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!
Sunday evening, August 16, 1987, it was a stifling, humid 90 degrees outside. Happily, it was cooler in my basement office, where I sat contemplating a third master's degree, in international politics, to augment the two I already had in criminal justice fields. Or should I go for a PhD in sociology instead? I was deep in thought, mapping out all the pros and cons, when my police scanner chirped.
"Code fifty!" Code fifty!".
My first Article 15 happened when I was a 17 year old paratrooper stationed at the Rhine Kaserne, Germany. Bored one weekend I left the kaserne with a friend and took a bus to Weisbaden. We spent our time drinking and ended up late at night crashing a formal convention. We helped ourselves to the ample supply of champagne that was placed on crisp white table cloths as the conventioneers looked at us with disgust.
Wives can be great companions and lots of fun, but from a cop’s perspective, an angry wife can be something else altogether. She can stop your heart. Of all my professional dealings with hostile women, two encounters really stand out.
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!”
My two-years-older brother was an inspiration to me—a giant. As a teenager, he was fascinated with military airplanes. Hanging on strings from our basement bedroom ceiling and covering every shelf were more than a hundred plastic model planes he had meticulously assembled and painted, making sure every color and decal matched the real thing. His airplane collection ran from the de Havilland biplanes and Fokker triplanes of the First World War to the Vietnam-era F-111 “fast movers” and B-52 bombers. He even had Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft models.