On April 9, 1966, I stood in formation by the three red and white 250-foot steel-girder jump towers at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was a warm Saturday afternoon, and I had just completed Airborne School after making five static-line jumps at 1,250 feet from a twin-tailed C-119 Flying Boxcar in Alabama. My sergeant handed me my orders and a small pair of silver-plated jump wings, shook my hand, and said, “Good luck!
It was my sixth year with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department in Detroit, and I was assigned to uniformed motorized patrol at the Patrol and Investigation Division in western Wayne County. Six years on the force meant I no longer had to work nights, afternoons, or the shift that was toughest on the social life: seven at night to three in the morning. The best part of days was that if I had to go to court, I could do it while I was working—no more having to lose sleep. And I could go to college in the evening without any scheduling hassles.
It was 12:05 a.m., and I was lying alone in bed, heartbroken after a recent divorce. She and I were both cops, she with Detroit Police and I with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. I had worked the scout car all day and then gone out on a date that evening, but I knew she wasn’t the one for me. I had finally dropped off to sleep when the telephone by my bed jangled me awake.
“Hello?” I said, grabbing the phone.
“Bobby! Please help!” It was my mother’s frantic voice.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“There’s people breaking in our house!”