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Dogtags

By Donald Loomis

LITTLE PIECES OF METAL

 

NAME.

SERVICE NUMBER.

BLOOD TYPE.

RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE.

 

A TINKLING TESTIMONY TO YOUR EXISTENCE,

THEY IDENTIFY YOU AS A SOLDIER.

OF YOUR LOVES AND HATES,

PLANS AND DREAMS,

NO ROOM FOR TRIVIALITY.

ONE CARRIED AROUND YOUR NECK ON A CHAIN,

DANGLING  DOWN, CLOSE TO YOUR HEART.

THE OTHER TIED IN A BOOTLACE,

SOLDIERS GET SEPARATED, YOU KNOW.

 

IN VIETNAM,

ELEVEN BODYBAGS IN MY HELICOPTER;

PLACE BIODEGRADABLES INSIDE

NO LEAKING PLEASE.

 

A SERGEANT HANDS ME THE GREEN BUNDLE,

A HANDKERCHIEF

TIED AT THE CORNERS,

“TAKE CARE OF THEM, SIR”.

 

I BOUNCE THE BUNDLE ONCE IN MY HAND.

 

FROM WITHIN,

THAT JINGLING SOUND,

LIKE A POCKETFUL OF CHANGE,

WORTH  EVEN LESS.

 

Donald Loomis is a former helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division, who spent 22 months in Vietnam flying combat helicopters.  His mother, Captain Eleanor Loomis, was Chief of Physical Medicine for the U.S. Public Health Service and his son, Cpl. James Loomis, is a former Marine machine gunner who served with the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines in Ramadi, Iraq for two tours there between 2005 and 2008.  Mr. Loomis is totally disabled with PTSD and lives in Moreno Valley, California.  CWO-2 Loomis is president of Camp Eagle Press Inc. a nonprofit corporation dedicated to publishing, educating, and informing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its ramifications on the individual military member, their families, and our society.

 

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