Marty Armitage, me and Jon Voight
Taken at the Welcome Home Veteran's Ceremony held at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California on 2-24-86. .
Marty was among a small group whom I just so happened to sit next to at the ceremony. Marty was a special kinda guy. After talking with him briefly about my plight, he insisted on taking my sign -- that read, "Seeking surviving relatives of missing plane between Guam & Saigon on 3-16-62" -- and walked up and down the isles with it raised high in the air. He was genuinely enjoying it! Just from watching Marty, he gave me the inspiration to express how one would when one is totally into their plight with all their heart and soul -- mind and body -- without being embarrassed about what others think..
When I recognized the actor, Jon Voight, walking several rows below us on the ground floor, I couldn't believe he was "right there!" Moments went by, when all of a sudden, Mr. Voight walked up the isle, and sat down right next to me in the empty isle seat. We spoke briefly about my plight (the tears came down smearing my makeup all over my face), and Mr. Voight signed his autograph on my sign. He had agreed to take my sign on stage with him in an effort to gain more exposure to my plight. He was understandably hesitant about it, but, nonetheless did it. I was truly honored by his compassion, as I was a "nobody" to him. He, on the otherhand, was an idol to all relating to the Vietnam War, as he was the "star" in the motion pictures, "Coming Home," "Mission Impossible," and other great movies.
At one point I'd left my seat and walked down to the ground floor. I tried to get close to the stage to take a picture of him holding my sign, but security wouldn't let me get within about 10 rows from the front. I kept telling them, "That's my sign he's holding! Jon Voight's holding my sign!" I realized that no matter what I'd tell them, I would only be viewed as "one of the crowd."
Upon leaving the ceremony, I promised Marty that I would never forget him for what he had done, and that when I wrote a book about our story he would be in it. I'll also never forget the feeling that seemed to heighten as I drove back home -- the feeling that: among the thousands of people who were there at the ceremony, Jon Voight had sat next to me. I knew from this, and from many other instances, that God Himself was directing my every footstep and that it was suppose to happen this way.
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