Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Warriors Request

A Warrior’s Request

Freedom and liberty aren’t free

So live a life worth dying for
Liberty’s price, responsibility
Freedom’s price I freely bore

I vowed to brothers in arms

I would stand in your stead
Now I’ve suffered fatal harm
May it brand you heart and head

We don’t fight and die to dominate

Not for greed, glory, or bliss

We fight to preserve, conciliate

People,,,,,,,,,, don’t waste this


I was in the United States Air Force and doing a normal job in logistics support, taking parts that are too expensive to replace and shipping them off to be repaired. My supervisor was assigned to our office to get the shop running smoothly because our morale was low and little attention had been paid to our proficiency.

He went by the name, “Rocky” though he was entitled to be called Master Sergeant Malcolm Acton E7. He had been an enlisted man in the Air Force through two tours in Viet Nam as an Air Rescue Specialist. On his second tour he watched his buddy die during a fire fight and was himself, captured. If I remember right, he spent 5 years as a POW and endured torture.

I don’t mean he had to endure rap music or have his religion insulted, I mean he had his feet beaten until many of the bones were broken. Actual torture does not mean embarrassment or insults or even climate control.

Anyway, during his tour in Viet Nam he and his buddy were spending many days engaged in perilous missions and many more days of boredom waiting for the next call to danger and duty. As a result, they had plenty of time and plenty of focus initiative to discuss what really matters in life.

Before his capture he had earned the rank of Technical Sergeant E6. On his release and return to the states he left the military to recuperate and try life as a civilian. If he had found peace there, I would never have met him. As it was, he re-enlisted and started again from Airman First Class E3 all over again. Due to the injuries he suffered as a POW he was unable to go back into his original specialty so took up a specialty in Logistics.

By the time I met Rocky, he had some sage advice for anyone who’d listen. Many years later Tom Hanks came out with the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” In it there was a line that really slammed Rocky’s message home for me. Tom Hank’s character was dying after a last ditch effort to save Private Ryan. Private Ryan was leaning over him when he grabbed his shirt and said, “Don’t waste this!”

This poem is an attempt to capture the advice from Rocky that I still cherish today.

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