On Jan. 4, 1958, I reported for duty on USS Limpkin MSC 195, a costal minesweeper home-ported in Yorktown, Va. From Verplanck, N.Y., and fresh out of boot camp, 17 years old, I was a fireman apprentice assigned to the main propulsion engine room. The next day a seaman apprentice reported for duty, also just out of boot camp. Tom Hollifield was a happy-go-lucky friendly type and we quickly became close friends. Tom, being from Charlotte, N.C., referred to me as "you Yankee" and of course I called him "Rebel."
We palled around for the better part of a year until one day, around the beginning of 1959, I received orders to report to USS Prevail AGS 20, a geodetic survey ship.
Tom and I corresponded by letter for a few months. Then one day one of my letters was returned with a note that Tom had been killed in a car accident.
I was devastated, this being the first time in my life that I experienced the death of a friend, and vowed to someday visit his grave.
With the help of a computer search program I was able to find out where he was buried, as well as other details of the accident.
On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 58 years later, I visited his grave at Sharon Cemetery in Charlotte, and said a prayer...I told him this Yankee never forgot his Rebel friend.