This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Sandy B’s story. The late Sandy B. was a USMC fighter pilot, forward air traffic controller, Credit Union Lobbyist and a long time member of Alcoholics Anonymous: Even though I was told that if I ever took another drink of alcohol, it meant the end of my military career, I started drinking again. On December 7, 1964, I called the Inner Group office in Northern Virginia and they sent another Marine Captain to my house. He was the only military member of A.A. in Quantico at that time and he’s still my sponsor. Although he’s very ill these days he’s still tough, mean and wonderful, his name is Phil T. Phil took me to a meeting the day we met and we continued our nightly meetings thereafter for a long time. He persistently pounded A.A.’s 12 steps, traditions and principles into my head.
In the Marine Corp a Captain is given only two chances to make Major or they are discharged. Neither of us made it on the first attempt and a year later on the second attempt he made it, but I did not. He was in, but I was out of the Marine Corp and with a wife and six kids to support. All of my years in the military seemed wasted. I stayed sober, went to meetings every night, was doing everything my sponsor suggested, and God had the nerve to treat me like that? At that time, I thought it was unfair. I don’t know if other people in early sobriety keep track of what’s fair, but I did and I thought the Marine Corp had given me the shaft. I thought a family man who attended A.A. meetings, worked The Steps, made amends and stayed sober should not get mistreated by the Marine Corp. The people in my home group quickly tired of hearing me whine about it, they said, “Oh brother, here comes Mr. Whine, sob, sob, he wants a pity-party; perhaps we should make him “Victim of the Month?”


I found a job about three months after being discharged and one morning I picked up a newspaper and it read, “Marine Crop Instruction Team killed in Air Crash,” their plane had crashed going into Denver. There were 14 members on that team, all friends, and all of them were dead. If life would’ve been fair and I would’ve had it my way, the Marine Crop would not have discharged me and I would’ve been dead! I distinctly remember saying, “Well, that changes everything,” in hindsight, I clearly saw that being discharged was a good thing. I knew that God knew too because He knows everything and I felt especially foolish for second guessing Him. I quietly said to God, “Why didn’t you tell me that crash was going to happen so I didn’t waste three months, whining about it?”

My first job after returning to civilian life didn’t last long and I changed jobs several more times before I ended up working for a Credit Union in Washington D.C. They’re a wonderful group of people and I became a Credit Union Lobbyist for the next 20 years. After that job, I retired to Tampa Bay, Florida with my lovely wife and I still go to A.A. meetings almost every night. I sponsor about 25 guys; we work the steps together and then we enjoy life. I tell them, “I’m not going to help you with your problems,” no, not at all; I’m going to help you see that you don’t have a problem. I’m gong to give you a different way of looking at things; a new pair of glasses. I’m going to give you the power to see that everything is “Already Alright.” That’s what a spiritual solution looks like; it’s very different from the traditional methodology for solving problems. Bill Wilson said in our Big Book, “The problem was simply removed.” New people say, “What do you mean removed?” Problems don’t simply go away!
To be continued…

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John Barleycorn

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