Mrs. Sam Walker
Chapter 1: On Yankee Station
USS SAVO ISLAND
Attack SQUADRON 8 (VA8)
YANKEE STATION OFF THE COAST OF NORTH VIETNAM
A/N: The USS Savo Island is the same fictional Aircraft carrier in the movie "The Bridges at Toko-Ri". I decided to use it to avoid confusion with real ships in the Vietnam War and to make this sort of an indirect sequel to that a good movie. VA 8 is supposed to be the 1970s version of Torpedo Bomber Squadron 8 (VT8) an actual Navy Torpedo bomber squadron wiped out at the Battle of Midway then rebuilt and destroyed again at Guadalcanal. The real VT 8 was disbanded during the war. In my story's universe the squadron's fighting its third war.
Ensign Sam Walker sat in the squadron ready room reading a letter from his wife. Sam had just come back from his 5th mission over North Vietnam flying an A-4 Skyhawk with Navy attack squadron 8 (VA-8). This was the squadron's 4th deployment to Vietnam and Sam's first.
What a change Sam thought. His life had literally done a 360 degree change. Six years ago Sam was attending the University of Pennsylvania, protesting the war in Vietnam and did not have a girlfriend. Now he was an officer in the United States Navy, fighting in Vietnam by choice and was married to the girl who had once been his best friend Meg Pryor.
Will is going to be playing baseball for good old East Catholic this year. The last Pryor to go there! Can you believe it? Dad doesn't say much. He keeps busy at the store just as when JJ was over there. But when he hears anything on TV about the bombing he tells everyone to be quiet. Mom is always asking questions to Dad about ship life, what you guys eat, how you wash clothes etc. She's baking you and the other guys some cookies Chocolate chip Patty is talking about becoming a lawyer now. She will probably make the dean's list at Lehigh again. Your Dad my other dad now and my new second little sister now eat at our house every Sunday. Oh and Roxanne and Luke are there too. Anyway that's all for now. Gotta get ready for work tomorrow
Mrs. Sam Walker
Meg signed every letter now Mrs. Sam Walker. She said she liked the sound of it. Meg had stayed with Sam at Lemoore CA before the Savo Island had left for the cruise then went back to Philly to wait for him till the cruise was ended six months later. She didn't want to stay there alone she said and it brought back bad memories of her last trip west. She was going to stay with her family, her new extended family till Sam came back.
Mrs. Sam Walker Sam said it himself with a smile. Mrs. Meg Walker the former Meg Pryor of American Bandstand fame.
"Hey Mr. Tibbs, let's go to chow" It was Sam's buddy Ensign Porter. "Mr. Tibbs" was Sam's call sign because he was black and from Philly like Sidney Poiter in "In the Heat of the Night" Porter's call sign was "Milk" because he hated coffee and always drank Milk in the Wardroom. Porter was from New York and didn't have a problem with Sam being black. They had become friends learning to fly the Skyhawk because he was the only person who wanted to be roommates with Sam.
"Let's go Man I'm hungry." Porter said. He had also flown on the mission with Sam. "Letter from the Missus?"
"Milk" Porter also didn't have a problem with Meg being White. There were some in the squadron who did. Porter and his wife Betty and come to Sam and Meg's Wedding.
"Yeah a new letter." Sam said. "Got two others but this is the first one I've read let's go I'll tell you about it over dinner".
CHAPTER 2 AT LAST
Sam Walker had decided to join the Navy. 1969 had just started and it was Sam's senior year. He still wanted to become an astronaut. It was the main reason he had come to college in the first place. All the astronauts so far had been military pilots. Sam figured the only way he was going to see space was by flying a jet first. Landing on an aircraft carrier seemed harder than landing on a regular runway, Sam thought so that would look better for the astronaut program. Also Sam knew a black man would have to even more special to get accepted into the program. A black man who could land on a carrier was something special.
Sam contacted the Navy and found them rather friendly. The Navy was fighting an unpopular war and it needed pilots. 1968 had been a bad year for race relations with all the riots following the death of Dr. Martin Luther king so the Navy wasn't going to overtly discourage a black candidate, especially one who had tried out for the 1968 Olympic track team and wasn't publically advocating black power. In other words Sam needed the Navy and the Navy needed Sam.
Sam's father Henry had mixed reactions. He was proud of his son "this is what Dr. King died for" he said but there was the war. "Don't get yourself killed son" he said.
Sam's Cousin Nathan was not so happy "You run for the white man now you want to fly his airplane and drop bombs on the yellow man. Black niggers killing yellow niggers". Nathan did say one positive thing. "Show them white boys how to fight a war."
Then there was Meg. Meg had come back from California in 1967 after running off to Berkley the year before with her then boyfriend Chris. Chris had got involved with a bad crowd in Berkley and ended up slipping across the border to Canada rather than face jail time.
Meg had changed in California. She was more serious and more of a rebel. She started working at a coffee house near Temple University and started taking classes at Temple as well. Eventually she calmed down and became the old Meg again. By 1969 Meg was helping to run her father's new store in the suburbs Pryor Electronics. The store sold not just TVs and stereos but had a record section too (that was Meg's idea). Sam's dad Henry now ran the store in the city.
Meg wasn't happy at all. "Why Sam why?" "They will make you go to Vietnam. They will make you go to drop bombs on people! On people like us just trying to live." They were standing in her garage. For the first time Sam went to Meg's house with no fear. Her father had answered the door. Jack Pryor had shook Sam's hand congratulating him on his decision but his expression changed when Sam asked to speak to Meg. He had to tell her about his decision and something else.
"I got to do this Meg" he told her. I'm going to be an astronaut, JJ tried but now it's mine turn". Meg's big eyes were starting to tear up. "There is something else I have to tell you". He took her hands and held them and looked her straight in the eye.
"Meg I want you to wait for me. After flight school I want to marry you".
All the color had run out of her face. She couldn't take her eyes off Sam. "Meg I've been in love with you since high school. We're not kids anymore. Our parents can't say anything anymore. I don't care if they say anything anymore. I want you to be Mrs. Sam Walker".
Meg kissed Sam. "I've always loved you too Sam, but I had given up. I thought it would never be I'm so sorry."
That night Sam ate dinner at the Pryors sitting next to Meg. They told everyone the news. Of course an argument started. Of course Meg's sister Patty still the know-it all said she knew it all along. But Sam and Meg were finally together.
CHAPTER Three Wedding Day
Sam Walker and Meg Pryor got married in the living room of the Pryor house. The Savo Island and VA-8was leaving at the beginning of February for its Westpac cruise to Vietnam. Sam spent his last leave at home to get married. "Milk" Porter and his wife Betty, who lived on base at Naval Air Station Lemoore, VA-8's home had come east with Sam for the wedding. The two couples were going to travel back to California together where Sam and Meg would have a quick honeymoon before the ship left.
There was a foot of snow on the ground the day of the wedding. It was a simple affair. The Pryors were there, JJ and his family making it just in time from Sunny Florida where JJ was now lived. Roxanne and Luke and their daughter Meg were there. Henry Walker and his 2d wife Clara were there along with Sam's sister Angela and her boyfriend. Nathan refused to come. Sam and Milk wore dress blues. A young priest new to teaching at East Catholic married the young couple.
The reception was held in the living room too. They played old songs from the bandstand days and Meg and Roxanne did all the old dances. Betty Porter proved to be a good dancer herself when the three young wives did their version of the Ronettes singing "Be my Baby". For the first time Jack Pryor shared a beer with his new son in law. The mothers of the bride and groom sat drinking coffee discussing whether the groom would pack enough underwear for the deployment and if not whether the bride would remind him to.
Mr. and Mrs. Sam Walker danced their first dance as husband and wife to the Shirelles "This dedicated to the one I Love".