An Everlasting Memory…….#241 (the 90’s)

Robert Willson United States Navy

.  Gary finding the work day drive from Alva to Kiowa,  not as scenic or indigenous to the natural habitat as the excursion from Anthony to  Kiowa.   The journey from Anthony enabling a view of the wild turkeys in the trees bordering the Medicine River,  Deer grazing in the nearby pastures, and coyotes scrambling thru the field.   The family having previously resided in Kiowa for ten years, his acceptance as a brother in the Apostolic Christian Church, and employment at John Deere,   the Grade School and ambulance service,  imparted a kinship with the small Kiowa farming community.  His four years of work related drive from Anthony to the Kiowa Hospital,  was one bountiful acceptance,  but the return daily drive from Kiowa to Alva was difficult to palate

.  Gary realizing  Jan was in need of some recreational time from the moving experience and their resettlement in the rental home,  her sister Gayle extending an invitation  for Jan to visit.  Having just purchased a camcorder,  Jan journeying the 3  hundred 10   miles to Overland Park,  to spend a weekend with her sister,  returning with a camcorder recording of the Renaissance Festival at Bonner Springs,  a community just outside of Kansas City, sharing the recorded wonderment of those participants in costume with her parents and friends.   Gary was surprised when Jan announced two weeks later she was returning to Overland Park to visit her sister again,  the Renaissance exhibit fulfilling the month of September and most of October,  his foremost concern was the six-hour drive she would have to endure

.  Roberts enlistment in the Navy was of no surprise to the family,  the young man having difficulty in deciding which direction to administer his educational efforts.   Gary recognizing his disillusionment,  having been in a similar circumstance upon his high school graduation.   One had to start from square one,  choose a college,  obtain a student loans,  secure part time employment and locate a residence,  a difficult burden to shoulder.   The United States Navy was inclusive with its provisions,  incorporating all,  plus enabling a person to serve his country,  mature in stature,  and instill an intellect.   Robert eagerly applying himself to the seven week navy boot camp at the Recruit Training Command Great Lakes Illinois.

.  Graduation time at Great Lakes,  an invitation to parents, wives and relatives being extended.  Gary, Jan and Sandra departing on a late morning  United Airlines flight from Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport,  an afternoon arrival  at the O’Hare International in Chicago.   O’Hare was an inaugural event,  the families first visit to the iconic airport facility, 15 mile from downtown Chicago.  Gary impressed with its size,   and constant flow of aircraft, arriving and  departing in a never ending stream.  Disembarking  at Terminal C,  experiencing the glowing neon and electrified chimes of the  below ground passage to Terminal  B,  a very unique and memorable welcoming to travelers.

, The Alamo rental car providing transportation for the 20 mile excursion to their waiting motel room in Mundelein,  a community  north of Chicago and eight miles from the Training Command Base.   Friday morning finding the Willson’s traversing to the Recruit Training Center,  a line of traffic being halted just outside the main gate,  a supervised off-road parking area enacted for the two thousand plus ceremonial visitors ,arriving to applaud the 7 hundred 50   navy graduates.

Upon entering the football field length Freedom Hall,  one side lined with bleachers, enabling seating  for capacious number in attendance, Gary noticing across from the seating area,  along the length of the wall were placard posted with training unit designations,  apparently each a training units station for the ceremony,  thus enabling the parents or visitors to be seated across from their recruit members unit.  The 1 ½ hour ceremony in the monumental Freedom Hall beginning,  each training division entering with promenade precision,  Gary finding the pomp and circumstance most impressive,  as only the military can achieve.   Watching his Son Robert parade in,  Gary stifling the tears of admiration,  a proud moment,  noticing he wasn’t alone,  hundreds of onlookers were reaching for a Kleenex or handkerchiefs.

.  The conclusion bringing a pandemonium of activity,  families all embarking from the bleachers to acquaint their Navy Pride, the Willson’s included.   Concluding the ceremony,  a surprise enjoyment,  a lunch provided courtesy of the United States Navy,  given in honor of the new E-2 sailors and their family.   The activity fulfilled, Robert returning to his billets to change clothes,  the Willson’s proceeding to a provisional hospitality room.   Their sailor son joining them and providing a tour of the visitors center,  and a walking excursion of the grounds,  including the PX.  Robert accompanying the family,  directing them on a motorized tour of the base, its lakeside provisions and on base housing, Gary impressed with the Navy’s only recruit training facility. The family bidding a farewell to Rob, but looking forward to a brief tour of Chicago.



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