Future career in the military?
Sometime during the final semester of my senior year, 1964 the Viet Nam War was just gearing up and Sandy said that Mrs. Allen had called and invited us to one of her Sunday parties – as GUESTS! She said that she was having “Some of the soldiers over” and thought we might enjoy meeting them. I did not know who the soldiers were but knew she was active in nearly every charitable cause and assumed they might have included a few enlisted men from one of the nearby military bases. I was both flattered and honored that she now saw us as “men” worthy of being invited to one of her parties. I put on my Sunday best so as not to embarrass ourselves or her, and we headed up to Salt Lake City. Sandy was not the least bit nervous as this seemed to be a matter-of-fact event for him. He reeked of social graces, knew of world politics and was fluent in three languages. I on the other hand felt like a country bumpkin going to his first dance.
We arrived and the chauffer, Jose, took our car. The place was so grand. We used the front entrance instead of our usual back area where our weekend apartment was located. Mrs. Allen was a gracious hostess and as soon as she saw us she said, “Oh, do come and meet the soldiers,” and proceeded to introduce us to two generals, one Admiral, and a couple of Colonels. As it turned out, this was a special party being given on honor of Mrs. Allen’s cousin, General Richard I Krone, of the Army Medical Corps. He had just been promoted from the staff at Walter Reed Hospital to head Madigan General Hospital in Washington. Sandy pulled me aside and whispered that I was to call her Didi as did all her other guests. That way neither of us would be embarrassed. It was awesome talking to the “soldiers” and I soon found myself alone in conversation with General Krone.
“I understand you are about to graduate with a psychology degree,” said the General.
“Have you given any thought to your military service?”
“Some, but nothing definite.”
“My cousin Didi thinks highly of you. Would you consider the Army Medical Corps?” I was too stunned to answer so he continued, “You would come of course with a direct commission as a psychologist – either a First Lieutenant or a Captain. Your base of training would be Fort Sam Houston and if you don’t golf, you will certainly learn while there.” He continued, “The Army will pay for any advanced training or degrees that are required. Give it some thought. It will keep you off the battlefield.”
I think I thanked him and that night drove back to Provo in a trance. There have been some momentous, life changing experiences in my life. Some like ending up at BYU when I never thought I’d get into college, and then developing writing skills were situations I lucked into. Other decisions were probably not ones I should have made. Such was the decision to not go into the Army Medical Corps. My father discouraged it saying all the officers in the military were drunks. Several of my classmates, including Sandy cautioned me that fighting was heating up in Viet Nam and it was a brutal place to be. It was a huge decision but one might say that my sin was one of omission rather than one of commission. I simply did not pursue the offer and neither did General Krone pursue me after that one conversation. Who knows how my life might have been different had I taken him up on his offer?