We met at Ft. Sam Houston, TX in 1969. I was a 2nd LT at the Army Nurse Basic Course and Joel was a CPT in the Career Course. We became engaged during our time at Ft Sam. After basic I was assigned to Ft. Polk LA Army Hospital. Joel was going to be sent to Vietnam after completion of his course. While at Ft. Polk, I decided I didn’t want to stay there for my 3 year commitment to the Army. Joel was already in country and so I decided to request reassignment to Vietnam, so that we could be close. No guarantee that we would be assigned to the same hospital or even in the same region, but fortunately we were assigned to different hospitals in Long Binh. Joel was at the 93rd Evac Hospital and when I arrived I was stationed at the 24th Evac Hospital. They were only about a mile apart, so we were able to see each other on our time off.
We knew that we were lucky to be so close and it was a big help for us to be together as much as we could. It made the time there more bearable. We were able to enjoy some R&R and leave to different places – Hong Kong, Australia and Thailand. When Joel was due to rotate back to the states, he moved over to the 24th Evac as the 93rd was closing. He wanted to stay with me until my tour of duty was finished. We took some time and traveled to London on the way home. We were married in May 1970 and moved to PA. I was assigned to Valley Forge General Hospital for the remainder of my Army commitment. Joel decided to get out of the Army upon our return, as he was disheartened with dealing with the many deaths he had to encounter in his job as Patient Registrar.
Long story short, he remained in the reserves, but decided that he still wanted to be in the Army, so he came back to active duty. I decided to get out so we could start a family. In 1972 we went to Germany and then to Italy.
Upon returning to the States there was a draw down and Joel was released from Active Duty. He remained in the reserves. We had another baby, David, who was born with Down Syndrome. As fate would have it, the military started up the AGR program (Active-Guard-Reserve), so Joel joined that program, which then brought us to Utah. It was here that I joined the reserves after an 18 year break in service. That was in 1985. I joined the 328th General Hospital here in Salt Lake City. Joel was assigned to the 426th Medical Group which was our higher headquarters. In Dec1990 our Unit was called up for mobilization to Desert Shield/Storm. Our unit was sent to Europe and we were all sent to different hospitals. I went to Augsburg, Germany. I had to leave my 2 children, Jenny (getting ready to graduate) and David who was 10. Joel became Mom and Dad and had to work as well. It was hard on the family. Fortunately in April we were called back to the States, so we only had to be gone for 4 months. We were always worried that Joel’s unit might be called up while I was away.
Joel retired as a LTC in 1991, but I remained in the reserves until 2012 and then retired as a COL. My last 4 years in was on a mobilization tour with the 807th Medical Command. I was charged with ensuring that soldiers in the deploying units of the 807th were medically ready for deployment when they were called to active duty. My most difficult time was when 2 of our units were viciously attacked by Nidal Hassan while at Ft. Hood getting ready for deployment. I was with these 2 units while they were going through their SRP (Soldier Readiness Prep). Fortunately I was not in the building when the shooting occurred. Myself and my co-workers were just coming back from lunch. We came upon the chaos as it was happening. It was a very traumatic event for all, especially given that these Soldiers were medics getting ready to deploy to help wounded soldiers. 5 of our soldiers were killed and 13 wounded.
We honor you, Michele and Joel Schneeweis.