That's how long it has been since we've last communicated.
For some people, that's a lifetime. It's the lenght of some careers. Certainly the timespan of many military careers.
But, this is how long it has been since I'd last heard from Elizabeth. And thanks to a few of you readers who contacted me after my last post, we are now back in touch. I was kinda doubting it could happen, as I've tried, on and off, to find out about her over the years. But I was never able to gain much info, at least not enough to find out how she was doing or even where she was located.
A little background: Back in January 1986, I was a 'noobie' 2d LT joining the US Army Signal Corps. Reporting in to Ft Gordon, GA for the second time in my life (first was basic training and AIT there- yeah, that old.) Sitting in the small auditorium were a bunch of other newly-minted officers, all fresh out of either ROTC or OCS (no Acadamy grads- they wouldn't show up for a few more months). Here we were, ready to conquer the Army and the world.
'Beth' and I became friends in this class- best of friends at the time. Inseperable. She, a former NCO and Drill Instructor at Ft Jackson, was fresh out of OCS and all the worse for wear. (Apparently, it was a tough OCS class as one person that helped me locate her also said so.) Beth was one of the 'seniors' in the group- a bit older than the early twenty-somethings of the rest of us (except Mr Doty) and she had more military experience than most of the cadre we had. Being a former DI, she knew regs frontwards, backwards, sideways and every other ways. Carried herself that way too- a consumate soldier. But she was nervous about the academics involved, and needed some help. That is where I came in.
We started study groups, meetings, and anything else to get thru the two toughest parts of becoming a Signal Corps officer - math and electronics. Even now, raising these two subjects runs a chill up my spine. The EE/ME's in the group laughed it off- differential equations? Bah, to them. For those liberal arts majors? FUGGHEDABOUDIT. YOUGOTTABEKIDDINGRIGHT? But, together, we slogged through it.
She, on the other hand, kicked my ass. Handily. She asked if I wanted to go running with her on the 2d day of class. Me, fresh out of college and the PT scores to prove it, thought she was joking. See, Beth was a machine. Tough, strong (but extremely good looking and attractive) she was one of the top Army female runners- OVERALL. Boston Marathon participant. Could set a pace and keep it for weeks. Sprinter? Not a chance. Do a Forrest Gump across the US? Let's start now. But, she promised to 'hold back' and help me train up. That, she sure as hell did.
By the end of the course, nearly 6 months later, I went from chump to champ as far as PT goes- my final run time was a 9:45 for the two miles- 100% of it due to her inspiration and friendship. And she made it thru all of the tests and coursework- and graduated with the class on time. It was tough for both of us, but damn, if we didnt' have the best time in the world.
To this day, I've never forgotten anyone in that course. My time with Beth was especially unforgettable. Everyone should have a time in their lives like we had- it can end up defining you. It certainly did me.
Today, she and her husband live in the Ft. Hood area. Many of you probably have passed her there. She's spent time in Iraq, as a civvie, and continues to support troops to this day. She still runs (even did a marathon in Kirkuk, of all places!) which shames me no end. I ran my last marathon in 1987 and I'm not about to re-try that at this point. I'm happy she took my call when her number was passed to me. And with ONE word, she knew who it was even after all those years. Good friends never, ever forget... and I know I won't.
To Jan, Matt, and Jeff- thanks for your help! Could not have done it without each of you. You've helped re-connect with an old friend. For that, you have my most heartfelt thanks. Thank you!
And to 'Beth'- who I hope is reading this today- here's to never losing touch for 24 years- ever again. And thank you for YOUR support of the troops.
Bless you all!
p.s. - still working on locating the other two (Craig and Jeff). Seems the phones are not the way to do it; and the emails listed are either not monitored, or getting thru. So I'm still trying...