Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Stranger

Hey All.       Life is full of things and events that we may never understand.  The memories may dim with time and hindsight............. that is looking at life as a past event........ is said to be 20/20. 
  Camp Humphreys, Korea, 1982.  It was early summer and I had re-enlisted a few months ago, so that I could stay in Korea and get married.  The paperwork involved for a soldier to wed a Korean national took about 6 months to complete, with background checks through the military and Korean authorities.  During that time I was still assigned to the 213th Aviation Company  (ASH-Assault Support Helicopter).  Life was changing fast.  With re-enlistment in the Army, a fiance' and now a baby on the way..............I was adapting to the changes pretty well.
     It was Saturday, and I sitting on the slight porch at my "Hooch" downtown in the "Ville"  My Fiance" was out shopping and it was good just to sit and relax while time permitted.  I looked up from the ground as a unfamiliar voice called to me by name.  He asked "are you Specialist Scarborough"?  I replied "Yes, I am.  Can I help you"?  He was a tall man and as he walked through the open gate and  I noticed that he was carrying a book in his left hand.  He stood looking down at me and as he  started telling me things that he knew about me.  My name, rank, birth date, physical fitness scores  and military test scores.  I interrupted hm.  "Excuse me, sir.  Who are you?  How is it that you know anything about me?  How do know where I live"?  He just smiled without answering any of my questions. 
     He explained to me that I was being given a great career opportunity.  I was chosen to go to Flight School.  I would be sent back Stateside.   I would be trained to fly military aircraft and attend  Officer Candidate School.  He then handed me the book he was carrying.  It was text book on flight and avionics.  He then said  "We want you to read this book.  I will come back in two weeks and we will discuss what you've read.  Then well talk about what happens next".   Then he said "Any questions that you have will be answered later.  Understood?"   I said 'Yes sir", as I was shaking my head in disbelief and amazement.  I couldn't stop wondering.  Who was the "we" that the stranger referred to?
     I explained the whole story to my fiance' when she got home and showed her the book.  She was excited to say the least.  She was going to marry  a Specialist and end up with an Officer.   The whole deal sounded way to good to be true.  Why me, of all people?  I considered that this was some joke being played.......... at my expense.  I did not tell anybody at the motorpool and waited to hear if anybody might let it slip that they knew something.   They didn't............and I read the text book.
    True to his word, the stranger came back on Saturday 2 weeks later, right after lunch.  He asked  "Did you read the book"?  Yes sir, I did", I replied   He then asked, "Did you understand what you read'?  "Yes sir. I believe so", I responded.   He proceeded to ask me questions about avionics, the principles of flight and lift.  After about 30 minutes of questions, answers and discussions on wind shear  and how different types of aircraft achieve lift...........he seemed to be satisfied.  He asked me for his book back and I handed it to him.  
      He then repeated everything from his previous offer.  All I needed to do was say "yes".  It was that simple.  I hesitated.  The only question that I had, I then asked.  "Sir, as you probably already know, I am getting married and have child on the way.  We they be able to come with me"?  He didn't hesitate.  "No Specialist Scarborough.  You will have to leave them behind."  I paused for about 3 seconds considering this and then replied.  "Sir, I am very grateful for the opportunity.........but I won't leave them behind.  I know that I should jump on this and I may regret my decision  later.  If I leave,  then my fiance' will get an abortion and that's just not something  I can live with.   Thank you for considering me."  He responded "This is a rare opportunity that isn't offered to just any soldier.  Are you sure you don't want to think about this?  I can come back  in another week."  I quickly replied, "Sir, it won't matter if you come back in a month.  If it means I leave them behind then I can't accept your offer.  I am honored that I was thought well enough of,  to be considered at all".   He shrugged his shoulders and said " It was good meeting you" and then turned and walked away. I never saw him again.
     I never discovered the strangers name, where he came from or who the "We" was.  I know now.................what I knew then.  I made the right and only decision that was possible.  I loved my son from the moment I knew he was to be born....................no opportunity could come to me,  that would be greater than to be his Dad.   I believed at the time, that  I was marring the wrong woman................due to our battles over her desire to get an abortion.  A fight that I'm very happy to say that  I won.  In all honesty ............I COULD have left HER behind................but it was a package deal.  All or nothing. 
      I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been..............had I accepted that offer.   I never regretted turning it down.  I Love Charlie.
        Until the next time......................God Bless.