Friday, February 24, 2017

The Truth Weighs Nothing

When I was younger I promised myself that I would never put the procurement of wealth above personal happiness. No employment opportunity was worth spending my days unhappy and embittered.

What an optimistic fool I was.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Being A Bastard

Hate is too easy; therein lies its charm.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tobias (All The Ways We Kill And Die)

I need to clarify the rationale behind the decision I made on the day that you died, for the sake of our boys and my own weary conscious.

The human body can incur a finite amount of trauma before it begins shutting itself down. You were damn near dead when Cody and I found you and I am certain that you were as aware of that fact as we were.

When that grenade hit the deck I made a split-second decision - the one that saved Cody's life and my own and in return sealed your fate.

Throwing Cody and myself to the ground saved our lives; there was nothing I could have done in the split-second before the grenade exploded to free you from the restraints that held your body in place.

Did you realize it was game over when the grenade landed at our feet? A typical M67 fragmentary grenade has a kill radius of 10 meters; this one landed less than three feet from you with the fuse cooking away.

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy told us that the pattern of burns left on your body by the incendiary were consistent with that of an individual attempting to shield themselves from an explosive detonation, which is to say that despite understanding the futility of your actions, despite knowing there would be no escape . . . you turned away, in spite of yourself.

Was that one final action an unconscious attempt at self-preservation induced by the brain to save the body, as useless a gesture as it was? Or was it an intentional decision made in spite of the knowledge of your own imminent and assured demise?

All I can say for certain is that you were still alive when Cody and I dove for cover and when the smoke cleared . . . you were not. The sight of your body - charred black from the blast, pockmarked with shrapnel, the chain link cutting into your hands and feet - is the image I carry with me to this day.

Higher commended me for getting the rest of our boys home alive and in one piece - "the ideal example of exceptional leadership under fire," as it was referred to in the formal citation. But the words of my uncle, a career infantryman, are the ones that I remember most clearly.

"Son, war is simple: You bring your men home alive or you die trying. If you don't die trying then you didn't try hard enough."

Do I feel guilty about getting the rest of our boys out of that God-forsaken hellhole alive but not you? Believe me, you have no idea.

Let me put it this way: I have come to understand that it isn't the men who make it back home that you remember.

It's the ones who don't.

I have learned this truth the hardest of ways.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

San Pedro

I had convinced myself that with the persistence of time the unpleasant memories of the past would fade into obscurity.

Now I see that this could not be further from the truth.

Memories do not fade into obscurity; they simply stay where you leave them, lying in wait for the day you return.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

At My Darkest

You loved me at my darkest without ever asking why.
I regret never telling you how much that meant to me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Veronica

I drove down that street I parked on the night you saved my life and the image of your face came to mind for the briefest of moments...

You knew I was hurting and was waiting to be there for me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Thank You All The Same

It's just weird to know that people care, because I know I never have.