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JIM & DAVID B  by Gary Lillie 

David B was walking point
when we hit the shit on that trail
They got David with the opening rounds
and down he goes with a bad leg wound
We lay separated as he lay bleeding
and things were as bad as I’d ever seen
Now thirty years have come and gone
and David calls me on the phone

Jim tells the story and I just listen...

The strain's still there as I hear Jim say
how the ambush exploded that awful day
In the triple-canopy of Vietnam
where men and beasts behave as one
And fear can make your blood run cold
while steamy sweat runs from every pore
Amid din and chaos and frantic screams
while men react and moments freeze
And where in the hell is God?

Jim said they spoke for hours on end
of firebases and trails and friends
They laughed and joked in a familiar way
like it all just happened yesterday
Then the easy talk took a new direction
so he half expected David's question
Remember what it was like that day?
It was like they were running the jungle
through a wood chipper

The chips and leaves and crud and limbs
poured down, around and on us said Jim
like the busy spout of a giant wood chipper
I admit my response was a little bewildered
If it was that bad how did you save David B?
The trick said Jim is fire superiority
Bring up the M-60, put the M-16s on rock ‘n roll
then on a signal open up
Make the other guys keep their heads low

Two of us go and grab his ass
kept waiting to get one in the back
Course the pucker factor's awfully high
couldn't believe it when we didn't die
Then David gives up the phone to his wife
Thank you for saving my husband's life
I said he'd have done the same for me
still I get a tear and choked up you see
...pretty emotional stuff

We threw him in and the Dustoff left
and it was back to work for the rest of us
Never knew what became of him
that's just the way it was back then
From then I worried when my mind would roam
to the lie I told to a friend gone home
But David said he understood
it wasn't just me, anyone would..

I told David he wouldn't lose his foot

History tells of the flaccid 10,000
who ran to Canada to avoid Vietnam
But seldom mentions the 40,000
who came south to join in our fight for freedom
Now a memorial stands in the city of Windsor
at Dieppe Park, by the Detroit River
It bears the names of some northern brothers
but thankfully not David’s…Like the rest of us
it was a part of him that was lost

The story's true but never wonder
what Vietnam vets wouldn't do for a brother
Nor how much love they all still share
That's not the only message there
It's what they did when just nineteen
while others clung to children's dreams
and what professionals they became
The best damn citizen-soldiers
to ever strap on a ruck’

With warmest esteem for the American  “Grunt.”

Jim and I spoke a lot and he told me this story, but not as written; all but the last two verses are totally his words. When I sent the poem to Jim he was astounded and said he didn't remember telling me the story. I told him he had, but it was a sentence here and a couple of sentences there, over a period of at least five years; and I had tucked away those bits and pieces until I figured I learned what happened that day.

Jim sent the poem to David B, who was one of those Canadians with character that came south across the border and joined our military. He now lives in Montana and is not bitter about losing his foot - he is proud of his service.

Gary L