Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Fort Benning, Off-Base, Summer 1967

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Fort Benning, Off-Base, Summer 1967

Article excerpt

He was a master sergeant, E-7

when I met him, recently retired,

sitting on his front porch

watching patterns of clouds,

a burgeoning summer storm.

I had stopped-a young lieutenant

with orders for Southeast Asia-

to put the top up on my MG,

the car filling with a sudden, southern rain.

I was driving home after my work as OIC

of a rifle range was done for the day:

my uniform, fatigues freshly starched

and stiff, wilted in the slight chill

of a pattering rain.

So he walked down off his porch,

offered to help, and when we had the top

secured, he invited me to sit and talk

for awhile, to wait until the rain let up,

to have some lemonade.

And then he told me

of his military service, of Korea, of Pusan,

of attacks along the Yalu,

A police action, he said,

like a traffic cop giving out a parking ticket,

human waves, hordes of Chinese,

the yells they made coming out of the hills

and saber jets, F-86's, dropping napalm and HE

on waves of Chinese infantry, incinerating

one line of attack after another. …

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