A Vietnam Vet's Reflections: 'When I Think'

The Long March
US Army

My mind’s eye sees the truly great.


The line of grunts, stooped and low.

Running to the fire.

Grasping life by the handguard.

Always to the front.

Exhaustion, pain, frustration, and fear.

They walk through each soul’s history.

Through corridors of light, dark, and haze.

The memories firm and the pain less.

The fog of war and the mournful mutter of the battlefield.

Of this, I think.

Youth in body.

Full of endless sun and boundless energy.

Singing souls and sacrifice.

Their spirit as the flowers, bright and attracting.

Their bodies hard and unyielding as their countenance.

Touched with fire and forged to wicked edge.

To think this is precious and never to forget.

To be with men quenching at ageless springs.

Marching still to sounds long lost

The perimeter of the soul.

Never to deny the pleasure of a morning’s reveries.

The bright light of life.

Time does not diminish with its noise and fog, the flower of the spirit.

They are the blades of grass—green, growing, and endless.

They appear as the streamers of white clouds and the whispers of the sky.

Their names, obscure. Their faces forever.

Their actions never lost.

This is what I think.

The furtive figures fight for life by dealing with death.

Their hearts are the center of the fire and the forger of their spirit.

They are the sun of my mind

The air forever signed with their honor.

This is what I think. 

Col (Ret) Keith Nightingale commanded four rifle companies, three battalions and two brigades.  He regularly practiced field sanitation techniques. He is a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame.

(DoD photo)

Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

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In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.

While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.

In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).

According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.

Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Valencia McNeal

The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.

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Marines of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion on the day before their graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego on August 8, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.

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Command Sgt. Maj. Ted L. Copeland, the Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Reserve and his escort team land at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana, May 13, 2019, during Guardian Response 19 (Army photo/Sgt. Fred Brown)

An Indiana National Guard soldier died Saturday at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, located about 75 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Cpl. Larry Litton Jr., of Martinsville, was 30 years old and an assistant squad leader with the 384th Military Police Company when he was found unresponsive at the facility.

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