Santa is Sad this year

For  44  years my old Air Force friend and I  sent the same Christmas card back and forth in an ongoing tradition.  This began when he sent the card to me, before I was married,  when I was in flying training in 1971.   I  decided then that Santa would return to his sender the following year to wit:  “ A special card should be passed along each holiday – a living tradition for Xmas – 1972 – J&B.”  I was married by then.  Santa came to me in 1973 in Udorn Thailand, where I had spent part of the year flying combat missions.  He simply said:  “As they say in the military, we concur -1973 J&K.”  

Each year Santa went back and forth with a short message about the events of the year. Some years it was about new children, jobs, or movement, as we relocated from one Air Force base to another.  Each  year the visit of Santa was met with great anticipation to see how another message could fit on an already full card.  The last time I sent Santa was in 2014 and expected him to return in 2015.

When Santa CardSanta didn’t come back I suspected something had happened. Today I “Googled” my friend and found that he had passed away in 2015.

My friend was a gifted writer who ran the “Bolling Beam” Air Force Base newspaper when we were both lieutenants back in 1969. He had a great and mischievous sense of humor and was not above making me the center of a joke in the paper.

At the time, I was the head of the plans office and had the responsibility for running base parades and ceremonies. Then there was a parade each month to honor retiring service members and I routinely sent out a memo about the event, which reminded people of the date, uniform, etc and also cautioned that sunglasses were not to be worn.

He turned the memo into a tongue in cheek piece in the paper couched as an interview with me, fictitious, and I kept it all these years. You can almost see The Beam interviewer, my friend, smiling as he wrote it.

Parade Clip

Needless to say, I read this today wistfully remembering my old friend and all the good times we shared back then. The friends of one’s youth are special and precious not ever to be forgotten.

Both Santa and I are diminished by his passing.


To read some of the messages over the years see Santa Claus is coming below





About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Christmas, Holidays, Norvell Family History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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