Listen, you won’t understand what they are doing in boot camp, when done though you will be a Marine. Having graduated you will have earned that title. Little do you know what that means. After infantry training and aviation school will be helicopter school and again you’ll have no idea what is coming your way.
A short break and your first unit, you will be all dialed in and become a crew chief; now you have your own bird.
They pack your unit up and load all of it with you onboard a navy ship, yours is the USS Ogden.
The trip wasn’t bad, but next you put into Okinawa for a bit of last-minute liberty. Then off again to the position just off Phu-Bi, Viet Nam.
You will spend the entire night on deck watching mortar and rocket fire with the occasional small arms shoot out. It is going to be eerie and you will be unsettled and maybe fearful. Struggling through the night there will be an awareness and a decision will be made to face the fact that you will in fact die here. There and then you will embrace death and in fact something will die in you, but now you find yourself settled and ready to go do your job. You are a Marine Crew Chief on a CH-53D Helicopter. Let the games begin.
The missions start almost as soon as you hit the beach. Taking fire is a normal experience. You won’t allow your thoughts to swerve, even a little, since there is too much going on and you don’t have room or time for self-indulgence.
You have a good crew manning the door guns and the pilots have spent a good bit of time with training for this mission. BUT, nothing could have prepared you for this. It would be overwhelming if it wasn’t for you’re embracing death. Life will never be the same.
Don’t get too close to anyone, they will be gone tomorrow and you don’t have time for grief.
Let your little boy go now, and only remember your training.
You will not be able to deal with the horrors of what war does, there is no way to turn it off.
If you survive, don’t forget to give your little boy permission to go home with you. If you don’t, it will take you most of your life to allow him to be part of your life again.
In all your efforts to avoid being close to others, you will find some that just are close anyway. When you lose them it will be forever etched in your soul.
Fear is always present, strangely not for yourself, but for the innocent people caught in the middle. Children, elders, strangers and their dogs.
It’s okay, you didn’t cause this. None of this is your fault.
You will spend the rest of your life looking for understanding, but to no avail, unless you happen to stumble upon other Veterans.
If either you or the others aren’t hiding inside yourselves, then you can be of help and find a little comfort in the fact that it wasn’t only you.
When everything shakes down as you’re rapidly approaching the end of your earthly life, all that is bottled up inside you will have become your friend and companion.
You will look forward to the day when you stand on the deck of the ship of time and look longingly at your new home.
WORDS TO ME BY ME FOR ME AND ABOUT ME. Maybe you to.
William N McKennon
June 6th, 2015