A Marine Corps Christmas Story
The story regards a small group of Marines, haggard and tired from the day’s events, sitting at their jungle outpost as night approaches and attempting to find solace after the loss of friends in battle. Ceremony, designed to sooth, and which normally surrounds loss of those close to us is not to be. Mingling among family and friends at the wake, kind words from the preacher, the funeral procession to the cemetery for more kind words and capped off with roast turkey, drinks and even a bit of laughter as the pleasant memories take over. To be able to pay respect. In a proper way, to a friend. None of this was to be. Simply there one moment, with talk of the future and, of course, tales about the incredible babes back in “The World”. And gone the next moment, with the unceremonious zipping of a body bag.
For reasons only an infantryman can fathom, the talk turns to the atom. It seems, according to one Marine, that everything as we know it, the wind, the rain, the hub cap off a ’55 Chevy, even those of us, are made up of different combinations of only eighty some odd atoms. Each with it’s select number of electrons orbiting at various levels above a proton/neutron nucleus.
“Did ya’ know?”, he adds, “That the ratio of the nearest electron to it’s nucleus is greater in distance as compared to the earth from the sun.” His friends are impressed. “Not only would you need a million atoms, piled on top of each other, to equal the thickness of a page, but to be able to compress the electrons into the nucleus would also mean that you could fit an entire sky-scraper into the eraser head of a pencil.” Now his friends are amazed.
A few moments of silence… “Kinda’ makes you wonder about the guys,” another Marine suggests. “I mean, if all those millions of bucks were spent to split a single atom, are they really dead? Seems to me that those electrons are still goin’ through a spin cycle.”
Discussion continues, cigarettes are smoked in cupped hands and, bingo, ARE is founded. Atomic Recovery Employment systems. Until someone pointed out that —- ——- would be ticked off if recovered with the head of a moose. A brief, and respectful, moment of laughter, and they pondered some more.
To the scientist, there is the atom. To the theologian, there is spirit. To that young group of Marines, having found their solace, there is Comparable Atomic Recovery Employment systems. CARE.
“Geeez! Where Is Thomas Alva Edison When You Need Him…”
Seeming to sum things up, one of the Marine’s who has remained silent throughout, simply listening, finally speaks. “You guys are gonna’ think me wacko on this one, but when I was a kid my family went on a cross-country trip and at one point I found myself in one of those rare moments in a large family. I was standing alone with my dad. We were at the very lip of the Grand Canyon, gazing at the incredible beauty, when he says to me, completely out of the blue, and we’re not talking a religious fanatic here, “Ya’ know, sport, I think this is what Jesus Christ had in mind when He said, probably in frustration, “The Kingdom of Heaven is here, now.”
Heads nod, cigarettes are snuffed, and talk comes to an end as a Marine glances at his watch, stands with an M-16, and heads off to guard duty.
“Catch you guys later”, he concludes.
Infantry Squad Leader
3rd Marine Division
Christmas Day 1968
Just A Few Of The Incredible United States Marines From Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment (2/3) Of The Marine Corps’ 3rd Division that I Was Lucky Enough & Fortunate Enough To Have Served With In Vietnam.
Top Row (Left To Right): James Swink, Winterton, Frank Costanzo, Ramon “Poncho” Arroyo, Dave “Sgt Bro” Brombaugh, James Vaughan.
Bottom Row (Left To Right): Al Clark, Joe Williams, Ted Amato, Myself.
To Ramone “Poncho” Arroyo, James “Jimmie” Vaughan, Joe “Willie” Williams & Ted “Theodore” Amato – My Hopes & Prayers Will Remain For The Safety, Happiness & Security Of Your Wonderful Living Spirits As You Await Your Return From Across The Great Divide… I’ll Be Standing By With Beaucoup Cases Of Ice-Cold Coors…
Thank You For Your Friendship.