Why I'll always love TWA

In 1970 I was 20 years old and returning from Vietnam. I had been humping a ruck for 13 months and 9 days up in I Corps in the Khe Sahn Mountains, An Hoa River Basin/Arizona Valley, etc. and was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I walked up to the ticket desk at the airport in San Francisco and got my boarding pass from a young man not much older than me. After he handed me my boarding pass ( I was flying military reserve which means if they have a seat you get one, if they don't then tough enchalada, you wait for the next flight ) he took a second look and said, "Are you heading home from Nam"? I said, "Yes sir". He then took a look at his manifest and said, "I need your boarding pass back". I would have cried, but the rule is Marines don't cry so I handed him back my pass. I knew I was being kicked off the flight. I couldn't speak so I just stood there waiting while he scribbled some code on my pass and handed it back to me. Then he smiled and said, "Have a nice flight". I didn't understand what he had done so I just said "Thank you, sir." and headed for the gate. When we were called to board the beautiful old 707 I walked in the line through first class and started through the curtains to the cheap seats. You had to show your boarding pass to the stewardess ( who were all young and beautiful back in those days ) at that point and she stopped me. I thought, "Damn, what is it now? Are they still going to throw me off"? Before I could say anything she smiled and said, "Oh your seat is up here Marine". I said, "No maam, I'm flying military reserve". She said, "Well, I don't know about that but your boarding pass says you are flying 1st Class, so pick a seat". As I realized what the ticket agent had done I got a lump in my throat and wished I had known so I could have thanked him properly, but I remembered the rule and just sat down.

On that flight to Love Field in Dallas there were only 3 people in 1st Class that night. Me and an elderly couple. We had two stewardesses and the entire flight home one of them tended to the service while the other sat and talked to me. Just talked. They switched out occasionaly but one was always sitting with me. When we landed at Love Field and were waiting to deplane, they both came over to me and said "Here, we made this for you". They handed me a barf bag. Inside it was one each of every one of the little bottles of whiskey they used to have on board (you gotta be old to remember those), a pack of small cigars (5), and a deck of TWA playing cards showing an old Ford Tri-Motor on the pack. They then both gave me a very chaste kiss and told me "Welcome home". And I can tell you now, Marines do cry. I've never forgotten those young ladies or that ticket agent, and I am looking at every item from that barf bag displayed on a shelf in front of me.

Thank you, TWA. You made one of the lowest periods in my life just a little brighter.

Sergeant Mike Moore 5th Marines, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
Semper Fi

Comments

  • Too beau coup, Mike. Great story. My freedom bird originated at Clark and was blue and white with Pan Am on the side. USAF 68-79
  • Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your service to our country!
  • DaNang to McChord AFB on Flying Tigers. What a ride.
  • Welcome home, Bill and Greg. Semper Fi.

    Mike
  • I was at Cold Bay, AK in the mid 70's at a radar site, crossed trained to AFRTS by then, and Tigers had a regular stop at CDB and a bar where the locals congregated. The people in Cold Bay(town) were employed by FAA, NWS or Flying Tigers.
    We used to get visited by Bears and bears. The capital B bears were TU-95 with big red stars on the tail, 2 or 3 a month testing the interceptor response times. The Soviets would nestle the Bear 50' behind and slightly above the 747s flying the Northern route. This created a slightly larger blip on the radar. We would call another site to shoot a height finder across the flight path and it would show a stair step blip. Ahhhh. The days of cat and mouse with the Soviet Air Force.
  • Rikki0 wrote:
    Welcome home, Bill and Greg. Semper Fi.

    Mike
    You too. I went to Travis. I was bumped and then the airline upgraded to 1st class on the next flight out of San Francisco to Dallas.
  • The capital B bears were TU-95 with big red stars on the tail, 2 or 3 a month testing the interceptor response times. The Soviets would nestle the Bear 50' behind and slightly above the 747s flying the Northern route. This created a slightly larger blip on the radar.
    I had no idea TU-95s were that fast! I wonder how often the 747 crews knew they were being "tailed"...
  • They never appeared to be aware of the Bears. Just really good scope work by the radar crews. The Bears tried to hide in the radar shadow of the airliner. The Soviet pilots would come out of Sakhalin and join up above and behind. By staying just above they did not affect the performance or handling of the 747. The cycle would run Unknown, Pending and Hostile. By the time hostile was determined the F-4s were taking off at King Salmon. As soon as the interceptors were airborne the Bear would turn hard left and scoot back into the Soviet Union.
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