Glad She Waited
Ollie Lindsay served in the US Army from September 1979 through March 1990. He and his wife, Linda, just celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary and have three children and six grandchildren.
Growing up in Kentucky, I was very poor and was going to go to technical school to be an electrician, but I loved sports and I had the opportunity to play football at Morehead State University, so I figured I’d give it a try. I was recruited to play football, but I never stepped foot on the football field. The college claimed to run out of money. College was fun for me, but I didn’t get serious until my junior year, when my wife Linda, who wasn’t my wife at the time, told me to get serious. She said, “This is serious business and you’ve got to get serious and choose a major.” I was doing just enough to pass my classes, but I decided to major in Recreation and Administration and did a minor in Military Science through ROTC.
ROTC was a way of earning money while attending college. I ate a lot of bologna and cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly prior to signing up for R.O.T.C. In the summer of 1977, I spent six weeks at Fort Knox for bootcamp, and I said “I will not join the Army,” and a sergeant said “Yeah, you will,” and the money was still good, so I did. Once you graduated, you were in.
I spent the first six months in Officer Training School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, learning the logistics of being a shop officer, managing a number of personnel as they made repairs on armored vehicles such as tanks, radios, weapons, and wheeled vehicles.
My first assignment was in the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea in Dongducheon near the DMZ. It was very hot in the summer and very, very cold in the winter. Back in 1980, people would line up at the commissary to get Spam that was like steak in that area. Because we were so close to the DMZ, the gate to the camp would close at approximately 10:30-11:00 every night, and good luck if you were late arriving.
Linda and I had dated all through college, and during that first assignment in Korea, I was sowing my oats, so I wrote her a letter and said, “Don’t wait on me.” In Korea they build all sorts of beautiful furniture and I was looking at it one day, and I thought, what would I do with that? And it occurred to me, “What am I doing? Where am I going?”
When I got back from Korea, I was married to Linda within two weeks. I asked her mom if I could marry her, and she figured we would get married since we were so close in college. If you saw me, you saw her.
We figured we would go to the Justice of the Peace or something simple, but her mom wasn’t having it. We got married in the church, did our own decorations, had a friend make our cake, and I got married in my uniform. I was so young and a brand new second lieutenant, when the pastor said we were married, I saluted my wife up on the altar. March 14 of this year is our 39th wedding anniversary.
Coming back from Korea, they dropped me off on the first piece of land they reached, so I was stationed in Fort Ord, California. Linda was able to join me six weeks later. My first child, my oldest, Aaron was born there.
The next post was Germany, West Germany at the time. I served in the Black Horse, 11th Armored Division from 1984-1987 in West Germany in Fulda Gap, near the East and West Germany line. We were there for three years, and we loved Germany. We did not live on base. We lived with Germans on the second floor of a big stone house where the landlord lived on the first floor and their son and daughter-in-law lived on the third floor. Our twin girls, Christina and Charity were born in Germany, and our landlords and neighbors just loved our children and would keep them for us whenever we needed.
I always asked to be reassigned to Fort Knox, Kentucky to be closer to home, but they always gave me the worst assignments. After talking to someone I had been in officer training school with, we were able to be reassigned to Arlington Hall Station in Virginia to be somewhat closer to family. I worked in Military Intelligence there and was a commander who led about 21 people. I was able to travel back to Germany and Korea. They closed that base and moved operations to Fort Belvoir, Virginia where I worked until I decided to retire July 1, 1990, just before they started Desert Storm.
I did not know what I wanted to do, so I worked a number of different jobs. I worked in the Juvenile Justice System for three years before trying the Fire Department for a year. I was not crazy about it, so Linda, who had been working in health care at Dulles Airport suggested I try for a position at United Airlines where I worked for 15 years.
From there, I found a job as a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security and I moved equipment for the airlines. I returned to Korea, got to go to London, England, and was able to drive across the country. That is something Linda and I plan to do – go see this beautiful country.
I was well-suited to military life. I am an early riser, and I love working out, running, jumping, physicality. I also learned that you can get more done by talking to people (at every level) more so than yelling. I am a people person. I like people.
The person I like best is the one I am so glad did not listen to me when I told her not to wait on me. Linda and I have been together for 45 years, and I have been glad to salute her every day of marriage for the last 39 years.
When I was in ROTC, there was a captain who I looked up to because he was honest and punctual. If he ever said he would be somewhere, you could count on it. I cannot remember his name, but I can see his face, even today.
By Ollie Lindsay, United States Army