My Journey to Jesus – Married in Germany

by | Dec 18, 2022 |

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I’ve mentioned that Beth had a somewhat wild history before she met me. Her previous boyfriend, with whom she drank, smoked pot, and did who knows what else with, was a guy named Tony Weatherbee. When Beth and I got married, I had never met Tony Weatherbee, and though Beth had talked some about her wild ‘pre-Wally’ days, I really did not want to know details and did not ask questions.

I knew she was far more experienced sexually than I was, that she experimented with drugs and alcohol, that she took up smoking at 12, and that at 14, she lost her virginity to an 18-year-old Tony Weatherbee.

> Read the entire series of posts here: My Journey to Jesus.

Beth’s parents lived relatively close to my best friend Tim, and Beth asked me if I could give her a ride home after work one night since it was basically on the way to Tim’s house (where I was heading after work). She wanted to meet a friend of hers at a pool hall on the way home, so we played some pool (the friend never showed up) and then on the way to her parent’s house, where she should have directed me to turn right onto her parent’s street, she had me turn left instead. The next thing I knew, we were at a secluded car turnaround overlooking the freeway, and she was undoing my pants.

We used that turnaround so frequently after that, the phrase ‘turn left’ became a synonym for having sex.

Beth liked sex, and her mother had her on birth control so at least as far as her mother what we were doing was perfectly OK. Her mother even walked in on us in Beth’s bedroom once. All she did was to say, “Excuse me,” and close the door.

Beth was a little afraid of her father catching us, so clearly her father did not know what was going on, but everyone else did. Beth’s parents both loved me like a son, and as I said in a previous episode, it did not take long before Beth showed up at the doorstep of my apartment after a huge fight with her father to move in.

I also mentioned in a previous episode how Beth showed up one day with an engagement band on her finger. We’d talked about marriage but I’d never proposed (and was not really inclined to do so). Later she joked that she proposed that I propose.

If it sounds like Beth and I got married right away, understand that Beth and I dated and/or lived together for four years before we were married. My going full-time in the military was her father’s idea and as soon as I started talking to an Army recruiter Beth and her parents began planning the wedding. I felt very much pushed into it, and since by the time the wedding came around I’d been sleeping with Beth for four years, I kind of felt duty bound to go along.

And that’s not to say I did not love Beth. I did, but there is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. I think of how I love Gosia (my wife now) and it’s an exclusionary, passionate love. I never felt that for Beth.

Nor at the time did I want to feel ‘in love’ with someone. I’d been in love before and it had not panned out. Having someone in love with me seemed better at the time.

And then we were married, and a few months later I was in Charlie Company, 82nd Engineer Battalion.

You can imagine my surprise when one day, shortly after Beth arrived in Germany, we did roll call one morning and the guy standing next to me in formation – one of my squad mates – was named Weatherbee.

I figured it had to be a different Weatherbee until I found out his first name was Tony, and then I decided to check.

“Hey, Weatherbee,” I said, in formation a few days later.

“Yeah?” He asked.

“I heard your name is Tony,” I responded.

“Yeah?” he asked, sensing this was not my real question.

“You know a Beth Nelson?” I asked.

“Hell yeah, I know her. I know her well – REAL well!” he said.

“She’s my wife,” I told him.

“WHAT?!?” Tony shot back, “Fuck! You serious?!?”

I told him I absolutely was serious and that if he tried anything with her I’d kill him. Tony promised not to.

I did not trust Weatherbee further than I could throw him. He was a competent soldier but just overall a dirty, sleazy guy. And I mean that in a purely descriptive way. His hair was always greasy – he was exactly the kind of guy who would slink around with your wife behind your back and though I learned to get along with him, I never really trusted him.

And he was not in the unit all that long (maybe a year?) before he rotated back to the states.

Beth and I remained friends with SSG Phipps (the guy who had taken me under his wing in Alpha Company and who was the safety NCO on the railhead with SSG Bush) and his wife Dotty. Dotty was a German girl and SSG Phipps had a beautiful red antique Mercedes. We watched their dogs (Chow Chows) for them a few times when they were on vacation. Chow Chows are aggressive, and though they were nice to Beth and I (they knew us), they would move all the furniture around in excitement whenever we came over to feed them and take them out.

People in the Army come and go as they rotate into and out of different duty stations. Germany was my ‘permanent’ duty station, but ‘permanent’ only meant three years (and only two if you were single), and though you got to know the unit really well over time, by the time you left there were very few people around who were there when you arrived.

McKaskill (from reclass AIT) was in the 16th Engineers, which was another unit stationed at Bamberg. He was single, so he was only there for two years. Interestingly, after his two years he went to Fort Leonard Wood – where I ended up a year after he got there.

SGT Zalatan was another guy in the 16th Engineer Battalion. His wife Sharon became Beth’s best friend, and I think they are still in touch.

There were a lot of fights between the 16th Engineers and the 82nd Engineers based on the relationships between single soldiers and married women. Whenever the 82nd Engineers would deploy somewhere, the single soldiers from the 16th Engineers would service many of the wives from the 82nd Engineers, and whenever the 16th Engineers deployed, the single soldiers from the 82nd Engineers returned the favor. It was not at all uncommon for a married soldier to come home to find out his wife had been having an affair with a single soldier, and it was not uncommon for a wife to leave her husband for a single soldier.

It was also not uncommon for wives to date up the command structure.

I knew one woman (I can picture her face but I do not remember her name) who came as the wife of a private, only to divorce him for a sergeant in the unit, only to divorce the sergeant for a lieutenant.

As far as I know, Beth never cheated on me while we were in Germany. Given what I know about what she was doing while I was training in Fort Leonard Wood prior to getting stationed to Germany, I have every reason to suspect she might have cheated on me in Germany, but I have no specific knowledge of anything going on while we were in Germany and since it was the happiest part of our marriage, I assume nothing happened.

Who we knew when… is somewhat blurry, and as I start to recount some of the memorable field rotations and some of the memorable things Beth and I did while in Germany, the exact order of events is largely lost to time. I know Captain Jones was my CO until he rotated back to the States to be replaced by Captain Fiegenbaum, but I do not always remember what training operations Captain Jones was at and which ones Captain Fiegenbaum was at.

There was another guy in my squad that rotated out about a year and a half after I got there. I did not know him very well. We got along well and he was a fine soldier but were just work colleagues. Sometimes I can remember his name – other times I cannot. What I do remember is that he had a wife and young child, and he died in a car accident about a month after going back to the states, while looking for a radio station in his car on the way home.

SPC Madrid was a big (as in stocky and strong) guy with a wide grin, who was competent as all hell and who was dating a girl from the island of Lisbo who liked to tell everyone she was a Lesbian (as that is what people from Lesbo are called).

Madrid loved to joke around. He was the guy who sent me to find the Flux capacitor on my AVLB my first day in Charlie Company. Madrid called me ‘Gunny’ both because I’d been in the Marine Corps, and because my name starts with ‘G’. Madrid and I did not hang out after work, but we were about as good of friends as you can be without being friends outside of work.

Madrid and his girlfriend went on vacation once and came back with a couple envelopes of pictures. Beth flipped through them and suddenly pulled out one of Madrid’s penis, which she handed him and said he should probably keep it separate when sharing.

There were two single soldiers who came over most weekends (when we were not deployed) to play Dungeons and Dragons. Beth would bake Buffalo Wings while we all played (Beth played too). One was PFC Whitehorn, and nobody hated the Army more than Whitehorn. Whitehorse was a great soldier, but he absolutely detested being in the Army. Ironically, he went back in a few years after getting out and is still in. Whitehorse made a career out of it.

Whitehorn’s story is not as odd as it sounds. There are two armies: the one you are in when you don’t have any rank, and the one you are in once you make NCO. Whitehorn hated the Army as a private, but apparently he found it more agreeable as an NCO. That happens more often than people think.

Beth and I traveled a lot between field rotations, but mostly around Bavaria. We never made it to Northern Germany. That’s not to say we did not want to go to Northern Germany, but there was so much to do and see right around where we lived that we just never got much outside Bavaria. We went to Eagles’ Nest a couple of times, crossing the border with Austria each time to visit Salzburg. We went to Berchesgarden, Regensburg, Konigsee – basically all the major Bavarian attractions. Beth got a passport and got to go to Prague, in the Czech Republic a number of times. She’d buy crystal there.

There were castles everywhere. Some we visited and others we just went by. We never actually went to Neuschwanstein Castle but we drove past it several times. We visited Herrenchiemsee Palace, and hundreds of other, smaller castles and palaces – it seemed like there was a castle (many in ruins) on almost every hill.

Our dog, Bandit, did not like field rotations, and learned pretty quickly that after I packed, I would be leaving. Bandit would try to prevent me from packing by laying down on whatever it was I was trying to pack. If I was rolling up my sleeping bag, Bandit would lay down on my sleeping bag. If I was packing uniforms, Bandit would lay down on my uniforms, and it occurred to me that though Beth knew why I was leaving, our dog did not. It always broke my heart watching our dog feebly trying to prevent me from leaving.

Next week I’ll start talking about some of the specific field rotations and real world assignments I was a part of.

> Read the entire series of posts here: My Journey to Jesus.

Wallace Garneau

Wallace Garneau is a two-service military veteran, with four years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and four years in the US Army. He has twenty-three years of experience in process improvement roles, having served as the E-Commerce Manager, IT Manager, and Director of Business Systems for a variety of medium to large manufacturing companies. Wallace holds a Bachelors of Science from the University of Phoenix, and an MBA in Lean Manufacturing from the University of Michigan. Wallace is currently finishing a Masters of Science in Lean Manufacturing, at Kettering University.

Wallace is a published poet and essayist, and recently finished his first book - The Way Forward: Lean Leadership and Systems Thinking for Large and Small Businesses.

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