Lessons Learned: A Military Wife, a Husband, and Another Man---Humor in Uniform
The standard joke of the time when I was married to an Air Force Sergeant was:
"If the Air Force had wanted the guys to have a wife, they would have issued them one."
New military wife
A military wife for only a year, I kissed my husband goodbye early one morning in the summer of 1972 and sent him off to leadership school in Shreveport, Louisiana. He would be gone for four long weeks while he attended leadership training at Barksdale Air Force Base.
This was my first experience and realization that during our marriage my husband would be gone for extended periods of time. I had no idea that military life was a series of TDY's--temporary duty elsewhere. The ironical part of it was, I came to really enjoy those times while he was away. I got to live a little less structured life. Sometimes reassimilating him back into my life was a bit uncomfortable and it took a while to get used to having my new routine change.
Early in my years as an Air Force wife, I really did not look forward to him being away. So when he went to leadership school that summer, I was somewhat filled with angst. But we had it all planned. At the end of the four weeks I would travel to Shreveport to attend graduation exercises and be reunited with my husband. It was our first separation so I did not look forward to it but I could count down the days till we were reunited.
Barksdale Air Force Base
Barksdale Air Force Base is located in the northwest corner of Louisiana.
Because of the climate and military environment in that section of Louisiana, it has become a popular place for military retirees to call home. Many find it a lovely place to work and play.
This base emerged from the cotton fields of Northwestern Louisiana in the early thirties. And now it has become a major source of revenue and employs many in the area.
It is considered to have a pivotal role in providing a large part of the nation's deterrent force. It is a key Air Force Global Strike Command base.
More of my experiences as a military wife
For more on our miltary years you can read:
Planning a surprise
It was summer and since school was closed for the summer, and I had no teacher workshops to attend, my three month old daughter and I packed up my little red Duster and headed south from Albany, Georgia, to Rainbow Lakes Estates in Dunnellon, Florida, to spend those four weeks with my parents.
The plan was for me to drive to Shreveport at the end of the leadership school to attend graduation and drive home with my beloved. My Mother would care for my baby daughter while I was away.
Anxious to be reunited with him, I decided to go up on day early so that I could surprise him. I packed up a bag and hung the new red and white skirt and white blouse I had bought just for graduation and drove to Shreveport.
When I arrived, I was rather travel weary as I had not fully recovered for the C section I had when my daughter was born. At the time I had mine, the incision ran from just below the navel down as close to Miami as it could get. I had had some complications and the doctor really was not too thrilled at the prospects of me making the long drive alone but he did say I could go.
The Excitement of Witnessing This Never Diminishes
Location of the Leadership Schools
Location of my Momma and Daddy's home
Location of the home my daughter, husband, and I shared.
Preparing for our reunion
Upon arriving I checked in and settled into my hotel room.
After a short nap, I called the leadership school and asked to speak to Scotty. Informed that he was not there. I asked if I could leave message for him.
“This is Patricia Scott. Can you please ask him to go to them Howard Johnson’s here by the base. Maybe you can tell him you all are going out to dinner. I want to surprise him.”
Assured that they would do just that, I hung up the phone and dressed for dinner. The restaurant was so close to the hotel where I was staying that I made the short walk in no time.
The tables were turned
When I arrived at the restaurant, I was seated at a small table and waited for my husband to arrive. Before long, four handsome men came in the restaurant doors laughing and joking as they did. They were seated at a table not far from mine.. Three of them were very young men near my husband's age of 23 and the fourth one was thirty-fivish. The four of them were having a high spirited conversation which after a while stopped. I became aware that they had stopped joking and laughing The laughter filled room was now filled with whispers. The whispers became loud enough for me to hear.
I was able to hear: “Someone’s got to tell her. Someone’s got to tell her.”
After a few minutes, the tall, dark haired handsome man who was older than the others was at my side. He extended his hand to me and said:
“Hi, I am John Scott. Everyone calls me Scotty.”
I looked at him somewhat in disbelief and looked around. Smiling, I said, “Oh. So where is my Scotty?” I thought this was all a part of the surprise. Maybe they were trying to surprise me too.
Reunited with my husband at last
John stopped for a few seconds, walked briskly to his table across the restaurant and retrieved his glass of soda. When he sat down once again, he continued.
"Since you are the only other person here in the restaurant and you appear to be waiting for someone, I realized some mistake was made. As it happens I have met your husband and do remember him in particular because we share the name Scotty Scott.
Do not worry. I can straighten this out in a very few minutes.”
Sitting there in amazement I could not really believe what had just happened. How could it be? It was too much. And I only hoped that I did not get my husband in some kind of trouble. Being relatively new at being a military wife I was not certain if this whole incident could have a negative effect on him. As it turned out, it did not.
John Scotty Scott did as he promised. He contacted the NCO leadership school and my Scotty was tracked down. Within an hour, he was there. The reunion ended up not being a surprise as by this time I was no longer interested in surprising anyone. By this time, I just wanted to hug his neck. He already knew most of the story so I did not need to provide many details. He laughed as I filled in the bits and pieces he did not know.
The story unfolds
“May I sit down, Ms. Scott,” he asked in a most pleasant way. Do you mind if I call you Patricia? I think I can explain."
He went on to tell me what had happened.
“There were two leadership schools here this summer. One was an officer’s leadership school and the other was the NCO leadership school. What you did was call the Officer’s leadership school. Since I am known as Scotty no one realized it was not my wife who was calling. My friends here," motioning with a wave of his hand," invited me to come to dinner with them thinking they would be in on the big surprise.
When we got here, they did not see my wife anywhere in sight.hey had met earlier in the summer when she accompanied me to the Base. They decided they must tell me why they had brought me to the restaurant," he continued.
There is one more twist to this tale. John Scott’s wife’s name was also Patricia. Two Scotty’s, two Patricia’s. One officers leadership school, one NCO leadership school---a great deal of confusion.
The next day was the graduation. After graduation there was a reception for all of the graduates. It was a casual affair and everyone walked around and introduced their spouses and celebrated. Not remarkably, John Scott was there. When he saw me he smiled, walked over, and introduced his wife to me.
As he walked over, I noticed the young GI’s saluting him. He returned the salutes of course.
I asked my husband later why they were saluting John. It was because he an officer and he had been in charge of the leadership schools. I had not become familiar with the routines of saluting at this point as a military wife.
It could not be. He had apologized for the confusion at the restaurant. He had found my husband and had gotten him to the restaurant in a timely fashion. And never once did he mention his busy schedule or how much he had to do.
He had already endeared himself to me because of all he had done to help resolve the little confusing situation.. After I found out who he was, I guess you could say I was in complete awe of him. It was our good fortune to cross paths with the Scotts again several times while my husband was in the Air Force.
This turned out to be a much more eventful trip than I could have ever have imagined. Throughout the years many more unexpected surprises awaited us. Most of them would have equally lighthearted outcomes just as this one had.
© 2012 Patricia Scott