Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Vietnam Poem

We have the honor to present a poem written by Gary Halsey. If the last name is familiar, Gary is distantly related to the great WW II Fleet Admiral, William F. "Bull" Halsey. Here is Gary's work:

The River Rats

A cold and dark place,
In a cold and heartless conflict,
Killing those, who had no face.

Where on the water,
We were sittin' ducks,
Will we last another day?
Or run out of luck?

As we moved silently,
Towards the rivers bend,
Movement ahead,
Would this be the end?

I was a gunner;
Behind twin 50's I sat,
Straining my eyes,
To see where the enemy was at.

A marine spotter,
High above in a tree,
Came over the radio,
He was warning me.

"Fire a thirty second burst",
"9:00 Port side"
And I fired my thirty-second burst,
While hearing wounded men cry.

How should I feel?
I would ask myself,
should I care who I kill?
Or put my feelings on a shelf?

I'm a Christian man,
Living life’s pain,
Thinking to myself,
"In wars and conflict, there is nothing to gain.

I am living in a sin,
That is sometimes hard to bear,
I was killing my fellow man,
It's a conflict, should I care?

Thou shall not kill,
Keeps coming to mind.
I want to embrace my fellow man,
Not be so unkind.

"It's either you or them",
Is what I was told,
They never told me,
How I would feel when I grew old.

We are moving further,
I need to be alert,
Or I too would be dead,
Or severely hurt.

With caution we approach,
'Round another bend,
Would the fighting and bombing,
Start all over again?

With a sigh of relief,
No signs of aggression,
Gives me a chance,
God hear my confessions.

If I should die,
In this far away place,
Let us not be dishonored,
Remembrance in disgrace.

In prayer I am consumed,
That I did not heed,
We were again going faster,
Picking up speed,

We're under mortar attack;
We're all over the place!
Cutting and swerving,
Have to leave this space.

The boat behind us,
Getting hit pretty bad,
That's when we cleared the place,
What I saw was pretty sad.

The skipper was killed;
The boat was hit,
Those commie bastards,
Didn't know when to quit.

Once again we escaped,
With our precious lives,
God was watching over us,
Acting, as our eyes.

With speed from those diesels,
We got out of there,
This pressure and fear,
Was to much to bear.

Eighteen long months,
I'm glad to admit,
I have been doing this,
We never got hit.

I owe my life,
And that of our crew,
That with God's help and protection,
We knew what to do.

Don't ever forget this,
I beg of you,
We're lucky to be alive,
And back home waving at the 'ole "Red, White, and Blue"!!

My prayer to those,
Who served in that place,
Is don't feel dishonored,
Don't feel disgrace.

Like so many before us,
We served our country well,
Hold your head up high,
We came back from hell!!

To All my honorable fallen and surviving comrades. God Bless
by Gary W. Halsey Sr.
Copyright 2006

Thank you, Gary! Very moving, and some stark memories there.


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  1. It is my honor to write for my fallen brothers in combat. The river boat crews are to be long remembered as some gave the ultimate sacrifice to make Vietnam a free country. This goes for our Southern Allies as well. They fought hard, they fought proud and may God rest their souls for all eternity.
    G. Halsey Sr.