WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?
WE VOLUNTEERED TO GO TO WAR
TOOK GAMES TO THE TROOPS TO MAKE THEM SMILE
AND WERE ALL THE WORLD LIKE THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
WITH A TOUCH OF HOME FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
TO BASE CAMPS, HOSPITALS AND LZ’S
WE’D FLOAT, WE’D FLY, WE’D DRIVE
AND HOPED, SOMEHOW, TO REMEMBER THEM
WOULD KEEP EACH ONE ALIVE.
WAR SHOWED US NO SUCH KINDNESS
SO TO HONOR THEM INSTEAD
WE CARVED THEIR NAMES IN GRANITE WALLS
TO BE REMEMBERED, TOUCHED AND READ.
BUT THOSE LISTS OF NAMES ARE USELESS
WHEN IT’S SKEETER, DUTCH OR BRO
FOUR EYES, GRAMPS OR GREASER
WHOSE REAL NAMES WE’LL NEVER KNOW.
WHERE CAN I FIND THEM ON THE WALL?
TO MATCH A NAME WITH THE FACE WE KNEW
TO FIND EACH ONE WHO GAVE THEIR ALL
LIKE SKI, POPS, CORKY, KID OR STU.
I PLAYED CRIBBAGE WITH THE COWBOY
AND WROTE LETTERS HOME FOR BUZZ
BUT I CAN’T TELL YOU WHO THEY WERE
I JUST KNOW THAT EACH ONE WAS.
THEY INTRODUCED THEMSELVES TO US AS
STONEY, BIG MIKE, ACE AND BEAR.
THAT'S HOW WE SEE AND HEAR THEM STILL
--JUST CAN’T FIND THEM ANYWHERE.
SOME REARRANGED THEIR GIVEN NAMES
OR SHORTENED THEM INSTEAD.
THERE’S SMITTY, FOX AND BUD,
YANK, MACK, LT AND RED.
THEY TALKED ABOUT THEIR FAVORITE THINGS;
CHIP’S GIRL, SLY’S DAWG, BUCK’S CAR.
IF WE HAD A ROLL CALL NOW
I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHO THEY ARE.
THEY WENT BY MOS AND SIZE
LIKE GUNNY, DOC AND TOO TALL PAUL.
I'D BRIDGE THAT GAP AND EASY MY PAIN,
IF THERE WERE NICKNAMES ON THE WALL.
IT’S EASY TO REMEMBER
RUSTY, GABBY, SWEDE OR JER
THEY’RE LOCKED INSIDE MY MEMORY
AND NOT GOING ANYWHERE.....
BUT I CAN’T REACH OUT
AND TOUCH THEIR NAMES
THAT I KNOW ARE ON THE WALL.
YOU SEE, I NEVER GOT TO SAY GOODBYE, OR
WELCOME HOME, THAT, MOST OF ALL.
©2007 J. Holley Watts
A reunion for the Red Cross SRAO women took place in Albuquerque, NM in 2005. During our visit we went to
Angel Fire, our country's first national Vietnam Memorial. As we looked through the books of remembrance my
idea for this poem began to form.
Months later I was talking to Diane Kusrow Mercier (SRAO VN '67-'69) who had not attended the reunion. She
talked about her frustration knowing that some of the units she'd visited had been hit, and not knowing the
guys' "real names." She was not alone wondering what had happened to them. The nurses and even GIs in the
same unit shared that frustration.
It seems I'd struck a chord. The nicknames in this poem are real. Thanks to Diane, Dave, Edie, Joan and
Jenny, but especially thanks to the guys.