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Going Away Party for Arnie

Excerpt from Pagind Doctor Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism and Protest.

In order to avoid being drafted into the Army. Dr. Leff chose to enlist in the Air Force. By the time he had finished his pharmacology fellowship, he had received active duty orders to go to Thailand via basic training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. The night before he left Cincinnati turned out to be quite memorable.

Arnie’s friends called him “The Brick” in the Cincinnati General Hospital because of all the hours he spent there and his total commitment to his studies, work and profession. It was rare for him to allow himself a night out. Up until that point, he hadn’t thought much about his upcoming stint in the military. He had been completely focused for the majority of his young adult life on getting high grades, placing on the Dean’s List, taking physics and organic chemistry and anything else that was need to be a good doctor. He gave his heart and soul to learning the arts of medicine. He had not given the war in Vietnam much of his attention. Sure, he read the news, saw occasional reports and knew about the demonstrations, but he hadn’t taken much time to think about it in any detail.

His musician friends, specifically Sandy Nassan, insisted that they have a big bash for him before he left. After their gigs were up at 1:00 and 2:00AM, half the musicians in town gathered on the rooftop of a Calhoun apartment to wish their friend Arnie a fond farewell. His friend Dennis Wolter was there, the artist and sculptor Steven Truchil and his friend Sondra. It lasted most of the night, until the police put a halt to the unauthorized gathering.

The going away party was icing on the cake. He hadn’t expected it and was deeply touched. His friends were far more worried about him than he was about himself. They asked him several times if he was sure about this military stuff and if he knew what he was getting himself in to. He was pretty casual about it all and, in fact, somewhat excited about his new adventure.

He said, “Hey, it will just be a year. No big deal. It could be interesting, and I’ll be doing some good.”

His friends all hoped he was right. Even though many disagreed with the war, they respected his decision and motivation for serving. They, along with their good friend Arnie, had no idea of the depth of deceptions and lies their government was perpetuating.

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