He remembered the first Christmas after World War II when he returned home from Guam. Unfortunately there was a special reason for this. Trouble was ahead. There were problems in Korea and some rumors said there was the danger of a war.
When he and his wife listened to the news, he had to hide his worries.
However Mildred might have noticed anyway; if she has she doesn't show
it. He knew that he will probably be sent to Korea if it comes to war.
Sometimes he asked himself why he chose this kind of life, this kind of
job. He always liked being a doctor and the Army gave him the chance to
become a surgeon, something he couldn't have afforded otherwise. He loves
his job, but the downside was that he could be sent anywhere around the
globe wherever some incident might happen.
A few weeks later...
The United States had taken side with South Korea. North Korea has already attacked the South. General Albright, Potter's superior, told him that some soldiers from his base will be sent to Korea. And, not surprisingly, he will be part of the troops. Well, he will not be directly in Korea; he was designated for an administrative job in Tokyo. It really could be worse, but... he has to say good bye again. He should tell Mildred before somebody else tells her. He remembered his farewell when he left for WWII but the fact that he has done this before didn't help him at all.
It was a Sunday morning in June 1950 and the Potters had breakfast on the terrace. They talked about unimportant stuff. The fence needs some new paint. The garage needs some cleaning. They even discussed gardening (something Sherman really dislikes). Suddenly Sherman got up from the table and went into the garden. Under one of the big trees he leaned against the fence and stared at the landscape. It was time to tell her. He didn't turn his head when his beloved wife joined him at the fence.
"Mildred ..." he said in a low voice.
She looked at him. "Yes, Dear?"
"I have some news for you."
A smile with some bitterness appeared on her face as she interrupted him. "You have to leave for Korea, I guess. Right?"
For a few moments the lump in his throat prevented him from talking. His eyes became wet. His voice was trembling when he replied. "Damnit, honey. What a fool I've been to think that you didn't know." They knew each other so well and their love had grown year by year. That makes it even more difficult to leave. He was afraid to look in her eyes. "Since when have you known?"
Mildred sighed "I didn't know but I sensed something was wrong a few days ago. Your behavior changed a little bit. First I didn't realize what it reminded me of, but then I knew that it was like before you left for WWII."
It was not easy for him to turn his face to her. He saw the sorrow in her face, but there were no tears. "Mildred, Dear,...I can imagine that you might regret your decision to spend your whole life with me," he hesitated and added with bitterness "or I might better say: parts of your life with me."
Her voice was soft when she replied. "Sherman, don't be a fool! Look, of course I'm not jumping for joy about that. But I don't regret anything. I knew what I was doing when I married you."
He became aware that it was a strange moment, almost funny. He was crying and his wife was comforting him, not the other way round. He took her in his arms, and their feelings for each other were stronger than ever. He knew once more why he had married this woman. For a few minutes they silently held each other.
Finally, they went back to the breakfast table. Both dried their eyes - the secret was out.
"Honey, despite all of this there is some good news. I will not be in the combat zone, nor will I be in Korea at all. I've been assigned an administrative job in Tokyo. I'm far away, but at least I'm not in danger." In his thoughts he added 'not at the moment.'
Mildred sipped at her coffee. "Even under these circumstances I would say that's wonderful." She saw the question in his eyes. "Don't get me wrong, I'm serious. When will we have to bid farewell?"
"It will be in about 5 weeks. Meanwhile I will have to do some training for my job there. Some people from the Pentagon have a new idea about when and where to treat wounded soldiers. They call it a M.A.S.H." Actually he was happy that there was something to talk about so he could escape from the sentimental mood. He continued, "That's an abbreviation for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. These units will be about 3 miles away from the front. I will have to take care of the administrative tasks for these units. Supply them with all the personnel and material they need, improve the organization, observe their activities and other things like that ..."
Mildred looked a little bit surprised. "Sherm, be honest. This job doesn't sound like something you would enjoy. You didn't choose this because you don't want me to worry too much about you, did you?"
'Good old girl,' he thought. "Yes, no, and yes. Yes, it's not a job I will like; no, I had no choice and again yes, I don't want you to worry too much."
After a short period of silence, they talked again about unimportant
stuff. The fence needs some new paint, the garage needs some cleaning,
and they again discussed gardening (as we know now, something Sherman really