War and History Non-Fiction posted December 12, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
Some times there's just nothing you can say

He Did What He Had To Do

by Brett Matthew West

Recently I had the privilege of meeting an old friend for lunch here in Nashville. A check I was proud to pick up.

I could see he had something bottled up deep inside him he desperately needed to get off his chest.

I listened intently to the words the usually very reserved man spoke.

This is what he said:

"David Allen McGuire was fresh out of high school and searching for direction in his chaotic life. While still pink, and wet out of his mother's womb, he had been abandoned as a newborn."

(Needless to say that drew my interest in a big way)

He continued talking:

"Wrapped in a tattered, dirty towel, he had been stashed beside a green trash receptacle, behind the largest retailor in town. David McGuire had been thrown away like yesterday's news."

But, David McGuire was never a complainer. He simply did what he had to do.

(I took another bite of my sandwich)

And he reiterated:

"That included bouncing around the foster care system of Abilene, Texas for the better part of the first ten years of his life. Never being settled anywhere for long.

Then, when he least expected it, providence smiled down on him, and David was adopted by a middle-aged factory working father, and a seamstress mother, eight years his junior, who could not be any fonder of their little bundle of joy."

("Good for the kid," I thought)

My friend's story continued.

"Mark and Darlene McGuire did their best to see all of David's needs were met, and to keep the home fires burning. Never well-to-do, they provided a nurturing home environment in lieu of an endless parade of material possessions they could not afford.

Fate would strike young David McGuire's life once again, however, when about six months before graduating from high school, his parents were cold-bloodedly murdered by a deranged psychopath high on crack cocaine."

(I shot him a glance as if to ask, "WHAT?")

He told me:

"This occurred while they were travelling down a lonely country road one midnight, on their way home from a movie they had scrimped and saved to be able to enjoy. They were deliberately run off the road, at a high rate of speed."

(Then he changed directions again and continued his story)

"Not carrying the grades to enroll in a major university, and not athletically inclined, David made his way to a downtown recruiting station and signed up to become a combat engineer for Uncle Sam."

("Nothing wrong with that" I told him)

David McGuire was never a complainer. He simply did what he had to do.

My friend went on:

"Completing Basic Training in the Lone Star State, David wanted to travel and see the world. Perhaps seeking a new adventure, he happily volunteered for an assignment placing him in harm's way.

That meant deployment to Somalia. One of the current hot beds of military action. It also meant a chance to not only encounter ISIS terrorists, but help defeat them. Regardless of his puny size."

("I'm all for that," I said)

His story developed:

"Standing five feet-six inches tall, David McGuire tipped the scales at a whopping 148 pounds soaking wet."

(With a little humor he told me)

"That is, if you add in two tons of bricks crammed as deeply into his pockets as they could possibly fit.

David's blonde hair, and sky blue eyes, also made him resemble the young, teenaged, boy-next-door he was. And, he caught a whole lot of good-natured teasing from his buddies, who tended to call him, "Shorty," "Midget," and occasionally, even "Tidbit."

(I was getting a pretty good picture of this kid)

My friend's story continued:

"However, David could shoot as quick and straight as any of them. He was an expert marksman with the standard-issue rifle all soldiers carry.

One day, David found himself on kitchen police...again. You know, that time honored tradition soldiers get plenty of practice performing?"

(I knew it well from my own Army days)

My friend said:

"But, scrubbing pots and pans all day long did not bother David like it did others."

David McGuire was never a complainer. He simply did what he had to do.

He went on to tell me:

"After a morning of hard labor Private McGuire's squad was coming in for their well deserved lunch before heading back out on patrol. For the last ten days they had not encountered, or engaged, any enemy contact. All was peaceful...for the moment."

("That's good," I silently thought to myself)

And his story continued:

"David would rejoin his squad after the evening meal. He looked up from his observation point when he heard his squad marching into the dining area. The five gallon buckets of hot, soapy, water stared back at him.

David overheard his seasoned, grizzled, and gruff sergeant talking to a couple squad members, "Tomorrow is the day, boys," he said eating a forkful of the half baked potatoes they called lunch.

Itching for some action, the two troops with the sergeant were listening closely to what he had to tell them.

Slowly, the sergeant began to trace a route in the sand with his finger.

"I expect we'll meet resistance just before reaching the village," he continued, "and, they'll have the route rigged. They always do."

"You mean by IEDs, Sarge?" one of the young soldiers questioned him stoically.

The comment caught David's undivided attention.

"Roger that, Smith," the sergeant replied. He then stated, "one of those would wipe the whole squad out!"

"Thing is, they put those IEDs in all kinds of weird places," the other soldier chimed in.

"That's what makes them so dangerous, Blythe," the sergeant matter-of-factly remarked.

(I thought these details were interesting, sure brought back memories of my years of service)

And, my friend's story went on:

"David watched the three of them finish their chow and meander off. The rest of the afternoon would drag by for him. He could not wait to rejoin his squad, where he belonged.

Though he longed to safely return back to the friendly shores of the Land of the Free, David understood their mission must be completed first.

At the crack of dawn the next morning David was back in his familiar position of point man for his squad. With fully loaded rifles cradled in each soldier's hands, the patrol began to move out towards its destination.

The sun was just coming up over the horizon. Soon the scorching temperature would rise to establish another sweltering day, like so many others before it had been."

(I was almost on that march with them)

My friend's story scene changed once again:

"From his point position David's responsibility was to ensure the trail the squad advanced on was clear all the way into the small village.

In solemn silence, the troops were staggered on both sides of the dirt path, and spaced about ten yards apart. David noticed how something seemed to glisten in the sunlight.

It appeared to contain at least a partial metal casing, as well as a trip wire. To the untrained eye, it was hardly noticeable beneath the underbrush.

The squad was advancing forward, and David was almost to the object. He knew if one of his comrades inadvertently triggered the wire it would be carnage."

"IED!" he screamed in a warning voice loud enough for all of them to hear.

(Then my friend continued speaking)

"David carefully stepped over the explosive, but the next man in line was too close. There was no way he would miss the explosive and avoid setting it off.

Realizing this, and without hesitating, David threw himself on the bomb. The explosion was deafening as the squad's advance halted, and they hit the sand facedown, narrowly escaping annihilation."

(I buried my face in my left hand, not wanting to hear this part of his story)

My friend glanced over at me and he did not have to tell me. Being a veteran I knew what was coming next.

Finishing his story he said:

"Private David McGuire was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, for his gallantry in action that day, in saving the lives of his fellow squad members.

I know.

I was there.

I was his sergeant."

Sergeant Michael Donaldson slowly finished speaking.

I laid my fork down on top of the white plate my Philly and Cheese sandwich had arrived on, not knowing what to tell him.

He looked me squarely in the eye, man to man, and asked me, "Where's all this insanity gonna end, Brett?"

I looked back at him and simply said, "I wish I had an answer for you my friend. But, this world is so crazy any more. I do not know."

With big tears in his eyes, Sergeant Donaldson remarked, "Private McGuire was the only one, the only one in five combat tours to Somalia, I couldn't bring home."

Silently, I reached over and grabbed my friend's arm. I squeezed it tightly, trying to reassure him he was no failure.

Sometimes there is just nothing you can say.

Unashamed,, tears streaming down his weathered brow, my friend said, "And, in 27 years of military service no soldier ever made me prouder."

A slight pause and he told me, "Even though I returned the rest of my men safely home every single time I was over there I will never, EVER, forget the one I left behind!"

David McGuire was never a complainer. He simply did what he had to do.

@Copyrighted December 11, 2015 by Brett Matthew West
All Rights Reserved
No portion of this story, or its storyline, may be reproduced in any manner without the written approval of the copyright holder


I believe the events depicted in this story say all that needs to be said.

I have been asked by some Fanstorians through PM, and by other means, if I would consider re-promoting this particular writing as they had heard about it, but did not get the opportunity to read it, when I originally posted it.

They also feel this story needs to be heard.

So, by request and for them, as well as all others, here it is.

I also strongly believe Sergeant Donaldson, and David McGuire's, stories need to be told.

The words in quotation marks are Sergeant Donaldson's.

All others are either my responses, or used to move the telling of these events along.

I really want to shout them from the top of Lookout Mountain!!!!

So, I have.

American Flag, by frayajane, was chosen to compliment my story.

So, thanks frayajane for the use of your picture. It goes so nicely with my little tale.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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