He still calls me Willie

I had a walk-and-talk with an Army buddy one day last week. Tim is not the only person who ever called me Willie. He was one of several guys at Ft. Bragg that laid that one on me because of a basketball player named Willie Wise.

Shelly and I spent a night in Wooster, OH with Tim and Mary on our roadtrip in 2013. That was the first time I had seen them in over 41 years.

We hung out together a lot in the 14 months or so that Tim and I were stationed together at the JFK Center for Military Intelligence. We made a number of road trips from NC to OH in a little over a year. At least 7 trips. It was 8 or 9 hours each way. Tim&Mary had just started dating, and going with him to Wooster, OH was great fun for all of us. We didn’t get a lot of sleep.

Tim and I made a number of trips to Myrtle Beach too. Didn’t sleep much then either…

There are lots of stories from those days. These are my two favorites. For very different reasons. Only the first one has cost me any time sleeping….

On one of our first trips to Ohio, we went to a club in the town where Tim went to college. The James Gang had played there often 4 or 5 years earlier.
Earlier that day Tim and I walked around the campus of his alma mater. He had graduated less than a year before our visit. (Joe Walsh only lasted one semester on campus; a few years earlier.)
Tim took me to the campus radio station where he spent four years on staff. He has one helluva radio voice!!
We walked around the Commons, past Taylor Hall and then to Prentice Hall. I knelt on the spot where Mary Ann Vecchio was photographed over the body of Jeffrey Miller 12 months earlier.
No amount of booze that evening in 1971, or all the elapsed days since, can erase the memory of Tim standing 265 feet away from where I knelt on the Kent State University campus. That’s how far the bullet traveled that killed Jeffrey Miller.

It hurts to think about what happened on 5/4/70, but I’ll never forgot that walk and that spot. Years later, walking around Dealy Plaza in Dallas where JFK was shot, I had the very same reaction: “it’s such a small place!”

Until we visited Tim&Mary’s in 2013 I had blotted out the key element of my other favorite story with Tim. This happened at Ft. Bragg.

I remember it being in the wee hours.
I remember Tim sitting on the floor in the hall in the barracks as we talked.
I remember telling him that if he said something one more time that I would pour my beer over his head.
I remember Tim needing a towel after I doused him.
I remember him drying off and laughing it off.
But I didn’t remember what it was that I had told him to stop saying.

That early September evening in 2013, with Shelly and Tim sitting at the table and with me pacing around the dining room and kitchen, he said “will you stop that pacing? At least you don’t have a beer to pour over my head tonight.”
Eureka!! He had asked me to stop pacing repeatedly, and had been rewarded with a cold beer shampoo…

I am a notorious pacer. I can’t sit still for very long, especially if I’ve got a buzz on. And that night at the PSYOPs barracks, I’m sure I was wired, wound up and pacing.

I’m glad Tim has a good sense of humor.
I’m glad that he’s my friend all these years later.
And I’m especially glad that Shelly tolerates my pacing…especially when we’re at a venue listening to music and I “vanish.”

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