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Tacoma, Washington, United States

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Commission and Moving On

"I sat by the window feeling a mixture of regret and elation as the train clacked west across the darkening Midwest."

Our commissioning ceremony was on 2 November 1945 and, suddenly, one of my ambitions had been achieved.  I was now Ensign C.R. Frieze, AL, USNR, wearing the gold braid of a naval officer.  (The “AL” denoted aviation ground officer.)  My orders were to proceed on two weeks delayed orders and report to Moffet Field, California to the Commander, Naval Air Transport Service, Asiatic Wing.
My good friend Johnny Berry got together with me after the commissioning ceremony.  Johnny’s situation was similar to mine.  His fiancĂ©e, Nona, was waiting for him in his home town of Anaconda, Montana.  I had wanted him to come to Vancouver and be my best man on November 8th, but his wedding was scheduled for November 5th.  We planned to ride the “Toonerville Trolley” from South Bend to Chicago, then catch a train west, he dropping off in Anaconda.
We bought a bottle of bourbon to celebrate on the train.  It was a mistake for Johnny.  He was not as used to drinking as was old “Pappy” Frieze and promptly got a bit “under the weather”.  I was a bit foggy myself when we got to Chicago and first took us to the wrong train station.  I finally found the right one, then had to find the ticket window for the Great Northern.
Johnny was enough out of it that, at each stop, I would sit him down on his B-4 bag with our luggage and say, “Don’t move, Johnny.  You sit right there and I’ll be right back,” then I would go off to get our tickets.  Fortunately, I was sober enough to manage, got our tickets, and found the right platform to catch our train.
I sat by the window feeling a mixture of regret and elation as the train clacked west across the darkening Midwest.  I thought sadly of my carefree days wearing the white hat of an enlisted man and I thought about Midge back in South Bend.  On the other hand, there was my commission and a buxom blonde with Betty Grable legs waiting in Vancouver to marry me.  I finished the bottle of bourbon and fell asleep.