The Best Television Memories of His Life
Thomas Calabrese –he last five years had been rough for Dave Corbett, rough might be an understatement. If he wasn’t so strong, emotionally, physically and mentally, he might have just packed it in. After graduating from Vista High School in 2008, he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. After being commissioned, Dave applied to be a Navy Seal. It was the hardest thing that he ever did, but he made it through the extensive program that included; Naval Warfare Preparatory School, Special Warfare Orientation, Basic Conditioning, Combat Diving, Land Warfare Training and Seal Qualification Training. Only one of four applicants who began the arduous process ever finished it.
He was assigned to Seal Team Seven in Coronado, California. After distinguishing himself in three overseas deployments and 36 missions, Dave began dating Cathy Jensen, a successful San Diego County realtor in 2016 and they had an unusual relationship. Beneath her professional demeanor was an adrenalin junkie. At first, Dave liked the excitement of being around this type of woman, but after a covert mission where he spent three weeks in the jungle and had a high altitude, low opening insertion parachute jump, the last thing that he wanted to do was go skydiving, white-water rafting or rock climbing. He did his best to accommodate his girlfriend, but eventually she picked up on his lack of enthusiasm and their relationship became strained.
While on deployment, Cathy sent him a letter and apologized for the timing. She had met someone new and didn’t want to start a new relationship without telling him first. She said that he deserved to know the truth.
Dave didn’t know how to respond. Some guys hated the idea of getting a ‘Dear John’ letter while overseas, others wanted to know because they didn’t want to waste time looking forward to seeing someone who had already moved on. Dave was conflicted about his emotions, so he sent an e-mail with these few words, ‘I appreciate your honesty. I wish you the best.’
There were more than enough activities to keep Dave busy while he was on deployment, so it wasn’t like he was sitting around feeling depressed about his former girlfriend. When he wasn’t planning for or conducting a mission, he was exercising or streaming classic television shows from the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s on his laptop.
Once he got back to the states and had more free time, visions of his girlfriend kept creeping back into his thoughts. Some people would say that the Special Operative should contact Cathy and get closure. It did cross Dave’s mind, but before he could take any action, other unfortunate occurrences would begin to affect his life.
When he started feeling weak and nauseous, Dave went to sickbay and informed the Corpsman of his symptoms. After undergoing a battery of tests, he was referred to an infectious disease specialist. The doctor’s diagnosis was that the Navy Seal caught an infection while on deployment. It couldn’t be determined if it was viral, bacterial or fungal, so Dave was given a wide spectrum of antibiotics. The side effects were worse than the ailment.
While dealing with his medical issues, his sister, Tina had a heated argument with her volatile fiancé. While she was at work, he stopped by Wells Fargo Bank and emptied out their joint bank account and left town. Tina had no choice but to borrow money from Dave to pay her rent and car payment.
Dave was in Lemon Grove having dinner with a Seal team member at Coop’s West Texas BBQ. While exiting the restaurant, he saw a border patrol vehicle pursuing a brown Ford pick-up truck down Lemon Grove Avenue. The driver sideswiped a UPS van, lost control and careened into the parking lot. It broadsided Dave’s two-year old pristine Toyota Camry and demolished it. The border agents found illegal narcotics in the truck.
Two days later, Dave’s father suffered a heart attack while working in the backyard. When his mother saw him lying motionless in the flower garden, she ran to his assistance, tripped and broke her collarbone. His father had emergency surgery and his mother’s right arm was immobilized and placed in a sling. Both were kept in the hospital for observation.
When Dave returned to the base after visiting his parents at Palomar Medical Center, he could hardly keep his eyes open, he was so exhausted. There was a letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing him that he was under audit. It seemed that the tax preparer recommended to him had been embezzling from his clients and falsifying their returns. Dave laid down on his rack and was asleep in less than a minute. He was awakened by a sailor who said, “Sorry, Lieutenant, the Admiral wants to see you.”
Admiral Vincent Korsak was sitting behind his desk when Dave appeared in the doorway, “Come in Lt. Corbett and take a seat.”
Dave complied and tried to stay awake. Admiral Korsak commented, “Have you been drinking?”
“No sir, I’ve got an infection and the doctor has me on medication, being drowsy is one of the side effects.”
Admiral Korsak looked at his watch, “When I get a call from the Pentagon at my home this time of night and they tell me to get down here, I expect bad news.”
“I know how you feel, sir.”
“I received a secure communication stating that the country of Zaire has filed a formal complaint against your team. They said you killed innocent civilians on your last mission.”
Dave quickly responded, “That didn’t happen. The only people we killed were armed and shooting at us. There was no collateral damage on our part, sir. You’ve got my word.”
“You should be expecting to hear from NCIS and JAG tomorrow. I wanted to contact you and the rest of your team before that happened. I am ordering you not to discuss the mission with your men or anybody else for that matter…understood?”
“Affirmative, Admiral,” Dave left the office and began to experience a severe bout of nausea as he walked back to his quarters.
Pete Sosa, an operator from Team Five noticed him staggering, “You look like you’ve been rode hard and put away broken.”
“That’s the best thing that I’ve heard all day,” Dave mumbled and continued on his way. When he reached for the handrail, he blacked out and tumbled down two flights of concrete stairs. Pete rendered first-aid and called 911 and Dave was rushed to Balboa Naval Hospital.
By the time he arrived at the medical facility, Dave’s was in critical condition and unconscious. His temperature was hovering around 103 and he was badly bruised, had a concussion, but luckily sustained no broken bones. He was placed on a ventilator because he was only breathing 4 breaths per minute. Normal respiration rates range from 12 to 16. Attending emergency room physician, Commander Chet Farrell conducted a thorough examination of the Navy Seal, then carefully reviewed Dave’s medical records. He reluctantly made a dire diagnosis, “The infection has spread throughout his body. Unless we find the right antibiotic in a hurry, he’s not going to survive.”
While in a coma, Dave began to experience vivid hallucinations. During his first one, he was a young boy, walking up to a house in a middle-class neighborhood in Mayfield. He knocked on the door and June Cleaver opened it, “Good morning David… Beaver, Wally, Eddie and Larry Mondello are all upstairs. They’ve been waiting for you all morning”
“Thank you, Mrs. Cleaver,” Dave replied.
As Dave walked up the stairs, he saw Ward Cleaver working in his den. When he opened the bedroom door, he was now on Main Street in Mayberry, North Carolina. He saw Barney Fife driving in the police cruiser, Opie was fishing at Miller’s Pond and Aunt Bee was shopping. Across the street Andy was helping Otis, the town drunk, into the courthouse. Gomer rushed over with his cousin Goober, “Shazzam! Is that you Dave? Golly! You’ve been gone too long.”
Before Dave could answer, he was standing inside Arnold’s Drive-In. Richie Cunningham, Fonzie, Ralph and Potsie were sitting in a booth. Fonzie called out, “Hey Dave!”
As he walked over, Dave tapped the jukebox and the song, Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis began to play. Dave danced with Jaime Sommers, the Bionic Woman before leaving. Waiting outside for him was the Lone Ranger, Tonto and Mister Ed.
The Lone Ranger said, “We’re burning daylight, Pilgrim.”
Dave mounted Mister Ed and they rode off into the sunset. When they reached the Ponderosa, Ben, Hoss and Little Joe were waiting for them. Ben smiled, “Howdy Dave, mind if we ride a piece with you?”
Dave responded, “Reckon so.”
As the group rode across the prairie, they came across a herd of cattle. Joe Cartwright tipped his hat and greeted Dave, “You’re always welcome at the Ponderosa.”
Rowdy Yates, Gil Favor and Wishbone rode up. “We were wondering when you were going to show up. Take point, we’re hoping to reach Dodge City by tonight. We’ve been swallowing a whole lot of trail dust since we left Texas.”
With Dodge City in the distance, the drovers let the herd graze on the grassy hills of Kansas. Dave rode into town with Rowdy and Gil. Matt Dillion, Chester Goode, Festus Haggen, Doc Adams and Kitty Russell were sitting outside the Long Branch Saloon. Kitty offered, “How about a cold beer…got two for you, Dave.”
Dave responded, “Thanks Kitty.”
When he got inside, Heath, Nick and Jarrod Barkley were playing poker with Bret and Bart Maverick. Rin Tin Tin and Lassie eagerly ran over to greet Dave. Bret Maverick offered, “We’ve been saving a seat for you, Dave.”
“Let me wet my whistle, then I’ll mosey over.” Dave saddled up to the bar and Sam the bartender poured him a cold one, “Cheers…nice to be where everybody knows your name.”
Dave noticed Norm, Cliff, Cheyenne and Lucas McCain at the other end of the bar and nodded his head to acknowledge their presence. Dave played several hands of poker and won each one.
After leaving the Long Branch, Dave walked down to the train station where Bobbie Jo, Billie Jo and Betty Jo were sitting on the bench.
The Hooterville Cannonball will be here any minute,” Betty Jo reminded Dave, “I knew you’d be here in time.”
When the train arrived, Dave boarded with the three Bradley sisters and they sat in the private car with James West and Artemus Gordon.
As they got closer to Pixley, Floyd and Charlie stopped the train. Oliver and Lisa Douglas got on board. Charlie commented, “Your farm is looking mighty good…crops are sprouting up”
Oliver Douglas smiled, “It’s that new fertilizer that I got from Arnold Ziffel and Sam Drucker.”
“What is it called?” Floyd asked.
Oliver answered, “The brand is Green Acres.”
The Bradley girls and Dave got off, climbed up the ladder to the water tank and went swimming.
Back at Balboa Hospital, Nurse Margaret Houlihan commented to Doctor Chet Farrell, “Is he smiling?”
Doctor Farrell took a closer look and agreed, “I believe that he is!”
After getting out of the water tank, Dave walked up to the Shady Rest Hotel where Uncle Joe was moving kinda’ slow. Inside the lobby, Rod Serling was staring off into the distance. He made these comments when he saw Dave, “There is a fifth dimension, beyond which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. Dave Corbett, you are currently traveling in the outermost quadrants of your imagination. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.”
Dave smiled, “Thanks Rod, I appreciate the heads up…now things are starting to make more sense to me.”
As he exited through the back door of the Shady Rest Hotel, Dave saw Sergeant Joe Friday and Officer Joe Gannon interviewing Herman Munster. Sergeant Friday instructed the gentle giant, “Just the facts, sir.”
While walking down the trail, Dave saw the sign, Highway to Heaven and followed the arrow. In the blink of an eye, something whizzed by him. After gathering his senses, Dave saw it was the Six Million Man. Colonel Steve Austin yelled back, “Sorry about that, Dave. I’ve got a coupon for a chicken avocado burrito at El Pollo Loco.”
Dave yelled back, “No problem, pick one up for me!”
As he made the turn in the trail, Dave saw the Green Hornet and Kato fighting with the Penguin and the Joker. He did a double front flip and performed a flying sidekick. After vanquishing the villains, Kato turned to Dave, “You’ll have to teach me that maneuver.”
“Anytime,” Dave responded.
In the distance, gunfire could be heard. Dave ran to investigate and saw two jeeps with .50 caliber machine guns mounted on them. Sergeant Troy called out, “Let’s go, Dave!”
Dave jumped into the back of the jeep and got behind the machine gun. The two jeeps attacked a German convoy in the middle of the Sahara Desert. When the battle was over, Sergeant Troy slapped Dave on the back, “Welcome to the Rat Patrol.”
Sitting along the side of the road in Italy was an infantry patrol. Sergeant Chip Saunders got up to greet Dave. “I’d asked you if you were ready for Combat, but your reputation precedes you. Tell Kirby to give you the BAR.”
“Sure thing, Sergeant Saunders.”
Dave fought with his fellow Americans to a building, sitting on top of the hill. Dave burst through the door and saw Doctor Kildare and Doctor Marcus Welby talking.
Back at Balboa Hospital, a team of doctors sadly looked at Dave. Doctor Farrell sighed, “We’ve done everything we can…I don’t think he’ll make it through the day.”
Nurse Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan responded, “At least it doesn’t look like he’s in any pain.”
Doctor Kildare smiled, “We’ve been working on your case and I believe we have identified the infection and have begun the proper course of treatment.”
Dave said, “I appreciate all your hard work. How can I repay you?”
“Your service to our country is all the payment we require,” Marcus Welby responded, “Before I forget, I just looked in on your parents…they’re going to make a complete recovery.”
While lying in his hospital bed, Commander Harmon Rabb from JAG and Perry Mason entered, “I hope that I’m not disturbing you, but I’ve got good news for you.”
“I can always use good news, Commander” Dave smiled.
Commander Rabb explained, “Admiral Chegwidden assigned Colonel McKenzie and myself to clear up your legal issues. Everything has been taken care of so just focus on getting better.”
“My deepest thanks to you, the Colonel and the Admiral,” Dave said.
Perry Mason added, “I had Paul Drake find your sister’s fiancé and he recovered the stolen money.”
Back at Balboa Hospital, Hot Lips checked Dave’s vital signs, then paged Doctor Farrell.
Upon his arrival, the Navy Physician asked, “What is it?”
Hot Lips responded, “He’s getting better by the minute.”
After a thorough examination, Doctor Farrell shook his head in amazement, “A few hours ago, he was at death’s door and now he’s almost back to normal. Explain that to me?”
Margaret Houlihan responded, “I stopped trying to figure out miracles when I was assigned to a M.A.S.H unit in Korea.”
Back in Dave’s hallucination, a man entered the room, “My name is Michael Anthony and I represent John Beresford Tipton, He has instructed me to give you something.” Michael Anthony reached into his briefcase and handed Dave a check.
Dave stared in amazement, “Ten million dollars!”
“Tax free…with one stipulation.”
“Which is?” Dave asked.
Michael Anthony answered, “You can never tell anyone how you received this money or you will have to return it…agreed?”
Michael Anthony handed Dave a form to sign and then disappeared.
When Dave awakened, he never felt better.
“You may be the luckiest man that I’ve ever known,” Doctor Farrell smiled, “You are completely recovered….not just recovered, but in perfect physical condition”
Dave commented, “I just had the strangest dream…so real”
Doctor Farrell said, “Considering your extreme high temperature, vivid hallucinations are not that uncommon.”
Dave said, “Even now that I’d awake, it feels more like memory than a dream.”
After being released from the hospital, Dave found out that both investigations, one from the IRS and the other from the Navy had concluded and neither found any wrongdoings on his part. He was immediately returned to full duty. After a long training swim off the San Diego coast, Dave went back to his quarters and prepared to go out to dinner with three of his teammates. He put on his pants and felt something in his pocket. When he pulled it out, he saw that it was a check for 10 million dollars!
Dave would never forget or try to explain…his stroll through the Twilight Zone or as he liked to put it, the best television memories of his life.