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A Story of a Cemetery Escort Duty

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  • A Story of a Cemetery Escort Duty

    A Story of a Cemetery Escort Duty, sent to me by a Vietnam Vet friend: "Hawkeye" (Bravo Co, 1/5 Marines, 67-68).

    I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey's for a few cold ones. Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 16:55. Five minutes to go before the cemetery gates are closed for the day. 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. A '69 or '70 model Cadillac Deville, which looked factory-new. It pulled into the parking lot at a snail's pace.

    An old woman got out so slowly, I thought at first she was partially paralyzed. She had a cane and a bundle 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, and for this old soldier my hip hurts like hell, and I'm ready to get out of here right now!'

    But for this day, my duty was to assist anyone coming in. Kevin would lock the 'In' gate and if I could hurry the old lady along, we might make the last half of happy hour at Smokey's.

    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. A middle-aged man with a small potbelly-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 the old lady, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me with an old woman's squint. 'Ma'am may I assist you in any way?' I said politely.

    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,' I replied, thinking that it wasn't too much of a lie.

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

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

    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 as she said, '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,' I replied with a little more respect.

    She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She picked one of the bunches of flowers out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone, then 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 of flowers on one headstone. The name was Stephen X. Davidson, USMC, 1943.

    She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch of flowers on another stone which read, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944.

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

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

    She looked confused when she asked, 'Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way.'

    I pointed with my chin saying, '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 of flowers on headstones for Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968, and the last bunch of flowers on Darrel Wieserman, 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,' she said.

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

    She paused, then replied, 'Yes. Donald Davidson was my father; Stephen was my uncle; Stanley was my husband; Larry and Darrel were our sons. All Marines. All killed in action.'

    She then stopped short. Whether she had finished, or couldn't finish, I don't know. She then slowly and painfully made her way to her car.

    I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then double-timed it over to Kevin waiting by his car. 'Get to the 'Out'-gate quick!' I said. '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 by going down the service road. We beat her, as she hadn't made it around the rotunda yet.

    'Kevin, stand to attention next to the gate post, and follow my lead,' I said as we got out of the car, and 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 out, in my best gunny's voice; 'TehenHut! Preseeent Arms!'

    I have to hand it to Kevin, he never blinked an eye. Full dress attention and a salute that would make his DI proud.

    She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send off she deserved. For service rendered to her country as a Gold Star Mother, and for knowing the true meaning of Duty, Honor and Sacrifice.

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


    *******

    As another Memorial Day approaches, (26 May 2008), let's all keep those currently serving, and those who have gone before, in our thoughts and prayers. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy.

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

  • #2
    Semper Fi Devil Dogs!!!! I'll see you on the beach!!!
    sigpic

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

    Comment


    • #3
      "For those that will fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected shall never know."
      -- L/Cpl Edwin L. "Tim" Craft - B Co, 3rd Anti-Tank Battalion "Ontos",
      Khe Sanh USMC Combat Base, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam.
      (Tet Offensive - February, 1968)
      Last edited by Historian; 05-09-2008, 12:17 AM.

      "Be good, be kind, help each other."
      "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

      --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

      Comment


      • #4
        Warriors and Mothers

        I pray as Memorial Day approaches, that the Creator blesses and watches over all our Warriors former and present and gives comfort to those brave souls who are the parents of all our departed Warriors. Wife of a LRRP, Viet Nam, 1/67-10/69. Survivor of both Tet offensives. Fiftycal, keep your head down and come home safe again. HOOAH!!

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