A Corpsman's Heart
by Tom Fournier HM1, USN
(Milton, FL, USA)
For some it started when we were “Boots”
For me it is what I planned for.
I trained and trained for six months long
Just to be a member of this elite corps.
I was young and very naive and sometimes brash.
I thought I could save the world.
After all, that is what we were trained for.
I am very possessive of those placed in my care.
My job to keep you well and bring you home.
I was looked up to and counted on to know,
the answers to the difficult questions and situations.
I did my best to try and be prepared
I studied hard and watched you close
But then the day came when my bubble burst.
The noise, the dust, the constant flashes,
The blood, the screams, the utter chaos,
The call “Corpsman Up” was heard above all.
Before the call I was already in motion
Going from one to another giving my aid.
It seemed as if it went on forever,
everything appearing to be in slow motion.
The noise went on and all seemed a panic.
But I had to remain calm while surrounded by chaos.
My uniform and hands covered in blood,
fighting a stomach that felt like wrenching.
I worked with what I carried and did all that I knew to do.
No matter what I did it didn’t work.
The noise dissipated and all I heard were your words
“Doc please save me”
I gave my all to no avail, my brother died.
No time to cry.
I had to be strong for all the others,
I buried it deep with all the others.
I had to be strong for all the others.
This was my first, but not my last
For many more battles laid wait for me
Those who died became part of me
They live in the recesses of my inner being
It has been many a year and my heart is full
Brothers I LOVE you still
I tried real hard and did my best
Forgive me now if I lay you to rest
The pain of your passing haunts me still
The loneliness felt has created a great emptiness.
You are in my dreams and I can feel your presence
Every night I dread the lands of endless screams.
I awake with a start, my body glistening and damp
I tremble and fear to go back to sleep
I feel the heat, the stench of burnt flesh, and the agonizing screams.
The contortion of pain on your faces
The despairing feeling that there was little I could do.
I couldn’t break down. I couldn’t cry.
I could only bury you in my heart
For some of you I didn’t even know your names
But I cannot forget your pleading faces
People say I should put you behind me
But how can you ignore or discard something that is part of you
They say I shouldn’t feel the guilt, that it wasn’t my fault
But they didn’t see the faces
I pray every day that I can face the world
I LOVE you my brothers and I know I did what I could
The process has started as I find those of you that I can on the WALL
One by one to say goodbye
Each time I see your name, I see your faces
I know that you are at peace and no longer in pain
I feel your love and you seem to say thanks brother, you did your best.
I want you to know that you will not be forgotten
You will always be part of this Corpsman’s Heart.
Revised December 20, 2011