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“Hero” by Erin Walker

This is a poem written by Erin Walker who is engaged to Sgt. Justin D. Cox. (His Unit are Combat Engineers based out of Folsom, Pa.). Justin is a Reservist who recently went active with the Marines, as he feels this is his calling to serve his Country. Shortly after returning back home from his 2nd tour in Iraq (10-04) Justin had seen the ultimate…the loss of brothers and one badly wounded from a daisy chained car bomb while out on patrol. (Justin had served 2 tours in Iraq and not yet reached the age of 21). His fianc?, Erin Walker, was going to college and was given an assignment from her English Literature class. Not to get political, her assignment was to take any opening line from poet Allen Ginsberg, and then finish the poem with any topic of her choice. The attached ending to his poem, "Howl" is her work. It is her desire to honor her friends and fianc?'s 'brothers' who have either given their all or were wounded in the War in Iraq.
Some added notes about Sgt. Cox and his family:

  • Justin's love for the Marines started when he was a young boy and joined the Marines youth division called the Young Marines (based in Folsom, Pa.) and excelled in knowledge and rank with them.
  • Justin admired his late uncle, a Marine. (His sisters husband)
  • Justin's grandfather (mother's father) was Staff Sergeant J. J. Garvey, a vet of WW II and Korean War. He was the first Commandant of VFW Post Dutch Hewlig, Roxborough, Pa.
  • Joan L. Karr, Justin's mother, was a female XO (Marines) for 11 years, and recognized for her work with them. Her late husband was a vet serving with the USCG during Viet Nam.
  • In between tours of duty in Iraq, Justin attended college, with good grades.
  • Justin lives, eats, thinks, sleeps the Marine way and is an excellent example of the pride that is so highly spoken of about the United States Marine Corps.
  • Even though I did not serve our Country in the Military, one thing I learned very fast & respectfully was the way the Marines are proud of who they are & what they represent. So you already know how I can go on bragging about Sgt. Cox but feel you know the pride I have in having met Justin and soon to be even prouder to call him my son, not that I am not already doing so!

Thank you for your time and consideration of printing this poem written out of love, respect, and admiration to 'brothers' by a soon to be Marines wife.

James M. Quinlan

Proud Dad of a Marine



I've seen some of the best minds of my generation, shipped into
Planes, 24 hours notice given,
Same dress, same hair, same fears.
Boys being turned into men in a matter of days, men
Turning older with the dust.
With guns in hand, and letters and pictures of girls at home,
In pockets, kept close to heart, a thought of them
Would subside all fears for that day alone.
Angels above, watching them during convoys,
Talil, Fallujah, Baghdad, Camp Victory, Camp
Anaconda, they've all run together now, letters pouring in
From cities and camps whose names I can not pronounce
even though I've tried.
Uncle Sam this ones for you.
I watched you tear from me, my heart, sending him over again,
Tour Number Two of the retched desolate country
War Torn and wrecked.
15 months overseas, 20 years old, tell me how this sounds right to you.
I watched you tear from me, my childhood friendship, watching
Him grow into a Man my best friend and confidant,
Ripped from me to fight this war, this never ending war.
These men, these boys, these babies ripped from family, friends, from reality.
Sent there, to fight another reality, not just your reality Big Brother,
But now their ownshoot, don't shoot, duck don't duck
Look at your Commanding Officer, covered in blood. Purple Heart for sure.
Come home to see the looks you get,
Looks from people who will never understand
Images burned into memory, seen every time eyes are closed
Every time sleep is attempted.
Sleep in bed, lovers arm attempting to fall across chest
All that is imagined is the Iraqi Insurgents coming to murder in sleep.
It may not be right, it very well might be wrong
This is War. Support the troops, screw the reason for fight.
Some people just don't understand, they don't feel the pain to look
At Sgt. Crawford's face, a pockmarked portrait of a man,
Glass etched scars will forever remind him of that fateful day in July.
Purple Heart yes, but he doesn't care, that doesn't matter in real life.
The gravestones of Sherman, Todd, and Adle, always bring comrades to their
Knees, tears flowing freely, not just boys now, not just men.
But Brothers, brothers forever, brothers through
bloodshed (both theirs and the other guys), fought
beside each other in war, and stay
Beside each other in life after Iraq.
The best minds of my generation have been shipped off
To fight, to care, to uphold what we are, to never forget,
Brothers never die, they instead wait for each other there,
To Hell for killing, or to Heaven for protecting the lives
of millions?
As the dust flows, swimming into their nostrils and lungs, like the
Visions of their girls at home, waiting for their return
To them, U.S. has more meaning when M.C. is attached
Behind it.
A life, a choice, a decision, a
A weapon, a grenade, a fear, an Iraqi hidden behind a wall, sight
Trained to the name tape sewed
on his chest, to the right of his heart, where blood
pumps through his veins, to the tune of fear
in his heart and mind.
Date Eligible For Return From Overseas, coined in Vietnam
Hoped for in Iraq.
To only know the day, the time, the truth they will be coming home
Not in Pine, but in Flesh.
Heroes in their own right, a job not many
Chose to partake, earning respect of most,
Fear of some, and acknowledgment of few.
I've seen the best minds of my generation shipped into
Planes, to prove to us
What American really means.

Erin Walker

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