I met my girlfriend early in the summer. By September of that year I was drafted into the U.S. Army. To complicate matters, this also happened to be at height of the Vietnam war. Guys my age expected to be shipped out at any time.
There was a rule at the time where two members of the same family couldn’t be sent to the region. My older brother, who had joined the Army a few months prior to my being drafted, received his Vietnam orders before my number could come up. So after a few months on a post in Washington, I was reassigned to Germany.
My girlfriend and I had talked about getting married, but there was always that uncertainty where I might be next.
My father was scheduled to travel to Brazil for business. He had a contact there who specialized in diamonds. He arranged to purchase a stone for me on his next trip. Then, before I was sent to Germany, I picked out a setting, but hadn’t seen the stone yet.
I went off the Germany and he later made the Brazil trip. After bringing the stone back to our hometown it was placed into the setting I had selected. I’d also asked my girlfriend’s father for permission to marry his daughter. This he kept secret.
My parents later traveled to Europe on another business trip and arranged to visit my base in Manheim, Germany. There they were able to show me the ring. When they returned home they mailed it to my girlfriend’s home with our strict instructions that she not open it until I called.
After I knew it had arrived, I called her and asked her to open the package while I was on the phone. Then I asked her to be my wife. The tears and excited screaming on the other end of the line told me she had accepted. We were engaged, over the phone, by long distance, with an ocean between us.
We decided that I would return home on leave a few months later and we were married one year earlier than we had originally planned, allowing us to live together in Europe for the first year of our marriage.
My wife and I will celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary this August 2003