It is strange the way our memorie work. Just this past few weeks I have been thinking about the important role some people have played in my life. One of the first things I learned in the Army was “Never volunteer for anything.” As I was exploring that recent idea my mind flashed back to early September 1951. I was on a troop ship headed for Korea. Somehow I learned that “Special Services” was looking for entertainers to perform onboard in some sort of show. I don’t know what obsessed me but I rushed to the reported location to volunteer as a drummer in the band. I was just about as qualified for that job as I was to take over as Captain of the ship but it turned out that I was the only volunteer to play drums and I got the job.
We had some great talent in our show. A hypnotist, a fire eater, a singer, and a wonderful black tap dancer. He was great. He had no special music so we worked with the piano man on some special stops in a song so he could really make something special out of his dance. I worked on drums with him and he was very patient with me and it turned into quite a number. I think we did five shows. I didn’t see him again until mid November. He had been assigned as a medic to Taegu General Hospital and I went into combat as a rifleman and had been wounded and evacuated to that hospital. I had a superficial wound to my butt and I felt sick and I could hardly walk and I was lying on my cot when he walked up to me and grabbed my hand and said, “What’s happening man?” What a joy to see him again. He looked at my chart and said that I was scheduled to be released and sent to the front again the next morning. I explained my problem and he said, “I will have a doctor examine you.” We went into the doctors office and he had me bend over and when he examined me he said, “Oh, my God, we missed that.” He had me lie face down on a litter and they carried me onto a waiting evacuation plane, I was flown to Kobe Japan and I had surgery. I was sick and they tell me I nearly died from some complications. When I recuperated I was sent to Hokkaido, Japan where our outfit had been reassigned. I figure that guy saved my life. So you might say I volunteered for something, had a great time on that ship with that show and later that tap dancer saved my life. Now that is a pretty good reason for you and me to volunteer for something again, right? Let’s do it!