Last February, I first talked with a buddy from Army basic training about making a trip out East to visit her. There were a few fellow soldiers who made significant impacts on my Army life and I knew time may be running out to see them. I have experienced enough tragedy in life to know that tomorrow is never a guarantee. Each passing day is a gamble as to whether or not I would ever be able to again visit face-to-face with friends who were once such important pieces of my daily existence. More than 24 years had passed since my eyes had seen these friends.
On December 14th, I set sail… so-to-speak and I made that trip a reality.
This was a GREAT trip! My daughter and I left on December 14th and headed to the East Coast. For a few days, we had no real agenda until we were scheduled to meet up with my Army buddies. When we finally met up on the 17th, it was as if 24+ years had not passed between the last time I saw these guys.
People come in and out of our lives, and the true test of friendship is whether you can pick back up right where you left off the last time you saw each other. ~Lisa See
I met “Eggleston” (now Monica Chavez) during basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and we also went to AIT at Ft. Gordon, Georgia together. I also met her husband Chris at Ft. Gordon, though he has absolutely no recollection of me. 🙁
Everything about basic training, at least in 1990, had a way of creating lifelong friendships. If you want a really good friend… run miles with them in formation without dropping, master “assuming the prone position”—also known as getting ready to do massive amounts of push-ups, get punished together for something neither of you did, roll around in the mud underneath barbed wire while live rounds are shot over your head, march miles in the dark not knowing where you’re going, pull KP or CQ together, share letters and pictures from home, target practice, learn personal combat skills, run a three-mile obstacle course, spit shine those boots like nobody’s business, sneak a few beers after graduation and finally, share your family at graduation because my family couldn’t make the trip. These are some of the things Eggleston and I did together and what, I think, contributed to our lifelong connection and bond. These are the things that made me search for her when I activated my Facebook account. This is why I drove 1,000 miles east to see her this past December. Well these reasons and because she’s a pretty awesome person!!
It was a real blast from the past going back on Ft. Gordon and actually standing on Barton Field’s three-mile, red clay track with Eggleston where so many of our AIT PT
torture sessions trainings took place.
I served with “Nate” (Edward Nater) and “Mac” (Frank McKoy) in the 97th Signal Battalion unit in Germany during the early-1990’s. I can’t really remember what brought any of us together though it may have had something to do with Eichbaum®. Seriously though, we were all youngsters, well except for Nate 🙂 and so far from home. Our only choices were to bond or become loners. We were smart!
We spent a lot of time in housing at Nate’s place where his wife, Denise, would take care of us youngsters. Did I mention Eichbaum? There was also a lot of Eichbaum, playing Spades and listening to 90’s music. Boyz II Men, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Poison, and Shai will instantly transport me back to Germany circa 1991-1993. (Please let the record show that Nate was still playing all this music when I visited him in 2016. Please also let the record show that Mac still enjoys leading PT sessions and counting reps.)
My Army Reunion
I am so thankful that I got to visit with each of these special friends and meet new friends, Nate’s youngest daughter and grandchildren and Mac’s wife, while on this trip. Although I only knew my Army buddies for short periods, they will forever remain special to my heart. I am also very grateful that I got to introduce my youngest daughter, Kyanna, to my old Army buddies. Next time, I have to get Sierra to go. She was in my belly when I arrived at the 97th and born while I was in Germany. We ought not let 24 years pass between visits. We are smarter than that… we are Army smart. <wink>
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