( My ‘mentor’ continues to encourage me to keep these posts shorter. So, at his urging, I am going to break this thread into 4 parts. The first will introduce the thread; the following 3 will discuss their eventual resolutions.)
August and September 1967 were 2 “bummer months” for me. On 17 August 1967, at approximately 1332 hrs. the gal I was dating – the “love of my Life” at the time – told me “we” were through! Came out of nowhere…
1. It was a warm, sunny day in NW Ohio, 17 August 1967. I left her place and drove home, stopping only by Grand Rapids, OH to see my best friend and his fiance. I walked in Betty’s house, saw them sitting there, and just broke down. I didn’t stay. I got back in my car and drove home.
When I got home, I just went upstairs to my room, and for 3 days I didn’t come out. Told Gram (my grandmother) I thought I ‘had the flu.’ And for 3 days I languished in my anger, my hurt and anguish. When I eventually came down, I vowed I would never allow anyone to “get that close,” ever again. And until sobriety, I didn’t.
2. Just after I came out of my self-imposed isolation I went over to my folks place in Rantoul, IL, to Chanute AFB, IL. Dear Ole Dad was a commissary officer there, and I could get a good job as a ‘carry-out boy.’ I could also get fired pretty quick,as I had in the past. Anyway, it was a good job, and I immersed myself into the work.
After I had been there for about 2 weeks or so, I came home one evening to find my parents engaged (yet again) in a fight. Dad had been drinking, and my arrival didn’t affect him at all. Soon he threw a jar of mustard at Mom. I then “lipped off” at him, and made a threatening move toward him. He rose from his chair and told me to “get out of his house!” I thought about it, and was on the road within 10 – 15 minutes. It was a 5-6 hour drive to Whitehouse, OH and I arrived home sometime around 0300… back up to my room.
3. Entering my senior year at college I had been accepted into the AF ROTC Flight Instruction Program (FIP), contingent upon passing a flight physical. A childhood dream about to be realized. In early September we were all bussed down to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH for two days of physicals.
When I got to the color vision portion of the eye exam, I failed! I am not able to see all the numbers in the color plates. I am “borderline” color deficient – unfortunately from the ‘wrong’ side of the border! So, I failed – rode the bus home, drove home to Whitehouse and went back up to my room…
Kind of a shitty way to begin my senior year of college I thought… and that’s why I call the experience my “Unholy Trinity.”
Before leaving here I need to mention a couple things. First, I didn’t have the “Life skills” to cope at that time – so I eventually turned to alcohol to escape. I didn’t drink because of any or all three of these events – I drank because I am ‘alcoholic’… just this simple.
The second thing I need to mention is, when I took my physical and the medics saw where I failed the color vision exam, they gave me a ‘color threshold’ exam. This tells us to what degree of color vision deficiency I actually have. That one, recognized by the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency), I ‘passed.’ But it didn’t matter, the USAF standards were “higher.” However, this test would come into play 2-3 years later…