Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reconnecting from 40 years ago-Jack Richard Gates

I cannot remember a more miserable Spring, rain wise, since, it hasn't been cold, but the rain totals, combined with rain at least 5 days out of each 7, have made this one Spring I will be glad to see come to an end. How much rain have we had? Too Much!

I headed the 55 miles north to Bluffton, Ohio, yesterday afternoon...the radar and forecast had been showing rain, but by the time I pulled into the County Park where the Bluffton was set to face Cory-Rawson the showers had held off....that is until I stepped out of the car. The sky opened up and it rained at a steady, but not hard pace for approximately 20 minutes...stopped in time for us to get the 5pm start underway, then picked back up in the 2nd inning, and rained light, but steady, for the next 2 hours. We got the game took 2 1/2 hours, as Bluffton scored 2 in the 7th to tie it up, and plated a run in the extra 8th inning, to pull out the win 4-3.

Harold, my partner on the bases, and I agreed the conditions, and lighting was getting bad, so the 8th would be the last inning, one way or the other....Bluffton's run put an end to that problem.

I grabbed a coffee on the way out of town, and it continued to rain all the way to Celina...the showers picked up overnight, and as I type this blog page this morning, it continues...I am scheduled to work here in Celina tonight...doesn't look good, but since Celina has artificial turf on the infield, anything is possible.

Jack Gates______

As I was getting ready to head towards cell phone rang, I looked at the screen, it had no name, just a number with a 270 prefix. No idea? But I answered it, and a voice on the other end asked if this was Pat? "Yep", was my answer..."Do you know who this is"? the voice responded. "No" was my answer, but the voice on the other ended vaguely sounded like my old roommate and Air Force buddy Jack Gates, from Oklahoma. I had been trying for years to see how Jack was, but had failed to ever find him...although I did talk to a Jack R. Gates in Sulfur, Oklahoma, a few years ago...turns out(although I never confirmed it until yesterday) it was his father...but my efforts to locate Jack had failed. But he did located me...that came yesterday. "This is Jack Richard Gates" he said.....I had about 20 minutes before I had to head north, so I filled the time reminiscing with "Richard" Gates, as he is called these days.

Jack R. Gates 1968-70____

I first met Jack Gates in the fall of 1968 when I arrived at Dover AFB, Delaware, as a young, raw, Security Policeman, fresh out of "Cop School" at Lackland AFB, in Texas. After a few weeks rooming with a kid my age from Virginia, Jack and I became roomies...2 guys from as different backgrounds as you could get.

Jack was a full 4 years older than this 19 year old from Ohio. Jack was 23, a real gramps compared to most of the first termers thrown into the Security field at Dover...a chain smoking "Okie" from Central Oklahoma, south of OK City. We did have one thing in common at least...we hated the Air Force, or at least we didn't get along with the authority figures who were in our command....Jack Adkins comes first to mind...out Tech Sargent shift boss, who did his best(worst?) to keep me, Jack Gates, and a few others in line...never did work.

Jack and I roomed together for 8 months or so, before I was shipped back to Lackland for AZR Combat School in June of 1969...I then headed for Vietnam, and Jack followed a few months later. I was sent to Nha Trang, then on to the Capital at Saigon's Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Jack "Richard" Gates was shipped to a Hellhole called Da Nang in the far north of South Vietnam...after 3 or 4 months there he was sent to Bihn Thuy. It was from his stay there that Jack and I met up one last time, 40 years ago this Spring.

Jack was on an in-country R&R from Bihn Thuy when he arrived at the 1300 Barracks that housed the 377th Security Police Squadron at Tan Son Nhut, he woke me from a sound sleep sometime in the early afternoon hours of that cloudy Spring day(funny how sometimes deep seeded long forgotten memories come back clear as a cloudless day). We ended up heading downtown, where I proceeded to show him some of the "hot spots" of Old Saigon...a steak house, a brothel, and a bar....we spent that day exploring Saigon. When that day was done Jack said his farewell, and headed back to his base, to continue his R&R, I headed out to work Charlie Flight... I never saw or heard from Jack Gates again...until yesterday.

"Richard" Gates, now 65 years old, lives in a small town in Western Kentucky, on the Tennessee Border...he sounded good, and like the old Jack Gates I knew, when I was a 19 year old kid who didn't have a clue, and Jack was the "Old Man' of the 436th SPS at the ripe old age of 23.

I e-mailed him some information on the Vietnam Security Police Association, and this blog....we will remain in contact, it will be interesting to see how his life and mine have changed from those days, 4 decades ago.

Welcome Home Jack_____I mean Richard Gates!

back later>>>>
Photos-Sorry to say I have no photos that I could find of Jack...sorry to say, many photographs from those days are long gone...but top is a photo Jack Gates took of me, as we worked the "Mounds" aka Nuclear Storage Site at Dover..taken in December of 1968, that me holding both our M-1 Carbine...the second photo is of me at Tan Son Nhut in the Spring of 1970, about the same time as the last time Jack "Richard" Gates and I tipped a beer together...40 years ago.


Sarge Charlie said...

how cool is this, we have history.

PRH....... said...

Cool indeed Sarge...I had about given up on finding Jack, but he eventually found me. A great flood of memories came rushing back.

Cookie..... said...

Hey, that's great mate! A few years back I was fortunate to have located a shipmate (completely by accident) that I went through the Navy's Submarine and Nuclear Power schools with. Great feeling to re-establish old friendships ain't it!!

Winger said...

Outstanding! My dad was fortunate enough to keep in contact with some of his old Army buddies but he admitted it gets hard over the years. He really does enjoy it when they get together, even if it isn't as often as any of them would like.

How did he ever find you?

PRH....... said...

Cookie: As we get older, these events are few and far between, it was a great feeling for sure:

Winger: Didn't really get into that, but I believe he finally got the letter and infomation, I sent him a few years ago, that went to his father(same name) in Oklahoma...since he knew my address and called my cell phone number...I'll ask him this weekend when I give him a call.

Buck said...

Reconnecting with former milbuds is ALWAYS great, no matter how much time has passed. I'm glad it happened, Pat.