I could have been Woman of the Year – 1969!
Let me explain. My full name is Maxie Gene
Holt. Some of you know that I grew up on a small East Texas
farm. So, “How did a Texas farm boy get a name like Maxie?”…you
may ask. In the months prior to my birth my oldest sister Neecie, (I
have 3 sisters and 6 brothers) had met a German boy, named Maxie, in
town and they were pretty seriously dating. I believe he was the son
of German immigrants who had come over before WW2. Since she thought
maybe she would marry the guy she convinced my mother to name me
after him. Not long after I was born in 1946 they broke up and she
never heard from him again. But…my Birth Certificate was already
written and I became the first Maxie any of the farm folks had ever
heard about. Neecie was mad at Maxie so Mama decided to give me the
nickname, Mack. I was Mack to everyone who knew me until the Army
changed all that.
Fast forward to 1969. I was a U-21 fixed wing
pilot in Vietnam, assigned to the Command Aircraft Company, with the
210th Combat Aviation Battalion, stationed at Long Thanh North
Airfield. We were located about 20 miles east of Saigon. One day in
early 1969 I checked mail after a mission. In addition to the usual
letter from my wife there was a letter from the Washington D.C.
Office of the National Organization of Women. It was addressed to
MS. MAXIE G. HOLT. Inside was a letter to me and a blank form for me
to fill out and return.
The letter went something like this:
Dear MS. Holt,
It has come to our attention that you are
one of the first women pilots in the military to be flying in a
combat zone, risking your life for our country. As a women you are a
first, In that you have broken the barriers to women in the armed
forces serving alongside men in combat. Your service makes you
uniquely qualified to be considered for the prestigious honor of
WOMAN OF THE YEAR – 1969.
If you would like to be considered among
other applicants please complete the enclosed form and return it to
our Washington D.C. office no later than July 1, 1969. We look
forward to giving due consideration to your experience and position
in the military. (The letter was signed by the President,
I showed the letter around to my fellow pilots
and we all had a good laugh. Then, my hutch-mate, Johnny Stewart,
suggested that I fill it out and enter the competition. Other pilots
joined the attempt to persuade me to send it in. I thought about it
but decided I didn’t have time to mess with it. In retrospect, I
should have entered. Just imagine the looks on the N.O.W. faces when
I would have walked in for their interview.
The mistaken identity happened because the
N.O.W. staff didn’t do their homework and check the details of their
potential applicants. Had I pursued my application there would most
likely have been an embarrassing moment for N.O.W. somewhere along
the way. They had not learned one of the early lessons we all
learned in OCS…the devil is in the details. Failure to consider the
details can jeopardize any mission.
In the New Testament, Luke 14:28-29 says,
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down
first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest,
after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who
see it begin to mock him.” It would be prudent for all of us to
count the cost in money, time, and resources as we decide what kind
of legacy we intend to build for our families.
Max Holt, Class 02-67