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Old 03-10-2023, 10:49 AM   #1
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Our 38th year anniversary today!

Thirty-eight years ago today (March 10, 1985) at 1:30 pm in a little village called Pyrmont, Indiana at the Church of the Brethren the winter Indiana temperatures warmed up to a marvelous 55 degrees. It was bright and sunny with no wind. Fifteen minutes later a 29 year old Active Duty Sargent in the US Army and 21 year old blushing Indiana bride locked lips and walked down the aisle as Mr. & Mrs. for the first time!

Everyone, and I mean, everyone told us we'd never make it together. IF we made to one year, we as husband and wife, it would be a miracle! Well, it's now been 38 years and we're still going strong.

Both our mothers said we'd never make it, the minister said we'd never make it, our brothers and sisters said we wouldn't, so did ALL of our friends, and ALL of our extended families on both sides. Everyone! Except the two of us!

If you don't mind a LOG story, I'll share how we met. If you don't want the details, suffice to say, I met my wife for the first time only 10 days before we got married. Yep! Really!

Here's the story.

Her side:
Young woman still a senior in high school, ready to graduate, wrote a letter to "Dear Abby." Does anyone here remember "Dear Abby?"

"Dear Abby" posted in one of her columns shortly before asking for folks to write letters to service members overseas and provided two addresses where the letters should be sent. One address was in Europe, the other was South Korea. Thus "Operation Dear Abby" was born.

So she decided to go ahead and write a letter to a service member in Korea. She said in her letter that she understood what it was to be alone, away from home, and in the military. She had, at that time, an active duty brother in the Navy and her other brother was active duty in the Coast Guard. Her father was an ex-Marine too. So, she wrote the letter.

After a few weeks from writing the letter she realized there would not be a response to her letter. She never received anything back. She simply forgot about it and simply ever hearing back from a service member from her mind. She went on to attend a Technical College, got a Computer Programming degree, her first apartment, a solid job and just continued living life, one day at a time! Two years passed and she never heard a word or ever got a response from anyone. By now, she'd complete forgotten she ever wrote that letter.

My story:

I enlisted in the US Army in 1982. I was 27 years old at the time. I had been serving as a Pastor / Minister in a main line Christian denominal church for the past 5 years after finishing College. I was Ordained, had all the credentials, but also .... truly burned out! The ministry was nothing like it was presented in College.

Also, I was never married. I'm not Catholic.... understand that. My denomination allowed marriages.... actually, pastors were kind of expected to be married. If not ... OMG! Look out. If you land in a church, you'll have all kinds of "ladies" coming out of the wood work, OR .... you'll scare everyone off because of your profession.

Suffice to say, I failed miserably when it came to the single "ladies."

I burned out and wanted a life change. My dad, my sister, all my dad's brothers, and all my dads sisters' husbands, all served in the military, WW2, Korea. And I suppose I sense of obligation to do the same thing. Actually, I always wanted to join the Navy. But at this point in my life, the Army sounded more appealinjg.

So, I joined up! Now ... remember... I'm burned out! I did not enlist as a Chaplain. I enlisted as a Chaplain Assistant. They offered it to me and I turned it down. I did not want THAT kind of responsibility of leadership any more. I really needed a break. I was willing to push a broom and dust church pews for a while. I planned on 3 years enlistment anyway. I could get a nice break in 3 years and then return to active ministry. So, that's what I did.

The first year and a half I went through Basic Training, AIT, and my first year at Fort Devens, Mass. The next year .... yep! I was sent to South Korea, 1/72 Infantry, Second Devision, Camp Casey, about 10-15 miles South of the DMZ (48th paralles). And you guessed it ... it's an all male battalion ... absolutely no women!

Mind you, my luck at ever finding a "wife" was dwindling by buckets full.

The Battalion chapel was a Gomer Pyle style Quonset Hut that had a wing on the back. The chaplain had an office with a door and I had a desk out front. There was also a store room and it was filled with junk, a lot of junk.

One day, the Chaplain asked me (well, told me) ... to clean up that storage room and pull out all the "camping" gear. We were gearing up for "Team Spirit" which is that annual 2 week joint training field exercise with the South Korean Army and the US Army. So, off I went. The room was packed full of stuff.

Item by item and I finally got things cleaned out. The very, very last 2 things in that room were 2 boxes in the farthest corner of the room on the floor, and these 2 boxes had "Operation Dear Abby" letters in them!

Let me back up a minute.

When those letters hit Korea, they were sent to the the 8th Army Commander over Korea. He did not know what to do them as they were flooding his office. As I heard the story, he said that these letters were a Morale and Welfare issue and sent them to the 8th Army Chaplain. The 8th Army Chaplain didn't know what to do with them, so he had one of his people box them up and sent them out, a couple boxes at a time to all the battalions scattered all over South Korea. When the chaplain of 1/72 Armored Battalion got his 2 boxes, he didn't know what to do with them, so he shoved them in the corner of that store room .... WHERE THEY SAT FOR 2 YEARS and no one knew they were there.

Meanwhile, the Operation Abby project continued to grow. By the time I came along in that battalion, it was an every day occurance to get new letters and distribute them to any of the soldiers who had an interest. The DROS (turn over time) in Korea was 12 months. So, every week we were getting new people in and old people out, until my 12 month date rolled around.

So, when I saw the letters, I knew what they were. I looked at some of them and saw the post stamp on them was over 2 years old. So, I asked the Chaplain what I should do with them and he said, because they were so old to just throw them away.

Well, I didn't exactly have the heart to do that, so I took one box and set it outside (in the rain) and kept the other box under my desk. When rain quit, I threw that one box in the dumpster.

A week passed. I was a bit curious about that box and began to wonder if any of those letters had a return address close my my home. (Noblesville, Indiana). So, I sorted through all those letters and, believe it not, I found one letter with a return address, Noblesville, Indiana and the other from Frankfort, Indiana.

Now, Frankfort, Indiana was the location of my first pastorate. And I looked the address and though, wow, that's close to where I lived when I was there.

I took both letters and shoved them in my desk drawer and threw the rest away. Another week passed. I STILL had not actually read the letters.

Curiosity started tugging at me, and I though, I'd go ahead and open that letter and read it. So, I did. It was a very short letter from an 18 year old girl that simply said she'd like to write a service member as she had 2 brothers in the military.

Now, as part of my duty, I had to read the current "Operation Dear Abby" letters to figure out who would be best to give them to. Many of the letters went something like this: "I am an 84 year old woman with 19 grand children. I'm desperately broke and need a man. I'll glady take any money you can give me!".... By the way, I've never won big at the casino or the ponies. I smoke and drink alcohol, but I do attend AA meeting every week anyway!

Well, not quite that bad, but ... well ... close. Some were really whoppers.

So, with no further information, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. Did she smoke? was she a satanist? was she 84 years old? was he a drug addict? did she have a disease? Did she like Rock-n-roll music? (I was a Country Music lover) No clue.

So, I wrote her back ... 8 pages of my life story and how I found her letter. 2 weeks later I had a response.

We continued to write letters for the next 10 months, back and forth. She was perfect in every way! She was not a smoker, came from a strong church back ground, was self motivated, college grad, supporting herself, never married and (at the time), 20 years old. In my Thanksgiving card I sent her, I asked her to marry me. In her Christmas Card she sent back, she said, "yes."

Remember ... this was long before the use of the internet and cell phones. Mail was our only communication. We did send voice cassette tapes back and forth. It took a week from the time a letter was written before the other would get it. So any questions or responses took 2 weeks to receive an answer to any questions.

But we decided to get married. My return to the US was Feb 28. She planned the wedding, everything for March 10, 1985 (Sunday).

She met me at the Indianapolis Airport on March 1 (The military flight was delayed in Tokoyo for almost a day, so I did not hit Indianapolis until March 1). She and my mother met me at the Indianapolis Airport.

We spent the night together at my mother's house, and we've never been apart since, except for extreme reasons.

That's my story!
Who you are right now is a sum total off all you use to be.
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Old 03-10-2023, 11:52 AM   #2
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Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!
That is a good story and thanks for posting it!
The good Lord has watched after me and put me in the right places at the right time many, many spite of my stupidity, complaining, bitching and attempts to screw things up - I have been blessed too many times to count.
Meeting and marrying my DW is the best blessing!
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Old 03-10-2023, 12:37 PM   #3
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Newley weds. Congratulations. We’ve been married 56 years.
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Old 03-10-2023, 02:53 PM   #4
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Great story, thanks for sharing and Happy Anniversary!
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Old 03-10-2023, 03:06 PM   #5
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Happy anniversary
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Old 03-10-2023, 04:23 PM   #6
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Congratulations and happy anniversary! Milestone bragging rights for sure. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-10-2023, 05:10 PM   #7
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Thats a great love story you 2 love birds, hope you enjoyed your anniversary!
Got us beat by 5 years!
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Old 03-10-2023, 06:04 PM   #8
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What a great story. Congratulations! Next month will be 39 years for us. God is good!
Russ and Linda, So. California
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Old 03-16-2023, 01:40 PM   #9
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Happy Anniversary to you both!
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Old 03-17-2023, 12:06 AM   #10
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My wife and I will celebrate 39 later this year! Like you, our Parish Priest advised us strongly to move on. We were not compatible and it would never last.

Guess he missed it too. I would not trade her for anything now, and she says she worked too hard to train me in to give up and start over.

Kind of rare these days for marriages to last.
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Old 03-17-2023, 04:39 AM   #11
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Thanks for sharing your story Dutch. I enjoyed reading it. Congratulations on your anniversary. My wife and celebrated our 34th in January. Our story is kind of simple compared to yours. My aunt introduced us at a high school basketball game where this girls brother was playing. We were married one year later. Aunt Judy always was my favorite aunt.
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Old 03-17-2023, 08:32 AM   #12
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Happy anniversary to you two. 38 years is awesome. We're approaching 32 this May
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Old 03-17-2023, 01:06 PM   #13
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My mother (school teacher) prodded me most of the summer 1976 to come up to the elementary school and meet the cute new first grade teacher. Finally - I relented and found time in my busy schedule (you know - water skiing out at the lake everyday and making the rounds between downtown and the Dairy Queen - oh yeah and I was taking some tough classes at Tyler Jr. College) to go meet her on the first day of class (August 20). It was a madhouse at school that day - but I asked her out.

We passed 45 years last December. Mama was right!!
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Old 03-19-2023, 05:31 PM   #14
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Congratulations this is our 50th this year
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