The year was 1967 and the place was Fort Sill Oklahoma and I was very busy getting a brand-new unit together for deployment to South East Asia. The things going through my mind range from the bazaar to the mundane, whatever that means. I was too busy to be too worried about much. We had nothing when I got to Fort Sill. The 8/4th was in name only. There was no equipment and no personal. Except for Joe Talley we were pretty much on our own to build the property books and put the unit together.
Now for a very personal insert between all that was going on at the time.
Of all I thought about the war and my part in it, I can think of nothing that will ever take the place of a few very close friends. These men were people just like me, men whose lives had been put on hold because of a war none of us understood. I think about these men often and wonder about how the years have treated them. Thanks to a unit reunion I have gotten to see some of them again, and to sit and talk for hours about things we didnít talk much about way back then. I was like a kid waiting on Santa Clause to arrive when the time drew close for the reunion to take place. All I could think about was seeing those men one more time, and I wondered "are they going to be fat and bald, old and gray, who knows what." I know when I got there I was waiting to lay my eyes on them, but when I got there I was told that one man would not be coming to the reunion and he was one man that I was really looking forward to seeing again.
His name is Donald Armstrong. From the very first time I meet him, he stood out to me. No, he wasnít a big man, he wasnít the best looking guy in the unit, and he talked funny, well at least to me he did. He was a Yankee and I being from the Lone Star State, thought he sounded funny.
We became friends right away. He was a young man who did things correctly the first time, and he was always ready to help anyone who needed help. He stood straight, held his head up looking always forward. His uniform was always clean and well kept, and now that I think about it he did not sweat. Believe me when I say he should have because it was hot in Oklahoma at this time of year, and I sweated so much I was in danger of drowning. Don was a man who without being told, totally took charge. He had a way about him that made you think he knew what he was talking about all the time. Now donít read into that something that isnít there, Don did knew what he was doing and the best way to get it done. I remember him sitting at a type writer where for hours he would type out mountains of paper work as if he had been doing it all his life. I never told him, but I would always copy his way of doing things. In turn, Joe Talley, the S4 warrant, thought I was so smart and up on things. I wanted so at the reunion to see Don and tell him just how much he had helped me through those very hectic times.
I had found Don by using my computer and calling all the Donald Armstrongs in the state of New York. I can remember call number 26, I knew it was him the very minute I heard his voice and he knew me. We talked for some time, about what I donít even know. It was so good to hear his voice again. We have exchanged email messages many times, but there is one thing that I cannot understand for the life of me. I have sent him pictures of myself and my family, I didnít even try and cover up the fact that I have much less hair than when we last saw each other. I didnít even hide the fact that I was retired and on the over side of the hill. I was open with him and wanted to know all about him and his family. I asked for an up-to-date photo of himself so that I could put it with the many pictures I had taken at the reunion of the other guys with whom we had served. Months have passed and many requests for the picture have been sent to him. I have even told him I donít care if he is bald or fat. I donít care if he got ugly or has only one arm or leg, I just want a picture of my friend Don Armstrong. At the writing of this letter he has yet to send me a picture and I am very sad. My album will never be complete until I get my picture of my friend Don. So with that I must close this letter only hoping that the mail man will bring me a picture one of these days of the "Army" I knew in a friend called Don.
Don M Brodie