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Ty Cobb: They wait, and wait and wait

I chose an Army career as a 17-year old Oklahoma high school senior. Did I really know what I was getting into? Not totally, but I knew the Army would pay for my college education. That would help my folks out financially. I gained a senatorial appointment, and my next four years were laid out for me at West Point.

In my third year, I met a young lady, a New York lady at that. Army lore had said, “If the Army had thought you needed a wife, the Army would have issued you one!” I took care of that myself. However, I wanted to spend time getting used to the Army first. So I waited 26 hours after graduation and married Beverly York on June 7, 1962!

While we knew a little about the Army, neither of us knew everything the Army had in store for us. But we were young and relished the challenge we had waiting in the future.

We loved the Army, and I still wish I was leading soldiers like the 21 years I devoted to the Army. They were challenging, great young Americans and I will always remember them. While our Army days were mostly “ups,” there would be “downers” to be served .

During the first 13 of my 21 years of service, I served what were called “unaccompanied” tours of duty (then a year), when the families must find a place to stay elsewhere. In that “short” amount of time, I served accompanied tours three times: 1, on a brigade base in South Korea; 2, in combat in South Vietnam; and 3, again in the same place in South Korea.

Like thousands of other wives and their families, they had to set up homes without the help of military base housing. We did that for our first two accompanied tours. In our third case, my family was allowed to remain on a base annex in housing that was sub-standard, but livable and comfortable.

In my wife’s situation, while I was gone three times, she had to wait … and wait … and wait. In the last 20 years, military sponsors and their families have also had to wait and wait.

While away, my wife did a stellar job of seeing to our children and keeping me bolstered with those “care” packages and letters from home. Folks, you just cannot realize what a great job most of those (female or male) do who stay behind. If you know of such a family in your area, you should go out of your way to support them.

Perhaps my wife learned from the Army how to care for a “divided” family as she nurtured me and my kids for many years beyond those Army days. Most recently, she has brought me through a stroke and later through open-heart surgery. My angel!

I love one of those who “stayed behind” and cared for my family, then me. In the Army I learned how to honor others. That one would be one who now has spent 55 years being my back, my wife.

Ty Cobb Jr, lives in Salisbury.

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