By Derek Maul
World War II Vets Lyndon and Joyce Greager are 66 years into a love story that started when they met outside the commissary in Pearl Harbor.
“I saw her coming with her friend,” Lyndon said. “I said I’d sure like to have a date with that woman. So I talked to her and she joined me for the movie.”
Joyce Folta was only 17 when she left her Chicago Heights home to join the WAVEs. “The commander sent me home from boot camp I was so lonesome,” she said. “I had to get permission to go to Hawaii.”
Lyndon grew up between Dallas and Fort Worth. “I’d been working at an aircraft plant and was deferred,” he said. “I volunteered in 1944.”
After basic he was trained as an instructor at the Marine Corps Institute in Washington D.C. before being shipped to Hawaii. Joyce Folta’s desk job ended soon after victory, but her Marine fiancé was slated to remain through the end of 1946. “Captain Freyberger switched me to civil service,” she said. “I got a pay raise, kept my desk, and stayed with Lyndon.”
The Greagers married in 1946, and then returned to Chicago in 1947. But Lyndon didn’t like cold weather so the couple moved to Texas after a year.
“I became a boilermaker,” Lyndon said. “I built powerhouses most of my life.” The specialty required travel to see projects through. After the first leave, Joyce confronted her husband. “I told him I needed him,” she said. “So we traded our home and furniture for a travel trailer and started out on the road.”
While Lyndon worked nationwide, the couple traveled together, enrolled their children in local schools and then moved again. “We enjoyed it,” Lyndon said. “I became regional manager in Chicago then retired in 1982. We were going to build a home in Texas but followed our kids here.”
It’s been over 60-years since Lyndon wore his uniform, but he said it holds its meaning. “They make a lot of the uniform now,” he said. “But everyone wore one then; we were nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Everyone was doing their part,” Joyce said. “They were really gung-ho and so patriotic. Doing bandages, joining the service, working in the shipyards, everyone helping.”
The secret behind 60-plus years of marriage? “Let her have her way,” Lyndon said. “It’s the other way around,” Joyce countered. “You know that!”