In Country, 1968
We figured he'd get hit, he wore his doom like a pair of fatigues. He was from near Cincinnati, worked at a gravel pit before getting drafted. Wasn't with us long. Feck, Daniel Feck. It was another night ambush patrol. He crawled out a few yards in front of our perimeter to plant and aim the claymores. Standard procedure. But then we took some sniper rounds, everyone down. Everyone except Feck. He panicked, stood up to run back in to hopefulness, caught a bullet with the crack-crack of an AK-47. We radioed in a dust-off, but quickly learned he didn't make it. His was the first KIA in my company since I arrived in-country, as was his funeral. I don't even know if he was Catholic, but a few days following the chaplain assembled us for mass on the edge of a dried rice paddy, funeral mass. In front of a make-shift alter, Feck's M-16 was balanced muzzle down onto the bayonet stabbed into Mekong earth near Binh Phouc. Arranged on top, on the butt end of the weapon, was his helmet, with someone's dog-tags draped below, not Feck's. His tags accompanied his body bag to return to Ohio. It was Thanksgiving, a stand-down. No patrols. We heard cassettes; Credence, Aretha, Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Merle Haggard. The battalion mess sergeant pitched a field kitchen, olive drab insulated cambros filled with slices of pressed turkey breast, instant mashed potatoes, thin gravy, sans giblets, jelled cranberry sauce out of a #10 can, rolls, butter, pumpkin pie. Cans of tepid Busch beer. News from back in "The World" informed us that Ohio State soundly defeated Michigan 50-14. "Purple haze all in my brain Lately things just don't seem the same Acting funny, but I don't know why Excuse me while I kiss the sky"
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)