The Spirit of an Angel (Chapter 2 - The First Day, page 2 of 17)


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We were in his backyard and he was providing a visual imitation of what a true Drill Instructor was like. Yelling and spouting orders, he even began to call a cadence in true Marine DI style.

But it really wasn't Todd that persuaded me. For some unknown deep seeded reason I felt Vietnam was where I needed to be.

Amy pleaded, "Joe, please don't go. Why? You can go to college, play basketball and be deferred or something. You can't do this to me."

Amy was my friend and was upset, not to mention my mom. Mom, Dad, Amy, and even my brother Mitch all pleaded with me not to go. But no matter how hard I tried to resist, there was no doubt in my heart I was going to Vietnam. So, I joined the Marines. Following boot camp I was in excellent shape-lost ten pounds-measured 6'3" tall and 210 pounds. I was young, dumb, and raring to go. Little did I know it would be an experience that would have a life long effect.

***

The Lieutenant in the last jeep yelled, "Set up a perimeter around this area, double-time!"

He pointed to a nearby tree line thirty yards from the beach and ordered me to take a position in the trees. I dutifully jogged there and lay on the ground taking guard. I would learn, while in Vietnam, I would have a lot of silent alone time lying face down in the dirt-in the prone position. This would happen often, while out on patrol, after receiving incoming sniper fire, or watching out for other Marines as they disarmed a landmine, or - as in this case-the recovery of a dead Marine. There were a few Vietnamese farmers working in a field nearby. I had no idea what I was watching for.

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