Friday, May 21, 2010
Buddy Poppy, Part 2
Beautiful morning to be outdoors and I spent it with John Rivers, our Post Commander. He joked with me about my being the next Commander at my first meeting. Who knows? I'm the "kid" in my post and the thought of officiating before men who have been there and done that before I was born is intimidating. But they're a good bunch of guys and I feel comfortable around them because they know and understand what I'm going through right now. That's been difficult to feel because I find myself thinking and behaving like I'm still in Iraq most days.
Once again we met many kind and generous people. The season here at the shore is just starting and I found myself guessing who was not a local based on what people had purchased at Walmart. Pillows, bedding, and towels seemed to be the majority of what was in the shopping carts of folks heading to LBI for the first time this season.
John was in the Army and fought in the Korean War. Not a "Police Action" or "Conflict", it was a war plain and simple even if not declared officially as such by the legislative and executive branches of our government.
He started his service on Occupation Duty in Japan in 1949. Assigned to George Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Participating in the landings at Inchon and the battle to retake Seoul, they were relieved from the front to prepare for another amphibious landing, this time on the east coast of North Korea at Iwon. Again working alongside the Marines, the 31st fought at the frozen hell of the Chosin Reservoir. During his service, John went from being part of a machine gun crew to Platoon Sergeant.
Eventually rotated back to the states, he was assigned as an instructor for basic trainees at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. John recounted to me his most famous recruit, the singer Vic Damone, whose attitude and performance he was not very pleased with at all. Having been considered a total idiot by my own Drill Sergeant, I know what it means to be on the receiving end of their disapproval. Not pleasant, not in the least.
I look forward to further involvement with the VFW and getting to know my brother veterans. It helps a little with the feeling of being totally isolated and the emotional shutdown that impairs my ability to come back to the real world.