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As my roles and responsibilities with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing expand, I often think back to a time when I did a good deal of reading about the Vietnam war. Though very young during the years of the conflict, this was the war of my youth. It’s stories gripped my interest. I’m not sure why.

Recently, I watched a Bill Moyers’ Report on PBS. He spoke with Nick Turse, author of the newly released book “Kill Anything That Moves.” I will be reading this soon. Though certainly not a pleasant read, it’s grisly tales of combat and other less desirable actions by US Troops are part of the war’s history. Both sides committed what many would describe as atrocities. On that we can be sure.

The year I turned 18 was the first year that registration for “the draft” returned to law. I filled out my paper work and mailed it in. Fortunately, time passed without my service being requested. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would’ve fared.

I do not pretend to understand, or even try to conceive what battle in a far off jungle was like. But the stories are there and I am drawn to them. My only goal now is to continue to provide some form of healing for those who have served, and suffered.

Nearly 30 years ago I penned a poem, amateurish in both function and form. It has never been posted outside of my journal until now. I’ve chosen to leave it in its original form; unedited and now a seeming precursor to my work with PHWFF.

1969

We were there in ’69.
Young, crazy, feeling high.
Had been sent out just as kids
To do a job no man ever did.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’d sit at home and watch
the NBA,
While we’d go hunt
the NVA.

Or you’d watch a movie
That would make you cry.
While we’d hold our buddies
And watch them die.

Your wives put lunches
In brown paper sacks,
As they stuffed our brothers
In green body bags.

As you assembled
Young Johnny’s new bike,
We’d be out
On a 40-klick hike.

With nothin’ to eat
But those damn C-rations;
While you’d hit Hawaii
For a second vacation.file0001987965743

Then you’d worry
About who’d mow your lawn.
But we’d turn around
To find our best friend gone.

We’d be out bustin’ caps-
Just a front line grunt
Who didn’t need a license
For this kind of hunt.

Some people act like
They don’t give a damn.
But I’m proud of having served
In Vietnam.

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~DKM~ (1/29/1985)

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