New post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
One of the greatest things about life is that you will have a buddy at one time or the other, during your life walk. It won’t make much difference what you do for a job or where you live or where you travel to. You are going to have a buddy, sometimes there may be several buddies that you will become very close to. Some relationships will be much closer almost as brothers. I felt that one time, my best buddy was a curly haired dog. He was the most friendly Water Spaniel that ever lived. I was just a kid, that old English Water Spaniel was with me no matter where I went or what I did. He was my buddy.
For those of us who spent time in the military service. We had a very good chance of having several buddies. The branch of service that you are in, for instance, the Army, Navy or the Marine Corps you get a whole lot closer to your buddy than some other branches of the military. In the Army and the Marine Corp, every man in the platoon has to have the other man’s back and be prepared to protect one another against all odds.
I was in the U.S. Air Force and a good buddy of mine and I were sent to Japan to serve at Misawa Air Force Base at the same time in the year 1960. When we got to Japan we both ended up assigned to the same maintenance squadron doing aircraft maintenance. We were working on the RF-101c reconnaissance photo jet aircraft. It had to two J- 57 engines, they could get the pilot away from danger at a fairly quick speed, but the plane had absolutely no armament on it. It was strictly for taking reconnaissance pictures. Surface to air missiles was deadly on them in Vietnam.
At Misawa Air Force Base my buddy Dan and I were assigned to periodic aircraft maintenance with about half a dozen other guys. We made up the night shift on periodic maintenance. We completely took the plane apart from one end to the other. The engines were removed, every access panel was removed for a complete inspection of everything that was on that aircraft, then it was all put back together.
We ran them on the ground up to 100%, then some lucky test pilot got to take it up for its first flight. They usually started off down the runway with full afterburners burning and when they got airborne, they took the plane straight up into the sky as fast as they could go, just in case something might go wrong.
It wasn’t that they didn’t trust our maintenance, any kind of a mechanical failure is possible with any aircraft at any time. We only had about eight people working the night shift, but somehow we got more work done than the two dozen people working the day shift.
Dan and I did this periodic maintenance for about a year, so we got to know each other quite well. We also spent a lot of off duty time together, which included some fairly heavy drinking at times, but our jobs always came first.
When we were getting close to being shipped out to go back to the U.S. We decided to take a leave and make a train trip up to the northern end of the island of Honshu to Lake Towada National Park and Hot Springs and Spas. We took two friends along and made it a real dream vacation. About two weeks later, we all took the same train to Tokyo, to Ueno Station. We were supposed to ship out after two days and go back to Travis Air Force Base in California.
The time spent in Tokyo was very emotional, happy and sad, enough mixed feelings to last a lifetime. Time was quickly gone, everyone was preparing for the sad, final Sayonara or goodbye to one another. Those last moments found two gals going north by train and two guys waiting for a plane going east.
When we got back to the U.S. I told Dan, “Try to keep in touch now, when you get home.” ‘He said he would do that.’ I told him, “I bet twenty years will go by, and neither one of us will keep in touch.” And your living in Montana and I’m in South Dakota. We could drive back and forth and visit on a vacation. He said that sounds like a great idea. We did exchange a few letters after we became civilians again and then we lost touch with each other.
It was approaching 20 years from the time we got discharged from the Air Force and I thought to myself, call Dan and see if he remembers what I said to him when we got back to the States. I got a hold of his hometown and his phone number. His Dad answered the phone. I asked if I could speak to Dan.” He told me, “Dan was killed in a car accident about a month ago, he talked about you a lot.” We both cried.
He was my best buddy. I wonder why we did not keep in touch?