Background picture of Fran, her Mom (studio picture/Robert's Studio Beaumont TX), Stephie, Dave, Pontiac GTO Fran was driving (Fran took pictures) & LST ship Al was on in Panama by unknown author

Hazardous Journey By: Frances M. McCrory-Meservy Feb 1969

Al was transferred from the USS John King DDG 3 guided missile destroyer based in Norfolk VA to the USS Middlesex County LST 983 landing craft on it’s way to Lima, Peru via the Panama Canal in February of 1969. He would be transferred from there to Denver CO in April for PMEL School at the Air force base there.

My Mom flew out to Norfolk to help me move to TX where Al would come to finish moving us in April.

I had our house sold so the Navy was going to store most of our stuff until Al got a permanent duty station after school. The things we needed in between would be put in a U-haul truck and taken to Buna where I would stay with my Mom for a couple of months. Since we only got to see each other about once a year, we were looking forward to the visit.

The movers showed up to pack us and as they finished, the people who were buying our house backed out. I called the Navy and they put the truck on hold until we could figure out what to do. We had to move quickly to beat the snowstorm moving in from TN.

We found a Navy approved storage place for our Mobile home and the Navy went from moving van to towing our home to storage.

Mr. Casterton, the owner of the park, wanted to go beat the people up for me. I convinced him not to. He came over and helped Mom and I unblock our house, put the furniture in the center of the living room, fold the 4’ by 9’ tip-out over the furniture and nail plywood over the hole so it would be waterproof.

We loaded a 12’ U-haul trailer with our basic things (no furniture) and put our suitcases in our GTO and Nash Rambler. The Navy had our house picked up and put in storage.

According to the weather the snowstorm was moving in from the northeast from TN and if we went south and did not stop till we got to Atlanta, we would avoid the storm. Never count on what the weathermen say! We were only an hour into North Carolina when we drove into a blinding blizzard. It came up from the south!

All I could see was the taillights of the car in front of me. He turned off the road and I followed him (praying he knew where he was going and hopefully to a motel). I pulled off to the side at the motel so I would not be in anyone’s way going in or out. We went into the lobby and asked for a room. The gentleman we were following was about to leave the lobby when the desk clerk said he would not rent us a room because we were towing a U-haul trailer.

The gentleman observed a grandmother, mother, 1-year-old boy & 2 year old girl and a blinding blizzard. He walked back over to the desk and requested his money back. He told the clerk who turned out to be the owner that he would either rent us a room or he (the gentleman) would not stay there that night or any other night in the future. Turned out he was a regular. They rented us a room.

Was he a gentleman or an angel?

The next morning we very slowly went south toward Atlanta. We stopped at the first truck stop we came to and asked if they had any snow chains. They did not but called around for us while we ate breakfast. By the time we finished eating they had located some for us about 10 miles back the way we came.

While we were in the truck stop, my tires froze to the ground. Even with posi-traction and that big HO engine I could not get it to budge. I got out of the car and Mom had already found a shovel and was starting to try and break the ice loose. I looked up and there were about 8 truckers standing at the glass door watching. I opened the door and said at the top of my lungs, "It’s a sorry day when there is not a gentleman in the place to help 2 ladies in distress." Before I could get back to the car, there were 6 men digging out my GTO.

Some angels just need a little shove!

We backtracked and found the last pair of snow chains in the area. They put them on the GTO. I would lead and Mom would follow in my tracks.

The roads were not cleared. We had the freeway to ourselves. We passed snowplows that were stuck. Someone had sanded the snow and the whole thing was frozen. It felt like we were driving over rocks. It was very slow going but we finally got to Atlanta.

The snow ended at their city limits. We pulled into a truck stop, had the chains removed, ate dinner and filled up with gas. We decided to try and get to Birmingham AL that night.

We came to a section of road that was a narrow two-lane and about a 30’ drop on both sides. About an hour of beautiful ice sculptured scenery and we came to a bridge that had a large sign on it. The 18-wheeler ahead of us pulled over to the side almost off the road and stopped. The sign said, "condemned bridge cross at your own risk." There was not enough room to turn around.

The trucker decided I should cross first. Then Mom and I could walk Stephie & David over to the GTO. Then Mom could cross and he would follow after. It was the eeriest thing I have ever done. I drove very slowly over the bridge because I could feel it moving under me. I prayed God would have all our angels holding that bridge up for everyone. Mom said she did not feel it when she crossed. We could see the movement when the semi crossed and prayed for him the whole time. God got us all over safely.

The sun went down and a full moon rose over an ice covered landscape. Every limb on every bush and tree was covered. The ice looked like diamonds sparkling in the moonlight. We arrived in Birmingham about mid-night and found a motel room.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We arrived in Buna late the third day. God had gotten us safely home.

Al came home in April and we loaded another U-haul trailer and headed for Denver. We went west just north of Amarillo into the mountains. We started getting a little hungry but figured we would eat in the town we saw in the distance. Turned out that town was 5 hours away. We were on top of the mountain and it was in the valley in New Mexico.

We arrived in Denver just before mid-night. We had no idea where we would live. We got a motel room and woke up to a fantastic view of the Rocky Mountains.

Al checked in at the base and was told that Aurora was a safe neighborhood. We drove around until we saw a U-haul trailer backed up to a house. We asked them if they were moving in or out. They said, "out" and gave us the landlord’s phone number. The lady up stairs loaned us her phone and we were moved into the basement apartment before dark.

Psa 12:5 "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the LORD. "I will protect them from those who malign them."

Prov 4:6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

Psa 91:9-16 If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Luke 12:22-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Mat 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Unequally Yoked

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