About the Author
Looking back over my life, I wonder how a girl born in Kansas City, Missouri at the end of World War II came to experience such dramatic events. I am not surprised that I survived the loss of a young husband and the brutal hostility of a highly adversarial intelligence service like the KGB. I had the self-confidence bred in me by positive parents who believed in me. I knew that I could overcome each challenge and be better for the experiences. I was also young and knew no limits to my abilities.
The route I took to the events in this book was very “normal.” I was raised in Darien, Connecticut, which had great schools. My parents enriched my sister’s and my education with skating and ballet lessons, piano instruction for a brief time until the teacher gave up, church choir and girl scouts. We rode bikes on our dead end extra-wide street, where we also played softball in the summer, tagging the trees on the curbs as the bases. My mother was an avid fisherman and we spent summers on a boat on the Long Island Sound where she was always successful. My dad commuted to New York City everyday.
My education after Darien High School graduation in 1963 continued at Drew University, Madison University. This liberal arts college was filled with people like me, uncertain of a career goal, looking to spend four years growing up and having a good time. John and I met the first week of college before classes started. There was magnetism between us. We dated others until junior year, when we began to share more time together than we should have, given his difficult physics major. The Vietnam War was in full blaze when we graduated in 1967. Although John was accepted at four highly respected universities to begin a master’s degree in Journalism, he decided to go to war, to enlist so he could experience the challenges of combat firsthand, a requisite, he thought, to be an authentic journalist.
I had written the script for our life together, and it certainly did not include his two plus years in the Army and Vietnam. To make waiting productive, I joined the National Teacher Corps in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It wasn’t what I expected, so I moved to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where I enrolled in a Masters of Arts in College Teaching (MACT) with a specialty in Sociology. I ended up teaching sociology for a full academic year in Rockingham Community College in Wentworth, NC, living in a small town called Eden, not quite what Adam and Eve had experienced. It was a small manufacturing town, surrounded by farms, mostly growing tobacco. My students almost exclusively lived this country life, making our communication in class often confusing. A few Vietnam veterans were among my students, as was a prisoner on work/study release from the minimum security prison next door. I was a true Yankee with different life experiences, and I learned a lot from my students.
While John was in Vietnam, I spent every evening with Walter Cronkite telling me where the battles had been, how many had been killed and the state of peace talks in Paris. Never did my “trusted friend” Walter ever mention Kontum or Pleiku, so I figured John was safe another day when I went to sleep at night. Letters from him were long and often emotional, describing his daily life, alluding to his recon operations with an A-Team with the 5th Special Forces Group. He received two free trips to Bangkok and Taiwan for his team’s valor or exceptional outcome. He never said why, exactly. He was not to be home until October, but showed up a month early. It was like a dream coming true, seeing him alive and whole.
On the day the NY Mets won the World Series in 1969, we decided to get married on December 26, 1969, my grandparents’ anniversary. John’s grandparents’ names were John and Martha, obviously fate endorsed. John signed up with the CIA the next year and we departed the US for Laos in June 1971.
I make this sound all rational and logical, one event following another through the course of life. What made it all irrational was John’s death at the age of 27. What sense can be made of this? Was the war wrong? How could the war be wrong if he gave his life for the pursuit of freedom and peace? That would take away the value of his life.
Writing this book I realized many things about John, his life goals, and his love for me. I realized how young I was, looking back now, knowing things for sure then, but now not so sure. I regret nothing, but I would change things if I could, allowing John to live his full life, and with me. The process of writing allowed me to relive our brief life together, reminiscing by myself all the great times we had. I made the best attempt at reliving our memories from mine. I remembered how I missed him, again.
What happened after John's death is captured in detail in the book. After Moscow, I returned to live out a full career with CIA, marrying again and having two wonderful children. I am not able to write about the rest of my career. the details of that work remain sensitive, both from the substance of what I was working on as well as the methods CIA continues to use. My work ranged from extremely exciting, at times making a difference in our nation's security posture, to the mundane everyday detailed work which makes the system function. I retire with great personal satisfaction and pride.