I was blessed to meet Miss Chom Su Han March 1972, at Uijongbu, South Korea. She was 4 feet 11 inches on a tall day and with her pockets full of rocks may have approached a 100 pounds. Small in stature, she had a gigantic heart. On May 4, 1973, we were married.
Suzie-Q was raised on a farm. In the fall of 1972, she said we needed to visit. I went to meet my future Mother-in-law. Oma-nim. We made the several hour bus ride to the family farm located in Chuncheon buk-do. The bus dropped us at Malminggi the town nearest the farm. We were able to find a taxi to take us the remaining couple of miles. The taxi driver went as far as he could, which was about a mile from the farmhouse. From there, we began walking. After a short walk along the washed out dirt road and with the assistance of a niece we made it to the house.
Now I am a proud country boy who came from what we affectionately refer to as back in “the sticks” here in wild and wonderful. A place so far back in the sticks they say that sunshine must be pumped in. But, I wasn’t ready for what I saw. I will narrow it down. Thatched roofs, no electricity and swarms of neighbors and little kids. Red haired Americans were not common in Korean farm villages. Geographically, I can place it for you between Daejon and Daegu near Okcheon. The small town nearest the farm, Malminggi, doesn’t appear on any map that I can find. These days, there is a large brick house sitting where the old farm house was although there is a remaining section of the original house. When it comes to who is from the farthest out into the sticks, she wins hands down.
In 1974, as I was about to finish my three year enlistment, Sergeant Major Lloyd Saner, who I worked for, wanted to know why I was getting out. I told him what the reenlistment NCO told me. I had to be out of Korea for three years before I could return. I don’t know what transpired, but lore has it that the Sergeant Major went nuclear on the Re-up NCO who contacted me in a couple of days with a guaranteed assignment to Korea if I would reenlist. So I did.
Not to speak lightly of any wife, but military wives are special. When young, we had our times as any young military family does. Going through the check book near the end of the month hoping to find a math error in our favor was common. Suzie-Q managed and during all the times I wasn’t home, she raised our son and made coming home something to look forward to.
In Germany, during the first Gulf War, she would be waiting for me to get home to take her to deliver food to Soldiers on guard duty and the Military Police making security checks of vehicles entering the housing areas. Turns out, I married the most generous and selfless person I have ever known. Attributes that continued all through our time in the Army and right up to today where making food and taking it to sick friends, the staff at Church and our Family Doc’s staff is common. Today, her anniversary day, she took lunch to our Doc and crew.
Family life is incredibly important for anyone serving and over the 28 years our family served, I was blessed to have the best home life anyone could hope for all anchored by a little woman with a huge heart.
Thank you Suzie-Q for 44 wonderful years. You’ve made life good for us.
© 2017 J. D. Pendry