Long time Signal subscriber and neighbor of my ole Army buddy, Stan Cockerell, who served with me in Vietnam, Pam Ross recently met me at Valencia’s Corner Bakery where we had a delightful meeting.
Pam colorfully revealed her military service and lifelong experiences some of which were completely unexpected and jaw dropping hilarious.
Pam’s Midwestern values were evident and her straight forward talk was both engaging and entertaining.
Nose Jobs and Tummy Tucks
Pamela Snyder was born June 9, 1944, in Dayton, Ohio’s Good Samaritan Hospital. She grew up in Dayton graduating from Fairview High School in June 1962.
Pam then attended Miami Valley Hospital School of Nursing, which provided a grueling weekly schedule of 40 hours of schooling along with 40 hours of hands-on clinical work.
She graduated in August 1965 as a registered nurse (RN) and worked as an operating room (OR) nurse when cosmetic surgery became quite the rage in her community.
OR experiences were rather grisly, which compelled her to pledge to never ever have a nose job or breast augmentation surgery, she said with a smile. Pam’s account was actually far more detailed.
“I would love to have a tummy tuck but having seen it performed numerous times, no way!” she said.
Pam, at 16 years of age met Ed Ross at a children’s charity event at a local skating rink in which both participated ; he with his ROTC Pershing Rifle Drill Team and she as a baton twirler.
Prior to their performance, the ROTC cadets mingled and socialized with the high school young ladies.
Pam had her eye on another handsome cadet, who paid her absolutely no attention whatsoever. But, Ed stepped in unexpectedly and made her a bet that she would drop her baton while performing, which infuriated her.
“His New York accent was annoying and it definitely was not love at first sight,” Pam said.
Nevertheless, that chance encounter eventually led them to dating each other for the next five years.
Pam’s demanding school and work schedule resulted in Ed periodically, and platonically, dating Pam’s friends.
Chuckling, Pam said, “Their relationship was more of a community courtship.”
Married in a Chapel
Pam was 21 years of age in September 1965, shortly after Ed was inducted into the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, when Ed proposed marriage to her. Ed was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant due to his four years of ROTC college service.
Ed and Pam were married Feb. 5, 1966 in a chapel at nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
Initially Ed was stationed at Fort McPherson at Atlanta, Georgia, which was Pam’s first foray into Southern America where segregation was notoriously prominent.
Pam was shocked to see separate drinking fountains, restroom facilities and businesses where “coloreds” were not allowed. For Pam, it was an eye opener and she opted to work in a non-segregated hospital.
Meanwhile, Ed’s job was adjutant (administrative assistant to a senior officer) to Fort McPherson’s hospital commander and Pam, true to her Midwestern roots, became a dutiful military wife and quickly transitioned into her new exciting military social lifestyle.
Pam embraced it all as she found the women’s club meetings and luncheons highly enjoyable. She loved the formality of it all, the proper attire and hosting parties. In short, she loved it.
Circumcision on Demand
Pam became employed in the operating room at Atlanta’s Holy Family Hospital, which was un-segregated.
Her work there proved to be quite memorable particularly when a worker’s strike broke out compelling a local company to threaten to fire all strikers.
Since some of these workers were males, word quickly spread that their jobs could be saved if they were on medical leave during the strike period – so some genius decided that having a circumcision could save their bacon.
Pam carefully, and merrily, I might add, explained that each daunting procedure for these young strapping adult males required a holder, a stitcher and a snipper. Pam was the holder.
During 1966, Ed was reassigned to a host of other Army installations until deployment to Vietnam in October 1967 for one year.
When he returned stateside, Pam and Ed began expanding their family by having one son born at Fort Hood, Texas, another son at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Their daughter was born at Camp Kue Hospital, Okinawa.
Meanwhile Pam continued her healthcare work and furthering her nursing education. In June 1982, Pam joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserves as a direct commissioned 1st Lieutenant, due to her previous medical experience.
Her Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training were conducted at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, known as the home of the Army Medical Corps.
In total, Pam served one month short of 22 years and along the way she rose to Lieutenant Colonel which required command time, a Master’s Degree and other specialized military training.
Pam is very proud of her military service and her service rendering medical aid to those in need.
She accomplished many things that she thought were impossible for her such as firing an M-16, rope rappelling, zip lining, rescue swimming, learning night compass and map navigation, and a variety of other physical challenges.
The military also taught her lifelong lessons of leadership, how to cope with bureaucracy and how to avoid taking things personally.
Serving in the Army provided her tremendous exposure to numerous modes of medical treatments, amazing medical personnel and provided a platform for an interesting civilian career in hospital, corporate and consulting healthcare work.
Pam and Ed selected a new home in Newhall in 1985 after moving 15 times in 20 years where Pam lives to this day.
Their three children are Hart High School graduates and they have produced five fine grandchildren. Colonel Ed Ross retired in July 1995, after making the General’s list and Lieutenant Colonel Pam Ross retired June 9, 2004.
Sadly in 2012, Ed was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor which became malignant and ultimately life-threatening. It led to his tragic death on May 12, 2016.
For Pam, this was absolutely heartbreaking and practically drained her of any sense of ever regaining a sense of normality.
To make things worse, her home was robbed in June 2016 several days after Ed’s burial service at Miramar Naval Cemetery and the dirty rotten thieves took every piece of jewelry that Ed had gifted her throughout their 50 year marriage.
Pam cites her military training and experiences for having made her a resilient person, thus enabling her to forge on. She also credits her strong loving family and many friends as a true blessing.
As a lifelong caregiver, she filled her void by adopting a puppy which has brought much comfort and in keeping with Pam’s last name (Ross), she named her new puppy Betsy.
Despite losing Ed, Pam feels that she’s had a full, rich life thus she maintains a long list of accomplishments still in her sights.
It seems a fitting tribute to Pam and Ed to have their story published on this day, May 12th. I personally consider Pam a true patriot and a great American. Our society could use many more Pam Ross’s.