April 17, 1967

On this Memorial Day 2017, a return to a piece written for my cousin, Jack Bense, who sacrificed his life in Vietnam to save a comrade.

Unleashed

He

the first born

the first grandchild

the first

a gifted athlete and student at Father Judge High School.

He

an All Catholic tackle

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

and played hard, but fair.

He

left school

to return home to family on Meridian Street

and worked construction.

Until

his number came up. It was

November 1965.

He

was begged

by his parents

by his mother

not to be

a hero

before being sent to Vietnam

in July 1966.

He

was assigned to

Company C of the 2nd  Battalion

of the 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.

Army.

He

sent pictures and wrote letters

and always downplayed

the hell

all around him.

He

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

loved.

He

instead

threw…

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