OF BONDAGE - Chapter 3
By Wayne Hamburger
MARRIAGE, MILITARY SERVICE, AND LEAVING CHURCH
When the communist government of North Korea invaded South Korea in the summer of 1950, Wayne was just vaguely aware that there was a country by that name. He had registered for the draft immediately after reaching age 18 in 1949. When World War II ended in 1945, no one expected to be involved in war for many years to come. Wayne was classified 1A in the draft and this meant that he would be called into the service along with all the other eligible young men in the country. He was not about to file as a conscientious objector like some of the other church members had been advised to do. A number of church friends sought that avenue and are not being criticized for their stance. It is imperative that the individual makes that decision for himself. The criticism is leveled at those who allowed a preacher to make the decision for them instead of being guided by their own conscience.
Most draftees were being assigned to the infantry, but Wayne felt that the Air Force would offer him a better oppor tunity of avoiding direct combat. The thought of killing someone was unconscionable. He didn't stop to consider the fact that airmen were killing people from the sky in vast numbers just as the infantry was doing on the ground. At any rate, he decided that he would enlist in the Air Force for four years rather than await the draft which required a military obliga tion of two years.
The enlistment papers were prepared in December 1950, but the actual swearing in ceremony was delayed until after the Christmas holiday season. During the wait, he learned that some had failed the Air Force exam and were then drafted into the Army or Navy. This made him even more determined to pass the Air Force exam. None of this was discussed beforehand with James Sowders. After the papers were signed, Wayne did tell the preacher about his plans and was greatly disturbed that Sowders had little or no interest in him. From the discussion with Sowders, it was obvious to Wayne that his act of enlistment constituted a severance from his church, although there was no outward sign of excommunication. In other words, the preacher washed his hands of the matter, and no longer considered Wayne a member of his church.
During this troubling period, another upheaval was taking place. Wayne and Amanda were involved in their first serious quarrel and the decision was made to break off the relationship. Wayne started corresponding with his old girl friend from Murphysboro in order to make Amanda jealous. This just aggravated a problem that was already out of hand. As a result of the breakup, Amanda was not at the bus station when he left for military service. Wayne soon realized that he had made a serious error in judgment and contacted Amanda's mother to see if the relationship could be renewed. Happily, when Wayne received a furlough after basic training, everything was resolved between them.
Military life was a shocking experience for the small town boy who had never been further from home than Louisville, Kentucky. After induction on January 8, 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri, Wayne boarded a troop train which wound its way for three full days to San Antonio, Texas. Progress was slowed as each major stop required the train crew to add on another rail car loaded with new recruits. Arrival at Lackland Air Force Base helped to swell the total to more than 70,000 troops for a facility designed to hold 30,000. For approximately ten days, Wayne marched and trained in civilian clothes while waiting his turn to be issued military gear.
Airmen had to sleep in unheated tents because of the congestion on the base. San Antonio experienced one of the worst winters ever during that period. The newspapers carried stories about the fact that several natives had not experienced ice and snow until that time. Some families complained to their congressmen about conditions on the base and a big congressional investigation followed. When Wayne arrived at Lackland AFB, he had not eaten for more than twelve hours because the troop train had run out of food. He had to wait another 24 hours before getting food and he felt almost starved. The first thing that he was served was a portion of undercooked egg that covered the mess tray. He would never have eaten that in civilian life, but under the circumstances, it tasted scrumptious.
Never had Wayne felt so alone in his life. He had broken up with his true love and it seemed that even God had turned His back on him. It appeared as though the military was aimed to rob everyone of his individuality in order to develop discipline. The squad leader made sure that no one had any feeling of self worth. Recruits were trained to become completely dependent upon the military for everything. Personal individuality is wiped away in order to form a unit that will place its trust in its leadership. Combat readiness is dependent upon this type of training, but it was hard for a 19- year-old boy to understand at the time. Discipline is essential in order to complete a military mission. Wayne had experienced a sampling of discipline in his church, but never to the degree that he experienced in the military.
After thirteen weeks of basic training at Lackland AFB, Wayne was sent to Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi. He was given a six-hour battery of tests early on to determine what his skills were. Ideally, these skills are to be matched to the needs of the Air Force. The recruiter had made the promise that each new recruit would be given his choice of assignment depending upon the needs of the military. Wayne soon found out that the needs of the Air Force in no way matched what he wanted or what he was best suited for. He had wanted to be assigned to a school to learn finance and accounting, but found himself assigned to an electronics school. He was about as unprepared for that course as he possibly could be.
The electronics field required a good foundation in mathematics. Wayne had recklessly skipped the advance math courses in high school and now found himself ill-prepared for the school the Air Force had sent him to. High school had been so easy, but this was a formidable challenge. In spite of difficulties, he did manage to scrape by near the bottom of the class.
In April 1951 he was given a 10-day furlough. While in basic training he had decided that he definitely wanted to spend the rest of his life with Amanda Ellen Dennis. As soon as he arrived back in DuQuoin he purchased an engagement ring at the local jewelers and asked her to marry him. She accepted the ring and agreed to be his wife. The 10 days at home flew by so quickly that it was just a blur. He returned to his military post heartened by the fact that it didn't matter how difficult his duties were. He still had Mandel to comfort him. The engagement would have to last at least a year while they waited for an appropriate time to be married.
Wayne managed to get back to Illinois once during his schooling at Keesler AFB, but the 650-mile trip was not made with the approval of the Air Force. A group of airmen decided to make the trip back to Illinois in an automobile that one had managed to bring to Mississippi. Plans were to make a quick trip to Illinois, spend a few hours there, and then return to the base without approval from their superiors. Weekend passes were issued to the airmen with the restriction that they would travel no further than 100 miles from Biloxi. They learned how serious the infraction was when they were caught on this occasion.
While Wayne was in DuQuoin his name was placed on a duty roster by one of his superiors. The list was posted on the bulletin board, but Wayne was gone and unaware of what happened. When they went to get him at 3:00 A. M. on Sunday morning, he was not in his bunk where he should be. He was in big trouble. Wayne returned on Sunday night, and he did not learn about his duty assignment until the next day. While in formation to march to the first class of the day, an announcement was made over the loud speaker, for PFC Hamburger to report to the commanding officer immediately after class.
The commanding officer demanded to know where he was at over the weekend. Wayne told him that he had visited his relatives. The commander was extremely angry at that point. He said nothing more but reached toward Wayne's sleeve and jerked the PFC insignia off. This signified that he had been demoted from Private First Class to Private. He could see his military career going no where after such a crushing blow. He returned to the barracks, stretched out on his bunk and prayed more sincerely than he had ever prayed in his life. He dropped off to sleep and was awakened by one of his fellow airmen. He was once again being summoned to the orderly room.
When he arrived at the headquarters building, he was met by Master Sergeant Miller who served as the first sergeant of the squadron. Sergeant Miller on more than one occasion had inquired about Wayne's nationality and whether or not he had Jewish ancestors. It was unusual for a career military man to be interested in a young recruit. When Sergeant Miller greeted Wayne on this occasion, he explained that although he had a German name just like Wayne, he was actually Jewish. He knew a Jewish family named Hamburger and was convinced that Wayne may be a part of that family. Wayne had always denied that this was true in the previous encounters with Sergeant Miller, but there was something about this meeting that changed Wayne's response.
Sergeant Miller explained that he had personally intervened with the commanding officer and requested that Wayne's punishment be something other than demotion. Sergeant Miller told him that Wayne had a good record and that he personally would vouch for him and promise that Wayne would never be a problem again. The commander reluctantly agreed to restore Wayne to Private First Class, providing that he would serve every weekend on KP duty for the following six weeks. Wayne agreed.
Sergeant Miller had recognized that Wayne did not deliberately disobey an order because this would have been calam itous for a military career. Wayne's record was restored and never did reflect the demotion. Thereafter, when Sergeant Miller inquired about Wayne's heritage, he was assured that it was Jewish. Wayne felt that God had answered a prayer through that Jewish sergeant and surely it wouldn't hurt to appease him with this one little lie. It was ironic that God would use a Jew who did not believe in Jesus Christ to answer a Christian's prayer.
When the schooling was completed at Keesler AFB, Wayne was sent to Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado for advanced training in radar control systems. Upon arrival on October 1, 1951 in Denver there was a four-inch snow covering the ground. Once again, Wayne found the classes to be very difficult. After being at the top of his class through grammar and high school, it was difficult for Wayne to accept the fact that he was never going to be proficient in electronics. He did manage to stay in the program and finish it without dropping out.
After arriving in Denver, Wayne was notified by his parents that there was a preacher in Aurora, Colorado who was affiliated with William Sowders. The church was located a few miles from Lowry Field and Wayne began attending Sunday services. The members were friendly and kind to him. One Sunday the preacher invited him to have a home cooked meal at the parsonage. The preacher's wife had prepared a roast from a deer that had been given to them by one of the church members. Wayne had never eaten venison before and never had the desire to eat any more after that experience. The meat was tough and had a strong flavor. He didn't accept any more dinner invitations while in Colorado. This experience was similar to one he had when he was a teenager and had accepted an invitation to go to a church member's home overnight in Murphysboro. The lady of the house fixed a breakfast of eggs and bacon. She served them about half cooked with the white of the egg running in all directions. He was barely able to down the uncooked eggs when he discovered that the bacon had a long black hair wound around it. He ate around the hair and left the table. No more invitations were accepted to that home either.
When he graduated from the fire control electronic systems school at Lowry AFB, he was assigned to permanent duty at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was given a few days of leave and he and Mandel started making plans for their wedding. During this visit back to DuQuoin, it was learned that there was a church in Albuquerque affiliated with the Sowders. As soon as Wayne was settled in his new work assignment he began to search for the church. A small white building on Candelaria Street was located along with the preacher, Eli Ruby, who lived next door. The Ruby family members were gracious and friendly. Their son Don lived with his parents. He had served aboard an aircraft carrier during World War II and had located a job in Albuquerque after his discharge from the service. He and Wayne became fast friends.
The small church congregation of 15 to 20 people was largely the Ruby family. Don's two married sisters and their families attended the church services. They all accepted Wayne as if he were a member of that family. Wayne found this comforting and he looked forward to the times he could get away from his military duties and attend church. He even had his parents ship his trombone to Albuquerque so that he could play at church. The Ruby family provided guitar, piano and accordion and Wayne enjoyed playing with the group. The family routinely gathered at one of the homes for Sunday dinner after church and most of the time Wayne was included.
In May 1952, Wayne returned to DuQuoin with plans to marry his sweetheart. Neither Wayne nor Mandel recognized the pitfalls in the plan. After all, they were in love. They had no more than about $300.00 saved and no means of transportation. Wayne had been sending a military allotment to his parents because of their dependency and he had not been able to put away money for the upcoming wedding. Prior to his return to DuQuoin he made arrangements with a fellow airman to rent an efficiency apartment in the same complex where he and his wife were living. The lack of money was just one of the problems facing the young lovers at that particular point in time.
James Sowders would not approve the wedding or officiate at the wedding. He told them that if they insisted on getting married against his advice that they would have to be married by a justice of the peace. Sowders concluded that marriage was a civil affair which had no place in the church. Sowders counseled all the young people in the same manner, refusing to become involved in any wedding ceremony. He denounced marriage from the pulpit by declaring it a sin. Wayne and Mandel dared not to cross him because of the possible consequences.
Cult leaders exert considerable control and power over their followers. Sowders was one who enjoyed such power. He advised a young lady in his church to not get married, but she went against his wishes with plans to marry a man who was not a member of Sowders' church. Sowders forbid the girl's parents and all of the family who were church members to go to the wedding or recognize the marriage. They all abided by his wishes and the young lady got married without any of her family in attendance. Wayne and Mandel were well aware that if they refused to take Sowders' advice for their own wedding that their relatives would not be allowed to attend. They followed Sowders' advice and hired a justice of the peace for the ceremony at the home of Mandel's older sister.
Mandel was still under the legal age for marriage in Illinois in June 1952. She would not be 18 years old until her birthday on August 13, 1952. It was necessary to have her mother sign consent forms at the county courthouse before the license could be issued. A problem arose when her mother became ill and could not accompany them. Wayne's aunt went to the courthouse to sign in behalf of Mandel's mother. As it turned out, there was only a brief inquiry as to whether the participants were of legal age and they both indicated they were. No age verification was requested and the young lovers' little white lie went undetected.
Mandel's mother still had not recovered from her illness and Wayne had to ask permission for his furlough to be extended while the wedding was temporarily postponed. Finally, everything was set for the wedding on June 11, 1952. It turned out to be one of the hottest days ever for the month of June in Southern Illinois. Mandel's sister, Kathryn, opened her home for the wedding and the reception. Even though the vows were exchanged at 6:00 P.M., it was still extremely hot. Air conditioning was something that only places of business could afford, so fans were set up around the room to try to keep the wedding party comfortable.
Wayne's Uncle Clifford and Mandel's niece, Diane, acted as best man and maid of honor. At a crucial point in the ceremony, Clifford's pant leg became entangled in one of the fans. It made an unusual sound and some thought the sound was from people crying. It wasn't long till others were influenced by these sounds reflecting more the behavior of people at a wake rather than those at a wedding. Later when the truth came out, everyone had a big laugh over this incident. Wayne still reminds his uncle about getting his pant leg in the fan during the wedding ceremony. This event is fondly recalled with humor, love and good will. The church and James Sowders would not approve the wedding, but as time has proven, they didn't need the blessing of the church for a happy life together.
The newlyweds could not afford to spend any money on a hotel room and Mandel's mother provided her home for the wedding night. Not many men can say that they spent their wedding night in their mother-in-law's bed but Wayne can. After a two-day honeymoon in DuQuoin, the newlyweds were off on the 1200 mile bus trip to Albuquerque.
When they arrived in Albuquerque, they discovered that the apartment Wayne's friend had rented was woefully inadequate. It was a tiny one room efficiency apartment located in a rundown motel. They were shocked by the possibility that it would have to serve as their home for more than one day. Thankfully, Don Ruby came charging to the rescue. He bought a newspaper and helped them scan the ads for apartments. He then motored them around the city in his car until satisfactory living arrangements could be found. An adequate site was found in northeastern Albuquerque, and it was fairly close to the various members of the Ruby family and the church.
Transportation arrangements were made with some airmen to Kirtland Field and everything fell in place. Other travel about the city was possible through the public transportation system. Thus, Wayne and Mandel were able to manage without an automobile of their own. They could never pass a used car lot without wishing for an automobile. They couldn't manage the down payment, so that luxury would have to wait for a few years down the line. Thanks to the Ruby family, Wayne and Mandel were able to manage on his corporal's pay. When they were in financial binds, the Rubys were there to help them "over the hump."
It wasn't long until Wayne received a promotion to Airman First Class, which improved their financial circumstances. They never adjusted to the once a month pay plan of the military. Frequently, at the end of the month, they were scroung ing for empty soda bottles to turn in at the local grocery to cover the price of a loaf of bread. Subsequently, it taught them how to manage their finances in tight situations. It also strengthened their marriage, although they wouldn't have agreed at the time. Some foolish quarrel between them would prompt Mandel to threaten a return to DuQuoin. These were empty threats because they both knew that there were no funds for a bus trip back to her mother's home. After they cooled off, they would sit and laugh at their predicament. It is really impossible to convey the guiding influence that Eli Ruby and his family had on the young couple, and they are forever grateful for such loving friends.
As indicated, Don Ruby was a close friend to both Wayne and Mandel. He visited in their home often spending countless hours playing monopoly, card games and engaging in conversation. Television was only accessible to those with much more income. Since Eli Ruby agreed with the religious doctrine espoused by William and James Sowders, he believed that owning a television was sinful. Wayne and Mandel's first glimpse of television had come back in their courting days. On the way to church, they were able to catch glimpses of television through the front windows of homes with television sets. These were very few and far between. Only a handful of married airmen could afford televisions and these were usually provided by doting parents. It was a rare treat indeed when one of these proud television owners invited other military families to share their home for an evening of television.
Mandel and Wayne had a friend back in DuQuoin whom they thought would make a perfect mate for Don Ruby. They set out to play matchmaker to get the two together. Don had been returning back east periodically to go to the camp meetings in Kentucky. They convinced him that it would be worth his time to go through DuQuoin to meet a pretty girl named Vera Abbott. Once they were able to meet, they took it from there. That marriage has produced three children and six grandchildren so far. They located their home in DuQuoin after their marriage. Later, Wayne and Mandel loved to tell Don and Vera's offspring how, back in 1952, they were able to play Cupid and bring Don and Vera together.
It was in 1952 that major changes started occurring in the church leadership. During that year, William Sowders became seriously ill and died in November 1952. At the onset of his illness, his son, James Sowders, started commuting back and forth between Louisville, Kentucky and DuQuoin trying to provide direction for both churches. For most of that year the DuQuoin church was without a pastor. James Sowders left a lay member in charge of the church. All offerings were promptly forwarded to James in Louisville. As a result of these developments, many in the DuQuoin church either quit church altogether or migrated to Thomas Jolly's church in Eldorado, Illinois. James preferred the city life to that in rural Illinois so it was easy for him to make the transition to Louisville even though he resented the proselyting of his members by Jolly.
To make matters worse, William Sowders told all of the preachers under his influence that they should look to Thomas Jolly for leadership after his death. This didn't sit well with James Sowders at all. He thought that being the son of the leader entitled him to assume leadership after his father's demise. He couldn't stand the obvious rejection by his father for such a role. William Sowders admired Jolly because they were so much alike. They both administered strict discipline among their followers and Jolly was a staunch supporter of the doctrine espoused by William Sowders. Jolly's strength was in his ability to teach the doctrine and therein was the key to William Sowders' choice for a successor. When Sowders died in 1952, Jolly moved right into the leader's position. A few preachers rejected him at that point, but a majority remained loyal to him. Thus, began a 40-year reign by Thomas Jolly that was marred by scandal, divisiveness, lewd behavior and dictatorship over the faithful followers.
1 Although James Sowders bowed to Jolly's leadership, he still maintained firm control of his father's church in Louisville. To assure his control of his father's church and to gain favor with Jolly, James turned control of his four churches in Illinois over to Jolly. Since Jolly already had more than he could adequately handle by himself, he delegated one of his hand-picked preachers to take charge of the church at DuQuoin. The other three churches that Sowders left in Illinois were closed down and the followers were all consolidated into one church at DuQuoin. The man commissioned by Jolly to handle the dirty work and take charge of this assignment was Beryl Clark. He closed his own small church in West Frankfort and moved the following from that church to DuQuoin.
Jolly had performed a similar dismantling of churches around Eldorado to form one big church in that community. Jolly liked to refer to these churches as "centers" where worshipers migrated for his brand of religion. Most members relocated to these so called "centers," but some commuted for many miles to get to the meetings. During the many years of Clark's ministry in DuQuoin, Jolly retained control but Clark handled the day to day operation. Clark's entire congregation was encouraged to attend services on Thursday night in Eldorado so that they could hear the leader give instructions.
When Jolly assumed the leadership, he immediately started making changes in church activities. He believed that most of his followers were extremely ignorant and it was necessary for him to teach them the proper way to act. He referred to his program as "an upgrading." He would not allow the followers to take courses at the schools of higher learning for fear they would be weaned away. He, instead, chose the wisest of his followers to conduct classes and teach others in everything from family relationships, history, hygiene, public speaking, geography to manners in the home and at church. Jolly retained the role of bible instructor and started training a number of young men for the ministry. These men had to relocate so that they could be with Jolly every day for instruction.
Early in 1953, Jolly began instructing his supporters about a special event that was supposed to take place at the camp meeting in Shepherdsville, Kentucky that year. He warned the adherents that they must not wear good clothing to the meeting. He gave no specific details of what was about to happen, but he dropped little hints for weeks prior to the meeting. This sparked the interest of disciples across the country. They couldn't wait to get to Kentucky to see what Bro. Tommy's surprise was. He promised that God was going to manifest Himself in a great way to demonstrate the sanctioning of Jolly's leadership.
Almost from the start of the meeting, partisan worshipers behaved in strange ways. To say their behavior was peculiar would be an understatement. They started falling prone into the dirt, in the grass or inside the tabernacle depending upon their location at the time the phenomenon began. Many fell as though they had been struck by lightning or a sledge hammer. Some lay motionless while others rolled and writhed. Most began speaking in a foreign language. Some laughed uncontrollably while others cried the same way. Many danced around and others yelled to the top of their lungs. All were completely oblivious to their surroundings or personal appearance. For those who rolled around in the dirt they were thankful that Jolly had warned them to wear old clothing.
Those who give an account of that meeting report that the Spirit came into their presence and was so strong that they couldn't resist a reaction to it. All witnesses attest that it was the Spirit of God. They describe the experience as exhilaratingly uplifting and that several described it as paradise. Jolly, of course, was particularly proud of himself because he had accurately prophesied something special for the camp meeting. He promptly labeled the portent as the "New Experience." He easily convinced his disciples that they had witnessed the beginning of a forty-year dispensation granted by God. This forty-year period was supposed to allow Jolly enough time to get the followers ready for the return of Christ, which, according to Jolly, was going to happen in 1992. In the minds of most of the followers, the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit at the camp meeting was confirmation by God that Jolly was chosen by God to lead the people. He likened his apostleship to that of Moses who led the Hebrews through the wilderness for forty years and then to the promise land.
Word of the camp meeting and the "New Experience" reached the Hamburgers and the Rubys in Albuquerque, but no one in that area was affected by it. Those who were there at the time wondered why it didn't reach that area. Correspondence with church members from locations in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and elsewhere testified to the fact that the local church members were getting the "New Experience" at every church meeting. Wayne was never affected by any of this, even when he returned to Illinois and saw others fall in the floor and attest to it. He felt guilty because he doubted the veracity of some members’ claims. He also felt as though he was not a full-fledged member of the church without the experience. This convulsive and agitated state among the worshipers lasted for a few months and then disappeared altogether. Many still fondly recall the events of 1953 and are convinced it was a Godly manifestation rather than something whipped up by T. M. Jolly. When one sees a modern day television preacher knock worshipers down by blowing on them, it is hard not to place it in the same category as those events of 1953.
In the spring of 1953 Wayne was expecting a promotion to Staff Sergeant. He had met the promotion board and successfully passed his tests for the position. Promotions were limited because of those who were more deserving in the combat zones in Korea. His name was placed on the list and according to military standards was to be given the first opening that was allotted to his squadron.
The squadron had a very good softball team and was in contention for the base championship. The team's success was mainly due to a young man who had joined the team late because of assignment in Korea. His name was Woody and he had the best pitching arm of anyone around. He and Wayne both held the rank of Airman First Class and both were on the promotional list. The problem was that when the authorizations for promotion came through only one promotion could be made. Wayne was unaware that the squadron commander had promised Woody that if he won the softball championship for the squadron, he would be next in line for promotion. The commander had a problem. He couldn't promote Woody instead of Wayne because the orders were already approved for Wayne's promotion.
The commander quickly resolved his problem by placing Wayne's name on orders for shipment to Korea. If Wayne could be shipped out prior to the effective date of the promotion, the commander could keep his promise to Woody. Several of Wayne's unmarried friends were aware of what was happening and volunteered to go in Wayne's place. The commander would not change his mind. Wayne was headed to Korea and would have to wait another six months to get the promotion that he had rightfully earned.
Wayne had three weeks to prepare for his departure and he decided that he would wait until the final week to give the disturbing news to Mandel. This plan was doomed to failure since so many of Wayne's friends knew the circumstances. She heard someone inquire about it and the secret could not be kept any longer. They both liked Albuquerque, were sorry to leave, and the thought of being separated for several months cast a shadow of doom over them. They returned to DuQuoin so that Mandel could get settled in with her mother in Wayne's absence. They attended the church in DuQuoin and witnessed many people involved in the "New Experience." At that point, nothing was comforting to the young couple who were about to be separated by war. Beryl Clark was the pastor of the church and he volunteered to transport Wayne to the St. Louis bus depot.
The attendant at the bus station hurriedly marked the destination on the duffel bag and threw it into the baggage com partment. Wayne did not realize it at the time, but the attendant had scribbled something on the tag other than the destina tion of Oakland, California. When Wayne arrived in California, the bag could not be located. The bus driver advised Wayne to report to the air base and he would accept responsibility for recovering the lost clothing bag. After two weeks of waiting and wearing the clothing in which he had traveled, his superiors ordered him to purchase a new set of military clothing. The cost was more than $300.00 and not within the budget of the young wedded couple. The Air Force solved this by taking out a portion of his pay each month until the clothing was paid for. His duffel bag caught up with him in Korea about six months after his arrival there.
Wayne had never experienced such despair. He was separated from his wife, he had lost his clothing and now he was facing a long voyage to a destination involving countries at war. The first night on the ship was the most miserable night ever. He experienced sea sickness for the first time and there was no place to get relief from it. About 14 days into the 17-day voyage the ship was caught in a Pacific storm which tossed the ship to and fro. He was not hungry, but he was advised to eat something anyway. He will forever have the image of going through the chow line seeing men on KP duty dipping food from one container while vomiting in a garbage can at their feet. As Wayne set foot in Yokohoma, Japan, he was happy to be on land, even though it was thousands of miles from home. The flight to Korea was uneventful compared to his experience on the troop ship.
Back home in Illinois, Mandel was trying to get involved in church activities to help with her loneliness. She had taken piano lessons early in life, and now Clark wanted her to serve as the new church organist. She agreed, and the practice time helped to pass the time away. She developed her skills on the organ and sent some recordings of her music to Wayne in Korea. He managed to locate a machine to play the tape recordings on. He was much impressed with her recordings of the gospel music, although they did make him more homesick than ever. Wayne was proud that his wife had been selected as the organist. He was unaware of the rigid demands that the preacher made on her to hold that position.
Mandel was barely 20 years old when she was the organist, however, the preacher expected her to dress and act like a middle-aged woman. She was not allowed to cut her hair or have it hanging down her back. She was required to either gather the hair up in a roll or wear it in a bun on top of her head. Clark believed that women in the church should look saintly and that meant that they should all look as plain as possible. There was to be no make-up of any type. Only saintly looking women were allowed to hold jobs in the church. He once called Mandel out from a group of women and had her turn around so that he could examine her hair style. When he criticized her for the way it looked, she pointed out that another woman in their group had a similar style. Clark told her that the middle-aged lady was not married and it was all right for her to wear her hair in that style. It made no difference to Clark that the middle-aged lady was a divorcee with a child. In his mind, she was single and not as accountable for a saintly appearance as a married woman.
Clark was a single man who strongly believed in celibacy. He showed no interest in the opposite sex. He had served in World War II as a medical corpsman. He was a combat-hardened veteran who had seen plenty of misery while maintaining his opposition to taking a life. Nothing in civilian life seemed to rattle or upset him. Once, a man fainted and fell over in the pew during a church service, but Clark ignored him. He wouldn't allow the emergency to interfere with church service, regardless of the man's condition. His solution to the problem was to have everyone pray for his recovery. Miraculously, after a few minutes the man regained consciousness and left the sanctuary.
What appeared to be callousness was probably an adaptation to conditions as a means of coping with life's uncertainties. He had observed horrible wounds and endured the screams of dying men in combat, so he was not about to give in to the minuscule problems of everyday life. He could be very caring at times yet he could detach himself whenever he wanted to. Dedrich Hamburger was extremely fond of Beryl Clark. He tried to get his son to share that feeling, but Wayne was never able to. Wayne resented Clark's meddling into matters that did not concern him. This was especially true when he tried to tell Mandel how she should dress and act.
Wayne was especially outraged when Clark encouraged church members to spy on one another and report their findings back to him. Once, Mandel and some of her girl friends donned bathing suits so they could sun-bathe in back of her mother's property. It was located in a rural area surrounded by bushes and woods. They thought they could enjoy themselves in that private setting. Later, they learned that Clark had sent some of the young boys on a mission to cross through the woods and spy on the girls. They reported back to Clark who then proceeded to preach the next Sunday about the evils of sun bathing. At other times, the young boys were caught peeping in the windows where the girls had gathered for a visit. Clark was paranoid about church members who refused to obey his every command. When he found some who would not comply, he advised them to leave the church.
Wayne's tour in Korea was fairly routine because the fighting had stopped and a truce had been negotiated. He received his promotion to Staff Sergeant in April 1954, resulting in more responsibility. He was placed in charge of a fire control systems unit of 25 men in the 430th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The F84 Fighter-Bombers in the squadron were quite different from the F86 Fighter-Planes he worked on in Albuquerque. The fire control systems were alike, so the work was routine. His assignment was at Base K2 near the Korean city of Taegue. The F84 was used in Korea for low level bombing and strafing with rockets and 50 caliber machine guns. When Wayne arrived in Korea there were many signs of the fighting that had occurred there earlier. The country had settled into an uneasy peace with the demilitarized zone several miles to the north of Taegue.
Wayne liked the Korean people with which he came into contact. They were affable and conditioned to hardship as a result of many years under Japanese occupation. The barracks that housed the 430th unit had been built in the 1930's by the Japanese. Many Koreans worked on the air base at K2 and returned to their homes at night. One of the Koreans served as a house boy in the barracks where Wayne was quartered. Although he was a teenager and too young for the Korean army, he was married and the father of a child. His Korean name was too difficult for the American GI's, so they used the English equivalent "Jesse." Wayne sent several pictures back home, but he was never able to either meet or get a picture of Jesse's family. Jesse has remained in Wayne's memory provoking thoughts about what has been the fate of the young Korean.
The truce between North and South Korea held while Wayne was stationed there although the military stayed on alert at all times. The most perilous part of the assignment occurred on the flight line of the 430th Squadron. A weapons mechanic was cleaning a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in an F84 and it accidently discharged a number of rounds of ammunition across the flight line. Some of the bullets passed through the top of the Quonset hut where Wayne was working. Everyone was so surprised that no one even sought cover. All except the commander had a big laugh, yet, reflecting on the incident 40 years later, it doesn't really seem so funny.
The most disturbing factor of the assignment in Korea was the wide spread infection of airmen with venereal disease, body lice and other parasites. When Wayne arrived and checked into his barracks there were numerous men around with infection. He was readily concerned about the parasites which could easily be transferred among bed clothes. It was not uncommon for men to lounge around on other's bunks during a card game or group discussion. Wayne usually held his breath about the possibility of body lice transferring from someone onto his bed during such sessions.
Wayne had nothing but contempt for those men who satisfied their sexual lust with the many prostitutes who hung around the base. Some men had contracted venereal disease over and over. As soon as the penicillin kicked in to clear up their disease they were engaging in the same activity again with the same results. It is hard to estimate how damaging such foolishness rendered the lives of not only these airmen, but their wives and children who were waiting back home. The military leaders could provide education and preventive measures; however, they could not stop the practice. Wayne was so thankful for his religious training and his faith in God which directed him in a path free from promiscuous activity.
The year spent in Korea was beneficial to Wayne in a way which he had not expected. He became more mature in his thinking and acceptance of responsibility. He began planning the future for his wife and himself. He actually passed from immature adolescent into a mature man. He began to assess the important things in life and to discard the matters of small consequence. He changed his eating habits and became more concerned about his personal appearance. He had ballooned from 175 pounds up to 225 pounds after his marriage. He determined to make a conscious effort to lose weight while in Korea. This proved to be a rather simple task since much of the food was either dried, condensed, stale and very tasteless. By the time he rotated back home in November 1954, he had reduced his weight to 158 pounds, which was less than what he had weighed in high school.
When he was placed on orders to return to the United States, he had less than 60 days remaining on his four-year enlistment. The Air Force was interested in retaining men and women who were already trained in specialities, so they tried different methods to entice airmen to reenlist. Wayne was scheduled to report to Tucson, Arizona following furlough at home. Airmen with the rank of Staff Sergeant or higher could opt to fly home rather than go by troop ship. All of those personnel who were completing their enlistments and requesting discharge were sent home by ship. Wayne decided after the one experience on a troop ship that flying home was the better way of travel. He flew from Taegue to Tokyo to Midway Island to Honolulu to Parks AFB, California. When he arrived at Parks AFB, he immediately asked to be discharged and was allowed to do so. His discharge date was held up because of a holiday. Ironically, he was forced to serve one day longer because the military installation was closed down for observance of Veterans Day, November 11, 1954.
Even though he was anxious to get back to his wife, the long flight from Korea to California was enough flying for one trip. In spite of the previous bad experience with Greyhound, he chose to ride the bus home. It was the cheapest way to travel and he and Mandel were going to have to watch their finances until he could land a civilian job. Greyhound had apologized for losing the duffel bag and stashing it somewhere in Kansas for six months -- Wayne held onto his duffel bag on the return trip, taking no chances for repetition.
When Wayne arrived at his mother-in-law's house, he was told that Mandel was at church practicing music. He hurriedly made his way to the church, embraced his wife, and vowed to never be separated from her again. A military career would have been attractive had it not been for the separation. In fact, the military pay was much higher than anything that could be found in civilian life during the recession of 1954. There were many positive aspects of military life, but the year in Korea made Wayne more aware of his need to be with his wife.
The adjustment to civilian life proved to be just as difficult as the adjustment to the military during basic training. Once a military person settles into the routine of discipline and ordered direction, it seems appropriate. The structured environment of the military provides security. If one obeys orders and performs up to expectation, the military takes care of its own. There was no such security as an unemployed civilian. Jobs were scarce. Wayne had been assured that his position with F. W. Woolworth was held for him. When contact was made with that company, an offer was made to fill a position at Granite City, Illinois. The job was as an assistant manager at $50.00 per week with a minimum of 60 hours per week. The permanence of the job was to be based on attitude and performance. Wayne was in no mood to take what he considered a step backward from his military position. He declined the offer. The reality was that he would have to move to an unfamiliar place where rent would have taken half his income and his job would have demanded the greater part of his time.
There was little attention or respect shown for returning Korean War veterans. The President had even called it a police action rather than a war. The general public still had vivid images of World War II. Most believed that the fighting in Korea was just a little skirmish handled by the National Guard. In reality, there were about the same number of casualties in Korea as there were in the Vietnam War that followed a few years later. No concerted effort was made to place returning military veterans in civilian jobs. The G. I. Bill was still in force from WWII and provided some funds for schooling. Wayne considered the possibility of going to college, but concluded that the limited income would strain his marriage too much.
The adjustment to the church proved to be the most difficult. Wayne and Beryl Clark were not in agreement on most things. His rules were even more stringent than the ones made by his predecessor, James Sowders. He expected the women to follow his instructions in respect to hair style and personal appearance regardless of what their husbands felt about it. Wayne resented the long music practices that kept Mandel at church instead of at home where he thought she should be. Clark instructed all the couples in marital relationships when he, himself, had never been married. Wayne grew angry and bitter toward Clark and the church in general.
Wayne's parents could see what was happening and kept urging him to go to Clark and make amends. Wayne's perception was that Clark was responsible for counseling with his church members in times of trouble. Dedrich told Wayne that Clark would never go to a member first. Clark's idea was that the followers should be willing to come to him for assistance. They were expected to admit they were in the wrong and ask Clark's forgiveness. Clark considered himself to always be right and could not or would not ever admit to be wrong. It was a stand-off between the bull-headed church member and the equally bull-headed preacher.
There were others in the church who had problems with Clark, in addition to Wayne. Mandel's mother was very upset after one of Clark's sermons on prayer. He told the congregation that God didn't hear individual prayer. He said that unless members were praying in the channel directed by the church leaders, their prayers would not be heard. The church leaders preached that their group was God's chosen people with God-appointed leaders. Clark told them that if they prayed for matters not authorized by the preachers, then those prayers went unanswered. Mandel's mother knew that this was false, since she had many of her personal prayers answered without consultation with the preacher.
Another victim of Clark's wrath was a man who had played the piano while James Sowders was directing the church. Clark removed the man from that position soon after his arrival in DuQuoin. Clark agreed with William Sowders that men who played the piano were too feminine. The gentleman was directed to become an usher instead of the piano player. When this man's wife cut her hair in defiance of Clark's orders, matters really took a turn for the worse. Clark immediately preached a sermon on women’s hair style. He told the congregation that when women cut their hair they were prostituting themselves. He said that harlots cut their hair so that they can get groomed quickly between customers. He compared lady church members with short hair to prostitutes, further indicating that they were no longer welcome in the church. The man and his wife quit after that sermon, and it is probable that others followed suit.
Wayne's four-year-old nephew was sent home from Bible School because Clark considered the child's hair too long. He also sent young girls home from Bible School when he determined that their dresses were too short. Some were not even members of the church, but this mattered little to Clark. He usually favored the boys over the girls, and this was obvious to church members.
Clark changed the name of the church in accordance with instructions from T. M. Jolly. Sowders had begun and named the church, "The Church of Christ." He later realized that there was a denomination by that name so he renamed it "Christ Chapel." When Jolly took over from William Sowders, Jolly instructed preachers in his group to rename their churches to "Gospel Assembly." Up to that point, the churches used a hodge-podge of names such as Gospel of the Kingdom, School of the Prophets, and so on. Having the churches use one name, "Gospel Assembly," solidified Jolly's rule.
The final straw came on a Sunday afternoon in February 1955. Clark preached a sermon singling out those who were disobeying his instructions. He told his congregation that if individuals persisted in resisting his tutelage, they would be better off leaving the church altogether. He said that God's wrath would be less on those who quit than those who remained in defiance to the preacher. Wayne interpreted this to be a personal invitation to leave the church and he quit. Mandel followed suit. It was difficult for Wayne to turn his back on the church which he had been a member of all his life, but under the circumstances, he felt that he had no other choice. This started a 25-year absence from church for both Mandel and Wayne.