Thursday, July 28, 2011

America Died Today

John came into my office today -- right after I started to hear Mr. Tu's claim in arbitration. When he saw I was busy, he retreated quietly and closed the door.

Mr. Tu came to the U.S. from Vietnam 4 years ago, and now he runs a small coffee shop in Seattle. On the way home from work one day, he was rear-ended by a gal from the south side of the tracks. It was all her fault, and it didn't help that she had a petty criminal record three pages long.

Today was also the day we learned that the voice of America died. You know, the voice of a Horse With No Name, Sandman, Ventura Highway, and Lonely People. I love those songs; and I love John like a brother, and he was one of the lonely people today.

After I made my award I went in to John's office to talk about it; I gave Mr. Tu a modest award for his trouble. And John told me about SRB; he wanted to talk about it first thing this morning; it turns out that today was the anniversary of SRB's death in Vietnam, 41 years ago. SRB was from Great Falls, Montana and he was the first man to die under John's command. John's roots are deep in Montana, too.

Just made a Corporal and in country hardly long enough to be in charge of anyone, the CO made John a Squad Leader, in charge of 12-15 men whose job it was to patrol dense jungle trails and kill the bad guys when they found them. One day the usual point man complained about his job, and SRB said "fuck it, I'll take the point". And he headed up the trail and within a few minutes he ran into a booby trap that blew him to pieces.

A helicopter medivac'd SRB out of there, and the next day the Gunny told the men he died of his wounds. This was 41 years ago.

I said, "John, if you're up for a wee dram I'm game." I call it our Boston Legal.

He said, "I have a conference call with an expert witness at 4 and I'll be right over when I'm done."

Shortly later, he brought the Glen Morange and we finished it off, and we drank a toast to SRB.

He died today 41 years ago.