The Wives of Charlie Troop 1/9 Cav

Posted on April 20, 2012

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The Vietnam war is long over. For those of us who served in it, it is more like it was just yesterday. Many a horror story can be told by those of us who served. Many of those stories are told here on this site however this blog is about the wives who have stood beside their man as he went forward in life after Vietnam. Most women of Combat Veterans and now the husbands of Combat Veterans lead a very rough life. Many of them can not take all of the ups and downs and of course the marriages don’t last. For a long time after I came back from Vietnam, I believed that. My first marriage lasted 59 days. I soon realized that it was not the curse of Vietnam that ended my marriage instead it was a young wife who only married to get away from home and then when she found another man who wanted to move she went with him.

I will begin with my wife.

I met and married my wife, Carol, while we were both assigned (yes we both were on active duty at the time) to Fort Knox, Kentucky. I was working in a Basic Training unit and Carol was an EKG Technician. We met in October of 1969 ( I came back from Vietnam in April of 1969) and we married in May of 1970. I did not give my wife a great life. I was a drunk ( and a damn good one) for many a year. Sometimes I was a happy drunk but most of the times I was just an ignorant drunk. Carol could not trust when I’d get home because I might stop off somewhere and have a drink or ten. I loved her and still do to this day and I’ve never cheated on her but I put her through hell.

In October of 1975, Carol and I adopted a 10 month of boy. Jason was and still is the love of our lives but that didn’t even stop me from drinking. Carol took a discharge in 1976 so she could stay at home with Jason. I stayed self medicated a lot of the time. Carol took complete control of our everyday life. She controlled the money and she controlled what we did.

We moved to Germany in 1979. After about six months of living out in a small village all alone with no one around that spoke real good English, Carol got Jason enrolled in Kindergarten and then she took a job at the same school. At first she was a teacher’s aide but then she became the supply person. She had to learn how to drive a 2 ½ ton Military truck and then navigate through the streets of various big cities in  order to get to the various supply depots.

I became an Army Recruiter in 1982 and Carol not only controlled the household but now she took the role of a Cub Scout and then Boy Scout Den Mother. Oh ya, in her spare time she worked part-time and went to college full time.

In September of 1986, I was reassigned to Fort Lewis, Washington. Here Carol started the first US Army Family Support Group. This project had never been tried before. She would go out for donations at the local stores and get food products for those who ran out of this stuff while the men were in the field. She would hold meeting with the families  to see what problems they were having and then she would set out to get the problem fixed. Many a time while the men were out in the field Carol would be called in the middle of the night and she would load Jason into the car and take someone to the hospital. She did this for a Battalion size unit which means there were from 750 to 1200 families at any given time. She also worked full time at the local VA hospital.

In April of 1988 I retired from  the US Army and we moved back to where I was an Army Recruiter. Carol began to work at the Lexington, Kentucky VA hospital within a week or two after we moved back. It took me almost a year. With my son in school all day and my wife working I spent a lot of time alone in the country. My drinking got worse. Finally one  day I embarrassed my son and my wife and I said enough is enough and I quit drinking

It was only then that I truly realized what a terrific  wife I had. We became much closer. Our love was always strong even though I don’t know why she put up with me. Today we still do many things together and yes, she is still in charge. I’m not going to break a good thing. I love my wife and I would gladly give my life in defense of hers any day. On May 12, 2012 we will have been married 42 years and yes we both are looking forward to many many more.

I would like to acknowledge two special Ladies.

Bruce De Hart served in Charlie Troop 1/9 Cav from 1965 to 1966. Elizabeth De Hart was his loving and devoted wife until Bruce’s passing on August 27, 2009. Elizabeth and Bruce made many a reunion and Elizabeth still makes them today. Elizabeth is a wonderful woman and I know that if Bruce was with us today it would take two pages to post his opinion of his SPECIAL lady. Elizabeth is a kind and caring Cav Trooper’s wife.

Julie Kink or Lil Sis as we all call her. Julie is not a wife of a Charlie Trooper. Her brother David Kink was a Pilot in Charlie Troop. His helicopter was shot down on July 23, 1969 and David passed away on August 3, 1969.

Julie started out just wanting to get some information on David. It soon ballooned into getting to know as many of the Troopers that knew her brother as well as those who didn’t. Therefore she became known as “Lil Sis”.

Julie is also very active with many Veteran programs. She plays a key role in her home state’s (Minnesota) Veterans program and she also plays a key role in the “Gold Star Family Program at both the National Level and in the 1st Cavalry Division. To read more about the Gold Star family program go to  on this site. You can also read When a Loved one dies.  Julie wears a Cav Hat in Honor of her brother.   David is very proud of her.

 

In 1944-45, Marianne Wagenhaueser was a 3 year old girl in Wurzburg, Germany. History records more than 350 allied bombing raids on Wurzburg during this time period. She still remembers the raid when the bombs walked right down her street blowing every house on her block to the ground. Her family survived because the bomb that came through the roof didn’t explode. Her 4 month old baby sister did not survive the war. To this day, I cannot take her to an airshow where they fly vintage war planes, because she will run. Nor can I take her into an underground parking garage, which her mind sees as a bomb shelter.

In July 1958, I saw this pretty girl walking down the street in Wurzburg.

In May 1961, I brought her, and our baby boy to the States.

In Nov. 1962, I left her and our 2 boys ages 24 and 4 months, in my home town, and left for my first tour in Vietnam. She continued to learn English. She took drive ed. and got her license. And she raised those two boys.

In July 1966, I again left her in my home town, and went back to Vietnam, and again, she raised our two boys.

When our youngest son was killed in Iraq, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, was hold my wife as she leaned over his coffin, and ran her fingers through his hair one last time, and said “bye Curtis”. My wife understands war.

Steve Hundley

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