Just Another Gook
by Donald R. Leslie (A Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Airborne Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division; An Khe, Vietnam)
Twenty years ago I found myself in a very foreign land
Sweat and dirt on face and arms, a weapon in my hand
At my feet there lay another, he was dying but he tried
to reach in his black pajamas, But in his effort he had died.
I knelt and found what he was looking for in an oil covered canvas sack
When I saw what was inside it I wished that I could put it back
Three faces peered out at me from the picture in my hand
His Momma and his wife were there with bare feet in the sand.
A small child held in its mothers arms beckoned it's father home
But his father lay there at my feet, his mouth dripped blood and foam
I was sorry I had done this but it was him or me
What the hell was I doing here in this land across the sea
I shook the picture from my mind and dropped it on his chest
He was just another Gook, just like all the rest
But as I walked on I faltered and tears came to my eyes
Or was it sweat that dripped there, the sweat of all G. I.'s
Why were my legs a trembling? It was probably only fear
For in a war, in any war, ones own life is dear
I went on.
A Letter by Tommy Joe Skeins:
I exceeded the speed limit coming into Portland and hooking up with 204 to go north. Just South of Olympia Washington I set
up camp. Approx. 04:00 AM Wednesday I broke camp and headed north up past Everett Washington. I had traveled here to see Tuffy.
I cannot remember a time when I did not know Tuffy. We are the same age. We were both born and raised in Seneca Oregon. Same
schools, same girlfriends, same close encounters with death, same sports and on and on. Tuffy, Donald R. Leslie, Joined the army
after high school and went Airborne. He ended up with the 1st Battalion of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, 1966 in
beautiful Southeast Asia. During his tour Pvt. Leslie had the opportunity to apply Diesel and Gas to 50 Gallon drums cut in half
and containing human waste. On this day the mixture of gasses exploded in Pvt. Leslie's face. He would end up in the burn center
in Ft. Hood Texas for many operations and skin grafts.
Donald got out of the service and had a career in felling timber for production. He had a family with a girl and a boy. He would
leave this family. One day while driving behind a semi truck on a freeway in California. Something flew out of the back of a truck,
something big and made of steel, it crashed through Donald's front window and smacked him. He wrecked the car and entered a comma
which lasted 2 years. This occured over 10 years ago. I needed to visit to see for myself how he is doing. He gave me a copy of his
poem and I posted it in the Poetry Cafe. He lives in a nice house owned by a caregiver who has only Tuffy as a client. Tuffy requires
24/7 attention of an adult to facilite his mental and physical limitations.