One or two of us
Were home on leave;
For the rest of us,
Christmas came by mail.
Our callsign: Gunslingers.
Our Military Transition Team
Was embedded with
The "Triple Deuce" Iraqi Infantry,
For a year our home
Was LSA Diamondback
Mosul, Nineveh province,
In northern Iraq
A Team member's wife
Gave us all Santa hats.
I have an old photo
Of us standing on top
Of an old Iraqi bunker,
Bearing pistols, rifles,
And those Santa hats.
My wife sent a small
Plastic Christmas tree,
Which was decorated
In the Gunslingers' office.
My mom sent a warm quilt.
When you're acclimatized
To wearing battle armor
In the high 90s and 100s,
80-something feels cold!
I remember the nights--
Dark, but full of stars,
With Orion's belt
On the horizon.
Soldiers made bonfires
In the oddest places:
By a concrete shelter,
Or in classified burn pits.
Once exiting my office,
I saw a fire in the sky.
Soldiers were on top of a bunker
Drinking near-beer, singing.
Another night, I stood
Just outside of the light
Looking at some troops,
And the chiaroscuro image.
I went back to my "choo",
And penciled the scene.
To complete the masterpiece,
I inserted myself
I went back to visit them,
Showed them the drawing,
Then completed the picture
By searing a marshmallow.
Christmas was what we made of it.
Copyright © Mark J. Halliday
We know only those faces,
We have seen in history.
Yet countless strange faces are there
Who fought for the country.
We can never repudiate
Selfless sacrifices of those men,
So I am paying tribute to all those
Martyrs and soldiers through my pen.
Indulged in your duties,
Far away from your family and loving ones.
You fight for our
Dreams, hopes and liberty,
Strutting boldly amidst the raging guns.
Whether it is scorching rays of Sun
Or it is blood freezing cold,
You fight relentlessly
Standing so strong and bold.
You are the true sons of the nation.
For the sake of our lives,
Irrigating this land with your blood
Is your only passion.
Time will never obliterate the fact…
You stand for us like an adobe.
With lion like courage and firmness of temper,
You have made our tricolor
Shimmer throughout the globe.
Death can’t cease you to live
As you live even after dying.
I salute your martyrdom,
For you never got older.
Fighting to keep us free,
It is the stiffest thing
To be you- A SOLDIER......
Copyright © Hina Saxena
I sat in my truck in Hue City....
Little kids were everywhere....
One little girl I saw...
Maybe six or so
I didn't know....
Our convoy would go
And she would be there
Looking for me...
A street child lost and hungry
We never shared a word...
but I knew her smile..
I always had some food to share
Each day...It was my way...
I looked forward to seeing her
laugh and smiling every day...
Then came the next day...
In the morning...
Where was my darling
Little Vietnamese girl?
A boy...filthy dirty..
Maybe five years old,
Made the sign of death...
The NVA had killed Her.....
For wanting to be fed....by
I know that I am haunted
From things you cannot know
A beautiful child died because
I gave her a piece of bread.....
PTSD has no bounds..........
Copyright © Randall Smith
I get this wondrous chill as night falls
in mountains or desert sand
and I find myself dreaming about
home, my fondest memory
from this far away land.
I miss the special lady who
stole my heart, my thoughts
and all there is of me;
and I deeply cherish
our final moments together.
I think about the children
I left behind, how I miss them
and pray they’re fine -
and it’s hard Lord,
it’s so very hard.
It’s times like this that I wonder
why I volunteered and I
get this knot in my stomach -
then I cringe and find myself
trying to hold back tears.
Soon the battle will begin
when I’ll hear my own heartbeat
through the creepy sounds
amidst treacherous mountain sides or
drifting sands and whirling winds.
It’s time spent in worry,
fear, and some regret
as I encounter my fate
in the war so near
and I must admit, I’m scared.
This stench of war,
the sight of it all,
it’s that awful image
of how I imagined hell
after Lucifer’s fall.
I wonder to myself,
“Does it have to be
that generations of people
can’t seem to agree
to the simple concept of peace?”
Soldiers don’t start wars
but they surely fight them,
making all manner of sacrifice
and I doubt that even once
did a soldier ever like them.”
Then I think of “Old Glory”
and I’m filled with pride.
It’s a warm patriotic feeling
which overcomes me
from deep down inside.
I’m confused, scared
and battle weary.
I worry about those I love
as I cling to my faith
and pray to God above.
I’m a distant warrior,
an American fighting man;
not an aspiring hero,
but just a simple soldier
trying to do the best that I can.
Copyright © Ed Coet
Eleven years ago, my father died.
Divorced from my mother when I was two,
he was a stranger to me most of my life.
I had no tears as the Marine handed me the flag.
He said, "This is a gift from the President of the
United States in honor of the service that your father
gave to his country".
Five years ago, as my mother died,
I touched her face and held her hand -
something she never allowed when we were children.
I told her everything was all right
and she could let go.
My eyes were dry, she had no funeral.
Later that year,
my husband packed his suitcase.
He told me of his plans
to find his "spiritual path", and left.
I said nothing and went inside.
But last night, my sweet little Aussie
stumbled and fell, unable to move.
With wide eyes slightly opaque,
her dear face grey around the muzzle,
she told me, its time.
This sweet companion,
faithful and brave, has only asked
for my presence in her life.
This morning, I awoke,
and I cried a child,
with my mouth open,
Copyright © Susan Raineri
I erase from my heart… the past… the unpleasant memories
Though I knew that one day they might be coming back
Coming back and unwrap the terrible experiences
Those agonizing feelings in the battle to survive
I used to talk to God … demanding for answers
Why life is unpredictable - I asked - despite of all the facts
“The unknown is uncertain but you must know better
Because times go around and always come back”
Not happy with the answer but as a true believer
I found myself the courage to encounter my fate
Now… I am facing back my past … maybe just temporarily
But the flash of those memories … are not easy to depart
Soon… I’ll leave my family, my roots and my hometown
My comrades are not here, some wounded, some are gone
I am a Marine, a Soldier… lack of emotions, aggressive
But screaming in silence everyday during war
I gave my word to my nation, and to my flag in this uniform
And I will honor my pledge with my life if I have to
I know some may believe I am a soldier before human
Please forgive me if I fail I am just telling my truth
Copyright © Gloria Jamrozy
His duffle bag is by the door
I ask him what they're fighting for.
He tapes the dog tags to his chest
gives the 38 one last test.
The baby's sleeping in the other room
he slowly puts his combat boots on.
He's got the shades, he's got the hat,
he packed the tent, he's got the mat,
a picture of us on a sunny day.
Was it in April or was it in May?
He hands me his last will
and reminds me to pay the car payment bill.
He already seems so far gone
and I don't know what to tell his son:
Daddy's fighting for freedom and for peace,
Daddy's sending you a kiss?
No, I don't know when he'll be back,
Daddy sends you a hug-around-your-neck.
Remember the games daddy used to play?
Remember what daddy used to say:
the moon shines for everyone,
I'm your Daddy, you're my son.
He puts his camouflage jacket on
and stands in the kitchen a little forlorn;
a soldier in desert uniform,
a soldier on his way to Desert Storm.
I don't want to think that he could die
and surely enough I begin to cry.
He looks at me but doesn't say a word
it's that silence that really hurts.
He left us a long time ago
when he first learned that he'd have to go.
He wants to be a fighter and a father, too,
he whispers you know that I love you.
He walks to the door and grabs his gear,
with his back to me I can't see his tears.
I wanna scream, I wanna shout:
Why did you stay in? I begged you to get out.
I'll be waiting here for you,
baby, you know I love you, too.
If you're ever in trouble think about me.
I'll give you strength, just wait and see.
If you ever feel weak just call my name,
my love will be your guiding flame.
When you're hurting and hungry and feeling blue
remember that we are missing you, too.
And when you return things will be alright,
I'll hold you in my arms all night.
He doesn't turn and then he is gone,
all I have left is a soldier's son.
Copyright © Ulrike Hoehne