It was January 15 1967, the day that the first professional American championship football game, that later became known as Super Bowl I, was played. I was on my way to Travis Air Force base in San Francisco for advanced weapons training after spending a few days visiting my sister in LA before embarking on a new adventure in a place called Vietnam. A nasty all-flights-cancelled fog rolled in as I arrived at LAX for my flight to San Francisco, and I found a seat and settled in for the long wait that was to come.
No sooner had I sat down when a wild and noisy disorder came heading my way. At the head of a group of revelers having one hell of a good time was a gorgeous young lady in a cheerleader’s uniform. She glanced my way, and attracted perhaps by my uniform, she veered away from the group, came over and introduced herself. She explained that she and her group were Kansas City Chiefs fans in town for the big game. She asked where I was headed and I said, “Vietnam.” And in the most piercing expression of emotion that I have ever heard she said, “No, my God no, you can’t. No.” She was in tears when she whistled and motioned to her companions to approach. She introduced me to the group: “This is Larry Hurtado, and he is on his way to Vietnam.” Everyone of them shook my hand, hugged me and wished me God speed. The gorgeous cheerleader was the last one to hug me and wish me a safe tour in Vietnam.
I have been a Kansas City Chiefs fan ever since, although the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35-10 that day. I made it back safely from Vietnam, and how I wish I could at least remember that cheerleader’s name. She brought me luck and made me a fan.