Salute to a Friend

My heart hurts today.  Good friend, best man at my wedding, “Uncle Joe” Cikan, passed away last evening after a long illness.  I will be gone for a few days to attend the funeral.

We met in late 1970, at Sheppard AFB, Med Services tech school.  From there, to Rhein-Main AB, Germany, where we were barracks roommates.

Both of us were Illinois born and raised–a long way from home.  I understood Joe’s absurd, wacky sense of humor.  There was nothing I enjoyed more than playing off his amusing anecdotes.

Joe had a lot of nervous energy–couldn’t sit still.  I can still hear him walking in stocking feet–heels pounding the floor.

That pent-up energy made Joe a wonderful house guest.  As hosts, we were delighted, to find the place tidied, and the laundry done up.

I saw a little of both parents in Joe: a coarse, gruff sense of humor, from dad, Stan; kindness, patience, from mom, Mary.

How could Joe have had an Sicilian mother, a great cook, and not like pasta.  I more than made up for Joe’s share on visits.

Joe Cikan flew under the radar; gave freely of himself to others.  He earned a Master’s degree while stationed in Germany.  Unlike myself, he saved money while away from home.  Above all else, Joe was a good listener.

There remain, just the three of us:  George Burbage, Ken Terry, and myself to carry on the story of our fallen brother-in-arms.

So many good memories, the likes of which, will never be repeated.  We never forgot the “gravy all over my face incident at the German gasthaus.”  Joe’s reaction to seeing me in that predicament, was priceless.

Ms. B. Rogers, the misguided, somewhat scary, AF dependent wife, frequent ER visitor; moonlighted as a stripper; made the “Desperate Housewives” look tame by comparison.  Even kindly, Dr. Kreutzmann, WWII vet who’d served on the Russian front, was leery of her.

The latest, perhaps the best, was Joe’s account of George’s pet cat, Clyde, embezzling 100 dollar bills from his wallet.

A salute to you, Joe!  Proud to call you my friend.  You were my hero.  In your honor, I aspire to be kinder, and promise to be a better listener.

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Author: warturoadam77p

65 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

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