“The worst thing in the world”

After her death, Beth’s long-time counselor suggested that this period of her life was more horrific than any other childhood horror story that she had heard.

Del Nita and Teri

Del Nita and Teri in Yakima

There was nothing to take young Del Nita and her sister Teri now, out of the path of their drunken and molesting grandfather, or their “angry, dominating, dissatisfied” grandmother.

Yakima is located in south central Washington State. The city’s official website gives this accounting of its history:

The first American expedition into the region occurred in 1805. Explorers Lewis and Clark made their way through the area and shared tales of abundant wildlife and rich soils. In 1847, a Catholic mission was established in what is now known as the Yakima Valley. In 1858, an American army garrison was sent by U.S. President James Buchanan to build Fort Simcoe and deal with ongoing battles between the native tribes of the area and white settlers. With Fort Simcoe in place and the so-called Yakima Indian Wars over, more white settlers came.

Yakima City was incorporated in 1883, but about a year later, a dispute between land owners and the Northern Pacific Railway Company led the railroad to establish a new town about 4 miles north of the original site. More than 100 buildings were moved by having horses pull them along atop rolling logs. The new town was called North Yakima and was officially incorporated in 1886. The Washington State Legislature officially renamed the city “Yakima” in 1918.

Washington became the 42nd state in 1889.

Beth’s “Great Grandma Perkins” settled there, having come to the town as a little girl in a covered wagon. Juanita Perkins was born there in 1912. Delmont Orr married Juanita in Yakima on December 23, 1937, and Vickie was born in 1940. Beth also had an “Uncle Frankie” Orr, who was probably older than her mom. I don’t recall Beth talking about other siblings.

Somehow, Vickie met the traveling singer George Airel and Beth herself was born, as she says, “out of wedlock”. I don’t know how and when they became married, and the family soon moved to Inyokern.

* * *

At the south of the town was the old town of Union Gap. There’s a mall there now, but in 1970, her father dropped Del Nita and Terri off at the home of Delmont and Juanita Orr, a trailer home that was at the end of a dirt road. My understanding is that the location has since been razed in favor of a shopping district.

After Vickie had fallen in the grocery store, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. For much of the rest of her life, to my knowledge, she was incapacitated, and severely so near the end of her life.

Del Nita loved school and hated summer vacations. Summer vacations meant full-time with “Papa” and “Grama”. I never did learn what it was that he did for a living.

While I knew about the rough outlines from this period of time, there is a lot that I never learned about it, and I was not able to find out much more through further investigation. Beth was not eager to talk about it, and I didn’t press. After her death, I talked with Beth’s long-time counselor, who suggested that this period of her life was more horrific than any other childhood horror story that she had heard.

Now that the girls lived with him, “Papa” had unfettered access to them, and he made regular visits to them. Their grandmother, too – now burdened with a crippled daughter and two granddaughters that she never bargained for – seemed to resent them as well. Rather than drawing together, and the sisters ended up in a rivalry with each other. It was much like the scene near the ending of George Orwell novel “1984

For a moment he was alone, then the door opened and O’Brien came in.

‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’

A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain what, had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his first glimpse of the cage. But at this moment the meaning of the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.

‘You can’t do that!’ he cried out in a high cracked voice. ‘You couldn’t, you couldn’t! It’s impossible.’

‘Do you remember,’ said O’Brien, ‘the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall.’

‘O’Brien!’ said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. ‘You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do?’

O’Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston’s back.

‘By itself,’ he said, ‘pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable — something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.

‘But what is it, what is it? How can I do it if I don’t know what it is?’

O’Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the nearer table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth. Winston could hear the blood singing in his ears. He had the feeling of sitting in utter loneliness. He was in the middle of a great empty plain, a flat desert drenched with sunlight, across which all sounds came to him out of immense distances. Yet the cage with the rats was not two metres away from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat’s muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey.

‘The rat,’ said O’Brien, still addressing his invisible audience, ‘although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a human being is helpless.’

There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach Winston from far away. The rats were fighting; they were trying to get at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.

O’Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably. O’Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a metre from Winston’s face.

‘I have pressed the first lever,’ said O’Brien. ‘You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue.’

The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left — to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.

The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.

‘It was a common punishment in Imperial China,’ said O’Brien as didactically as ever.

The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then — no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment — one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’

For the girls, “the worst thing in the world” was the visits from the grandfather. And while these two should have been the most natural of allies, the situation forced them to turn against each other for self-preservation – “No, do it to her!” became the cry of desperation of the sisters.

And Del Nita, being the older of the two, quickly learned the kind of survival skill of re-directing the negative attention onto her sister. Her sister ended up getting the worst of it. And Teri hated her for it.

Beth purposely did things to get her sister in trouble. Years later, Beth told the story of having to care for her mother by emptying her catheter. The urine had to be drained from the catheter, and it was disposed of outside in the field. Her Grama made Beth and her sister take turns carrying it out. Beth hated doing this. One day she took her grandmother’s dentures and put them in the can with the pee. It was her sister’s turn to dump them out in the field. Naturally her grandmother discovered her dentures missing. Beth told her where they were, and that her sister did it so she would get the beating.

Now this all may sound callous and selfish but self-preservation is a basic human instinct. She was trying to survive.

“She was lotioning my feet”

In 1970, when she was 10, with her seven-year-old sister Teri, Del Nita was dropped off to live with and be a dependent of the sexual abusing grandfather.

Abuser-papa-1961

“Even when I was this age, he was messing with me”

George Airel may have been preserving his own life, but he unknowingly placed his daughters into a very hellish situation. Both of them were being sexually molested by the grandfather.

Vickie was from Yakima, Washington. Del Nita was born in Sacramento, CA. The family moved to Inyokern, in southern California. No doubt there were family trips between the two locations. Vacations.

Not long after we met, Bethany showed me the photograph which appears nearby. The man in the photograph, her grandfather Delmont, was sexually fondling her even at that age. At first he was simply licking her ears. Even when she and her sister were small, he would hold them in his lap and “let his hands and fingers wander while watching TV.”

In one of her later journals, she had written a story about another early experience when she first caught him masturbating. He was drinking and wearing an open bath robe.

In those early years, he would make her get hand lotion and she would masturbate him. Their mother once walked in on the two of them at one point.

“She was lotioning my feet,” the grandfather said.

Perhaps her own mother had been abused by him. Beth didn’t know. Her grandmother may or may not have known what was going on.

So in 1970, when she was age 10, with her seven-year-old sister Teri, young Del Nita was dropped off to live with and be a dependent of the sexual abusing grandfather. George Airel then drove away, and vanished into the air, even though young Del Nita chased his car up the road as far as she could as he drove off. She desperately wished for him to return, but she would not see him again until she was married with five children.

The Providence of God

Nothing happened by accident, but everything was somehow the will of God.

Four Spiritual Laws

For a while, as a teen, I collected religious tracts like this one, and would read them in my free time.

People who know me today (and who know me as a blogger) would never believe that I once considered studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood. But I considered it seriously, and I had even applied for, and was accepted to, the local Catholic seminary.

When I was in high school, I had some friends who were “Born Again Christians” (a term that became popular with the presidency of Jimmy Carter). They did some strange things, like pray between classes at their lockers, and give me religious tracts on the “four spiritual laws” and things like that.

At first, what the tracts were saying didn’t add up with me. I’d been taught that the Gospel of Matthew said “Thou art Peter and on this rock I’ll build my Catholic Church.” When there were free periods, or substitute teachers, and the discussions would lead to talks of religion, I would defend the Roman Catholic side. There were a number of occasions during which I would argue with these friends. But I’d also read their tracts, and I learned a few things. I learned that the Bible said something different from what the Catholic Church had been teaching me all these years.

I never had a girlfriend in high school. And nor did I really ever have a girlfriend in college. During those years I worked in a Ponderosa Steakhouse restaurant. There were a number of girls I liked – I could “get a crush” on a pretty girl at the drop of a hat. I was incredibly shy. And I had no idea how to ask a girl out on a date. But during my sophomore year of college, there was one girl, Carol, who was a couple of years younger than me. She and I would frequently close the store at night, and while she lived within walking distance of the restaurant, she’d frequently end up waiting for her father to come and pick her up. He worked as a security guard at a local mall, and most of the time she’d have to wait for him. I’d wait with her so she wouldn’t have to be alone. And sometimes I’d even have the car, so I would ride her home.

Now there is nothing at all of interest in this story about Carol and me – except that I had one of my many crushes on her, and she didn’t feel the same way about me. During the summer and fall of 1978, I was able to muster the courage to ask her out, and she and I probably went on a couple of dates together, but by Christmas of that year, I knew something was up because she had invited her long-time friend Marty to the “snowball dance” (she had a crush on him!) – The “break-up”, if you can call it that, was extremely hard on me. During the next several months, I had a palpable pain in my chest from a broken heart. If I ever lost faith, or rather, if I ever tried to lose faith in my life, it was during those months. I tried to be selfish and self-centered and even went on a cussing binge. But this was short lived. I just couldn’t do it.

I was a runner during those college years as well. That summer, I tried to forget about the pain from this loss by running harder – that was the only year that I ran through the winter. By the following summer I was in good running shape. But I ran too hard, and tore a sheath in my lower leg. It wasn’t a problem except that it would only hurt when I’d run!

So late that summer, in addition to feeling the pain in my chest that never went away, I couldn’t run to try to forget about it! Around that same time, I turned back to the religious tracts that had promised meaning in life, and I also started reading the New Testament that I’d been given by my priest for my high school graduation.

One day, reading the Gospel of John, I had an undeniable encounter with God’s love for me, through Jesus’s prayer for his disciples: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” Now, I knew a little bit about Augustine, and his doctrine of the Trinity, and there was something really special about this love between the Father and the Son. And here was Jesus, saying “You have loved them even as you loved me”. The same kind of love. This love overwhelmed my young heart – the pain in my chest went away instantly, and I remember looking up from that passage knowing that I had had that “new birth” experience I had been looking for.

While it wasn’t at that point a theological mandate in my life, I ended up leaving the Roman Catholic Church in phases. This “infallible Church” had nothing in its infallible doctrines or sacraments to account for this new birth that I was keenly aware of. First I went to a Catholic Charismatic group. Then I found some Protestant Charismatic friends. And it didn’t take too long before I was out the door.

But I didn’t have an easy time with it. When I decided to leave Roman Catholicism for the first time, my father and I had terrible wars over it. I was in college at the time, and I was dependent on him financially. He grew up in a poor rural area during the depression and had developed a hatred for “Proudestants” some time during his youth that I was not aware of. He was determined that his son was not going to be one

Most teens in those days, the late 1970’s, were rebelling with “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” I was rebelling by reading the Bible and going to prayer meetings.

Because I had been “sovereignly captured” by the Lord in my new birth experience, I came to believe in such Protestant doctrines as God’s Sovereignty and Providence. Nothing happened by accident, but everything that came was somehow the will of God. And it was almost immediately following my graduation from Pitt that the Lord put Jeff Steinberg in my path.

I was graduated from college in May 1981, right into the middle of a recession. Later that summer, I ended up getting a job with Jeff Steinberg (www.tinygiant.com), a Christian singer who had a voice like Neil Diamond. He was born to a Jewish family in the early 1950’s, a “Thalidomide Baby,” with no arms and legs that were badly deformed. He had become a Christian as an early teen, through the witness of an elderly couple who visited him at his “home for crippled children”. They’d take him to Gospel music concerts, and he learned to sing by turning up the volume on their record albums and singing along with the various vocal parts. His mere presence on stage was a powerful testimony to our God-given ability to overcome adversity; his music both enriched and challenged my soul.

He lived in and worked out of Memphis, Tennessee. I became his driver and sound man and personal assistant. From 1981-1986, we traveled thousands of miles every year, to churches all across the US and in a couple of foreign countries, with Jeff performing concerts and telling his life story about how he had grown up in foster care and how he eventually became a Christian.

And during that time, I did two “religious” things. First, I became a part of a Protestant church, where I learned about the Reformation and the origin and meaning of central Protestant doctrines such as “Scripture alone”, “Christ alone”, and “justification by faith alone.” These doctrines filled my heart and mind to the point that I wanted to study them more – and indeed, I looked to attend a Protestant seminary.

But second, as we traveled, because Jeff was active in pro-life groups, I met some devout Catholic people, who encouraged me to give Catholicism another chance. And one individual who became a very good friend said, “why not go to a Catholic seminary?”

There are things about Roman Catholicism that are attractive: especially the solemnity, the quiet and worshipful nature of the typical Roman Catholic Church. The devoutness of some of the people, like this man’s family. It put my brain on overload. And it was another kind of turning point for me.

So during the summer of 1984, I seriously considered this question. Each Sunday when I had the opportunity, I attended my Protestant church service in the morning, and then went to the Roman Catholic Mass later in the day. I came to the conclusion that there were beautiful opportunities to worship the Lord in Roman Catholicism.

But on the other hand, as a person who has wrestled with Roman Catholicism all my life, on both sides of the Protestant/Catholic divide, the one question that kept coming back to me was, “why is the Roman Catholic religion so different from ‘the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3) that’s so plainly evident in the New Testament?”

I could not figure it out. But one of Jeff’s songs was “Bloom Where You’re Planted”. I had been “planted” within Roman Catholicism. And so I decided to look for and cherish those opportunities to stay put.

* * *

During those early years when I traveled with him, and because we had long hours to talk about personal things, Jeff knew how quickly I could fall for a girl, and the loneliness that came with it. So he liked to play “matchmaker” for me during those years – after a concert, he’d give a “record pitch” – I’d stand up on stage with him, and hold up his albums and cassettes, and Jeff would remind people to buy these products after the concert. Then whenever he’d introduce me, he’d say, “John is single, available, anyone who’d like to marry him, see me back at the record table.”

Well, sure enough, there were a few takers. The summer of 1982 one girl, Donna, from Corning, NY, came back and took Jeff up on his offer. She and I went out on a date that week, and later that summer, I visited her in Corning. Jeff made another match for me too that summer. Roxie was working in the emergency room of a hospital in Oklahoma City that we needed to visit when Jeff’s son got his finger smashed in the van door while we were traveling. She worked in OKC, but she lived in Bethany, OK. Yes, I fell in love with both of them at the same time – and of course Jeff fixed me up with dates. Later, I traveled to visit both of them. It was a heady time for me.

That summer, I learned about “French kissing,” but always the perfect gentleman, my hands never roamed. Then in 1983, when Jeff was singing in Germany for the US Army chaplains, there was a girl named Tammy, from the eastern part of Washington state. She was a Chaplain’s assistant – basically a secretary – she and I spent a little bit of time together, roaming around Germany, getting lost on the trains, and I fell in love with her too. Jeff and the Chaplains traveled to Switzerland one day – but Tammy forgot her military ID, and so she and I had to spend the day on the German side of the Rhine river. We could see the hills of Switzerland, and if I recall, we spent some time kissing and enjoying the scenery. What a beautiful day with a beautiful young lady.

But mere days would come and go. And because we were traveling, and even though I could travel to have a vacation with these young ladies, each of these “long distance” relationships left me ever lonelier whenever I had to get back on the road. I had this sense that I didn’t want to marry someone in Oklahoma and be largely cut off from my family in Pittsburgh.

The issue of studying at a Catholic seminary, and going into the priesthood, kept coming back to me. There is a sense of “ought-ness” about Roman Catholicism, almost an obligation that I “ought” to do more, and to do the most, it seemed, would involve embracing the pain of my loneliness, and seeing my shyness and failure with girls as a sign that the unmarried life of a priest might well be God’s plan for me.

So I came home in September of 1984, applied for the seminary, and was accepted.

Seminary required a year’s worth of “philosophical prerequisites” before you could start your studies in theology. In an effort to save time, I asked if I could take the prerequisites in the January semester so I could start seminary in September. But their response was, no, start philosophy in September, and attend the seminary a year later.

I was impatient, and so in January of 1985, frustrated with the slowness of the process, I went back out on the road with Jeff. He had hired another driver by that time, Tommy, and I traveled with Tommy and Jeff for most of the next year and a half.

But I remained Roman Catholic, and I became more persuaded that, while I couldn’t attend the seminary on the time frame that was laid out for me – I was far too impatient for it – I could find a vocation with an order such as the Capuchin Franciscans – and I spent time and effort looking into that as an option.

* * *

During this same period, late 1984, and early 1985, Bethany was finishing up a tour of duty as a Military Intelligence analyst in Augsburg, Germany. She was a “Specialist 4,” the equivalent of a corporal.

She was, no doubt, a good soldier, having successfully experienced the Army’s strict military discipline. This was the post-Vietnam era, and the beginning of the Reagan era, when the military was on the rise and held itself in high esteem. She was proud to be a Soldier.

Just to show a bit of Bethany’s attitude at the time, I have a document, a “Disposition Form 2496, that describes a disciplinary incident from “21MAR 84” (The names have been changed here):

1. On March 20, 1984, at appr. 2030 hrs. I, SP/4 Airel, entered the kitchen on the third floor of bldg..155.

2. SGT. Eek was standing in front of the sink as I approached the sink, SGT Eek slid to the side.

3. At the sink, while I was filling a water jug, I turned to SGT Eek and said, “You know what?” STT Eek then replied, “that you’re an asshole?” I then in turn said, “I’ve always wanted to tell you that you were a dumb cunt.” At that time I left the kitchen.

4. However, when I initiated the conversation, it was to ask SGT Eek if she knew anything about the burn marks on my door name tag.

5. There were witnesses but when I spoke with PFC [Name] this morning he said he didn’t hear SGT Eek’s comment. I do not know who the other people where [sic].

6. I didn’t go out of my way to be disrespectful. This was blurted out in self-defense.

AIREL, DELNITA E.
SP/4 USA
1st OPSDE3rd PLT

There are two supporting documents; one seems to be another official explanation, “Disposition Form 2496, which reads as follows:

1. I SP/4 Airel, feel I have been harassed by SGT Eek for the past 7 months. SGT Eek has told lies to the husband of my immediate supervisork [sic] SGT Golly, who inturn questions me about them. The most prominent incident being, in Dec 1983. SGT Eek told SSG Golly that she when [sic] to SGT Winky’s room to get some paint. SGT Eek reported that I supposedly threw myself to the floor, grabbed SGT Winky around the legs and begged SGT Eek “not to take my man.” SGT Golly questioned me about this to see if my personal life was ok. I then informed SGT Golly that this incident did not occur.

2. There are constant reoccurring minor incidences that SGT Eek does to belittle me. IE. 1) Whispers or giggles when I pass her in the halls, be it at work or in the barracks. 2) She has deliberately let a door slam in my face. 3) She makes comments to other barracks personnel about me/.

3. I have felt all along that I had no recourse in solving this matter. Because I’m a SP/4 and she is a SGT. I have even gone to SFC Brake about this who is my PLt SGT. It seems as if NCO’s=can do as they please and because I’m not I have to go along with it. I am respectful of rank, and don’t understand how SGT Eek can do this as an NCO. Especially since NCO’s are supposed to show the way and lead by example.

AIREL, DELNITA E.
SP/4 USA
1st OPSDE3rd PLT

I’ve reproduced these documents with as much exactness here as I could; they appear to be the carbon copies of typed documents.

There is one other document – actually, I have two separate copies of the same document that goes into further detail about the incident:

I am presenting this statement on my own behalf in regards to an incident that occurred on 20 March 1984, between myself and SGT. B. Eek. I have been advised by my supervisor not to state anything that may incriminate myself, but I have earlier admitted to calling SGT Eek a “dumb cunt”, however I wish to restate that I only did so after being provoked by her. I entered the 3rd floor kitchen (building 155) and was 2 to 3 feet away from her, when she called me an “asshole”. The group of people in the kitchen were engaged in conversation at the time and SGT Eek spoke in a normal voice which may not have been heard by the other people who were not paying particular attention to us, and were 5 to 6 feet away. I was very angry by SGT Eek’s remark and I made my remark in a very loud and angry voice.

It is no secret that SGT Eek and I have a long standing personality conflict. I had requested prior to this incident, through NCO channels to be moved to the 3rd Floor of Building 154 to help reduce the chances of a confrontation with her. I understand that disrespect towards and NCO/Superior is a serious offense, but I feel that an NCO that displays behavior unbecoming of an NCO they can expect some loss of respect for their rank. This does not make my actions right, it only illustrates that I am a young and inexperienced soldier who can make a mistake. I wish to point out that I have been assigned to 1st Ops Bn since August 1981, and have never been involved in any incidents of a derogatory nature. I have always tried to look and act in the proper manner, my supervisors both past and present will verify that I perform my duties in an outstanding manner. I realize that I made a mistake, one that I will not make again, and that my past be considered if there is to be any form of reprimand or punishment.

DELNITA E. AIREL
SP4, USA

This is the only record of the individuals mentioned here, and except for Sergeant Winky (who was her “man” at the time), she had no further record or mention of them.

What was striking to me was that she had called herself a “young and inexperienced soldier”, even though she had been in the Army, in one form or another, since 1980; she was an SP4, the equivalent of a Corporal, and no mere green recruit. But she used what she could – something nearby that was plausible, and maybe it worked for her. There were no further discipline papers in her stack.

This was her world – the world that she had come from before we met. And in fact, this was merely the tip of the iceberg of her world. Aside from my own brief experience alongside the Army in Germany, I couldn’t have understood this at all. There was so much that I didn’t know about her.

Growing Up in Yakima

Yakima WA Eisenhower High School Class of 1979

Yakima WA Eisenhower High School Class of 1979

I’ve spent some time talking with folks in the “Growing Up in Yakima Washington” group on Facebook. One of the members provided a link to graduates of Eisenhower High School, and the nearby link shows her graduating class of 1979.

She was born in in September 1960. I was born in January, and started Kindergarten at age 4, in September 1964. My HS graduation was 1977; she would have started a year later, and the records I have show that she had been held back a year, and so it made sense that she was part of the class of 1979. But she also dropped out (May 1977) at the end of her Sophomore year. She would have been 16 at that point.

This is relevant to some of the history that I will relate, and it all helps confirm my timeline.