Horror and Thriller Non-Fiction posted February 17, 2017

This work has reached the exceptional level
Mark says; Goodbye !

Etched In My Heart!

by junglefighter

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

While serving as 2nd District Commander of the American Legion, for the State of Florida, I procured an Army Tank from Depot in Alabama to construct a Memorial as a tribute to our less fortunate heroes. Once completed, it was dedicated by our 2nd District Congressman. A memorable part of the program was an Air Force Color Guard demonstrating the 13-folds of the American flag. The history of each fold was narrated, and then TAPS was sounded. Although the history behind each fold was daunting, the 3rd, made in honor of our War dead, stuck in my craw, and I could never swallow it down. God bless our Heroes who died in the folds of Ole Glory and literally saved the world.

A Salute to Mark!
"Semper Fidelis"

"Hurrah!" I yelled, let's give um hell. Then quickly scaling the ladder, we dropped among the body parts. How ironic, that we and the Isis Guerrillas should arrive at the same time. Varoom! Two mortar rounds fell short and exploded. The third fell among us and yet, did not explode. "They're using delayed timers," I screamed! "Get down, Commandos!"

Mark, our Navy Seal, immediately threw his body on the mortar round then yelled, "Haul-ass, Bill, I'll ride this bull." Varoom! the round exploded. Running over to Mark, I saw a gaping hole in his belly. Blood and guts were everywhere. Sitting down, I held his head in my lap.

"Why, Mark?" I asked.

"Because I was closest, Bill. My boots, get em off."

"They're off, Mark!" I replied.

"Quick, I gotta know something."

"Ask me, Mark."

"The two trout we caught in the Smokey's. Whose was biggest?"

"Why, yours! It was a whopper. Can you believe that?"

"Of course not, Bill. You never lied well. Gotta go now."

"God! Why were you always in a hurry, Mark? I have something to say."

"Write me, Bill. Just address it to God and I'll get it."

Mark looked into my eyes, smiled, then died in my arms. Oh, we had forged the fires in the pits of hell, we burned, stumbled and bled. And through it all, we stood tall and marched on to fight another day. Why, God? Mark and I were joined at the hips. I'm so angry with You!

I personally arranged for his funeral in Arlington. And when TAPS sounded, I presented Ole Glory to his widow, Joyce, who in turn passed it on to their son, Bobby. A Silver Star shall be awarded to Mark, I recommended. "Posthumously," for courage above and beyond the call of duty.

Within the month, the Secretary of the Air Force presented Joyce the award. Somehow, it seemed, "So little, for so much!" Mark was the Language Expert on our team, spoke six fluently, had a heart of gold and yet, "was tougher than grandma's biscuits."

Did you ever ask yourself, "Who are heroes and what makes them tick?" Are they superhuman and tough as brick? Of course, there are those who say, "Why, they're myths, like in story books, some wear armor suits and have dashing looks." And others; "Why most are no different than you and I, they walk and talk, laugh and cry."

I shall always remember our Civil War. There was Bull Run, Antietam and Chancellorsville, and their blood run red across the muddy fields. Brother fought brother and father fought son. Afterwards, they traded meat for potatoes at the garrison's. The Blue killed Grey and the Grey Blue. Some used sabers, others knives, and when the guns fell silent some sang; "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, Hurrah! Hurrah!" And then others; "Glory, Glory Hallelujah, His Truth Is Marching on."

From those horrifying years to present, there has been more red blood spilled on the battlefields at home and abroad, than all of the water in an ocean. There was Vietnam's Ashe Valley, then Hamburger Hill. Around 52,000 died in the killing fields. Heroes of all ages, they strong as chain, died for you and me. Some were our Fathers, Mothers, Daughters and Sons. With gusto, they became the servants of God.

Then came Iraq. Around 6,000 Men and Women's blood drenched the hot sands. Some were Farmers, Teachers, Bankers and such. They gave all when asked to serve. The ones who came home are quick to say; "I only did what I could to help." And as I meet them along our path to freedom, I stand straight, tall, and salute them all.

Back in April of 1998. Air Force Intelligence reported that some idiot named Saddam Hussein was killing his Iraqi people like flies. Of course, that scared the Defense Secretary somewhat, and he asked Air Force to make ready, a Joint Services, Special Forces Commando Team to go over and cut the bastard's throat.

Volunteers from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy were screened, evaluated by a shrink, and one from each branch was chosen to start training immediately. Call it an honor, a suicide wish or whatever comes to mind. However, I was chosen.

The next three years of my life were the longest and hardest ever. There were Joint Service Schools here and there. Were the schools hard? You bet your ass! By the grace of God, I graduated to become the first Air Force Leader of a Delta Force operation. The years ahead would change my life forever.

Our team comprised of seven individuals, were among the finest trained combatants in the world, "to blow our horns." We were experts in explosives, intelligence, language, the martial arts, first aid and the tactics, techniques and procedures used by Isis guerrillas.

Quickly overwhelmed during the invasion phase of operation Desert Shield/Storm, (1990-1991) the Iraqi Army, consisting of the Elite Saddam Guard, put up a high resistance for a short period and then melted away into the civilian population. Baghdad fell on April 9th ending Saddam's 24-year rule.

Until his death by hanging in December of 2006, we continued to search for the bastard and yet, to no avail. Of course, along the way, we froze our asses off, bled like slaughtered hogs and yet, fought on. Thank God, I'm here to tell my story. Many of our warriors were not so lucky.

In closing, I would like to share the message I wrote to those less fortunate and had em-blazed in bronze at the Memorial.

"May the Patriotism, Raw Courage and Fighting Spirit, exemplified by those having
fallen in battle, continue to live on and perpetuate within the hearts and minds of our young children. Let us pray; the Stars in Ole Glory shall shine bright, lighting the pathway home for
our POW/MIA's. And that God make bearable the pain and sorrow, of those loved ones
awaiting their return. With Him, are our Fathers, Mothers, Daughter and Sons who gave their lives to preserve our freedom. May their courage and example, be emulated by those serving today, tomorrow and always. Pray, the sound of TAPS, shall echo across the hallowed grounds, and along the headstones of our brave Men and Women, who died in the folds of Ole Glory. Remember them, America."

A "Salute!" Lilibug6, for the Artwork.

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The writing of "Etched In My Heart," is especially gratifying to me as it is commemorate to our war dead. As an Air Force Veteran, of 30-years active duty military service, I'm honored to be among those of you having served. A Salute! "Hurrah and Semper Fidelis" My story is dedicated to those heroes less fortunate than we. And as well, too Mark; "For having saved my ass." Best wishes, wherever you are.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Lilibug6 at FanArtReview.com

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