Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 24, 2014

First Funny at Mini-Reunion

Proud "Bottom of the Barrel Class"

Proud “Bottom of the Barrel Class”

Today was the meet and greet for Class of 1972, United States Military Academy, at our Mini-Reunion in Williamsburg, VA. At past reunions I’ve laughed so much, my cheeks hurt. First funny was fired tonight.

One of my classmate’s wives came up to chat about “how I’m doing.” She knew my wife in Germany and associated gatherings for years. Visited her in the hospital. Went to her funeral. She was as caring and kind as any strong Christian woman can be – which she is.

Then, she told me that I am still young and I needed to get out. I need to marry again. Katherine would want me to be happy. But, don’t marry someone too young. “We” wouldn’t like that.

“We.”

(Pause) “We!”

I wish I could share this with my late wife Nellie. She would laugh her butt off – and she would agree that “We” wouldn’t like it.   She wouldn’t either. She was part of the We.  “We” are the first wives of about 30 to 42 years of marriage to classmates.

Our first wives are in the 50s and 60s

Our first wives are in their 50s and 60s

 

How true.  The first wives paid a lot of dues.  They were there through thick and thin.  They lived very similar lives for as many years as peers stayed in the Army, then split to the four winds of free, different life.  They were 5, 10, 20, 30 and 35 year vets like their husbands.  Some who are divorced feel a huge sense of loss for their sisterhood of Classmates’ wives and the overall purpose and bonds of our band of brothers.

PS: I told several of the first wives at my wife’s funeral how much I didn’t want to see them. I knew I’d cry as soon as they said hello. And I did. Because they knew her well. They knew about our life together. They shared so much of it. It was like seeing a different her in each of them. I’ll try to not cry when they talk to me this weekend. So far, so good. In public.

We were the bottom of the barrel class.  The only class in West Point history where every qualified candidate was admitted.  It was 1968.  We thought we were going to Vietnam in 4 years.  It wasn’t cool to be in the Army.

West Point and the Army didn’t care.   Our time was brutal.  Now we joke about it.  A lot.  It was brutal on purpose.   It worked.  Most of us went into the Army with a fire in our belly.  The war was called off.  So, we took the armed mob that came out of Vietnam and made it into the victorious Army of Grenada, Panama, Operation Desert Storm, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

We could coach the Army on how to handle being screwed by the politicians and bureaucrats in the coming cuts.  We know what has to be done with the remnant to build a winning Army.  I hear, dunno if true, that our class had more Generals than any other class than the Class of 1915 – which ran WW II.

Ah, well.

The first funny was fired.  Loved it.  “”We” wouldn’t like it.”

More laughs to come.

Old Corps.  Last class to brace.

Old Corps. Last class to brace.

 

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