Within sixty hours after saying good-bye to my teammates and friends in Vietnam, I was discharged from the Army and back home in southwest Detroit. It was Wednesday evening, October 2, 1968. It was a drastic change, but I felt great just being able to embrace my mom and dad, brother, and two sisters again after not hearing their voices for nearly a year. At the time, it took a month for a letter to get home from Vietnam, and another month for a reply to get back. But now, suddenly, I could sit in the kitchen and eat my mother’s glorious Arabic food, hold our dog Chico and our cat Fluffy, and be part of my family again.
I came in first place only once in my life. That was for physical fitness at the Wayne County Sheriff Police Training Academy. It was fall 1971, and I had already been working as an undercover narcotics officer for nearly a year when they sent Gerald Scotti and me from the Narcotics Bureau for training. When we were hired in 1970, there wasn’t a state law requiring academy training. We were young officers of not purely Caucasian ethnic descent, and that’s what the department urgently needed to make narcotic buys in the spiraling drug culture in and around Detroit. The county and feds trained us in two criminal and narcotics investigation courses, and when space came available in the next police academy class, they sent us, with the understanding that we would return to the Bureau upon completing our training.