April 17, 1967


the first born

the first grandchild

the first

a gifted athlete and student at Father Judge High School.


an All Catholic tackle

earned a full scholarship to play football at the University of Tulsa

and played hard, but fair.


left school

to return home to family on Meridian Street

and worked construction.


his number came up. It was

November 1965.


was begged

by his parents

by his mother

not to be

a hero

before being sent to Vietnam

in July 1966.


was assigned to

Company C of the 2nd  Battalion

of the 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.



sent pictures and wrote letters

and always downplayed

the hell

all around him.


a team leader who,

like so many others,

longed for the simple:

to return home to his family

to his friends and to the neighborhood

that he




threw a body block on his platoon leader

to save him from a

live grenade.


took the hit

and became the


his parents asked him

begged him

not to be.

April 17, 1967

forever changed the meaning of

Memorial Day.



Sergeant John F. Bense, Jr.;

to the rest of us, he was


Jack Bense

May 7, 1945- April 17, 1967


larger walljack the wall


©Maribeth Batcho

All Rights Reserved.

The real reason for Memorial Day is nothing to celebrate…





















18 thoughts on “April 17, 1967

    1. Not my first time at that Wall, but the first time on Memorial Day. And while I was only 4 years old when he was killed, this trip to DC was emotional. All the vets, Rolling Thunder, the mini conversations…thanks for taking the time to honor Jack this morning, Bernadette. Much appreciated.


    1. Spending the day in DC was especially powerful and emotional. The Rolling Thunder turn out was telling. Wish everyone in DC this past weekend had seen the honor they bestowed upon other veterans and especially the fallen. Very moving.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bonnie. I have been to the Wall a dozen + times, but none were as emotional as over this past weekend. I was too young to know Jack, but his loss had a major impact on my entire family. I guess that’s why I was moved to tears and moved to write and honor him after all of these years.
      Thanks for reading about Jack, and for remembering along with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Maribeth…what an eloquent and powerful poem you have written. I am really knocked over by it. And, yes, we clearly are soul sisters; we need to meet one day. So sorry about the loss of Jack; a family wound that will never heal.

    Liked by 1 person

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