20 Jan 2006
I was one of the Corpsmen attending to Michael Marshall Clayton the day he died. I still have guilt feelings over losing him that day. He was a friend.
a wounded Corpsman
(1st Plt, A Co, 1st Bn, 1st Marines, 1st Mar Div)
I had just turned twentyone
a few days before I entered Nam,
never dreaming that all my beliefs
would be left there on the fields
while endless nightmares
even though buried
would come back
to haunt me without relief...
I remember thinking
as I entered the country, fool-heartedly
that I only had twelve months to do
before I would be back to the world
Never dreaming that my life
would be changed forever....
The Good, the bad,
some you remember;
some you bury;
trying to hold onto your sanity.
You remember the events
when you joined your platoon
of why you're out in the field
so that a Marine won't take a life
that would result in him having...
You attempt to do what is right
in order to save all lives.
You risk your life
putting to work all that you've learned,
so that others would not be harmed.
You save most
and get them out
so that they won't have....
After the first fire fight
you know that you did prevent
when they came up to you,
pounding you on the back,
telling you what a good job you did
only to compound the problem
when in reliving the fight
they mentioned things
that you never thought about
resulting in you having....
You thought that you could save the world
or at least that's what you were taught.
You tried to do what was best
while you were there
trying only to remember the good
and attempting to forget the rest.
But when you least expect it
something comes along...
some good, some bad
you make new friends
and experience that comradeship
that guys that had been under fire get
as you wonder about the greenies
wondering if they would be there
in the heat of battle protecting your back
as you attempted to patch them up
to get them to survive
to get them home
to their loved ones
in the real world...
Yet the day finally comes
that makes you face the truth
you are only a mortal
attempting to bring a little
compassion and act of kindness
leaving you to question God
after you get wounded
watching a Marine friend take his last
"Why God, oh why
do you insist on leaving me alive..."
To this day
I still remember
that last "Corpsman Up!" cry
running up as I always did
attempting to save another life
never dreaming that this would be my first.
His name I can't remember,
even though I have it written down
His face haunts me today
questioning me with a puzzled stare....
Questions of hope
because "Old Doc's here"
that things will be alright
that he'll treat me right.
"But Doc, how did you get wounded,
you weren't suppose to get hurt,
after all we looked out for you
now who is going to take care of us,
better yet, who is going to save me?...."
Watching him die
breathing his last
knowing that all your training
could not stop his fate.
Yet you and three others
are now wounded
wondering your fate
as you hear again
that cry of "Corpsman Up!"
coming from your own throat
still trying to do your job....
Now almost thirty years later
thinking that you had put it all behind you
you find yourself being put in a similar situation
which subconsciously reminds you of
that you have to get straight
of that fateful day
when you lost your first
and only one...
You almost lost it
yet realized before you did
that you needed the help
that you had given to others
in order to get through
(Copyright © 1997)
The Marine's name was Michael Marshall Clayton, killed in action April 20, 1968
Charles David Bunner