Thursday, August 12, 2010
IT'S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD!
On the morning of Monday, August 2, 2010, I had left my apartment that morning in Amoudara, caught the bus and traveled toward the western edge of Iraklion to do a little shopping at a grocery/Wal-Mart wanna-be store called, CarreFour. This is a large French-owned company dealing in food products as well as clothes, electronics, house wares, etc. I needed to buy a few groceries to restock my little apartment in Amoudara. After returning to my apartment, I put away my groceries, turned on my laptop computer, and then checked my E-Mails. To my surprise I had an E-Mail from David Garza, stating that he was on Crete, and that he would like to meet me at 1:00 P.M. that afternoon at Lion's Square (Morosini Fountain) in downtown Iraklion. I sent a reply E-Mail back to David telling him that I would be there at Lion's Square promptly at 1:00 P.M., and that I could be readily identified by the "Superman" T-shirt that I would be wearing.
I hurriedly took a quick shower, ironed some clean hiking shorts, donned my "Superman" T-shirt and caught the #1 bus into downtown Iraklion from Amoudara. The traffic was heavy and I was a little concerned that I might not arrive at Lion's Square by 1:00 P.M. However, I just did make it in time with a few minutes to spare. I departed the bus just a short distance from the Astoria Hotel in Eleftherius Square. I made my way along Dikeossinis Street and after a few blocks turned right toward Lion's Square, arriving there just a few minutes before 1:00 P.M. It was a hot and bright, sunny day, and the sun beat down, forcing everyone to retreat to any shade that could be found. Even though it was a bit windy down by the harbor and near the beach, the closely constructed buildings in Iraklion prevented the air from moving much near Lion's Square. In his E-Mail, David had told me he would be wearing an orange tank-top shirt. I looked around, but didn't see anyone matching that description. I sat down under a tree that had a little wooden bench built around its base. The minutes ticked by. Promptly at 1:00 P.M., I decided to stand up and walk around the fountain at Lion's Square. At that moment, I noticed a guy wearing an orange tank-top shirt waving at me, not thirty feet from where I had been sitting. We approached each other. "David?" I asked. "Yes, I'm David." We shook hands like long lost friends. Even though we had never met before this moment, I felt an immediate close camaraderie with David. I knew that he and I shared a common kinship...Iraklion Air Station...Crete...the Security Service. We talked for several minutes while David's wife, Marietta, walked down 25th of August Street to book passage for her, David, and their daughter, Brigitte, on a ferry to Santorini later that week. When she returned, we all followed Marietta's brother, Kostas, as he led us to a cozy little taverna not far from Lion's Square. After having placed our order, we sat there talking about Iraklion Air Station and how it had changed from the time I arrived there in late 1968, until David had arrived there in 1980. It was then that I learned that David's wife, Marietta, was Cretan! Naturally, I just assumed they had met on Crete, but that wasn't the case. Marietta had traveled to Florida with her Aunt and Uncle on a visitor's visa. After a few weeks, they traveled on to their next duty station at Goodfellow Air Force Base at San Angelo, Texas. That is where David and Marietta met, fell in love, got married, and, as they say, "the rest is history".
When David and Marietta got married, David's security clearance was temporarily pulled, pending the outcome of a background check on Marietta. However, when Marietta's background check was completed and David's security clearance reinstated, David got orders for...can you believe this...Crete!!! Of all the places in the world that David could have got orders for, he got them for Crete...his wife's native island!!! How lucky can one man get? Surely the Greek gods of ancient mythology were smiling down on David and Marietta!
As David and I talked, he indicated how fortunate he considered himself to have been. Not only had he been able to participate in events on the base, but off duty he was able to interact with the local Cretans through his wife and his wife's relatives! He visited small, remote villages, experienced local traditions and festivities, and developed a genuine love for Crete and its people. I have to say that I envied David and his very close relationship to Crete through his wife and her relatives! David left Crete in 1982 and proudly served with the U.S.A.F., finally retiring after 22 (or 24?) years of dedicated and loyal service to the U.S. Air Force and our Country!!!
I am not sure how long we all sat in the little taverna in downtown Iraklion, but the time slipped by all too fast, and pretty soon it was time for us all to depart...David and his family to return to the home of Marietta's Mother, and me back to Amoudara. Now, this is the part I like: David and I shook hands, but I got to hug his lovely wife, Marietta, and his beautiful daughter, Brigitte. I really think the significance of the meeting between David, his family, and me was this: Even though we had never met before, we felt like we were already good friends because of the common bond of Iraklion Air Station, Crete, and the Air Force Security Service. Thanks David, Marietta, and Brigitte for a memorable and wonderful afternoon!
As always, stay well, keep in touch, and let me hear from you.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
NOTE: Click on any photo to get a larger image.
LEFT PHOTO: Brigitte Garza (L), Marietta Garza (C), David Garza (R) at a little taverna in downtown Iraklion - August 2, 2010.
ABOVE RIGHT PHOTO: David Garza (L), Brigitte Garza (C), Marietta Garza (R) at a little taverna in downtown Iraklion - August 2, 2010.
LEFT PHOTO: Bob (Superman) Armistead (Far Left), Brigitte Garza (Center Left), Marietta Garza (Center Right), and David Garza (Far right) enjoy time together at a small taverna in downtown Iraklion - August 2, 2010