Gurney. Tiny. Pig Pen. I remember them all

Gurney. Tiny. Pig Pen. I remember them all
Soldiers of the 196th Lt Inf. Bde in Tam Ky, Vietnam, 1967. (Image: Patrick Camunes, Memoirs from Nam: http://memoirsfromnam.blogspot.com/2014/11/thanksgiving-in-tam-ky-vietnam-1967.html)

Over 58,000 died in that damn war. Some were boys from the city or young men from Midwest farms, like Tiny. He was big and strong and carried a machine gun. His best bud hauled Tiny’s extra ammo and I nicknamed him Pig Pen. We all laughed about that. They reminded me of blue-collar guys who drink beer after working a day shift at the warehouse. They both died when a rocket-propelled grenade hit Tiny directly. Forrest saw it.

But I’ll pretend they’re alive and remained close pals. That they went into business and owned a string of gas stations and their boys played baseball and they sat in the stands, ate hot dogs and cheered. Simple stuff we take for granted.

What if Jimmy from Georgia hadn’t been killed? When he was first wounded I helped him on the chopper and the enemy kept firing and I dived off. What if Jimmy didn’t get shot again and die as the chopper landed? And suppose 20 years later, I never called his parents to tell them how he died? What if his sister didn’t fly into town to meet the man who once knew her dead brother?

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