An Army Officer Wife's First Day
Sharon Gold's First Official Day as a Mrs. Lieutenant
Robert reemerges from the bedroom in his uniform, carrying his uniform hat, and stands in front of her for inspection. She wants to say "good luck." The words stick in her throat – don't these words imply the opposite is feared? She says: "You look terrific."In my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL, this is the first day that Robert Gold reports for Armor Officers Basic (AOB) training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in May of 1970. Sharon is left in a strange new place – Muldraugh, Kentucky (not even mail delivery!) – with no friends, no car and no place to go.
And he does look terrific if you like men in uniforms.
He kisses her good-bye at the front door. She stands on the balcony and watches him down the stairs to the car. He waves and mouths "I love you." Then he's gone.
She is without wheels and all alone.
Does this sound familiar to many of you? And while the book is fiction, this description is how I felt when my husband of six months reported to the first day of Armor Officers Basic.
I was unprepared to be a military spouse. Of course both my father and my husband's father had served in World War II. But that war was different. There weren't anti-war protesters chanting "Hell, no, we won't go!" – or two years earlier "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" – on college campuses throughout the country. The first draft lottery had been only months before in December, and young men getting draft notices were fleeing to Canada.
Although my husband had told me on our third date that he was going to Vietnam, and although one of his best high school friends (who had volunteered for the army) had been killed in Vietnam, I had my head stuck in the sand like an ostrich. I neither watched the Vietnam casualty reports on the nightly news nor read the newspaper accounts of the combat actions.
And what's more, here at Ft. Knox I was totally alone because the army hadn't said whether ROTC second lieutenants reporting for AOB could bring their wives. I refused to stay home, and with great difficulty we had found decent off-base housing. Now nine weeks of isolation stretched before me.
Then my husband came home with an invitation for a function for the wives of his AOB class (see this invite at www.mrslieutenant.com in the section of original army documents). I attended the first function, where I learned that the army had a training program for AOB wives complete with a graduation luncheon. And that I needed to buy the $1 book "Mrs. Lieutenant" by Mary Preston Gross to learn how to be a proper officer's wife.
Thus began my initiation into being a military spouse. And the plus side was that I started making friends, shared a car with another AOB wife, and had places to go – even if only (after Memorial Day) to the officers country club to work on my tan at the swimming pool!
Visit www.mrslieutenant.com to find out more about Sharon Gold's fictional adventures as Mrs. Lieutenant.
WIN IT: Phyllis Zimbler Miller is offering a signed copy of her novel, Mrs. Lieutenant, to one reader. All readers with US, US military, and Canadian addresses are eligible.
- To enter, just leave a comment here by 9pm EST June 30, either about this post (for example, tell us about your own "first day" as a spouse or soldier) or about something you saw on www.mrslieutenant.com. Comments that simply say, "win" or "hello" will not be eligible.
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