Most schools in the area start again on Monday, which means that most who travelled during the holidays have arrived back home. The travelers caused me to reflect on some international students at CGSC who ventured long ago to see parts of the United States while on breaks.
The most memorable of those was Maj. Tarik Ozkut, a Turkish student in the class of 1994. The bachelor wanted to see California, so drove to San Diego by himself. That class began the weekly tradition of a "Gathering" of international students and friends each Thursday to get to know each other better.
The Thursday after school began Ozkut came to the meeting with a sheaf of papers. He gave one to each person there, a map to San Diego by the northern route over the Rockies and a southern one that returned on interstates close to the Mexican border.
On each route he identified military facilities where travelers could spend nights, with telephone numbers, cost of lodging, and recommended restaurants. I was amazed he'd gone to such measures, but he explained that he liked his classmates, and wanted to assist in case any chose to follow his routes to San Diego.
He got married as a colonel, and the new Turkish liaison colonel says he's now a major general who briefed the new colonel about life in Leavenworth before the colonel left Turkey. Very soon I plan to get acquainted with the new colonel and get caught up on an old friend.
Another memorable trip was by Maj. Helmut Muhl, a German student, with his wife and a couple from Germany that flew over to travel out West for a week after graduation. Muhl rented a car, and on a lonely stretch of highway in, as I recall, Wyoming, a road maintenance truck's door was blown open and hit Muhl's car.
He had to wait for the highway patrol to come make a report, and while waiting the road crew gave the Germans a background on all animals they saw and some of the history of the area. They even shared their lunches with the impressed visitors before the patrol arrived. Muhl said it was the most enjoyable several hours he spent in America, really getting close with total strangers eager to help out visiting folks from afar.
Muhl enjoyed his "Leavenworth Experience" so much he said when he left that if he made colonel, there were only three jobs he wanted: liaison officer to Fort Leavenworth, liaison officer to TRADOC headquarters at Fort Monroe, Va., or with the German Embassy in Washington. About 10 years later, he got his first choice of assignments and spent three more years in our area.
A student from Hungary wasn't quite so lucky. He visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and on the way back his car broke down in the middle of Mississippi. Asked how he got back to Leavenworth, he said "I stuck out my thumb and got several rides, getting ever closer to Kansas City. My last rider brought me all the way to Leavenworth." He too got to go in-depth with some kind Americans.
Page 2 of 2 - And prior to email and cell phones, when it was not as easy to contact friends, several families of international students with small children flew to Orlando during their Christmas break. None had talked to any of the others, so none knew the others were going. All stayed in the same hotel, and within a day or so had made contact with each other, and had a ball watching the kids play and enjoy the activities of Disney World.
There have been other memorable trips by our international friends, but space is gone. Being retired I don't get to meet as many of them as I did during my 26 years working at CGSC, so will just have to hang on to what memories I have left.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.