Jim MacKay

His story and sad memory relating to Earl Palmer

Date: July 13, 2009 10:12:41 PM EDT

OK, John, here's a little vignette for starters.


I got fired from my first job after high school, and made a life altering decision that wasn't apparent for several years.  After being sacked, I joined the Navy in September, but that's not the story here.


After Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, I headed home from Chicago, by train.  I changed trains in Jacksonville, boarding the Silver Meteor, for the west coast.  There was one  person in the car when I boarded, a Marine, sitting in the last seat in the back.  As I walked down the isle, he looked up.  It was Earl Palmer, fresh from Paris Island.  It was a very interesting trip home.


I was home for two weeks, Earl was going to Japan, so he had a month's leave before going over.  When my leave was up, I boarded the train back to Great Lakes for training as a Radarman.  The first letter I got from home included the newspaper article about the accident that took Earl's life.  The news set a sad tone for my first holiday season away from home.
Note form John...Earl was a dear friend of mine.  Earl spent part of his leave with us.  We went to the same party...Earl left alone and before me.  We discovered his car...upside down and surrounded by police cars...Earl was gone and so was our reality that life was death-free. 


The decision to join the Navy in '59, kept me out of Viet Nam.  I separated active duty in '62, and was discharged in '65, thanking my old boss, many times in ensuing years, for being such a jerk.