|Love in Germany 1973 Love's Serenade
Author: Edward George PM
Love conquers all, so the saying goes. Seven thousand, four hundred air miles separated Dave and Maryann; Hawaii, USA to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Both were in the Army in 1973. Maryann had reenlisted for Hawaii to Dave's disappointment, but she knew Hawaii was still considered a State side tour; it was easier for her to apply for a transfer to Germany after all.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Words: 4,687 - Published: 08-04-12 - id: 3047707
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Love conquers all, so the saying goes. Seven thousand, four hundred miles separated Dave and Maryann; Hawaii, USA to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Both were in the Army in 1972. Maryann had reenlisted for Hawaii to Dave's disappointment, but she knew Hawaii was still considered a State side tour; it was easier for her to apply for a transfer to Germany than it was for Dave to come to Hawaii.
Maryann awoke Saturday afternoon in the 92nd General Hospital Intensive Care Unit. Her First Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant had already been to the hospital to visit her. A tangle of tubes and cables were suspended from various monitors measuring Maryann's temperature, pulse, heart rate, and breathing. She suddenly realized she had an oxygen mask on – for what?
Dave was dozing when she awoke to find her lover at her side. She reached over to touch his hand. The man who was her man had been by her side nearly eighteen hours watching over her like a guardian angel. Maryann smiled as she felt her eye lids become heavy again. She was soon asleep again, her hand lightly holding on to David's hand as on to a life support.
Dave awoke from his slumbers, his neck sore from sleeping in the chair. He looked down to see Maryann's hand holding his. It had not been there earlier.
Maryann's commander walked in late in the afternoon.
The doctor on duty opened the curtain for the Major. "Specialist Jordan, this is Major Lloyd, Sergeant Conner's CO."
Dave laid her hand back on the bed then stood stiffly from the chair where he sat at Maryann's side almost all night and the next day. It was rare that medics and nurses saw this.
The Major saw the gesture of the Specialist laying the girl's hand back on the bed.
Dave started to salute the Major.
"As you were, Specialist." The Major looked down on Maryann and the array of tubes and cables. "I understand, according to the ward chief you brought her in yourself."
"Thank you. An act of compassion on your part." The Major glanced at David. "I understand according to the First Sergeant you two will be getting married this spring."
"Yes, sir. Pennsylvania."
"Pittsburgh." They were silent for another minute, then the Major spoke up again. "I understand too, Sergeant Connors was in Hawaii for a while and transferred to Germany – for you."
David swallowed deeply. "Yes, sir."
The Major looked at David again, his eyes narrowing as if taking the measure of the man in front of him. "You must be one helluva man for a woman to do that for you. You should be counting yourself very fortunate to have a woman like this."
"I do, sir. She's very exceptional and – my whole life is in her, sir." Tears started to well up, his throat constricted as he tried to speak. He looked down on the woman he loved. "I – I love her more than my own life, sir. I have a lot to make up for. I owe her a lot for making me understand what our lives mean to each other."
The Major laid a hand on his shoulder. "Take it easy, son, the doctor said you got her
here just in time for treatment. She'll have all the time she needs to recover her health."
The Major turned to leave. David collapsed back in the chair tears streaking his face. Maryann opened her eyes looking at the man she loved. She laid her hand on David's arm.
She had been awake the whole time her commander was there and heard every word he said.
David started as Maryann's hand touched him. They stared at each other a minute. Maryann's face was still chalk white from her fever and the pneumonia hanging on.
"You're my love too, David. We were meant to be together."
David slipped out of the chair to his knees beside the bed. He took Maryann's hand in his kissed her hand. "My wife."
Maryann smiled at the man who now meant so much to her: "My husband."
Sunday Dave returned to the hospital to find Maryann had been moved to a double room that had just been vacated by another woman. He walked in to find Tony and Lacey with her.
"Good to see you," said David to them. He kissed Maryann then stood to the side of the bed as they talked, David thanking Lacey for her help in getting Maryann home.
The two squeezed each other's hand then Lacey started, "We - Tony and I wanted you two to be the first to know…"
"Lacey is moving in with me next weekend."
Dave shook Tony's hand and kissed Lacey on the cheek.
The two left a few minutes later leaving Maryann and Dave to talk.
"You'll be on convalescent leave for two weeks."
"My whole time in the Army I've never had this happen."
"Trust me, hone this is the only time you can kick back and relax on Army time and get away with it."
They talked the afternoon away; he was at Maryann's beck and call. Monday afternoon she was released from the hospital. She called the CMDSA. Auggie tossed him the keys: "Go. See ya later."
Dave went up to the hospital with the pickup and everybody's well wishes for her. He first stopped by the apartment for her utility uniform and shoes. As much as he did not like them, he took her granny shoes, or utility shoes for her to wear.
He got her home an hour later. He found a place on the block just big enough to park a city cab, nothing bigger.
Maryann hung on to David as they entered the apartment and the fresh air.
"Oh, it feels so good to be home. Fresh starched sheets, fresh air and privacy."
He held his woman for a minute. "You are the one who is so good to me – I owe you so much."
Dave hung on to her. She said after a minute: "We're one – two in one."
Maryann quickly recovered from her bout with pneumonia. David waited on her assuring she had everything she needed during the day before leaving for duty. She began to move around taking short walks along the sidewalk from the apartment to the local park and back. She went back to the doctor twice that week to assure she was doing alright.
By the end of the month she was back to duty. Dave was becoming used to Maryann being home when he got home from work. Augustine was happy, Mr. Boehmer was happy; Tony and Lacey were living together now which gave him a lot to be happy about. She had her man, he had his woman; Jean and Faye were married in Switzerland.
Dave suggested the idea to Maryann which got him a nasty look.
"Just a suggestion, babe – just a suggestion."
"A poor one at that," she said turning her back on him as she continued cleaning the kitchen. She thought a moment: "Mom and Dad are expecting a family wedding now. And I intend to do that for them."
He knew when arguing with her was a fruitless endeavor. He just slinked out of the kitchen to the living room to listen to AFN radio.
Maryann watched him walk in to the living room. She laughed to herself. They had their moments like any other couple living together but they were one in all they did. She would always love him for being him.
The middle of October the two were back on schedule with work, Dave making his occasional trips to Pirmasens near the French border. While the afternoons of Saturday were still warm they would take the strasse bahn to the Romer Platz to sit along the Main River queue to watch the gulls circling the boats and barges, the activity along the water and just hold onto each other as they wrote letters home and talk. This was their time together.
As the weather grew colder making going out uncomfortable they would stay home but dress up making weekends a formal affair, candle light suppers.
Near the end of October Dave was making his Tuesday equipment run to the IG Farben Building CLSU team. Dave pulled onto Hansalle, the north south avenue on the north side of the city when he looked in his mirror to see a suspicious car which looked similar to an American sedan two cars back. The passenger was pointing to the truck, the passenger wanted the driver to get closer. David knew from experience the olive green was the same between the Russian SMLM (Soviet Military Liaison Mission) and American sedans.
At a traffic light he looked over his shoulder to see he was right: "Shit. The Russian SMLM guys. My damn luck and no place to go."
The light changed, cutting two German drivers off he angled toward the entrance which was still two blocks away and the MP guards. The sedan cut off two other drivers causing several shouting matches from the offended drivers.
Chancing a look over his shoulder he saw the sedan break free of the traffic to follow him toward the gate. He gunned the engine, the American built truck with the load of crypto equipment drove straight for the open gate, the Russian sedan, a Mercedes was gaining on him the last several yards.
Hell Richard Petty don't even have this kind of problem.
Dave grit his teeth as he aimed the truck for the gate with the Russians pursuing him. The MP's saw him coming with the Russians right behind him. They flagged him through. Once through the gate, Dave stood on the brakes the truck skidding sideward on the slick cobble stone pavement. The Russians suddenly realized where they were, the Russian driver slammed on the bakes skidding to a halt behind Dave.
The MP slapped the hood of the sedan and pointed at the two. "Halt!"
Dave threw open the door getting out just as two MP sedans showed up with reinforcements.
At that point Dave did not realize Maryann, Lacey and another girl decided to take a
walk. The three girls stepped out the back door of the building past the security desk when Dave drove through the gate and slammed on the brakes sending the truck in to a skid; the car skidded to a halt right behind the American truck. The MP's reinforcements had the truck and sedan surrounded. Within minutes the MP's had the area awash in flashing blue lights.
The three watched the scene unfold before them. Maryann's heart was pounding in her chest as she watched Dave talking with the MP's. He gestured to the back of the truck and the equipment which was covered by a quarter ton trailer tarp.
Dave glanced at the load to assure it was alright, he glanced up to see Maryann and her friends watching.
Maryann turned to go back inside and back down to the CLSU (Comsec Logistics Support Unit). She knew Dave's weekly routine as well as he did. Lacey and their friend Susan followed. The girls flashed their security badges at the MP as they ran past him.
"Where you going, Maryann?" Lacey asked catching up with Maryann.
"The CLSU. This is Dave's day to bring the equipment in for maintenance."
She descended the stairs to the basement level and ran the length of the building to the logistics section. She stopped at the door to take a blank card from a pocket, write her office phone number and "Call me – Maryann", and ring the vault doorbell. The door opened and a young girl looked out.
Maryann thrust the card at her: "Angie, when Dave gets here give him this. I want him to call me when he gets in."
Angie looked at the file card Maryann passed her. "Will do." She wagged her fingers and closed the door.
Two hours later David was through playing twenty questions and answers with
everyone from Army Security Agency, G2 and G3, the CIA was involved, the German Polizie, German state security. Next the NATO and Russian liaison officers showed up. Dave didn't realize what an incident this caused. The gate was blocked by the MP's and German Polizie for the next two hours.
The five o'clock Frankfurt rush hour was crowded as usual. David and Maryann stood holding on to each other, one arm each holding on to the overhead lanyards swaying with the bus as it moved along Miquelalle toward their stop on Adickesallee.
Maryann tossed convention and Army policy to the wind; she reached up to give Dave a kiss. Dave looked down on her with a smile then kissed her too.
She said softly: "I have my own James Bond."
"I did notice you watching me."
Maryann pressed her head against his chest. She closed her eyes for a moment thinking: Mine. I love him. No one else will have him.
Dave laid his chin on her head crushing her overseas cap. She had become his pillar of strength as much as he had become hers.
The holidays were a blur as they looked forward to their spring wedding. The two lovers were riding high on their love for one another. On Thanksgiving they had Tony and Lacey join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas they spent in their cocoon of love; New Year's they went out to see the town all light up and join the Germans in celebrating the New Year. 1973 would be a year of changes for them.
The end of April Mr. Boehmer received an unexpected phone call on Monday from the Adjutant of the Brigade.
"This Friday at the seventeen hundred retreat ceremony, Specialist Fifth Class David Jordan is to receive the long overdue Silver Star for action in Vietnam in 1969, from the Colonel, also his chain of command is to be here. Arrive by sixteen hundred to visit with the commander first."
Mr. Boehmer was stunned as he looked in on David in the other office.
"Yes, sir. He'll definitely be there." Boehmer hung up the phone. He knew Jordan was awarded the Bronze Star with V device and Purple Heart, but nothing about a Silver Star.
"Dave, you have an appointment with the Brigade Commander this Friday at retreat to receive the Silver Star."
For the moment there was absolute silence in the section. David slowly turned to face the Chief.
"Silver Star? For what, sir?"
"Don't know. The adjutant didn't say."
"The chain of command too, sir?" Auggie asked looking back at the shock look that hung on David's face.
The others of the group suddenly looked at David with a renewed respect. To be award the Silver Star was one step down from the Congressional Medal of Honor that was personally awarded by the President of the United States himself; one almost had to die to receive the award.
"Is it alright if I have Maryann there?" David asked finally getting his voice back.
Augustine looked at Boehmer. "I'll call the Sergeant Major."
Everyone waited while Augustine put the call through to the Sergeant Major's office.
The Sergeant major answered the phone on the second ring. He listened to Augustine's request. "Just a minute, Sergeant. Let me ask the Adjutant."
He set the phone down and went into the Adjutant's office. "Excuse me sir, that is Sergeant Augustine, Specialist Jordan's NCOIC from the CMDSA in Frankfurt. He wants to know if Specialist Jordan can bring his fiancée, Sergeant Maryann Conners to the ceremony with him?"
The Major was a bit surprised. "Yes, by all means, Sergeant Major. She's in the service too? If her OIC or NCOIC says it's alright, fine. This will be good for us. The first member of the command to receive the Silver Star – and engaged too to another active duty member too."
The Sergeant Major went back to pass the message to Augustine. David went to the phone on his desk to call Maryann. She nearly dropped the phone.
"Just a minute, hone let me ask Sergeant Thompson." She set the phone down and went to her NCOIC to ask him about Friday.
Sergeant Thompson looked up at her surprised. "The Silver Star? Of course you can go. Not everyone gets one of those."
The rest of her team looked at her just as amazed.
Lacey stopped next to Maryann after she gave David the news.
"David is quite a man. What did he do?"
The two girls took a break and Maryann swore Lacey to secrecy. She related to Lacey about the missions that David had been on. Lacey's eyes were wide with wonder as the two walked up the back stairs and outside.
"Don't ever let anyone know I told you, especially David. He's very shy about admitting to it. Even for me to get him to tell me the story, it was all he could do that weekend not to have a nervous breakdown over it."
Dave and Maryann met in the Adikesallee U-Bahn station as they had done every evening that year. They spotted each other and broke into a run toward each other dodging commuters. Dave grabbed Maryann about the waist spinning her around. They kissed Maryann no longer caring about military policy, she was proud of her lover.
"Oh … Dave, congratulations! And I get to go with you."
"Thanks, honey. And you get to be right there."
Dave took her hand leading her to the exit and the bus stop on the street level.
Friday morning Maryann and David left the apartment in their dress greens. Maryann fussed over David checking his brass and ribbons to assure he was ready to meet the commander. David let her play the good "wife" role as they caught the bus to the stop at the NCO Club. They went up to his building, she waited in the lobby as he went to the office to get the keys to the truck. Mary arrived a few minutes later to relieve him so he could dispatch the truck.
She entered the section as he was leaving. She looked him over. He stopped a second so she checked him over. "Maryann is a lucky girl to have you."
David nodded. "Thanks. And I am lucky to have her."
That afternoon at two o'clock Mr. Boehmer with Staff Sergeant Augustine and David drove over to the Farben building to pick Maryann up from the front portico. She jumped in the car and the four were south bound to Pirmasens the unit's headquarters 110 kilometers south, within a few kilometers of the border with France.
They arrived at the kasern by sixteen hundred. They went to the PX cafeteria for a short time before reporting to the headquarters and commander. They reported to the adjutant who showed them into the commander's office.
The Colonel stood as the four advanced across the office to report to him.
"And Sergeant Conners I presume," he said nodding to Maryann. "And please, have a seat we still have a few minutes before we need to be outside and General Blanchard arrives."
The name of the Commander of Seventh Army caught them by surprise.
The Colonel was equally impressed when Maryann related that until a year ago she had been in Hawaii. The Colonel glanced from David to Maryann and back attempting in his mind to understand that she traveled seven thousand four hundred air miles to be with the man she loved.
More dignitaries arrived for the ceremony. The Commander of the 72nd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade from Kaiserslautern arrived as did the Post Commander and Commander of the Military Police Battalion. A helicopter set down on the Parade Field. A tall athletic man stepped off with two other men. Lieutenant General Blanchard, Commander US 7th Army and US Forces Command Central Europe.
At precisely sixteen thirty hours the Headquarters Company marched on to the parade field. The Group stood on the steps of the Headquarters watching as the Company formed up. He felt sorry for the troops having to go through this, but as was pointed out: "This is a great honor, Specialist Jordan. Need I remind you not everyone receives the Silver Star, just as not everyone receives the Congressional Medal of Honor."
Those words echoed in David's mind as the Company prepared themselves for the ceremony. Adjutant's call was sounded by the Post band. The Adjutant gave the command attention then "present arms!" was given. The four, with the Colonel and Sergeant Major formed up to march across the street and onto the parade field stopping at the podium.
The Colonel stepped on to the podium to briefly address the troops. The command 'parade – rest' was given. Once more he pointed out the honor this brings to the Brigade and all in the Brigade; one of its own was receiving the Silver Star, not once but twice.
David thought he was hearing things. That was not brought to his attention. Why two? He managed to shift a glance to Maryann standing beside him. She shifted a glance to him, more to assure he was alright. But the look of adoration was evident in her eyes.
What Maryann sensed, David was dying inside again remembering that fateful time that he worked with the Rangers.
LTG Blanchard gave a short speech honoring David. Maryann knew then if she had stayed in Hawaii she would have missed all this. She was the center of the ceremony with David. All eyes had shifted to the blonde beauty standing on the parade field with Specialist Jordan.
With ten minutes to seventeen hundred hours, LTG Blanchard and the Colonel
stepped off the podium standing to the side as the Sergeant Major handed the Adjutant the binders with the narrative and orders.
"Attention to Orders … for valor above and beyond the call of duty …" The orders were read. David knew the rest. Maryann felt the pain within her being listening to the narrative being read. Now she knew the rest of the
of the story and why David did what he did that afternoon, yet could not bear to relate the rest of the story to her.
In his mind, his mind's eye, David relived those early morning hours again before Company C, 2/7th Cav, 1st Cav Division arrived on the scene to finish the job. Again he heard the chatter and staccato of machine guns and semi-automatic weapons, the Doppler effect of the cannon's being fired as the jets passed at tree top level just as they released their payload.
'… At great risk to his own life he called danger close talking TAC air in to drop the bombs on enemy positions. The Ranger element kept up a steady fire in the face of withering enemy fire power until F4 Phantoms drove the enemy back from their positions."
General Blanchard took the medal from the case holding it in front of him he looked at Maryann and did something never before done in an awards ceremony.
"Sergeant Conners, I understand you are Specialist Jordan's fiancée."
Everyone was caught off guard by the General's comment.
"Yes, sir." There was a certain amount of pride in Maryann's answer.
General Blanchard passed the medal to Maryann. "Please, I will let you have the honor of bestowing the medal on Specialist Jordan."
Maryann was momentarily taken aback by the General's request. With shaking hands Maryann took the Silver Star from the General to present the medal to David, pinning it in its proper place on his uniform jacket.
The second order was read. "Attention to Orders…for valor above and beyond the call of duty…"
David again relived that fateful day when they found themselves trapped against the river and no way out. Two sorties of Phantoms were on station suddenly dove in to the maelstrom of hostile fire dropping their payloads of bombs on the enemy positions. Three men were already down - the Lieutenant wounded, the team sergeant a young E5 was doing his best to pull things together, David did what had to be done.
"… and at great risk to himself, with the weight of the PRC77 and RC32 crypto pack on his back, Specialist Jordan pulled three men to safety, at the same time calling for TAC air backup, called for danger close at less than one hundred meters, talked the F4 Phantoms in to drop their bombs on enemy positions and strafe the area. For his action and gallantry in relieving the Ranger unit he is hereby awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf cluster."
Once more the medal was taken from the case and passed to Maryann. "Please, Sergeant Conner, once more I give you the honor of bestowing the Silver Star on Specialist Jordan."
Two Army photographers moved into position to take the pictures of Maryann pinning the medals on Specialist Jordan then throwing military protocol to the wind, she grasped his hand standing on her toes she kissed David on the cheek, in front of the full Company, the General and Commander.
Last was his third Purple Heart with Oak Leaf cluster.
"Also, Specialist," said General Blanchard, "I understand that was very brave of you the way you protected that crypto gear against the Russian SMLM team. That was fast
thinking the way things were unraveling on you."
As the General and David exchanged salutes, the General asked: "May I kiss the bride?"
David smiled. "Yes, sir."
Maryann was beaming with pride as General Blanchard kissed her on the cheek.
The camera men caught the scene.
The colors were struck exactly at seventeen hundred hours; the solemn of retreat were sounded as the colors were lowered. The colors were properly folded and the flag detail marched off the field. The facing movement was given and the Headquarters Company marched off the field.
They said good-bye to everyone then walked back to Mr. Boehmer's car; Dave opened the back door for Maryann. Boehmer and Augustine got in, Dave got in as Maryann slide across the seat. Dave got in and nearly collapsed as he sighed. He leaned his head back on the seat back getting his breath again.
Maryann knew the signs all too well. "Dave, you alright?"
He nodded his head grasping Maryann's hand. "Yeah – yes. I'll be alright. Just having to remember it all now. Thanks."
Augustine and Boehmer looked back at Dave concerned. They were now glad Maryann came with them to help with Dave.
The trip back to Frankfurt was one of encouragement and gaiety. Maryann and David held hands in the back seat like two teen agers. Never did she dream of a day like this.
Mr. Boehmer let them out at the apartment. David unlocked the door. Slipping the keys in his pocket, he turned scooped Maryann off her feet.
"David…!" she squealed as he kissed her.
The German couple across the hall stopped in the hallway. Smiling at the two as David was holding onto Maryann. David glanced back with a smile as the man winked at David.
"As the General said, in front of God, Germany, and World - my bride." He kissed her again and carried her into the apartment closing the door with his foot.
David set her down she leaned against him for a moment. "Now I know what kind of hell you've been through."
They kissed in the hallway. Maryann knew just what kind of man she was getting.
"And nine months after your mother and I were married you girls were born at 92nd General Hospital in Frankfurt."
The girls looked back at the open store room door to see their father standing in the door.
"Mom says you're a war hero, Dad," said Teresa holding up the album.
"Yes. And as Mom says is the way it happened."
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