On the morning of August 21, 1968 I couldn’t get my buddy Joe out of my mind. My whole being was totally consumed with thoughts of Joe. Every waking moment for two and a half weeks I was “possessed” by my uncontrollable need to think of him. At the time I didn’t understand this total consumption with thoughts of my friend. If ever their was an ESP situation, this was my one and only time.
Joe and I met when we were drafted at Fox Point Induction Center, Providence, Rhode Island, in May of 1967. We met in the induction line while getting our physicals. We only lived a few miles from each other, but we didn’t know each other prior to our induction. We rode the train together to Columbia SC to do our basic training at Fort Jackson. We did our basic together, bunked together, ate together, we were like brothers. Joe carried me back from a forced march when I had pneumonia and they just dropped me off at the hospital on the way back from the march. I was completely out of it for this forced march. At the end of basic, I was assigned to Fort Monmouth, NJ, and Joe was assigned to Fort Polk, LA. I was assigned to electronics, he was assigned to infantry.
On our last day together, we hugged and swore an oath the if either one of us didn’t make it back from Vietnam, that the survivor would go see others mother when he returned. It wasn’t until I got home in March 1969 that I found out Joe didn’t make it home. Some SOB at the machine shop I worked at was a neighbor of Joe’s family. When I walked in the machine shop to get my old job back, this guy blurts out “Your buddy got his head blown off”. That's how I found out my “brother” had died. This was my homecoming.
When I got over the initial shock of Joe’s death, my ESP experience made perfect sense. In my thoughts from late August to early September 1968, I had “tracked” him mentally from the time he died, until he was buried. Then the feeling of my uncontrollable thoughts being totally consumed by thoughts of Joe ended as suddenly as they had started.
Joe was killed 8/21/68 and buried the first week of September 1968 in Cranston, RI, about 100 yards from my father’s grave.
In 1995, I had finally worked through enough issues so that I could visit his mother in Warwick, RI. It took me 28 years to keep my promise, but I finally did it. That was a very emotional visit, I broke down several times and I was so upset I couldn’t drive away from her house. I kissed the back of her hand when I left, and later that day I sent her a large bouquet of flowers, because Joe couldn’t. Mrs. Pigeon died about two years after my visit. I am so thankful I was able to keep my promise to Joe, before she died.
Posted by: Jim Sanford
Relationship: We served together
Wednesday, March 1, 2006