Charlie Fielding was not only following a family tradition. Charlie was following a personal dream. For as long as he could remember he had watched his Grandfather, his Father, his siblings and many of his uncles dress in their uniforms and go off to defend this great nation. When he was young, all he ever wanted to be was a soldier. As he got older, he added to his dream. Now he wanted to be a soldier AND a Veterinarian. The summer between his junior and senior year in high school his parents had signed the paperwork for him to enlist in the Army Reserve. He went to Basic Training that year and proudly wore his uniform to meetings throughout the following year. The summer after he graduated high school he went to Army Advanced Individual Training and came home a Veterinarian Technician.
He was accepted into Oklahoma State University at Stillwater. They had pre veterinary courses and a very good ROTC department. Even before he decided on classes toward his major he filled in the ROTC courses in his course plan. Next Charlie worked his general education and pre Vet courses into the matrix. He already had a part time job as a Vet Tech for a local veterinarian. His life was perfect; he was well on the way toward his goal.
The first day of class Charlie showed up early wanting to get a good seat near the front. He did that so he would miss nothing and so he could learn everything he could about his first career choice. Charlie managed to get a seat in the first row at the front of the room. He chose the aisle end of the long table. He heard other students filing into the room. They were loud and boisterous. Apparently none of them wanted to sit up front. Everyone that came in after Charlie filled in to the rear. He was wondering if he would be the only student at the front table or if the instructor would make someone move. Charlie was waiting impatiently for class to begin when he spied a vision of loveliness gliding down the aisle. She walked up beside Charlie and said, "Excuse me. If those seats aren't taken could I get by to sit in one?"
For the first time in his life Charlie was tongue tied around a female. He could only stare and move his chair clumsily closer to the table so she could get behind him. To his surprise the girl took the seat just beside him instead of one of the other two available. She turned to look at him and smiled. She said, "I always like to sit as close to the instructor as I can so I don't miss anything-well I do at least in the important classes."
By now Charlie had himself more under control and said, "I do too. I got here early to stake out the best seat. Oh, I'm Charlie. Charlie Fielding."
The girl smiled and said, "Charlene Tyler." She stuck her hand out to shake. When Charlie took her hand it felt so soft and feminine he had to force himself to let it go. Before they could talk further the instructor entered the room and demanded quiet. The first semester of classes for Charlie and Charlene had begun.
As the day progressed Charlie found he and Charlene were going to be classmates in three other classes that semester. Since they had already met each other they made it a point to sit together in all their classes. Soon they began studying together. They became partners in the ROTC labs as well. From studying together they became friends then Charlie took the big step. He asked Charlene for a date. He wanted so badly to go out with her his stomach was in a knot until she smiled and said she would go.
From that time on they were a couple. After the first semester of college Charlie and Charlene were inseparable. They took as many classes together as they could. If you saw one, the other was sure to be somewhere near. In fact it became common for invitations to one of them to a function to include the other. Their friends and acquaintances knew if they didn't invite both of them neither would come to the function.
At the end of their sophomore year both Charlie and Charlene signed the contract with the Army to continue in ROTC. They were declaring their intention to obtain a Commission and enter either the Reserves or Active Duty after graduation. In the summer between their Senior and Junior years they had to attend ROTC Advanced Camp for six weeks. They pleaded and cajoled their instructors until they finally made it a point to get them into the same 6-week cycle so they could spend what little free time they had together.
The few weeks after they got out of ROTC Advanced camp Charlie and Charlene spent with their parents, dividing the time equally between the two families. During one of their very few free Sundays they had gone down to the river near Charlie's home. They swam, lay in the sun, and made love to each other. During this outing they had admitted to each other that they were in love and wanted to spend their lives together.
After they had reached their agreement Charlie reached into his pocket and pulled out a beautiful engagement ring. He turned to Charlene and offered it to her as he said, "Charlene we both know we love each other. I want you to be my wife and I want you to wear this ring to show the world just how special you are to me. Will you please marry me?"
Charlene looked at Charlie and got tears in her eyes. Charlie looked into her eyes felt his heart fall when she did not reach out and the ring or offer her finger to him so he could place it on her. Charlene began crying and said, "Oh, Charlie I love you so much and I would like nothing better than to be your wife but, Charlie as much as I love you I can't accept your proposal until you understand I have another love and have to follow my heart to it also."
You know we both will be commissioned and will serve in the Army. Charlie you need to understand that from the first time I really saw an aircraft I have wanted to fly. You know I want to become an Army Aviator and make a career in the Army. Charlie I can't marry you no matter how much I love you unless you can accept my career choice. Can you do that honey?"
Charlie looked at her and smiled. He said, "You already know I come from a military family. I don't have any problem with that. You know we will both be obligated to the service after we finish college. If I get accepted into Veterinarian school my obligation will be as long as yours will be as a pilot. Right now I am not sure if I will stay on active duty or not but even if I don't I have no problem following you from post to post. I do know I will stay in the reserves so we will have to juggle careers in any event."
Charlene smiled and grabbed Charlie. Just as the kisses were getting serious they heard someone walking down the trail toward them. They had just broken apart and adjusted their clothes when some of Charlie's friends walked into the secluded area they were in. Of course they were properly harassed about being out in the woods alone. After the boisterous greeting and excited viewing of the ring by the ladies the afternoon degenerated into a rowdy good time.
During the next two semesters of college Charlie and Charlene continued to grow closer. They had begun living together after she accepted his proposal and began to learn how to merge their lives together. They learned what the other liked in bed and out. They were true soul mates, a couple destined to spend the rest of their lives together.
Finally May came and graduation was approaching. All the future commissionees were invited to the Professor of Military Science's home for that very important social function. They would be 'roasted' and then told what branch the Army had assigned them. Almost all the personnel to be commissioned were nervous about this. The Army does consider the desires of the individual but the needs of the service come first in assigning a branch.
Charlie and Charlene sat together on a love seat holding hands while awaiting the announcement and distribution of the paperwork. When Charlene's name was finally called the Professor of Military Science said, "Charlene congratulations. You've been assigned a very important position in the Army. You are in Transportation."
Charlene gasped and the tears began to leak from her eyes. Charlie glared at the PMS and wrapped his arms around Charlene to comfort her. The PMS walked to Charlene and handed her the branch insignia that she would wear after she was commissioned. Charlene and Charlie barely looked at the insignia because it was such a come down from her desire. Charlene just put the unopened insignia box into her pocket and turned to watch the rest of her friends be assigned their branch.
The Professor scowled at Charlene when she did that and turned to the next "victim". Finally came the "pinning". From now on the cadets would wear their branch insignia along with their cadet rank. When the order was given to pin each other Charlene sighed and handed her insignia to Charlie so he could perform the task.
Charlie began to tear the insignia open and stopped. He looked at the insignia. It wasn't correct for the Transportation Corps. He had Aviation Branch insignia to pin onto Charlene. Now he wondered if there had been an error.
Charlie stood and turned to the Professor of Military Science and said, "Sir I think there's been a mistake. You said Cadet Tyler was assigned to Transportation but you handed her Aviation Branch insignia."
.... There is more of this story ...