad was, except for recognizing his face, from looking at the photos I kept on the apartment table. 

We tried to have fun, but knowing that he was going back into the worst of the fighting was always on our minds.

The last months of his year in Vietnam --when the tour was "short" -- were the worst. The fear of dying in war days before being sent home increasingly permeates the remaining time.

When my husband returned, gaunt but safe, now a captain with a Bronze Star for special service, we gave a big party and tried to celebrate. But he had changed in small ways, and so had I. No longer the dependent woman I was before this experience, I had learned independence the hard way. 

We attempted to renew our lives, and another son was born nine months later. But things had changed, as they do even for lucky military families who do not sustain physical or mental anguish. A dozen years later, we separated.

I rarely talk about that experience. Because of the controversial war, Vietnam vets were never accorded the respect they were due, so we learned to be quiet about it. So many Vietnam vets have suffered throughout their lives, with little support. That remains a shame. 

Every Veterans Day I think of that year, and my ex-husband's service, and the service of the brave men and women who have given up so much through our history. They make it possible for the rest of us to have elections like the one we just went through, and to sustain our democratic way of life. 

Thank you veterans. Simply, thank you. We owe you so much.

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Comments

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This has been quite a couple of weeks, and ending with these memories can make a woman kinda' reflective. Don't know about you, but I'm ready for some pumpkin pie.
More often than not when we remember the service of our veterans we neglect to recognize the sacrifices of their families... excellent and very appropriate post. R&R
Lea, such a heartfelt post. I can only imagine the fear you lived with on a daily basis. I am grateful to all our service men and women and their families. Time for pie. xox ~r
america has been under no threat since the japanese hung up their gloves. have a look at toritto's latest, on 'defending america' in vietnam.
I am a military brat and was never sure how she dealt with so many moves. This was moving.
Well. No Be Drafted. I was asked to facilitate a Vet Group.
I thought I had been there and done that and near` Croak!
1969-70
First Air Calvary.
Baby Jesus no war.
In die at Calvary.
`
Military Brats seem:
`
Sweet. Gracious. Huh?
Some Hug and Kiss Too?
I Wear a Red Poppy Today.
It Looks Like Red Lips.
`
I was Told that by a Woman.
It's on my baby-Blue Ball Cap.
The Cap reads` Life is Good.
`
Honest
My Counseler has the same hat.
My Cap beak is all thread-frayed.
I wore it the the VAMC yesterday.
It's a Red Poppy Flower. Aye Sigh.
My Memories Flood Weary Soul.
`
Thanks.
Later.
I Hope.
`
Believe even there seems no Hope.
If I Visit a Mass? Mass is to worship.
I may sing in a all gal VAMC Choir.
Well. No Be Drafted. I was asked to facilitate a Vet Group.
I thought I had been there and done that and near` Croak!
1969-70
First Air Calvary.
Baby Jesus no war.
In die at Calvary.
`
Military Brats seem:
`
Sweet. Gracious. Huh?
Some Hug and Kiss Too?
I Wear a Red Poppy Today.
It Looks Like Red Lips.
`
I was Told that by a Woman.
It's on my baby-Blue Ball Cap.
The Cap reads` Life is Good.
`
Honest
My Counseler has the same hat.
My Cap beak is all thread-frayed.
I wore it the the VAMC yesterday.
It's a Red Poppy Flower. Aye Sigh.
My Memories Flood Weary Soul.
`
Thanks.
Later.
I Hope.
`
Believe even there seems no Hope.
If I Visit a Mass? Mass is to worship.
I may sing in a all gal VAMC Choir.
&
Try ` Gin. Practice Virtue. depraved.
That's a sad human nature. perdition.
It's to intuit and Sense Human Misery!
Hell of a time.
I, too, honor them (and w a piece, here tomorrow).
Bledd you, friend for doing so.

r.
Hell of a time.
I, too, honor them (and w a piece, here tomorrow).
Bledd you, friend for doing so.

r.
Hell of a time.
I, too, honor them (and w a piece, here tomorrow).
Bledd you, friend for doing so.

r.
Hell of a time.
I, too, honor them (and w a piece, here tomorrow).
Bledd you, friend for doing so.

r.
You've explained what it was like quite strikingly Lea. Not only the anxiety of the separation and uncertainty, but the lingering consequence years after the service. Something the warmongering crowd ought to keep in mind the next time they're so tempted.
I like your writing here. I can not imagine how hard it must be to try to pick up lives interrupted by war. You both went through metamorphic and traumatic experiences.
oh, lea. I remember that time too and how horribly hard it was for people who couldn't communicate, just had to wait with all that dread, seeing the horror on the evening news. this piece is real and stark, and the despondency you felt sinks into the lines. so sad. it was just so sad. I'm ready for thanksgiving too, by the way. xo
This was a great post. I'd have nominated it for an RP if we still did them.
very moving --and well written. i often remember back to teh days before cell phones/instant information/FB oversharing information and wonder how did we survive....you deserve some pie!
very moving --and well written. i often remember back to teh days before cell phones/instant information/FB oversharing information and wonder how did we survive....you deserve some pie!