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From Here to There and Back Again

You know the old adage, “Never say never.” It became my life. I grew up on an irrigated farm near Oral, S.D., and being a farm wife was not on my list of life goals.

I married an airborne ranger U.S. Infantry Army officer. I had no background in military matters and when it’s all new, there are surprises.

We had our first date in Paris, France. This is how that came about.



My brother, Jerry Wyatt, was a senior when I was a freshman at Hot Springs High School. He knew everybody. He played football and Russ was the student manager for the team. Over the years they got well acquainted, and Russ worked for my dad on the farm one summer. I was the “Koolade” girl who took refreshing snacks or homemade cookies to the fields every afternoon to my dad, my brother, and Russ.

Russ went on to college and his Army life. I studied in Iowa and took my junior year at the University of Paris (the Sorbonne.) As I was preparing for Paris one of my classmates who worked at a local bank gave me Russ’s mailing address, as he still banked there, even though he was stationed in Germany. I wrote to Russ and told him I was going to be in Paris for a year. He responded to my letter saying it would be fun to see Paris with a girl from back home. It took months to coordinate mostly due to the Army. Several months after that first date, we married, and went to live on post in Germany.



The first morning Russ left for work early and I was sleeping off jet lag. I heard a noise that grew louder and I finally peaked out the window. There was a formation of men running through the housing area, calling the cadence with jody calls. Welcome to the US Army!  

I learned about receiving lines, the New Year’s Day reception at the commander’s quarters, the events of Hail and Farewell, Dining In, and Dining Out. Officer’s Wives Club meetings and the “honor” of being asked to pour the tea. Fortunately, my era was just after the time when gloves and hats were required attire at such events.

The hours Russ worked surprised me; I don’t remember thinking about it in advance, yet I must have had the idea that the military was like many other government employees who worked short days by the clock, and had weekends and holidays off. The infantry doesn’t fit those parameters.

After his tour in Germany was done, he resigned his commission, we purchased an irrigated farm, and moved back, just two miles from where I grew up. After a few years, he joined the Army Reserves, put in his command time, served in mobilization for Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and commissioned our younger son out of ROTC. It was after those years that Russ retired from the Army.

We remain on the irrigated farm and I am still the “Koolade” girl, though the beverage of choice is now coffee.   

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