A HARD job at anytime

Time and time again I read through fellow blogger’s pages…most are military. At one of them that I found today, I found an article about being a notification officer. The SandGram posted both the story and an interview.  This story is important for two reasons: 1) It makes it a little clearer to both the civilians and the families how hard that particular job is, so THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE NOTIFICATION OFFICERS OUT THERE!!; 2) the story or at least what is means is personally relevant in terms of I babysat the children of one, while the division was deployed. He would come pick me up so that I could babysit for his kids and normally he was in uniform (sometimes dress uniform). I can only imagine what my neighbors were thinking! I never asked him about his job BUT I could see the toil it was taking on him…just in his eyes and the way he walked.

Below is pieces of the article : “A Burial At Sea” By LtCol Goodson.

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

…….

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam . Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk , rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5′9″, I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

……

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable.
Finally, I said, “Walt, what’s the h-ll’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here.. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

…..

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me the f*ck out of here. I can’t take this sh_t anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel. Well Done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

That is all

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