A few weeks before Christmas, my daughter Tara called and asked if I knew a Pat Calhoun from Mount Vernon, Ga. I told her that I certainly did know Pat – we grew up about a block from each other and were boyhood friends. She then said her daughter Ann, a pupil at Lake Forest Hills Elementary School in Augusta, has a teacher, Catherine Douglas ,who said her dad was from Mount Vernon and his name was Pat Calhoun.
Pat was killed in Vietnam in 1965. He was the pilot of a helicopter that flew into battle zones to airlift wounded American soldiers away from danger.
When Pat was killed, I visited his parents, Paul and Ruth Calhoun, and they told me then that Pat had a daughter. I never met Pat’s wife, Jane Dunham, an Augusta native, whom he met at UGA.
I had not seen Pat since Pete Johnson and I visited with him in an Atlanta apartment before he shipped out to Vietnam.
Pat joined the Army while he was a law student at the University of Georgia. He wanted to serve his country, even though he didn’t have to because of a special exemption for law school. Tara gave Catherine copies of a couple of columns I had written about Pat in 1995 and 1996.
After Catherine read the columns, Tara called and asked if we would have dinner at her house with Catherine on Thursday Dec. 22. We did and it was a very enjoyable evening.
Catherine was only 1 when she lost her dad. She asked if I knew what he named his helicopter – I did not. She said he named it “Widow Maker” – thinking that might help bring him home safely.
Catherine reminds me of her dad. She has three children, a boy and two girls; the boy’s name is Patrick Palmer Calhoun Douglas.
I’m reminded of the providence of our Lord – we can always use the “it’s a small world” statement when something like this happens. But I thoroughly believe that the Lord was involved in this matter. Pat had been on my mind and I didn’t know why.
As we concluded our evening with Catherine, she said it was a wonderful Christmas gift for her, and it was also that for me. She had many photos, letters, etc. involving her dad that brought back memories.
As I said in one of my columns, Pat and I both had circular drives at our houses where we often enjoyed driving our parent’s vehicles in a circle for extended journeys, while fantasizing that we were on trips in foreign countries or large cities in the U.S.
At the time, it never crossed my mind that Pat would eventually volunteer to travel to a foreign country and lose his life while fighting for a people he did not know.
Of course, that was the Pat Calhoun that I knew.