And so in September 1964 Torrito, carrying a red Diplomatic passport boarded a TWA flight bound for Athens and was met by representatives of Ethiopian Airlines which carried me to Cairo and then on to Asmara, Eritrea. I was assigned there until January 29, 1966. I had just turned 22 years old.
Outside my living quarters in Asmara in 1964. JoAnn had moved back home with her parents and quickly got a job with Greek Line, a transatlantic steamship and cruise line, working as a secretary for the Resident Vice President in New York. We wrote letters; lots of letters still sitting in my garage. We kicked around the idea of her joining me (a couple of her “Lowell wives” friends did indeed come to Asmara renting small apartments from Italians still here since the war) but eventually we decided we would save our money and buy a house when I was discharged. We also decided I would take a month’s leave and come home at the half way point of my tour.
You can read about it here:
And so I stayed in Eritrea, did my duty, went to the club, movies, bowling, sight seeing, down the mountain on the treacherous Asmara – Massawa road to a quiet beach on the Red Sea.
The Oasis Club for enlisted men at Kagnew Station where I spent two Christmases. It gave credit if you ran out of money the last week of the month before payday!
The man in black! With no glasses on I can’t see anything!
In front of Ops Company Headquarters picking up my letters.
Leaning on an old FIAT. Asmara was filled with pre-war Italian autos.
Toritto (the cute one on the left!) with 3 of his buddies in front of the PX, Francis in white on my right passed away last year in Pennsylvania. He was my roomie.
At the Red Sea in Massawa wearing the cowboy hat I won from the Texans for the “Asmara Con.”
Read about it here: https://toritto.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/the-asmara-con/
Getting ready to leave and waving good by in January 1966.
I requested a duty station in the Northeastern U.S. I got Fort Wolters. Texas. I was headed for Vietnam but didn’t know it yet.
I left Asmara on January 29, 1966 and arrived to a snow storm the next day. JoAnn met me with the new winter coat she had bought me. I had no winter clothes. My mom had wanted to meet me as well but I told her I needed a few days with my wife and would be at the house for Sunday dinner. My old Italian father stepped in and said to my mom: “He’s a man now and needs to be with his woman!” My apron strings had been cut for good. I was 23 years old and she was 20 and our second anniversary had passed a month before. We spent three days alone at the Golden Gate Inn on Emmons Avenue in Brooklyn before seeing any of our parents.