Playoff Beards
Mrs. Bainter the Painter*

A War Story

My brother joined the Navy Reserve in the late 60s so that he could fulfill his mandatory military service without going to Vietnam.

They sent him to medical corpsman school.

Then they sent him to Vietnam, to the front lines, attached to the Second Batallion, Fourth Marines -- also known as The Magnificent Bastards. His first job was loading body bags into helicopters.

He hadn't been there very long when, after a battle, he was giving medical aid to the wounded soldiers. He came across an enemy soldier, now a prisoner of war, lying on the ground. The soldier was having trouble breathing, so my brother started to perform a tracheotomy. After all, POWs deserved medical treatment for their injuries.

One of my brother's fellow medics came by and said, "I'll take care of that."

My brother said, "That's okay, I've got it."

The other medic said, "I said, I'll take of it." At that point the medic pulled a machete from his belt and slit the enemy soldier's throat from ear to ear.

My brother, shocked, said, "Why did you do that?"

The medic said, "When you've been here six months, you'll understand."

And the hell of it is, after six months, my brother did understand.

On this Memorial Day, let's remember the men and women who have died in service to our country. Let's also remember what war does to people.

And let us work all that much harder for peace.