The last procedure we faced was filling out paperwork that would provide us with twenty five dollars gratuity pay and a plane ticket home. For many of us, home was indefinable. It was explained that their offer was to return each of us to the precise location where we entered service. For me, that was New York City and that most definitely was not home. At one point a sergeant produced a form that made a request for a travel voucher. He stated, “At the top write the location where you want to go.” Taking him at his word and not wanting to travel to New York, I wrote, “Hawaii.” After he gathered all the forms and left, he hurried back in and asked in a command voice. “Who is the asshole, who thinks he’s going to Hawaii?“ I quickly volunteered it was me. Calming down, he asked, “Where did you enter the service?” I answered truthfully, “New York.” He replied, “That’s where your going then,” and scratched out Hawaii and wrote in New York. It looked like I was headed to staying in northern winter.
Soon a busload of us were headed to Indianapolis airport with a vouchers and money in hand. Another fellow also had a ticket for New York and like me was not interested in traveling there. At the ticket counter we inquired whether we could exchange our vouchers for other destinations with like fares. We were told we could. Unfortunately, Hawaii was not even close in fare, but New Orleans was. Soon Chuck and I were boarding a jumbo jet for the sunny south. Chuck was in a celebratory mood and took advantage of the airlines complimentary booze. He drank up his allotment then requested and got mine. By the time we landed in New Orleans it was 7:00 AM and Chuck was well lit up. Our seating companion informed us it was the beginning of Mardi Gras and offered us a ride to the French Quarter, the focus of the celebrations. We accepted and soon we were let out at Jackson Square. Chuck wanted to go into the nearest bar and resume his intake of alcohol. I left to followed my own path. Later, I discovered I was carrying his portfolio of paperwork. The next several days proved fruitless in finding him. Luckily, his father’s address was inside and I forwarded the parcel to him.