View Full Version : A Marine On Duty

03-09-07, 09:42 AM
A Marine on Duty

I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey'sfor a
few cold ones. Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 1655.
Five minutes to go. Full dress was hot in the August sun. Oklahoma
summertime was as bad as ever -- the heat and humidity at the same
level -- both too high.

I saw the car pull into the drive, '69 or '70 model Cadillac Deville,
looked factory-new. It pulled into the parking lot at a snail's pace.

An old woman got out so slow I thought she was paralyzed. She had a cane and a sheaf of flowers, about four or five bunches as best I
could tell. I couldn't help myself. The thought came unwanted, and
left a slightly bitter taste: "She's going to spend an hour, my hip
hurts like hell and I'm ready to get out of here right now!"

But my duty was to assist anyone coming in. Kevin would lock the "in"
gate and if I could hurry the old bid dy along, we might make the last
half of happy hour.

I broke Post Attention. My hip made gritty noises when I took the
first step and the pain went up a notch. I must have made a real
military sight; middle-aged man with a small pot-gut and half a limp,
in Marine Full Dress Uniform, which had lost its razor crease about
30 minutes after I began the watch at the cemetery.

I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me
with an old woman's squint. "Ma'am, may I assist you in any way?"

She took long enough to answer. "Yes, son. Can you carry these
flowers? I seem to be moving a tad slow these days."

"My pleasure Ma'am." Well, it wasn't too much of a lie.

She looked again. "Marine, where were you stationed?"

"Vietnam, Ma'am. Ground-pounder. '69 to '71."

She looked at me closer. "Wounded in action, I see. Well done,
Marine. I'll be as quick as I can."

I lied a little bigger. "No hurry, Ma 'am."

She smiled, and winked at me. "Son, I'm 85-years old and I can tell a
lie from a long way off. Let's get this done. Might be the last time
I can do this. My name's Joanne Wieserman, and I've a few Marines I'd
like to see one more time."

"Yes, Ma'am. At your service."

She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She
picked one of the bunches out of my arm and laid it on top of the
stone. She murmured something I couldn't quite make out. The

name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC, France 1918.

She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II
section, stopping at one stone. I saw a tear slowly tracking its

way down her cheek.

She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X. Davidson,

USMC, 1943.

She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone,

Stanley J. WiesermanUSMC, 1944.

She paused for a second, "Two more, son, and we'll be done ."

I almost didn't say anything, but, "Yes, Ma'am. Take your time."

She looked confused. "Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem

to have lost my way."

I pointed with my chin. "That way, Ma'am."

"Oh!" she chuckled quietly. "Son, me and old age ain't too friendly."

She headed down the walk I'd pointed at. She stopped at a couple

of stones before she found the ones she wanted. She placed a bunch

on Larry WiesermanUSMC, 1968, and the last on DarrelWieserman

USMC, 1970.

She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn't make out.
"OK, son, I'm finished. Get me back to my car and you can go home."

"Yes, Ma'am. If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?"

She paused. "Yes, Donald Davidson was my father; Stephen was my
uncle; Stanley was my husband; Larry and Darrelwere our sons. All
killed in action, all Marines." She stopped, whether she had
finished, or couldn't finish, I don't know. She made her way to her
car, slowly, and painfully.

I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then
double-timed it over to Kevin waiting by the car. "Get to the
out-gate quick. I have something I've got to do."

Kevin started to say something but saw the look I gave him. He broke
the rules to get us there down the service road. We beat her. She
hadn't made it around the rotunda yet.

"Kevin, stand to attention next to the gate post. Follow my lead." I
humped it across the drive to the other post.

When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began

the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best gunny's
voice: "TehenHut! Present Haaaarms!"

I have to hand it to Kevin, he never blinked an eye; full dress
attention and a salute that would make his DIproud. She drove
through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send
off she deserved, for service rendered to her count ry, and for
knowing Duty, Honor and Sacrifice.

I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from that Cadillac.

Instead of "The End"....just think of "Taps".


As a final thought on my part, let me share a favorite prayer:

"Lord, keep our servicemen and women safe, whether they serve at home
or overseas. Hold them in Your loving hands and protect them as they
protect us."

Let's all keep those currently serving and those who have gone
before, in our thoughts. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy.

Happy moments, praise God.