When I was stationed at Ft Bragg, I made a couple of awesome friends. We partied together, hung out together, had meals together, and traveled together. We each came from different backgrounds and had loyalty with different sports teams. Since I avoid using real names in my blog posts, let’s just call them Don and Devin. Don was a Bears fan, my polar opposite in sports because I was a diehard Packers fan. Devin was a Steelers fan which didn’t evoke as much animosity in me, but still, I was a Packers fan. In other words, we competed in some stuff.
One of our biggest competitions was playing Putt-Putt Golf or miniature golf for those of you unaware of the Putt-Putt brand. We went the first time for fun, but then we became pretty competitive. We actually kept track of our scores and wins, something I really enjoyed and you would know this if you read my blog post “Stats.” I don’t remember who the best player was, although I seem to think it was Devin, but we would plan all week for our next “Tournament” at the course in Fayetteville.
After a while, we grew a little bored of that particular course and came up with the idea of going on tour. Remember, this was before the internet, so we had to do a lot of guessing where the next town with a course would be. I don’t recall all the places we played, but I do remember going to Wilmington, North Carolina a couple of times. I had also volunteered to help the Special Olympics there so I knew about that course. Besides, there was a beach nearby and what young guy didn’t want to go to the beach?
Besides miniature golf, we also just hung around a lot…I think I mentioned that part. At the beginning, we all lived in the barracks together, but then Devin got married to his high school sweetheart and moved to an apartment off post. That gave me and Don a place to escape to when we just needed to getaway. Also, Devin and his wife, um, we’ll just call her Dina, treated us so well, we often didn’t want to leave to go back to the barracks.
One of the bad things about living in the barracks was that you were easily found. If a weekend detail came up, they would just go to the barracks and round us up. The married soldiers living off post usually were unaffected. Another thing we often had to deal with were inspections. There were wall locker inspections, room inspections, common area inspections, and the all-too-famous “Health and Welfare” inspections where anything was subject to scrutiny. We truly were GI’s. For those of you who didn’t know, GI stands for government-issued and we were well aware that we were government-owned. The only thing that made it tolerable was that we had a good Commander and a good First Sergeant. They actually treated us well.
So when Devin got married and moved off post, we were ecstatic. Now we had a place to hide! More importantly, we had a place to hide with food and beer! If the higher-ups figured out where to find us, we could just say we’d been drinking. They never did…actually, I don’t think they ever looked…but we were ready for them if they did.
It was a sad day when we came down on orders to leave Ft. Bragg. Don and I had orders for Germany and Kevin remained at Ft Bragg…I think. In Germany, I never ran into Don again and it took years to reconnect with Devin and that was through the magic of Facebook. It’s a shame, really, because we all got along so well, but that’s the nature of the military. You make friends, then you leave them.
Sometimes I think it would be cool to meet up with those guys again and play a round of Putt-Putt, but I’m not sure it would have the same magic. We also live on opposite sides of the country and I’m not sure if we could even find Don. I tried on Facebook once and saw his profile. I sent a friend request but never heard back. I guess all of this will remain as it is…a good memory.