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Casualties

by John Saylor

“You’re as good as ten of them”
The Recruiter said no more.
It was “Good Bye” to mom and love
And I marched off to the war.

I was the new replacement,
They were so glad to see.
No one cared to ask my name,
They called me “F.N.G.”

I listened to the Sergeant
As he rolled another “joint”
He pointed to the jungle
And said “You are walking Point.”

A new man has no value,
No past, no history.
The rest were close to going home,
The “expendable” was me.

I struggled through the days, the weeks
As the leader of the pack.
I learned the trade of find and kill
No thoughts of turning back.

Now as a combat veteran
Though I was just a kid.
In manly shoes, and face to face,
With all those things I did.

Soon I became a witness,
To reactions in the fight.
Young men’s faces changing,
At the “elephant’s” first sight.

Alive, surviving in the pack,
No sign of victory.
Counting days till I go home,
No more the “F.N.G.

War had taught me many things,
Most would be left behind.
My wounds will heal and life goes on,
But what about the mind?

I’m puzzled by the image,
I see each time I shave.
Shouldn’t life be happier,
On this side of the grave?

Of course I recognize him,
My conscience helped me see,
For all I did to stay alive,
The one I killed was me.

(Copyright 2015 Military Experience & the Arts, Inc.)