Jim was standing at attention in his green poopie suit on the grid awaiting us this first time we met. The Navy held him up a week to join the next group of Naval Aviation Cadets in March 1967. Seventy-Five days latter after two Marine Drill Instructors gently guided us through the basic training process, we were commissioned Ensign. Sergeant Washington saluted us and we gave him a dollar bill…tradition.
Our wives joined us that first week of June. Many of us took residence at the Cabana Bayfront Apartments on Scenic Highway in Pensacola, Florida. Friendships were established that lasted for decades.
Jim and Diane Bettiga were special friends…yet we lost track of each other over time. He flew for PSA and US Airways for 35 years after flying P3’s for 7 with the Navy. A web search last year had us talking shortly after it began. Our trip to the East Coast in May of this year took us to their Civil War farmhouse in Lexington, Virginia. The reunion was very special. It included a most Italian fare that will long be remembered.
Of course, none of us have aged a day…