We got married December 28, 1965 during Christmas Vacation our senior year. Jim Cameron was my Best Man. Upon graduation from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in June 1966, Linda and I moved to Woodstock, Illinois to work at Memorial Hospital of McHenry County. During that summer, she had to complete her externships in Greenville, South Carolina and Warm Springs, Georgia . Then, she was awarded her degree in Physical Therapy. She joined me in our apartment that was part of an old, somewhat Victorian home.
Jim Cameron and I went to Lake Forest Academy together. He joined the school his sophomore year. He lived in Elmhurst, Illinois at the time, but his parents soon built a home at the other end of Thompson Road not far from our farm in Woodstock. We were close friends from the beginning. Hanging in his bathroom was the same cartoon image as mine done by a cartoonist who made the University rounds. He went to the University of Michigan for a few years. His world was affected by the same forces that shaped Linda’s and mine. The Selective Service Board was very aggressive in those days directing young men of our age into Military Service. His grades forced him to take a break from University at the time of our wedding making him vulnerable to the SSB. We are discussing his future in this photo taken in the Winter of 1967. He was off to join the United States Army as an enlisted man. I was struggling with the same folks who wished me to join him. I managed to outfox them by joining the United States Navy to fly for a five year commitment.
Jim, however short his commitment seemed to be, served a very intense two year journey into hell. He walked Vietnam climbing unremembered hills that were very deadly for all making the effort. He was the sole survivor of his platoon when he completed his tour of duty. It affected him for the rest of his life. As close as we had been, he never talked about his right of passage. Only years later talking to his wife did I ever get the insight to his reluctance to ever attend an LFA reunion.
I miss him. He died once, metaphorically in Vietnam. He died again of an inherited heart problem. He survived that death to live another 20 years to still die too early. That time was forever. I do miss him. While I was a combat veteran too, I could never begin to understand the depths of his ground pounding experiences.