FRIDAY!!! And then begins the process of spending another warm and glorious Memorial Day weekend.
When I was in Vietnam, I had a friend named Gordon M. Briggs. We used to call him "Jimmy", because his first two initials were G.M. - and GMC Trucks are called Jimmys. I guess you had to be there. We stood guard over VC prisoners on many a midnight watch outside a barb wire compound where they were kept, both of us waiting to go home. End of tour. Short-timers. We were called to action as a big operation was mounted in Quang Tri Province against a number of North Vietnamese regulars that had infiltrated the country via the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
He was shot through the heart by a VC Sniper as his platoon was sent out on a sweep while I was held back because I was due to go to Da Nang and a plane ride home. I saw him laying on a stretcher, along with a number of other bodies on stretchers outside the Medical Tent. That sniper killed a dozen or more, that day, before they shot him out of his tree. Jimmy looked like he was sleeping. I kept watching him, looking for the slightest sign or movement.
It never came.
I don't think about Jimmy as much as I used to. It's been 46 years, now, since he died and other stuff has crowded in to my mind and memory. As I've gotten older and realized just what waste War is, and how much I am against it, I've begun to feel remorse for the sniper that died, too.
But this weekend I think of Jimmy. Every year.
We were friends. He wanted me to go home with him to meet his sister. He hoped we'd hit it off and get married. Hey. We were young. You can daydream about crap like that when you're young. And besides, I didn't have a girl anymore and why not?
I was going to go, but he never made it back.
I wonder, sometimes, what life would have been like if I had gone back to Oregon with him and met his sister.