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Logan StoryCorps: Wartime stories and love in a heartbeat

Micah Earl stands smiling beside his grandfather Lemuel. Micah has dark brown hair, is smiling, wearing a white polo shirt and stands half a head taller than Lemuel, who has grey hair, wears glasses and a houndstooth blue and grey dress shirt.  Bryan Earl stands ,smiling, taller than his son Micah, beside his father Lemuel He has dark grey hair and wears a colorful blue and aqua plaid checked button-up shirt.
StoryCorps
Three generations: Micah, Lemuel and Bryan Earl at their Logan StoryCorps appointment in May 2023.

BRYAN EARL: Hi, I'm Bryan Earl. I'm here interviewing my father.

LEMUEL EARL: I'm Lemuel Earl.

BRYAN EARL: So talk about how you first met Mom.

LEMUEL EARL: Well, I'd had a girl that I knew and had taken on a previous date, and I had asked her to go and she hesitated. A fella named Gary had invited her to go. I was the better dancer, but he had the car, but I had a pickup truck to drive. The car won out.

And I was casting around looking for someone. And I remembered this cute girl that sat a little bit behind me. She had coifed up hair, and everybody made fun of her. And I happened to ask my buddy, and he said, "Hey, she's a neat gal, you'll really like her." So I called her and immediately she said, "Yes!" Another fellow had asked her to go; she just did not want to go with. I was a reject from the other gal, and she wanted me!

And that was it. We went together for the rest of our life.

BRYAN EARL: So I wanted to ask you about your time in Vietnam. How was that for you as a father being away from family for that long?

LEMUEL EARL: The hardest thing that I did, was to turn around, and walk away from my family. But it was a good experience. I met a lot of good guys and fell in love with the mission.

We were out scooting through the tree tops looking for the bad guys. We did some good things. But I was so glad to get home.

In December of that year, I'd been in country about nine months, and I had decided to go to Hawaii to meet your mother. And she flew out on a jet to Hawaii. I got off of the bus. All the families are lined up on both sides. And I looked down and I do not see your mom, I think, "Oh, she's missed the plane." She was the last one in line.

We really enjoyed being with each other. It was a lot of fun.

I went back and finished up my tour. And when I came home from Vietnam, I got released a couple of weeks early. So nobody knew I was coming home. And I could hear your mom saying something to Otto, our old basset hound. I let out a big whistle and that dog went nuts. "Otto, stop that!" was your mom. Finally your mom opened that door and let him out. And he hit me hard. He was so happy. And your mom saw us, and, "What are you doing home?"

BRYAN EARL: And then you got the smooch.

LEMUEL EARL: Well ... yeah.

BRYAN EARL: Yes. Did you ever feel like the hand of providence was watching over you?

LEMUEL EARL: There's been several times I had to call and ask for help. And it came.

I was flying a C-7 Caribou. We were in West Virginia carrying just enough people and fuel to be able to climb out of that Cheat River Valley if we were to have a single engine failure. I was a chief warrant four and this full bird colonel tells me he wants to go put 15 or 20 guys on.

I said, "No, sir." I'm telling him I'm not going to do it.

He said, "Well, you know what you're doing."

And we launched. Wheels in the well, flaps up. And we stopped climbing at about 300 feet. We'd gotten a downdraft and there's this large ridge line up in front of us. We were headed straight for that. Couldn't turn.

I just asked for help. And the inspiration came: five degrees of flap. That's not in the manual about what to do in those kinds of situations. I just reached up, dropped the flap lever to five degrees.

The belly of the aircraft slipped through the tops of those trees. That's how close that was.

I told the colonel afterwards, "If we'd have had two more paratroopers on board, we'd never cleared that ridge."

I had an incident one night working with Logan City; I got to a ride motors for the police department.

About one o'clock in the morning I was just listening to traffic and I heard a car on Main Street headed east he must have been pushing close to 50. So I launched right in behind him and he went up the boulevard and we got up to about 400 East and I turned the lights on him and he started to turn and slow down.

I thought he was gonna stop. And then I saw him hit the gas and his wheels were turned hard. And he started spinning back around and I knew what was happening. He started to head right for me and I headed right for him and I just stayed just inside his turn radius. We went do-si-do three or four times there.

BRYAN EARL: Did you ever mention this incident to Mom?

LEMUEL EARL: She knew more reading the paper and listening to the news than she did from me. That was just the way you do it in police work. You don't share things with your family.

There were a few times I came home after a shift; when things were really hairy and give her a hug or give you kids a hug.

BRYAN EARL: I have always felt most fortunate that I was raised in the family that I was. Having Mother gone has presented a new dynamic.

LEMUEL EARL: If she were back here today, I would love it in a heartbeat. Even though she was bedridden pretty much, still she was with me.

BRYAN EARL: Thanks, Dad.

Kirsten grew up listening to Utah Public Radio in Smithfield, Utah and now resides in Logan. She has three children and is currently producing Utah StoryCorps and working as the Saturday morning host on UPR. Kirsten graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree History in 2000 and dual minors in Horticulture and German. She enjoys doing voice work, reading, writing, drawing, teaching children, and dancing. Major credits include StoryCorps, Utah Works, One Small Step, and the APTRA award-winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Check out our past StoryCorps episodes.