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Encounter With the Guardian Angels

November 05, 1989

Clay Evans' story on the Guardian Angels (Times, Oct. 19) leads me to tell you of a household experience with these remarkable young people. Last Dec. 29, my wife, Vada, fell and cracked her head against a curb, was found lying in the street bleeding profusely by a young woman named Susan Youel. She called the paramedics (Unit 68) who took her to the emergency entrance of Midway Hospital Medical Center, where she was given nine stitches and, in her woozy, bewildered state, was sent out into the night without a taxi being called or any attempt to call home for someone to come for her.

Wandering in the dark, a youngster she knows only as "Bill" found her and told her he always wanted to be a Guardian Angel, but was turned down for being too small and the streets were too tough for him. He volunteered to take her to a Guardian Angel friend to prove he could do "rescue things," and that maybe the Guardian Angels would reconsider his candidacy. My wife went along, and the Guardian Angel she met was Malcolm Ratliff, who was "off duty" in Westwood and did not have his identifying uniform.

Malcolm saw before him a 78-year-old woman, 5 feet tall, covered in blood, the whole right side of her face a great red splotch. And she was in the hands of two black youngsters. Were the police to show up, would they come to a quick conclusion that they were the ones who had abused her? Malcolm acted coolly, got the address of our home and, having been a "missing person" for 19 hours, she was delivered to our door--safely.

The incident, according to Dr. Michael Vitulio of the Midway Hospital Medical Center, caused a top-to-bottom revision of that facility's policy toward emergency cases--no release until spliced into a responsible contact.

Imagine the incredible chain of coincidences--starting with the Guardian Angels dream of little "Bill," that saw my wife Vada through!

Last Sunday night, the Guardian Angels had a receiving line at a Hollywood theater, and at the head of the line was Steve Kirkman, the one in Clay Evans' story and head of the Los Angeles Guardian Angels. He told me Malcolm wants to be a Los Angeles policeman one day and, if that is his choice, I'm going to support his candidacy any way I can. Around our house, though, there is still the problem of never having been able to identify that street kid named Bill, to whom the Guardian Angels were a dream and who, by showing up when he did, averted what could have been an awful fate for that lady who's been around and with me in 77 countries for more than 54 years!

I don't know how things will turn out for a West Hollywood perplexed about how to deal with its dangerous "eyesore" problem, but the Guardian Angels are owed a lot by one couple in Westwood!

COL. BARNEY OLDFIELD

U.S. Air Force (retired)

Beverly Hills

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