THE ARMY    ~ ~   1961-1981

The photo to the right was taken when I was in basic training at Ft. Knox, KY   November 1961

Assignments:
    Oct  '61 to Dec '61          Ft Knox, KY  Basic Training
    Jan '62 to May '62          Ft Sam Houston, TX
    Jun '62 to Jul   '62          Ft Knox, KY (2nd time)
    Jul  '62 to Jul   '64          Ft McPherson, GA (Atlanta)
    Aug '64 to Aug '65          Seoul, Korea
    Aug '65 to Jul '66            Atlanta, GA
    Sep '66 to Jan '70          Charlotte, NC
    Mar '70 to Mar '71           Thessalonica, Greece
    Apr  '71 to Jun '73           Heidelberg and Mannheim, Germany
    Jul  '73  to Feb '74          Minneapolis, MN  (Fort Snelling)
    Feb '74 to Dec '74          Ft Ord, Calif
    Jan '75 to Feb '76           Ft Sam Houston, TX (2nd time)
    Jan  '76 to Feb '77         Ft Gordon, GA
    Mar  '77 to Jun '79         Erlangen, Germany
    Jul   '79 to Jul   '80         Ft Gordon, GA   (2nd time)
    Jul   '80 to Oct  '81          Ft Knox, Ky    (3rd time) (retired)

 
The second photo was taken in Seoul, Korea, 1965 while  "defending Freedom's Frontier".

As I was growing up, I was convinced that I wanted to be a doctor. There was never a time that I wavered from that position. Never wanted to be a fireman, policeman or cowboy!
After graduating from Byesville High School in 1961, I worked the summer in a Pure gas station and in the fall enrolled at Ohio State University, into the pre-med program.
After I had been there a few weeks, I was finally appointed a counselor and was interviewed by him. He was appalled that I was going into medicine. He stated that in reviewing my aptitude scores that I was not suited for the health care industry and that I was more qualified for the world of mathematics.  I detest mathematics.
He strongly recommended that if I was adamant about being a physician, that I should first get some experience in the health care field prior to wasting my time and money and the universities space. He suggested that the military would be a good place to do that.
Duhhh! what did I know, this guy was a 'University Counselor".
Sooooo! I hied myself down to the Army recruiter's office (SFC Dan Wiggins) and enlisted in the Army with a guarantee of getting medical laboratory training.

Prior to that, I had firmly stated that I would never, never, never join the military.
What is the old adage re: "The best laid plans of mice and men"?

BASIC TRAINING  (OR BOOT CAMP TO YOU SWABBY TYPES)

So I left home and was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for basic training.
At the time the Berlin Crisis was going on, and the training company I was assigned to was an accelerated company, with only 6 weeks of training as opposed to the normal 8, and also they were severely understaffed.
It turned out that they did not have a company clerk, and that I was the ONLY person in the company who could type. (another story behind that, because at that time, boys/men did not type that was gurls work)
So I spent every evening and most week-ends in the orderly room (admin office) typing whatever needed to be typed, orders, training schedules, letters etc.
The up side of that was it was in November and December, and I was relieved of other extra duties, such as walking guard in the cold, and pulling the detested KP (Kitchen Police or scullery duty)
I also was fortunate, in that my cousin, Art, was stationed at Ft Knox at the time and was the commander of a transportation company. As a captain, he out ranked my commander, Lt St. George, and would on occasion come over and "sign' me out and take me to his quarters to have dinner with his family. Boy, was that special.
Another special occurance was at Thanksgiving, when my mom and dad drove down to Ft Knox and had a military Thanksgiving dinner at the company.
Dad enjoyed the meal, and wondered why I was always complaining about military chow, he thought it was great.
Thanksgiving is the ONE meal of the year that the military pulls out all the stops.

Well, I finally got through that mess, even after having developed pneumonia during the final week, but refused to go to the hospital as that would have meant 'recycling' and having to return after the Christmas holidays to complete the training in another company.

TRAINING

In January I headed for Ft. Sam Houston, TX (San Antonio). It was cold (16 degrees) snowing and blowing something fierce when I got on the bus.
When I arrived in San Antonio two days later, it was a balmy 72 degrees, sunshine and beautiful. Alright, I have finally come home! "How sweet it is".
However, I was not to enter laboratory training right away, first I had to complete the basic military aidman (corpsman to you swabby types) course.
The only company starting that course when I arrived was a Special Forces Group.
So there I was, training with the SF! Duhh, how did that happen? Run, run, run, PT, PT, PT (physical training) all the time.
However, as strenuous as that was, it paid off later.
After completing the basic medical course, I then went to the lab training program and completed that with no significant problems.
I then went BACK to Ft Knox, Kentucky for hands on training (OJT or 'on the job training') prior to going to my first real assignment.
Two things stood out with that assignment, one I got to travel by train, including on a Pullman car from San Antonio to Louisville. That was real class!
The second was while doing the OJT, they made me go down to the morgue and observe an autopsy ????? Yuck!

FORT MCPHERSON (ATLANTA),  GEORGIA

My first assignment was at Ft. McPherson, Georgia, in Atlanta.
I was assigned to the Military Hospital Laboratory service.
After having been there a couple of weeks, the NCOIC (Supervisor) SFC  Yamashita,  informed me that I had morgue duty.  Say What?
THATS why they made me observe the autopsy in Ft Knox, [see one, do one, teach one].
 As a lab technician, l was responsible for putting bodies into the morgue, and preparing them for and assisting the pathologist in performing post mortems .

LTC Eisen, was our laboratory officer, and that turned out to be significant.
I spent 2 years at Ft McPherson, and was promoted up to E-5 (Sgt) during that time.
We also had the Cuban (Bay of Pigs) affair during that time, for which we helped train and prepare the Cuban force prior to the fiasco.
The march to Selma also occurred during that time, and several of our guys were sent there to help quell the 'uprising' and secure the peace.
Tragically, President Kennedy was also assassinated during this assignment.

KOREA

 In July 1965,  I was sent to Korea, where I was assigned to the United Nations Command Hospital as laboratory supervisor. (see one, do one, teach one, old Army policy)
I was originally scheduled to go over by ship (the Breckenridge) but it blew a boiler coming into San Francisco harbor, and as it was scheduled to be decommissioned after one more final trip, they decided to find another way to get us to Korea.
That way was Northwest Orient Airlines. I was one of the first soldiers to begin traveling by air for troop movements.


[The photo to the right is of me working in the laboratory at Ft McPherson, GA; circa 1963]

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my old lab officer Dr Eisen was also stationed at the UN Hospital, except now he was the commanding officer of the hospital after having been promoted to full 'bird' COL.
His patronage was a big asset in my learning how to run a lab and to supervise people.
My stay in Korea was reasonably uneventful. (Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of 'war' stories to relate during that period, but I will reserve those for special occasions).
However, I was surprised and appalled to learn that our soldiers were still being killed on a regular basis in conflicts in the so called de-militarized zone.
Unfortunately, many of those bodies were brought to our hospital for preparation for trans-shipment back to the states, and, you guessed it, I was running the hospital morgue.
One other interesting tid-bit, just as I was preparing to return to the USA at the completion of the tour of duty, I was invited to go to a place called Viet Nam. No one could tell me where it was or what we were doing there, as it had not escalated yet, but was "fixin" to.
I turned them down and kept my pre-assured assignment to return to Atlanta, Georgia.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA  [AFEES]

I did not return to Ft. McPherson, GA, but was assigned to what is known as civilian component duty at the local AFEES (Armed Forces Entrance and Examination Station) where draftees and volunteers received their initial testing and physical examination for entry into the armed forces.
The civilian component part meant that we were given 'housing allowance" and permitted to live off base.
Not long after being assigned there the character of the place changed dramatically, as the Viet Nam War was going into high gear.

We started working 12 hours a day and were shipping 300 recruits/draftees every day to their training bases and then on to Viet Nam.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA  (AFEES)
After being in Atlanta for a year, I received another promotion and was transferred to Charlotte, NC AFEES where I became the NCOIC (administrator/supervisor) for the medical department.
I remained in Charlotte longer than at any other assignment in my career, almost 5 years.
While there, I was placed on orders to go to Viet Nam twice, but they were canceled due to my being 'mission essential' at my duty station.
Probably had a lot to do with my mom praying fervently that I NOT be sent to the war zone. {See "Prayer Warrior" on the Wootton Family page}
Finally, the Army acquiesced and permitted me to transfer. However, this time I was to go to Europe. Germany to be specific, as I had re-enlisted with the guarantee, that I would be assigned somewhere in Germany.
GERMANY,  [WELL, SORT OF!]
Well, I finally arrived in Germany. We flew in to Frankfurt and were taken to the replacement battalion (RB) for assignment and further travel. Everybody but me and a couple of other guys, we didn't go anywhere. Day after day we sat in the RB waiting to receive our orders. Meanwhile, everyday, planeloads of soldiers were flying in and getting their assignments and leaving.
Inquirys as to what was going to happen to us, was met with irritated replys for us to be patient and quit hasseling the staff.
Finally after about a week, we (the 3 or 4 guys who had been hanging around and were starting to get to know each other) were called to the processing office and given our orders, and, airline tickets, on Luftansa Airlines. At last, we were going somewhere, except we couldn't understand where we were going to.
We were taken to the Frankfurt Airport (civilian side) and placed on a Luftansa flight. Asking the stewardess (flight attendent, EXCUSE MOI!) was to no avail, as whatever she said, did not mean anything to any of us.
Once again, 'finally' we arrived 'somehwere'. We could not read the letters on the airport building which was in some weird  incomprehensible foreign language. And as luck would have it, the customs official either could not or would not speak English.
After several uncomfortable minutes an American (soldier in 'civvies') happened to walk by and seeing our plight, intervened and got things straightened out.
GREECE April 1970 to  May 1971

The photo to the right was taken by a commercial photographer while I was visiting the Acropolis/Parthenon.

It turned out, we were in GREECE.
 We were in Athens. "Athens" in most European languages is 'Atinos" or some similar derivation thereof,  which is why we could not make out where we were going on the airline ticket.
My traveling companions were assigned to the headquarters battalion in Athens, however, I was shipped 'up north' to a town called Perivalaki, near Thessaloniki. (Where Paul wrote his letters called Thessalonians to).
My job was to provide medical care to 5 isolated military detachments, most of which were in the mountains near the Romanian border. [ I can't tell you what we were doing there or I would have to kill you!]
I was not only responsible for holding sick call for the people, I also took care of the dogs and cats, inspected the water and food facilities.
All this on only basic aidmen training and basic lab tech training. Fortunately, I had radio communication with the 'real' doctor in Athens.
Dr (CPT)Pierce J. Meyers, God Bless him.
I was issued a 4 wheel drive suburban like vehicle (International Travel-all) to make my daily trips. The 4 WD was essential as I had to frequently ford streams to get to some of the sites.
I also held sick call for the local American Counselors Office
This turned out to be exciting, as I was mysteriously called by them one morning to rush to the fanciest hotel in Thessaloniki .
There I was ushered into a large top floor suite where I found Neil Armstrong broken out in hives.
He was on a goodwill tour following his moon trip and had brought some moon rocks to the local University. The evening before there was a large banquet where he was honored and given the keys to the city. Unfortunately, he was also given shell fish to eat, to which he was allergic.
So, I got to treat one of our most famous astronauts for an allergic reaction. Successfully, by the way!
I was also appointed as the 'Movie NCO' while there, as I had to visit each site once a week anyway, I picked up and dropped off the weeks supply of movies, moving the old ones onward to the next site. My visits were always looked forward to with anticipation by the troops.
I enjoyed my tour in Greece, where I found the people to be very friendly and hospitable, the food excellent and the history and geography uncomparable.
One problem however, was the beer, which was excellent, unfortunately, it was not pasturized.
In some countries this is not a problem, but in Greece it frequently resulted in a case of the 'back door trots', or Montezuma's Revenge.
The water also, was not potable.

I was placed on orders to go to Walter Reed Army Hospital when I completed my tour in Greece, however, I fought that, as I had been guaranteed an assignment in Germany when I left Charlotte, NC, and I had not had that yet. They (the Army) acquiesced once more and changed my orders to go to Heidelberg, Germany. How exciting!


GERMANY (AGAIN) May 1971 to June 1973

I had a months leave in the USA prior to reporting for duty in Germany. However, as I was being transferred directly from Greece to Germany, official air travel to the US was not authorized.
I went to the Air Force Base in Athens, and caught a 'hop' (on a military aircraft) as that was free.
My first ride was from Athens to Madrid (Tarajon Air Base)  in Spain.

While traversing the Mediterreanian in cargo plane ( I think it was a C118) I had climbed up on the ribs of the aircraft to look out the port holes which were high on the fuselage for some reason, anyway, while I was up there, one of the engines decided to "give up the ghost' as it were.

The sudden jolt threw me to the floor. Fortunately nothing more than my pride was injured.

The captain (both as commander of the aircraft and his Air Force rank) came out of the cockpit and informed us that we were as safe as babes in a mothers arms, and in fact if we had to, we could limp into Spain on just two engines.  ;-) That was reassuring, I think!

When we got there, they said we would have to wait a couple of days before we could catch another 'hop' for the next stage of our journey back to the states.
My fellow travelers took a cab into Madrid and got a hotel and decided to see a bit of the country. 
Not me, I stayed at the terminal and waited.
About 2 oclock in the morning, the clerk walked by and kicked me on the foot, waking me from a slumber stating there was an unscheduled air national guard 'fuel tanker' (KC 135) out side getting ready to leave for South Dakota, if I wanted to 'hitch a ride'. Boy did I?
So, I got to ride a fuel tanker back to the US. The KC 135 was a Boeing 707 specially modified to carry jet fuel to refuel other jet aircraft while in flight.
The crew chief let me lay on the fuelers couch and observe our flight track through the refueling window in the rear of the aircraft. Neato! (and very cold)
When I arrived in Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, I then had to go by reguarly scheduled civilian flights back to Ohio.

However, the very first thing I did was get a pint of 'REAL" fresh milk from a dispenser in the airport lobby. We did not get fresh milk in Greece. Our milk was reconstituted powdered milk, which had been bottled in waxed cardboard containers and frozen. We had to thaw it out before using. It was the PITS.

Anyway, I had a nice vacation (leave) at home before returning to Europe, Boy was I in for the surprise of my life!

GERMANY  (Finally)

The photo to the right was taken in 1972 when Elaine and I were vacationing in Greece, this is a very rare photo of Tammy.

On my second arrival to Germany, I went to Heidelberg, assigned to the US Army Regional Medical Center.

However as I was 'forced' on them by the HQ 7th Army, they thought I was a CID (military intelligence) agent, sent to uncover problems. I did not discover this until much later after I left the unit.

Consequently they assigned me as NCOIC (administrator) of the sattelite health clinic in Mannheim, Germany which also included the Army prison for Europe, and we were also responsible for crash response for the only Army Air Field in Europe. Quite a busy place.
 The stockade (prison) had a separate dispensary (health clinic) so I had two clinics to supervise.

They had been having a lot difficulty with this particular clinic with drugs. I managed to discover who was responsible (a Sergeant who had recently returned from Viet Nam). They were selling drugs out of the back of the ambulances!
It took me a while to clean up that mess, but I discovered that I had a lot of backing from HQ, which was there because they thought I was 'the man' from their HQ.

While stationed there, in the small town of Kafertal, just outside of Mannheim, I met the lady who was to become my wife. (the surprise)
We went on a two week vacation to Greece.
We drove across the Alps, and down through Italy to the town of Brindisi.
We camped on the way and generally had a great time.
From Brindisi we took a car ferry across the Adriatic Seat to Greece. That was a delightful trip.
Tammy, (Elaine's daughter) was with us.
I have photos of us in front of the Parthenon. (haven't posted them on flickr yet, but I will).
She was visiting her sister who was married to a soldier who I knew. Her sister insisted that we meet.
We dated for a couple of years and had decided to get married before we left Germany.
Unfortunately, Tammy met with an accident and was taken from us that same week.
Consequently, our wedding was not a happy event.
The military's support during this most difficult time was amazing. They certainly do 'take care of their own'. I will forever be grateful for their support.

MINNESOTA
The photo to the immediate above right is of the famous "Falls of Minehaha" which were located a few miles from our apartment.
Unfortunately, when I took this photo, it had been quite dry and they are not flowing very rapidly. I have later seen them frozen, and also flowing like niagra falls.

I was then transferred back to the US, this time to a small reserve base in Minneapolis, MN, Ft Snelling.
We had a small dispensary located on the Air National Guard Base (shared space with the Interational Airport)
Our HQ was at Ft Sheraton, IL in Chicago.
The only thing exciting about that assignment, was that it was VERY cold that winter. It got down to 30 below zero.
My boss, a nurse, had a problem with me, for one day when Elaine was in my office for something, my boss' husband (a civilian) walked past my office on the way to her's, and when he got there, he asked his wife "who is the 'fox' in Sergeant Wootton's office?" She didn't take to that very well.
And on another occasion, she walked into my office when I was on the phone ordering flowers.
When I got off the phone, she smiled, and said "what is the occasion?" When, I said there was no occasion, I was just letting my wife know that I loved her. Whew! she didn't take to that very well either. I guess her husband never sent her flowers for not reason at all.
I was also impressed to discover, the 'Falls of Hiawatha" which are located in a park near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. I have a photo of them on my flickr site.

CALIFORNIA

We were then transferred to Ft Ord California, the following February, we left on Valentines Day.
My dad was having open heart surgery while we were on the road to Calif. at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
He had a quadruple bypass procedure, one of the first to be performed. His insurance (Etna) did not want to pay for it as they considered it to be experimental surgery! However, they finally did cough it up.
Our trip was otherwise memorial, in that there was a blizzard going on as we were traversing the infamous Donner Pass (between Nevada and California) (you might want to 'google' that, as it really is interesting)
We were the last car permitted on the mountain without chains. In retrospect, perhaps we should have also had chains.
The snow was deep and falling thick, and it was 10 pm. I followed a Greyhound Bus through the pass, up an down the mountain.
Elaine, my wife, was on the floor under the dash, it was a terrifying experience!
When we got to the other side, and started down into California, the snow disappeared when we got to the 4000 foot level, where we got a motel room for what remained of the night.
The next morning when we walked outside, it was green, flowers blooming and birds chirping.
Just amazing!

We enjoyed California. We lived in military quarters, which were the nicest I have ever seen.
Our home overlooked the Pacific Ocean.
Ft Ord was located (it has since been decomisioned) right outside of Monterrey near Carmel.
The weather there is much like San Francisco's, never getting very hot. However, in the summer time just over the hill towards Salinas, it would be in the 100's when it was 67 on the base.
I was promoted to Sergeant First Class (E-7) while stationed there. That was very nice!
My unit was a heavy equipment,  engineer battalion and we were utilized to fight a large forest fire the summer I was there. THAT was exciting.
At Thanksgiving we were invited to Chuck and Ellen Clark's for dinner, they had been stationed with us in Germany, in fact Ellen was Elaine's Matron of Honor at our wedding.
As Chuck was saying grace, an earthquake struck, and the turkey went sliding across the table onto the floor. It really rattled the  dishes and our sense of security!
Bye the way, we ate the turkey anyway.
Elaine got pregnant with our first child, while we were in California!
Then, I was selected to attend the Army Physician Assistant program, and we were placed on orders to go to Ft Sam Houston, TX at the end of December.
We spent New Years at Elaine's uncle's in Los Angles, and went to Disneyland while there, before heading on to Texas.
On the way we stopped again in Tucson, AZ to visit with her Grandma Brubaker.
All in all, the tour of duty in California was a very good one and the trip to Texas was exceptional.


TEXAS (JAN 1975 TO FEB 1976)
My second assignment to Ft Sam Houston, TX
[PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT SCHOOL]

We arrived in San Antonio, TX for my second assignment to Ft Sam Houston at 1 am in the morning After having driven across Texas in one day. (Los Cruces, NM to San Antonio, TX)
We stayed with a friend whom we had know in Minneapolis, MN; Jeff Johnson and his wife, for a week or so until we could find a house.
Jeff’s wife was also pregnant at the time, in fact she and Elaine delivered with-in hours of each other.
Jeff was partially responsible for my applying for PA school.
He was attending the advanced laboratory technician school and thought he heard that the Army was having difficulty getting enough applicants for the PA program. So he called me in California (Ft Ord) and told me I should apply for the school, as getting accepted would be a shoo-in.
Ha! Ha! It turned out that there were over 1100 applicants for the class I applied for, and 300 were accepted for personal interviews for the 60 seats that were to be filled.
Jeff lied.
By the way, Jeff and I are still friends, and I communicate with him fairly frequently.
Jeff got out of the army a few years later and returned to Minnesota where he is presently the State Veteran’s Officer for his region.

SGM vs. CWO
The first week I was in school, I was called down to the orderly room and informed that I had been selected to attend the Sergeant Major’s Academy!
Say what? I was given 4 days to make up my mind whether I wanted to continue PA training or switch to the SMA. That was a very difficult decision, as being selected for the SMA was a very high honor. Everyone knew who Sergeant Majors were, we weren’t certain about PAs as the concept was so new, that no one knew where the program was going.
At the time PAs were being promoted to Chief Warrant Officer upon graduation (they now receive a full commission) Economically, there wasn’t much difference as SGM and CWO made about the same salary, and both where (are) highly respected positions in the Army.
Anyway, I made the right decision and remained in PA school

SUSAN RAE WOOTTON

My oldest daughter, Susan selected the day of our first test in anatomy to make her arrival, at 3 am.
I didn’t get any sleep that night, and had the test first thing in the morning. I wont’ say what I got, (not an F) but it was the worst test score I got in PA school!
We attended school 8 hours a day 5 days a week and completed 56 semester hours in the first year. Talk about a grinder.
The Army had and agreement (for the princely sum of $4,000.00) with Baylor University to credential our program, and those hours are listed on our transcripts as from Baylor University, in fact our degree was issued by Baylor University.
Other than Susan arriving, and having completed the most difficult academic year I’ve ever experienced, the  year in San Antonio was basically uneventful.
My mother came down for a week when Susan was born,  and Elaine’s parents came down for a visit during the summer, both were very pleasant visits, however, I didn’t get to participate much, as I was always either in class or studying.
Elaine’s sister Eileen came for a visit also, over a 3 day holiday week-end ( I don’t recall which one) and we went to Corpus Christi (actually Port Aransas on Mustang Island) and spent a mini vacation there on the beach at the Holiday Inn. A very pleasant respite.
We completed the year in January, and then moved on to the second year of the program, referred to as “the Clinical Rotations”.
During this year, we learned to apply all the academic things we had studied during the didactic phase on real live patients, under direct supervision of a physician. We spent 2 to 4 weeks working in each specialty.


FT GORDON, GEORGIA

The top 4 students in the class were guaranteed any assignment they wanted, two of those assignments were in Hawaii, at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, which was where I wanted to go.
However, the two top students, John Stepenov and Rich Bohnemann elected that assignment so I didn’t even ask. My second choice was Ft. Gordon, Georgia which is what I got.
When I reported in, guess who was there with me? Rich Bohnemann! Duhh! Where did you come from? He said his wife changed her mind at the last minute and insisted that they go to Ft. Gordon also. So he managed to get his orders changed. I was not a happy camper. There went my only chance to be assigned to Hawaii in my entire military career.
Actually, Rich’s wife really made bad decision, as Rich started having an affair with one of the department secretaries and he ended up getting a divorce.
Rich recently passed away at a very young age, as he was abut 10 year younger than me. He smoked heavily right up until the end.
Well, we managed to get through the 2nd year without any major problems.

VICKI MARIE WOOTTON

My second daughter, Vicki was born on  October  24th , 1976. Her arrival was not quite as hectic as Susan’s  She also had the good sense to arrive during the day time even if it was in the early morning.
Susan learned to walk at about the same time.
Elaine had an uncle, James Leath, “Uncle Fatty” who lived in Atlanta, GA at the time who was a wonderful cook. He took a liking to us, and came to visit on several occasions, it was he who actually got Susie to take her first wobbly steps. Uncle Fatty weighed in excess of 300 pounds. He has long since gone on to his reward.
He used to bring us boxes of steaks and Red Snapper fish, concerned that we didn’t eat well enough I guess.
We were much too skinny compared to his ample girth, however, we certainly enjoyed the food.
We had much more free time during the second year, taking the time to drive to the coast (North Carolina) to visit with Elaine’s sister Dorothy who’s husband was stationed at the marine base.
We also went to Atlanta several times, to visit not only Uncle Fatty, but also to visit an old friend of mine, Rita and her husband Bobby Sparks. We went to “Underground Atlanta” and had a great time.
Going back to their home (Rita’s and Bobbie’s) at about 2 am, Bobby decided he had to relieve himself,  urgently, so he pulled up on an off ramp of I- 20 and proceeded to do so. A state patrolman was parked under the over pass and observed him in action. CAUGHT.
The cop came up on the ramp, got out and directed his flashlight into the car. He recognized Bobbie, and said “Bobbie Sparks, what would your mother say?” Whew! What a relief, no ticket, just a warning.

The second year of clinical rotations was a cake walk compared to the first year. I actually enjoyed the experience.

WARRANT OFFICER APPOINTMENT

Graduation day came on February 2, 1977. I was officially appointed as a Warrant Officer in the US Army.
What an honor. One of my friends was waiting outside the door for me to come out so he could be the first person to salute me. That privilege comes with a signed dollar bill, which I had prepared before hand.
My parents drove down from Ohio for the occasion, and Elaine was wearing a fancy gown.
We then had to prepare for my first assignment as a Physician Assistant, (yestidday I couldn’t spell it, today I are one!)

GERMANY (SECOND TIME)
The army decided they needed my skills and pleasant personality back  in Germany once again.
So off we went back to Germany, this time to the town of Erlangen. (an old, famous, university city)
The first thing I discovered when arriving there, was that hardly no one knew what a PA was!
I had to explain who I was and what I did to almost everyone, even doctors and nurses.
Shortly after arriving there, I learned that I had to ‘pull’ emergency room duty.
Boy was that a shock, I was totally NOT prepared for that. Almost as bad as the ‘morgue’ duty earlier.
We were each the medical provider for the Nuremberg  US Army Hospital Emergency Room about 2 nights a month plus one week-end day per month.
Whatever came in, we had to take care of it. Of course we had ‘on call’ specialist to come an assist with really serious cases.

THE ‘BULL’ NURSE

My first week-end duty came up on either my first or second week-end after arriving in Germany. That was just too quick for  me. Talk about being thrown overboard and told to ‘sink or swim’.
Anyway about half way through the day, the ER nurse came into my office where I was writing notes, and threw a chart on my desk and informed me THEY didn’t write notes that way.
I sat there for a minute, really uncertain what to do, (she was a typical overbearing tough army nurse with the rank of Major, much higher rank than I had).
Finally, I asked her whose signature was at the bottom of the note, she sort of stepped back and said, well, yours, of course.
I then informed her that when she signed the bottom of the form, she could put anything she wanted above that signature, but as long as I was the one signing the form, I would put what I wanted above it,  PERIOD.
Boy, did that every get her in a dither, she sputtered and spit and said we would see about that.  But I never heard anything about it, and she never gave me any trouble, ever again for the next 3 years.
I suspect the commander of the hospital was rather pleased that someone finally stood up to her.
By the way, I had just graduated, and my notes were school perfect. Perhaps it had been way too long since she had seen such lengthy and well formed notes.
The medical profession is constantly changing what is ‘acceptable’ format for progress notes anyway. Somebody, somewhere in the endless hierarchy doesn’t have enough to do.

I was assigned to a armored brigade, whose job was to defend the “Fulda Gap” if the Russians ever came across. My Battalion was an ‘Armored Infantry Battalion. We didn’t use tanks, but maneuvered in support of tank battalions. We had armored personnel carriers.
We spent most of our time in ‘Graffenwoer” the tank training area for the American Army in Germany.
As soon as we got back from one field problem (maneuvers) we would start preparing for the next one.
While in garrison, at what was called ‘Ferris Barracks’ I worked in the local Health Clinic along with the 4 other Pas assigned to our Brigade. We worked under a physician named CPT Miguel Pelegrina. He was a brand new medical School graduate and had only completed his internship, but not a residency. He was as green as we were. However, he was a wonderful supervisor and did an excellent job herding us new PA s into our new career.

BARBARA ANN WOOTTON

While stationed in Germany, Elaine once more got ‘into the family way’ and we were expecting a new baby.
Unfortunately, she developed some severe medical problems with that pregnancy and almost had a miscarriage.
She was placed in a German hospital where she was given a special medicine by IV drip around the clock for almost 3 months! That particular medicine, at that time, was not approved by the FDA for use in the USA so therefore the Army doctors could not use it in military hospitals.
Boy! Was that ever a difficult time. Two little girls at home, wife in the hospital for three months, and I still had to work at the dispensary and go on field problems.

THE ARMY HELPS IT’S OWN

With the help of the battalion officers wives however, we managed.
My everlasting gratitude to Diane Donahue and Barbara Schroeder for their ever present help during this stressful time. They were a blessing from God.
I later learned that the Brigade commander had ordered the brigade officers to  help me through  the episode. I never met the man except distantly at official functions, but was really impressed that he was aware of what was going on and made sure that the needed assistance was provided.
Of course, I would be deeply remiss if I did not give credit to my sainted mother, who was back in the ‘States’ sending up never ending prayers for the situation. (see ‘A Virtuous Woman” ) I suspect it was God’s intervention that stimulated the Brigade Commander to take the action that he did, as that was extremely unusual.
A few days before they considered it safe to deliver her, they transferred Elaine back to the Military Hospital in Nuremberg for the delivery of our youngest child, Barbara Ann  Wootton.
One side story to this tale, the Germans serve their main meal at lunch time, and then only have a snack in the evening.
When I could, I would go over to the German “Krankenhaus”, Frauen Klinik, to visit with Elaine in the evening after work.
One evening when I was there, they brought in her meal, a sandwich and a drink.  (German sandwiches are heftier than ours, by the way)
Anyway, Elaine was contentedly munching away, when she said she wondered what the lunch meat was in her sandwich. I said “Blutworst”. She asked, what did that mean, I said, “Blood Sausage”
WHAT!!! Yuck, SPIT, SPIT ! boy she wouldn’t eat any of that again.
After she had recovered from the delivery, she took the girls back to the states and stayed near her mother for a few months until she had fully recovered from the trauma, while I continued my duties in Germany. After a few months she returned to Germany, and we lived in German economy housing off post for the remainder of the tour, as we could not get back into government housing when she returned.
We met some very nice people who owned the house, and had the opportunity to see them again last summer when we revisited the area on a trip to Germany.
Susan had a playmate at that time, the daughter of the owners of the property we were renting. Her name was Christiana, a delightful child. They would play almost everyday for hours, chattering away in there own tongues but seemingly understanding each other perfectly. They were about 3 years old then.
Susan had the chance to meet with Christiana on our trip last year. That was a wonderful experience for both of them.
Anyway, finally the German tour came to an end.

BACK TO THE USA

We returned to the United States in July of 1979 and I was once more assigned to Ft. Gordon, GA, however, that was not to be my last assignment. The army in all of their wisdom transferred me to Ft Knox, Kentucky for my final assignment only one year before retiring.
So I ended up retiring from the same post that I entered the army, 20 years before.

RETIREMENT
 
The day I left Ft Knox (we were moving to Florida) I was driving our van and Elaine was driving our car and we were communicating on the CB radio (big stuff back then) when a Kentucky state cop pulled us both over for speeding.
When Elaine asked me, on the CB, which one of us he had got, the cop responded on HIS CB, “both of you”.
He wasn’t impressed  that I had just retired after 20 years service to our country, however, he only gave us  one ticket, to me!  What a nice guy!

There are many, many stories hidden in the above narrative, but it got to be much too long and I would have to write a book to include them.
Perhaps some are worth sharing, which I do from time to time. Usually in association with a cold libation!

All in all, I am proud to have served our nation in uniform, and would not trade the experiences for anything.  I feel truly blessed.

GOD BLESS AMERICA





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