Dan Pipes - Hawaii
I met Caroline my last year of school and married her after graduation from the U-dub. All five-foot-two, butt-length black hair’d quarter Squamish of her followed me from the Pacific Northwest to training in Columbus, Mississippi then to Del Rio before ending in Nellis where they taught me to fly the F-105 ‘Thud’, a flying Coke-bottle of a thing originally intended for a one-way trip delivery of a nuke into the heart of Russia. It’s gun in the nose and got called a fighter and although it hauled the mail, nimble didn’t suit the definition but its stability made it a favorite with the pilots and given the right stick, it delivered a helluva wallop—we just wished to hell the designers had put a little more redundancy into its critical systems.
Not long after getting to Nellis, we got tasked for a Vietnam rotation and we pulled the Tahkli deployment, arriving there under command of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing about the time Thai monsoon season began.
Within a week, I got lucky and went over to Hawaii with some others to ferry four jets back.
All of us being married, we notified the ole boy’s network to inject some delay then arranged for the wives to meet us on Oahu.
Caroline got there within two days of hearing ‘go’.
One of the jets had a gremlin the maintainers couldn’t kill and our week turned into a week-and-a-half without complaint.
The wife and I rented a Jeep, toured the island and had several picnics on secluded beaches found on chance simply by turning right onto tiny roads cutting holes into the jungle like tunnels into a West Virginia mountainside.
Eventually our we ran out of legitimate delays.
We booked a downtown hotel through Saturday morning and caught a movie Friday night. She wanted Julie Andrews, who didn’t light my fire. I protested The Sound of Music, preferring see Lee Marvin and Jane Fonda in Cat Ballou. I’d be thankful of her choice by 1972, not having that sex kitten shitting in the litter box of my imagination.
So, I watched the Austrian song-and-dance then took a cab to The Dunes nightclub where I pressed her into my chest as Astaire sang Cheek-to-Cheek twice in succession. And when there weren’t slow waltzes and kisses on the dance floor, we sipped San Miguel and Singha and talked idly about nothing at all and everything except the war in Vietnam.
We made love until sunrise, too anxious to sleep, too anxious to miss a waking moment in each other’s arms. We hoped fruitlessly the tomorrow that came never would but it did, as it always does. I’ll never forget saying goodbye to her at the Western terminal, my eyes blink-less staring at her oval face in an oval airplane window of a Boeing 720 as it turned and taxied away from me and I hoped to God I’d get to see her more sooner than later.
I was wrong.