FAMILY: Married to Vicki Taylor who graduated from Odessa High School 1971. Currently living in Rockwall, TX on Lake Ray Hubbard. Daughter Alison (1980) her husband Trent Smith and granddaughter Ava (2014), Dallas. Son Eric (1985) and his wife Dr. Elizabeth Chambers (expecting a grandson October 2017 so I may not make the reunion depending on timing).
PLACES I LIVED IN ROUGH CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER: Huntsville, TX (College not prison); back to Odessa; Long Binh US Army; back to Odessa; Arlington TX; Lubbock TX; back to Odessa; Midland; Dallas TX; Franklin TN; New Orleans LA; back to Dallas and finally to Rockwall. Along the way I completed degrees in Accounting and Information Systems and an MBA. I am a Senior Gas Buyer for Atmos Energy Corporation.
ONE OF MANY STORIES (We can swap more lies at the reunion)
May 1970. A huge warehouse building at the Oakland CA Army Terminal was set up as a staging area for troops awaiting transport to the Republic of Vietnam. I had arrived at the terminal for processing three days earlier after a Continental Airlines flight from Odessa.
On the flight I met another soldier heading back for his second tour in the infantry. While he described the fun in store for me we toasted our good fortune with several adult beverages. Determining we needed to further bolster our courage we continued our deployment preparation at a San Francisco Airport bar. Surprisingly we lost track of time but reckoned somehow (by cleverly talking the bartender into reading our orders, I think) we were perilously close to our reporting time.
Vicki and Me
As we were on the way to report our taxi was T-boned by a hippie van on Jack London Square in Oakland. No one was injured so we exited the cab and, using our considerable military reconnaissance skills, determined that the collision had deposited our ride on the sidewalk directly in front of a bar. Now……. I know an omen when I see one and I was in no condition to tempt fate. Forces clearly greater than the U.S. Army compelled us to have another round before fulfilling our military commitment.
I reported a day late but did not really get in too much trouble. The receiving cadre appeared relieved to see someone show up at all, regardless of fighting condition. For three days I was processed and issued my TA-50 field gear then herded into Building 619 to await a flight from Travis Air Force to Bien Hoa.
That building was surreal. High fencing and razor wire surrounded the building. Military Police armed with M-16s guarded the doors and the perimeter. The sergeant greeted us kindly, “When you enter this building the Army considers you in Vietnam. You are in a combat zone and subject to all combat zone rules of conduct as prescribed by the Universal Code of Military Justice.” For the first time in my life I decided to not be a wise ass, at least until I was out of this grunts Devil’s Island.
Inside was exactly as you might think: lots of bunks, card tables, ping pong tables and pin ball machines. I went walking around and discovered a string of a dozen telephone booths with lines of soldiers waiting to make their “final call” back home.
I had just said goodbye to friends and family on my two week leave but maybe a call was in order since I didn’t know when I would be able to -call again.
So I am standing in line and I notice that every single guy comes out of the phone booth crying like a washrag. I laugh pretty hard to myself. I am thinking “What a bunch of pussies, you’ve been home for two weeks. You’ve been through boot camp and advanced infantry training. You’ve had orders for Vietnam for a while now so surely you’ve dealt with that bit of news. C’mon you are a soldier. Be a man.”
So now it is my turn.
I close the door.
I call the number.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
I don’t recognize this man’s voice. It is not my Dad
Operator: “Will you accept a collect call from Alan Chambers?”
Sure. Hi Alan, I haven’t heard from you in a while. You got lucky. Mike’s home from Baylor this weekend. Do you want to talk to him?
Oh crap. It’s Marion Allen, Mike’s dad. I’ve dialed Mike Allen’s number. I haven’t called Mike in at least five years and had not seen him since graduation. In retrospect, this may have been one of the earliest low tech butt calls. Oh well, I guess I can chat a while.
I apologized for accidentally dialing his number and explained I was shipping out. I thanked his dad for taking a collect call from California and said I didn’t want this to get too expensive so he could hang up and I would make my other call.
You know Mike; he had that old Mojo spirit. We talked for twenty minutes’ catching up and shooting the bull like we used to.
When I turned to leave the phone booth I was crying unashamedly. Touching bases with an old friend was just the connection from the past that I needed to imbue me with the strength to move to another path in the future. That is the real Spirit of Mojo. The shared experiences; good, bad and in between we all went through at a pivotal point of our lives. I urge everyone to come to this reunion. Talk with old friends but make a special effort to introduce yourself to those who were outside your circle. We will never have a chance to talk to friends like Mike Allen, Cynthia Lewter, Diana Marcum, Kenny Karr, Gary Horner and 52 other classmates who have passed. We have all travelled many roads but began with the same starting point. Let’s pay tribute to each other. We deserve it.