Nearly forty years have come & gone since I became a man, T’was in the heat, the rain & blood of Southern Viet Nam. . .
The battle scars run deep within the prison of my soul, I’ll not forget the pain, the screams, the horrors of it all.
We hailed from many backgrounds, across this Nation’s land, some dark, some light some thin, some tall, that forged this noble band. . .
We were young and dumb and full of pride, some thought they’d never die, for we were young Americans raised on “Mom’s Hot Apple Pie”. . .
Aboard the ships we cleaned our guns & packed our bags or bags to go, then “Gunny” yelled, “Let’s saddle up-it ’time to start OUR show”. . .
Into the boats we stumbled as waves banged against the hull, they snarled & dipped and rolled and tossed our stomachs in a ball. . .
A whistle blew, the engines roared and suddenly we knew, T’was time to stand and lock & load, and pray for me & you.
.As all the boats formed up on line and headed for the shore, My thoughts would wonder back to days, now gone forever more. . .
Little things came back to me, reflecting on the past, like high school girls and football games, the smell of fresh cut grass. . .
Like the time I made the track team and became a rising star, my first drink of the “hard stuff” in some Okinawa bar. . .
Then shots rang out, the ramp went down, now we’re standing in the sand, confusion all around us was our first day in “the Nam”.
A scream was heard, then someone fell and vanished in the smoke, I knew then, this was NOT a dream, a fantasy or joke.
I’d never seen men blown apart, or die so painfully, don’t be surprised or full of doubt, I’m just a kid you see. . .
Still in our teens were most of us that stepped up to the plate, and swore that we would NEVER fail to serve our Nation great. .
While poised within torrential rains, our feet forever soaked, we laughed, we cried, & drank warm beer, & bummed another smoke. . .
We’d count the days that we had left, but EACH seemed like a week, It’s tough sometimes to contemplate the things of which I speak. . .
The heat, the rain the smell of blood, gunpowder on our cloths, young men who share a special bond, no other creature knows . . .
Those gallant boys and men I knew, so daring, young and brave, so many now lay silently, at peace within their grave. . .
But what of those that made it home, when all was said & done, were they considered heroes, or a Nation’s Bastard sons?
Our lives were scarred forever, yet we were NEVER welcomed home, there were no bands, or big parades, nor “Yellow Ribbons” shown. . .
And so we all pretended that it never really mattered, that all our dreams and inner self. .forever had been shattered. . .
We faded into history, a band of Brothers true, and tried to make a life within a Nation torn in two. . .
We often drown our sorrows in some local crummy bar, pretending it was all a dream, not part of who we are. . .
Yet realizing all the while the impact that it made, on each and ever one of us…these memories NEVER fade. . .
No matter what the public thinks we did, or didn’t do, the truth lies deep within the soul of troops like me & you.
We did our time and fought the war that never really was, we stood our ground and raised our flag for a noble, worthy cause. . .
Be proud to know we did our part & sealed therein our fate, in spite of all the diatribe, indifference and the hate.
Who knew what we were called to do would rarely seem to matter, but ALL would stand the test of time, for those who fought the battles. . .
And now, with gray and thinning hair, my waist expanding well, I flashback to those yesteryears, a lifetime spent in hell.
For we ALL have a legacy to share with anyone,that contemplates the trials of war that kills our Nation’s Sons. . .
America, the Beautiful, God shed his grace on thee, but don’t forget the price we’ve paid, ‘Cause freedoms NEVER free. . .
NOW, Stand with me and raise your glass to the names upon the wall, and pray that they died NOT in vain, for answering the call.
“Ode To Viet Nam”
By: “Rocky” Fortner
Copyright 2004-2006 – All Rights Reserved
L3/9 & L3/3 – Viet Nam 65-66
"LEAN – MEAN & SEVENTEEN"
Let me share with you a story, 'bout a young man seventeen, Who had plans & dreams of joining the United States Marines . . .
He had taken all the pre-test at a small recruiting store, Where they told him he had qualified for infantry and more . . .
He was off to San Diego where the sun is scorching hot, To see if he might have the grit to be what he was not . . .
The days turned into weeks, then months and muscles to turned to steel, a sense of pride & honor filled his heart & soul with zeal. . .
He had conquered all his dragons; he had finally seen the light, He knew now, what it really meant to be the first to fight . . .
He was Lean, Mean & Seventeen when he donned the Tan & Green, he had paid the price to earn the name UNITED STATES MARINE. .
He knew that war was looming in some far off distant land, with heat and bugs and other “demons” buried in the sand,
So, he said a prayer & packed his bags, what else was there to do, Like so many gone before him, he would fight for me & you . . .
The sweat, the blood, the loneliness were often hard to bare, A buddy lost within the ranks, the “1000 meter stare”. . .
But the kindred spirit of the Corps and all those that he knew, would help to keep him focused on the job he had to do . . .
He has stepped into a BROTHERHOOD that few have ever seen, And wears the Eagle, Globe & Anchor of a UNITED STATES MARINE
All Rights Reserved – Copyright © 2004-2006
Rocky Fortner USMC 63-67
(Vietnam 65-66 – L 3/9 & L 3/3)