December 18, 2018
As I was growing up I had uncle's on both sides of the family, some I was close to, others, not so much. The one uncle, I'll call him Uncle "Joe," on my Dad's side of the family, I didn't know much about. I don't think he ever married, and I can't recall where he took up residence when not visiting. I do know he was in the Army, like my Dad was (30 yrs) and was an MP (Military Police) - but I have no idea how many years he served. Regardless, when he visited, I always thought of him as being pretty cool, easy going kinda guy.
Fast forward many years. My sister was getting married so I was home on leave and Uncle "Joe" was there as well. One night my Dad, "Joe" and I were sitting around the kitchen table talking. I haven't the faintest memory on how the topic came up, but I started to talk about a book titled the China Maze by Lawrence Gardella (the author passed in Feb, 1981). It's an interesting read, based on a secret military mission - anyone can "Amazon" it to find out more. Whether one believes the story or not is entirely up to the reader. The author said it happened … who knows. Anyway, I mentioned how the author told of he got recruited. It seemed he lied when filling out paperwork, he got caught and was given a choice - join or get out. At the conclusion of my synopsis of the book, my uncle said, "Yeah, they used a lotta orphans too." So now I'm like, "Whaaaat????" He repeated what he said and I immediately asked the question about what he knew. He didn't elaborate on much other than to verify the existence of personnel like the one in the book - that and the extensive physical training.
Now my Dad, he's calling shenanigans, saying how he knew his brother was in the Military Police during that time period - "I saw your 201 file." To which his brother said, "If anyone were to check his record, that would be what they'd find."
At this time I'm wide-eyed with surprise and shooting questions at him and all he would say is, "I can't talk about it." I asked when could he, hoping there would come a time I could know more. He simply said, "Never."
Years later, again I'm home on leave, there's this story of an American in Central America that was facing some difficulty because it was revealed he was letting his ranch be used as a staging site for the CIA. I jokingly told my Dad that it was probably his brother. The only reason I said this was it was mentioned by him at one time that he'd like to own a place down in Central America.
Dad shook his head and said, "Hell it won't be the first time he was involved with the CIA." So once again I go through my "disbelief-at-what- I'm-hearing" expression and ask Dad to elaborate. The only thing my Dad said was that his brother was with them during Vietnam. I guess at some point in time after the conversation around the kitchen table that night, Dad and his brother a talk.
After my sister's wedding, I never again saw my uncle in person. I believe he was somewhere in the southwest … Texas, maybe Arizona? I heard that he had a serious heart attack, but luckily he was in a car at the time and was raced to the hospital … and survived it, only to die of an aneurysm about a year later. He became very close to a family down there - the husband was a Border Patrol agent. He told our family that our uncle was laid to rest in their family plot.
While civilizations live, they may still aspire, and hope - as long as their legions can hold the far frontier. - T.R. Fehrenbach