In 1968 I ordered a car so it would be waiting for me when I returned from Vietnam. I had read the car mags and decided on a Triumph TR-250. Imagine my surprise when I arrived in New York to pick up the car and found a TR-6 waiting for me instead. They’d changed the model that year, and the 250 was no longer available in ’69. This car had 6 cylinders and was a big step up from the MGB. I loved it as soon as I started driving away.
I was posted back to Marine Corp Air Station at New River, NC as an instructor pilot for the balance of my active duty assignment. Now that I had survived Vietnam, I was concerned about my driving habits. I had left a couple of dozen unpaid speeding tickets in Florida and Georgia, and was scared of what would happen if I got stopped by the police in either of those states. So I decided never to go south, but limit my driving to northern states. My roommate, Digger, was from Brooklyn, so we would try to schedule cross country training flights on the weekends, otherwise we would drive up in the TR-6.
One time we passed a couple of pretty girls on the Interstate, and in a flash of brilliance I scribbled a message on a notepad I had in the car. I help up the notepad to the girls in the other car and they smiled and nodded their head. The message was, “Do you want to stop and have coffee?” We pulled into a restaurant at the next a service area and the girls followed us. We never made it to NY that weekend. For the following weekend I prepared the entire notebook with different messages. I also had some air-horns installed and a loudspeaker system that allowed me to speak to the girls as we were cruising down the interstate. We met a lot of girls that way.
One of my squadron mates, Maj. Bob Mathews, had a skydiving school that he operated mostly on weekends. One day I dropped by and took the course. I jumped and loved it. I did 10 jumps and on the 11th, I was stretching my leg to plant my foot on the DC (Dead Center), and I broke my ankle sticking it into a gopher hole instead.
For the next couple of months I had to learn to drive with a cast up to my knee. I learned to use my crutch to press the clutch. Those days we could do anything, we were invincible.
By the summer my cast came off and I was released from active duty. I didn’t have any trouble selling the Triumph. I said goodbye to the US Marine Corps and went to back to Spain to spend the summer in my old haunts.