September 10th, 2014:

FINDING COL. VICTOR HOBSON IN THE PENTAGON

In 1964 I went hunting for my birth father. I had no memories or photos of him since my mother had remarried and wanted to forget her divorce. I was curious and since I was starting my search for a career, possibly with the CIA, I needed family information only he had. I knew he was stationed in the Pentagon in Northern Virginia.

When I found the proper office among the rings and corridors of the enigmatic Pentagon, I walked into a long narrow room to the secretary’s desk near a window. I told her I needed to speak with Colonel Hobson, and she directed me to a metal chair to wait until he was free. I took several deep breaths to keep myself calm. I couldn’t have been seated more than about three minutes, but it seemed like an eternity before she instructed me to go into the adjacent office.

Dressed in my collegiate straight skirt and sweater and carrying my winter coat (it was February), I resolutely walked into the spacious windowed office. There were two desks: Victor occupied the larger one by the window; his adjutant had a smaller desk off to the side. I wondered how I would manage this interview with someone else listening in, but pulled myself together and smiled as self-confidently as I could. After all, I was now a twenty-one year old adult and had mustered the courage to find him and meet him in person.

Gen. Victor W Hobson

Was this white-haired slender man truly my father? Did I even resemble him? Wasn’t he too old? My stepdad was scarcely gray. But this man’s hair was thick and wavy, similar to mine, and his slightly pug nose looked like mine. He looked at me inquisitively as I walked up to his desk, my heart racing in my chest.

“Col. Hobson, I’m Viki Williams!” I introduced myself as he stood up with a smile. I noted he was taller than my dad. He maintained his outward composure, though I could detect the astonishment in his eyes. He knew who I was immediately. Calmly and politely, he told the adjutant to leave and close the door behind him. He then directed me to sit in the chair in front of his desk.

“Now what can I do for you?” he asked hesitantly, smiling at me, the bomb who had dropped into his life.

What thoughts were rushing through his mind? I wondered as I kept my cool, though I was quaking underneath. Tension and unease hung in the air. I quickly told him I was in my senior year of college and looking for careers, and I needed information for my CIA personnel form, such as where exactly was he born. As he gave me the information about his Alabama birth, we both relaxed a bit.

“I guess you think I’m about the worst man alive,” he offered with a hint of regret in his voice after we had finished the required questions.

“No, I don’t,” I replied evenly, too shy and uncertain to explain feelings I wasn’t even sure of. Even though Army officers weren’t known as “Disney” fathers, I had harbored no resentments through the years. I was simply curious and reaching out for clues to my origins.

“I’ve thought about you a great deal all these years,” he added softly. “You look very much like your mother, except taller.”

“Thank you,” I answered, watching his head twitch nervously as he cocked it to the side.

“Where’s your family now?”

“My dad’s stationed in Germany,” I replied, thinking how odd to say that since this was my real father. “I’ve got a fifteen-year-old sister and a ten-year-old brother.”

“I have two girls; that’s all I seem to have.” He gave me a friendly smile. “Let’s see, it’s been eighteen years now.” He paused; it was the amount of time he had been married. “My girls don’t know about you. It’s so complicated, you know.”

Unsaid was my conviction that divorces were indeed complicated. I wondered just what his complications had been, and discovered later that his wife was Catholic, and the church was strongly critical of divorce. Circumstances required that they be married outside the church, and they had never told their children, who were being raised in the Catholic faith.

(Even after all these years, this conversation is accurate for the most part. I came back to my friend’s house where I was staying and typed up my story for posterity, and I still have the typewritten copy. Besides, I knew my mother would want to know all the details.)

To be continued…

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