Lucky Me (2)

I was phenomenally lucky on the battlefield. Between 1962 and 1975, I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. My job was assisting friendly forces in combat with signals intelligence, the intercept and exploitation of the radio communications of the invading north Vietnamese. During all those years, I was never once hit by gunfire. The same was true after 1975 when I served all over the world in places I can’t talk about because my work there is still classified. My best guess is that the enemy concentrated his fire against those firing at him. I wasn’t even carrying a gun in my hands (although I had a .38 revolver in a holster) because of the radio equipment I lugged around to link me with my employer, the National Security Agency (NSA), and in-country intercept sites who were monitoring enemy communications and tipping me off.

My good luck went on when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese in April, 1975. Even though the Ambassador, Graham Martin, forbade me from doing it, I successfully evacuated all 43 of my subordinates and their families. That meant that I had to stay until the very end. After the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon, I was lucky enough to escape under fire by helicopter.

When I returned to NSA in 1975, I insisted on leading my subordinates rather than managing them. I was lucky enough to get way with it, and the people working for me, lifted up and encouraged by me, achieved astonishing results. As luck would have it, I was promoted to the top levels of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and retired with a generous annuity. Free of money worries, I wrote fulltime. My luck held again. All six of my books and 17 short stories were published.

My luck was still good when I came down with lung cancer some years ago. I had been a heavy smoker until I was in my mid-thirties. More than fifteen years after I quit, I was diagnosed with cancer in the upper lobe of my right lung. I was close to death when I started chemotherapy and radiation to reduce the tumor enough that it could be removed. I underwent surgery, and the lobe was removed. I was lucky enough to survive.

And I was lucky enough to learn early on practices that would insure my continued good health. I sleep as much as ten hours a day, drink plenty of water, depend on a diet of mostly vegetables and fruits (almost no meat and no sweets), and lift weights for a couple of hours every other day. I am determined to live well past my hundredth birthday. All available evidence suggests that I’ll be lucky enough to succeed.

Who could ask for better luck than I’ve enjoyed all my life?

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