Ever and Always
Chapter 21: Rick's Misspent Youth – July 2022
Copyright© 2015 by Banadin
In the meantime, things just kept getting better and better. The Kings received notice from the county that they had to clean out the drainage ditch beside the long road or the county would do it for them.
The cost would be twenty-five dollars per foot. Since their frontage was just about one mile long the cost would be about thirteen thousand dollars, or amortized in their property taxes for ten years it would increase their taxes by thirteen hundred dollars a year.
Or they could hire someone to dig it out for them, or do it themselves. Rick checked and found that the outside cost would be almost the same, except it would be due half up front and the rest on completion.
Or he could buy a used John Deere 2013 model 60G mini-excavator from Jack Nelson for fifteen thousand. The job would almost pay for it, and they would have it for future use, what could be better?
Rick made up a small presentation of his homework to Marsha.
She just about floored him when she asked, "What would a new one cost? That way, you would not have to worry about any hidden problems."
It just so happened that Rick had that information. One should be prepared.
"We can get a comparable model new for thirty thousand; they have gone up a lot in the last ten years."
"I still think you should buy a new one."
"Yes dear," Rick rushed to reply.
Marsha started laughing at him, "I knew this was coming ever since you said you wanted one, even though you did not know what you would use it for. I have had a lot of time to think, new or used. It probably will need a heavier trailer to haul it. Then the question is will your truck pull the weight. I bet Jack has that International still sitting on his lot, you better check all that out. Don't want to under buy."
To say the least Rick was flabbergasted, "What have you done with Marsha," he asked?
It was her turn to laugh. "You have let me build the new house exactly how I have wanted, that is in the millions. Your equipment will not come to a quarter million, and it's not as though we do not have the money. Besides I love you."
Rick hugged Marsha and replied the same, "I love you to, dear."
The next morning Rick was up early. He asked Marsha if she wanted to go with him to see Jack Nelson. She declined, saying she wanted to go through her boxes from Burns & Burns. Rick asked her to take a look in his while she was at it, he had no idea what might be there.
Rick did not break the sound barrier on his way to Nelson's, but he did speed. Lucky for him the State Patrol was elsewhere. While Jack Nelson wanted to be neighborly and talk to who was rapidly becoming his best customer, Rick wanted to get the deal done. You would think that he was afraid Marsha might change her mind.
Rick's worries were for naught. She didn't call or come walking through the door. It was arranged to deliver his new truck with trailer and excavator in two weeks. The delay was getting a new excavator delivered to Nelsons.
When Rick got home, Marsha was waiting for him but the subject was not his newly purchased toys, err construction equipment needed for important projects on the farm.
"Rick, I didn't know that I was married to a hero," Marsha stated.
"Huh?" was Rick's brilliant reply.
"Your box from Burns and Burns contains the usual documents one collects throughout their lives. Your baptismal certificate, birth certificate, five expired passports, and your high school diploma are here. What are interesting are your Army records and medals. I didn't know what they all meant so I looked them up on the Internet."
"They were so impressive that I also did a search for Viet Nam and Rick King. I found out that you were one of the most decorated soldiers of that war. Your ending rank of Command Sergeant Major was the highest enlisted rank. I think that qualifies you as a hero."
"Marsha, all that happened a long time ago. Like everyone else there I was doing my job. I did long range patrols for most of that. It put me in interesting situations at the wrong time and places. Most of it was spent running for my life and trying to keep my squad alive. Put it another way I was unlucky to be there; and those that lived were very lucky. The flash backs have lessened over time, but I do remember the real heroes. The rank was what they gave me when they didn't know what else to do with me."
"Somehow I think there is much more to the story than you are telling me. The only thing that matters is I now know that my man will take care of me to the best of his ability, and that ability is very impressive."
"Most husbands would do that," replied Rick.
"Yes but you would do it better than most. Now I understand how you could handle that punk kid in Baltimore and robber in Chattanooga."
"Hitting people in the stomach is not the stuff of heroes!"
"Having the reflexes and will to take those actions at the right time says a lot. However I have just started to embarrass you, now let's look at all the pictures that were in the boxes. You were cute as a child."
"Oh God, will those pictures never go away?" Rick moaned.
That little trip down memory lane got Rick thinking about the old days. Not the fighting in Vietnam; that did not need to be remembered. He thought about how young and dumb he was in 1953 when he first joined. The army was a different place then.
His trainers were blooded in World War II and re-blooded in Korea. There was no such thing as political correctness or worrying about his self-image. The only worry his instructors had was how to keep these dumb f•©ks alive long enough to learn.
He had to learn his equipment inside and out. It was not high-tech and he would have laughed himself silly if he had to carry any battery's other than D cells for his flashlight. The M-1 he carried was a World War II left over, and it shot just fine.
Later when the fighting did start they introduced the M-16. It jammed a lot and was a bitch to keep clean. For a year, he forgot to carry it, instead he used a Winchester Model 12 shotgun.
This weapon did not have a trigger dis-connector so you could fire its six shells as fast as you could pump the action. Man could he pump that action when scared in combat.
A counseling session in training would be a trip behind the barracks. The army had not gone to a professional model yet so there were many of life's misfits; bitter scarred drunken misfits. Rick learned very quickly to not get in a fight with these people. They killed many times and didn't really see a reason not to do so again.
Kipling understood these men. Before his career was finished Rick also understood them and thanked God that he never became one. It was close several times.
By the time the first troops went into Vietnam on a combat basis Rick was as prepared as anyone could be. At least, he thought he was, as a young sergeant he thought he would have plenty of support. Then the draft got serious.
He had officers and troops that had been civilians ninety days previously. President Johnson prevented the call-up of experienced NCO's from the Army Reserve and National Guard units. He thought he would be a junior NCO being trained, instead he was the trainer. It did not take long to become a Staff Sergeant.
Fighting the enemy at times seemed to be easy; at least, you could shoot them! How he managed to keep the drugs to a dull roar and his green as grass second lieutenants from being fragged he never knew, but he did it.
Since they were doing long range patrols, the unit lost men, but not on his watch. This was because of training, attention to detail, leadership (Rick hated to admit it, but he had been a good leader), and a butt load of luck. Anyone who had been in combat knew there was no answer to why him, why not me?