Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Move to San Antonio

(click here to read previous story: A Pair of Fiancees)

In June of 1954, Camp Pickett was closed and the men on base, including Dinon, were ordered to pack up the camp and relocate.

"They decided to close the camp, so I’m going through the medical kits and separating them out: I mean, scissors and things, y'know," Dinon said.  "One of the things in the kits were knives, X-Acto knives, and they were used for surgery and were manufactured real well.  They were supposed to be well-sealed, but in some cases the seal was not quite perfect, and so they’d get rust in there – which made them not good for surgery."

Even though he was instructed to throw everything away, he kept some of the knives - and he still uses them for his model railroad hobby today.

"Each packet had about half-a-dozen or so knives, so I've used them over the years and I still have some downstairs for my railroad set," he said.  "I have two kinds – one of them has a curve, and the other one has a straight edge.  I've had those ever since my time in Camp Pickett, Virginia.  And I've been very glad."

In addition to sorting the medical supplies, Dinon also spent early mornings in the kitchen near the end of his stay in Camp Pickett.

“It came to the point near the end where I was having to pull KP – kitchen police, pots and pans, spotless spotless, you were the dishwasher.  You had to make sure that all the grease was removed when you washed them," Dinon said.  "So I was having to pull KP duty, which means you have to get up real early in the morning, I don’t know, 4, 4:30, help with preparing the breakfast, and there were fewer and fewer soldiers there, and then finally they shipped me down to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas."  He was shipped to Texas at some point in the first half of 1954, prior to the June closing of Camp Pickett.

This was difficult for Liz.  She had not yet earned her college degree, so she stayed in school at Maryland to continue her studies while Dinon moved 1,600 miles west to San Antonio.  They continued to correspond over the distance, but, as the months went by, the recurring name of a woman in Dinon's letters began to alarm Liz.

"In San Antonio, there was a Methodist church in town.  At the church, why, you had an opportunity that if you helped serve the meal on Sundays - and they had a really good meal - you got yours free!  So I always helped serve, so I always got my free meal," Dinon said.  "Well, they had a really active young people’s group there, and Liz kept noticing as I was writing her that I kept mentioning this one girl named Jane Batow.  She was in the youth group, and I was just telling Liz what I was doing, but her name kept popping up."

Liz was smart enough to see the risk.  After all, Dinon had already broken off one long-distance engagement in favor of a woman that lived close by, so she knew that there was a possibility of a repeat with this Jane Batow.

Valuing Dinon over her degree, she left Washington Missionary College in the winter of 1954.

Wedding Day: August 26, 1955
Three months after Dinon's release from the army
"Liz said to herself, 'I think I better go down and watch over, and make sure he doesn't stray'.  So, she came down, oh, toward the end of the year, so she probably came down before Christmas and she was there several months, working and keeping her eye on me and keeping me busy," Dinon said.  They continued to date and her efforts paid off - they married in August of 1955, shortly after Dinon left the service.

After her move to Texas, Liz did not return to college or earn a degree.  "I don’t think Liz had a degree in mind," Dinon said.  "She liked to write, so maybe it was kind of like journalism, I guess, or something."  Later in life, Liz expressed regret for never finishing school.  

During their time in Texas, Liz worked as a church receptionist.  She was a smart and very personable woman, and she fit the job well.

But during that year in San Antonio, before his discharge and before the wedding, Dinon continued to learn lots of new things in his last year in the army.

(Next story: Fort Sam Houston)


A Pair of
Dorms, Food
and Studies

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