From sea to shining sea in 1963

Sunday, May 27, 2018

(Editor’s note: This is a Memorial Day submission from a Glendive native.)

Dear Editor:

Fresh out of basic training, I arrived back in Montana to pick up my car before going to my next post in Virginia. I planned on going through to Denver and also taking in as many sights as possible on the way to my helicopter mechanic school on the Eastern seaboard.

When I arrived, I was shocked to discover that I wouldn’t be allowed to even drive my car onto the base because my insurance didn’t come up to Virginia standards. When this red tape was cleared up, it was almost time to leave and I was handed an even bigger shock. I was informed, “not too gently”, that I wasn’t even supposed to have a car at school and I would be shipping out on a train to California with the rest of my class! There we would all catch a plane to Vietnam! Vietnam wasn’t even in the news then and it took some pretty fast talking to get my orders changed to be able to get to the West Coast on my own. For this I was allowed forty-eight hours in which to accomplish. “No more and No less”! In this generous forty-eight hours I had to drive from the East Coast to Glendive, Montana, find a garage to store my car in for a year, winterize it, and somehow get a flight to Oakland to be seated on that outbound flight with the rest of my class! If I somehow missed this overseas troop movement, it meant guaranteed time in the brig.

It became The Great American Endurance Run. I actually made it all the way to the middle of North Dakota before falling asleep at the wheel. I was doing fine until I started hallucinating and thought I saw a brick wall stretching across the freeway in the middle of the night. I hit the brakes so hard I cracked my head on the steering wheel. This woke me up and convinced me to pull over and catch a short nap. About two hours was enough to get me the rest of the way.

To make a long story short, I did manage to put my car up on blocks in storage and catch a plane to Oakland just barely in time. My PanAm plane was on the warm-up strip with the engines running and I was the very last person to get on. There were a lot of disappointed classmates of mine that had taken bets that I wouldn’t make it. But I surprised everyone, even myself!

The Wanderer

John D. Boespflug

Graduate of DCHS,

Class of 1962