As soon as we got ashore in San Francisco, several of us went to the closest restaurant and ordered a head of lettuce, fresh tomatoes and a quart of milk. We had none of these for about 16 months. The waitress thought we were either crazy or drunk, and I think she probably considered calling the police, until we explained our reason for ordering such an outrageous lunch. It tasted great.
As soon as I could, I got my orders to report to Camp Wallace in Texas to be released from active duty. I wired Charlotte and caught the next train headed for Texas. This time the train was not so crowded, and I was able to sit in a seat all the way to Texas. I reported in at Camp Wallace and began my processing to be released to inactive duty.
The next thing that happened was one of those crossroads in life where your decision makes a big difference in how the rest of your life will play out.
The last step in my processing was an interview with a Naval Officer with several stripes on his sleeve. The following conversation went something like this: He said, “We really need men like you in the Navy, especially men with your experience. The Navy would like for you to continue to serve your country” He was putting it on me pretty heavy. I said,” I appreciate that, and I think the Navy is a great outfit, but my future wife is right out that door, and that is where I am headed. We are going to be married soon”.
He said,” Tell you what, we will give you a 30 day leave with pay and, you go ahead and get married before your next duty”. I replied,” I don’t think so. I have been separated from Charlotte for a couple of years, and I did not like that. I don’t want to be off on sea duty, and not with her and my family for years at a time”.
He then says, “the Navy will jump you a grade in rank, and assign you to a base in Hawaii for your next three years of duty”. My next answer was one of those decisions that you make at a cross road in your life that determines the future. I replied.” I appreciate it but no”. If I had said yes, all my kids would have been Navy Brats born probably all over the world. Also, if I had said yes, I could have retired on a pension at age 37 since I had gone in the service at 17. But all that was not meant to be.
With that, I was released to inactive duty September 11, 1946, and I rushed out the door to find Charlotte. Charlotte and her Mom had driven over from San Antonio in the family 1936 Plymouth. Charlotte was right there and even more beautiful than I had remembered. Our embrace was a long one, and it was so wonderful to hold her once again. I drove us back to San Antonio, and I later learned that her Mom, who was sitting in the back seat, was white knuckled all the way there. All I had was my sunglasses, and most of the way back was after sundown.
Photo of US troop train found here.
Photo of 1936 Plymouth found here.