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A Drill Sergeant's Fame
By Kimberly Mae
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Kimberly Mae
All rights reserved.
A Hero's Sacrifice
An honor to fight, marching into war —
Sights fixed rock hard, down to
the core. Nothing exotic, though our army is the best.
Uniformed and critiqued, for some, here comes final rest.
American soldiers in combat, please don't shed one tear;
We're suited up, professional warriors without fear.
Climbing mountains, dodging bullets, emotions not mixed —
Face-to-face, piercing daggers earnestly fixed.
Here wrongs are made right, hard as it may seem;
Soldiers bravely face this for their team.
Proving themselves honorable souls who pay the ultimate price.
Their own lives, through their eyes, are a small sacrifice.
Looking upon others pillaged and scorned,
Their hearts grow black, yearning to mourn.
Those not knowing peace or joy once foretold,
Are living in a callous globe dark and cold.
Soldiers with courage, faith, and a passionate drive —
Our malice-filled enemies make sure they don't stay alive.
All the while warriors' hearts held high, purposely to defend
Our God-given freedom, right down to their bloody end.
The heroes' sacrifice is now revealed:
Giving their lives out in the field.
Their sole purpose is duty, honor, integrity, and respect
— Thus, the greatest men on earth have such
profound effects. Many will strive but none could ever compare
To fallen soldiers — don't even dare!
Months went by during our deployment to Afghanistan before a soldier in our unit died in combat. As is custom, we stood shoulder to shoulder in two separate parallel ranks or lines, saluting while the body of our fallen soldier was passed between us on a litter (a basic form of a stretcher) covered by the American flag. When our hero passed by me, I began to silently let loose tears. As soon as we dropped our salutes and departed from the HLZ (helicopter landing zone), I ran to my room to further pay respect by writing this poem, "A Hero's Sacrifice."
A Drill Sergeant's Fame
The drill sergeants we've come to know
Are prodigies at making us feel low.
For their voices do precisely yell
To viciously dish out hell.
They love to exclaim, "Beat your face!"
We'd like to put in their eyes just a bit of Mace.
'Tis a vengeful thought for now;
I'm sure they have a secret calculating vow.
And while running the two-mile race,
Our drill sergeants will be all up in our face.
"Hey, you re-re, you're such a window licker!
You better move those legs quicker!"
That's our drill sergeants' way;
They make us ball our fists and say,
"You rode the short bus, not I.
We can tell by the demon in your eye."
Our drill sergeants then cynically confess,
"Down in the dirt, you hot mess!"
All to trigger hot-blooded progress.
It makes us heated, but we do our best.
Our push-ups and sit-ups prove just the same.
All the while our drill sergeants scream,
"Yeah, can't believe you came!
Go down farther, get up, and do more!
If you can't, we'll throw your ass out the door!"
Now pause to realize their dark, piercing eyes
Just might tell a tale of lies,
For a sweeter side is known by their kin.
To us, the soldier recruits, it's hidden deep within-
Purposely done for their battle buddies to shield,
Making us soldiers to survive in the field.
So now at their best, they'll be seen downrange,
Together in combat, killing without shame.
Stop and realize we'll be filled with pride
To be fighting so fiercely, right at their side.
Then and there this won't lie:
Thank you, Drill Sergeants,
For this long and ludicrous ride!
Near the end of basic training, one of my battle buddies told everyone, including our drill sergeants, about my writing poetry, naming this poem in particular. There I was, standing in front of forty or so soldiers in training and about three drill sergeants. Stuttering, with sweat pouring down my face, I read it aloud at their command, dreading the consequence. To my amazement, I received good reviews but then was told to "beat my face" (get down to do push-ups) for swearing (in the original version).
Troops Seen Through Another's Eye
First sergeant (1SG) tactically overseeing the rest,
Through his eyes seen not as the best.
His main concern, one zero zero or two zero five,*
Tracking his soldiers, keeping them alive.
Physically and mentally this holds true,
Monitoring pay, promotions, and family too.
Applying when needed the proper factor,
In efforts to progress his soldiers' moral protractor.
Meant to discern with never-ending grace,
Gauging many a different face,
To notice those whose maturity and judgment lack,
Trying to decrease a negative impact.
Informative chats and corrective training,
Supposed to entail positives, minus shaming.
But the soldiers proven at first sight
Physically fit to withstand 1SG's fight,
Adding a showcase of motivation and drive,
Mitigating notions of leadership and jive.
Soldiers beneath are far more valuable,
Their works never to be seen as scrabble.
1SG toils to find each soldier's place
Within this respected yet torturous race.
Earnestly fixing any and all faults,
Time then reveals satisfying results.
Proven true when calls come in from men-
First Sergeant, five years past you lent a hand;
May I now ask for your services, once again?
* The third line, "one zero zero (100) or two zero five (205,)" references typically the number of soldiers in one company a 1SG is responsible for. This was, in particular, the smallest to largest number of soldiers my 1SG came across to command during his career.
One day while deployed to Afghanistan, I noticed my1SG was gazing out into the mountains. As I walked past, I turned and asked him if he needed anything. He looked at me and said, "You write poetry, Nero, right? Why not write one about a 1SG?"
I thought that would be intriguing, so we met in his office later the next day during lunch. I asked questions while conducting an interview and formed his answers into this poem.
I still wonder what was on his mind that day 1SG was captivated by the scenery of Afghanistan, gazing off into the distant land. I guess I'll never know.
To The End
Choppers heard flying overhead;
Once again a soldier wound up dead.
Giving his life, one of the better few,
Those alive and well do salute.
Twenty-one bullets heard by all,
Honoring the soldiers who fall.
Hearts that once beat to a survivor's tune,
Now seen through the shadow of a moon.
Tears that fall are mixed with sorrow and pride;
Emotions run past like a powerful riptide,
With eyes wide open, seeing souls that defend,
Who give their lives honorably to the end.
I wrote this poem in the hall of our living quarters. I sat on the ground, upset and pretty much in a foul mood altogether. I had heard of a soldier who died in combat, and a flood of rage engrossed me. An enormous assortment of profane words filled my head. I angrily put pen to paper, wanting to express a heated and obscene thought, but instead a poem crashed out of me. Later, back in the States, I gave it this title, "To the End."
The Soldier's Guardian
A family of three known as one
Lives in the clouds to ensure a job well done.
Keeping watch, our savior and maker,
Though disbelieved, the son restrains the unearthly taker.
Out in the field, detoured but not lost,
A life not meant to pay the ultimate cost.
It seems this day encompassed by loss,
Minds trodden down with many a thought.
Then by a miracle this instant proves anew.
Something wondrous and glorious too:
The soldier left not by plan
Now doing a job that seems as no man can.
All alone, some may say.
But come to know that very same day,
A man not on earth held higher than the rest
All the while was in his midst a guest.
Camouflaged into a shade of black,
Amazingly done with such great tact.
Shielded for no eye to see,
This soldier hidden beneath a tree,
Strong and brave down to his core,
Nobody but one shall know about his score.
His guardian above to mend a soul,
Also keeps danger from taking its toll.
Steadfast and safe, never to lie,
No enemy will see his face or his eye.
A yard or two from this soldier's right,
Still nowhere within the devil's sight.
This warrior hidden alive and well,
Soon to reunite, having a miraculous tale to tell.
A delightful story not always so,
For by this it's made known-
The universe is destined with each depraved blow.
Flying by, a life is taken while we're below;
Now this soldier lives- a spirit in the sky,
Watching your back, by and by,
Far atop the wind and rain,
Peering down from a different plane.
It was his time, the only answer shown.
War brings pain, as every soldier knows.
A promise of wealth in happiness and being
Is found to not always mean that one is breathing.
Torture passed no captive here;
Alive and well, his soul absent of fear.
One night while deployed, a story began to float about that we lost a soldier, literally. Soon thereafter, male soldiers were getting ready for a rescue mission, while the female soldiers were being tasked with mundane jobs within our walls of protection. After our delegated tasks were complete, I went to my room with a heavy heart. I lay on my stomach and began to write, with the eye of my spirit guiding my pen.
Originally I thought this soldier would come back alive and well. I felt it in my soul, a sort of peaceable rest. Later, when word came in that this soldier didn't make it back alive, I lost my bearings. I wanted to rewrite the poem but instead just added to the end.
I heard later that our hero was found at the base of a tree and had died fighting, killing many insurgents around him. I also was told that the enemy was planning on backtracking to take our soldier captive and torture him on television for the entire world to witness. Thankfully, this never came to pass — hence, the second to last line, "Torture passed no captive here."
In retrospect, many times in life we have a definitive answer for what is a good, acceptable, or bad outcome, yet we fail to see all the other issues and possibilities in between. Happiness and peace can creep through the darkest of situations in unexpected ways and answers, if we are open to seeing and understanding them.
Irony within a Combat Bunker
A concrete tunnel filled with soldiers and men,
Numbers that are more or less than ten.
Shoulder to shoulder though spirits are high,
Presuming that everyone will pass death by.
Incredible and astonishing this remembrance is,
All soldiers producing a soul-estranged kiss.
As bombs are heard landing and launching,
They all sit content, no one watching —
Some eating and drinking, lacking fear and thought, Others
joking without a care or thinking one fought. Stories then
are quickly shared, making the time swiftly pass. Now some
playfully let loose a left hook fast;
More mischief follows with chips and rocks tossed about.
Boom! Loud and thunderous is then felt and
heard, Yet no one bats an eye or utters a
concerning word. Lightheartedness continues on
with a happy bliss;
Over the radio it's heard — all is clear, personnel may
go amiss. A soldier exclaims, "Damn it," with a cold scowl.
"This workday I've just now lost an hour."
During these moments one C.O.P.* over,
A different tone is real, praying for a four-leaf clover.
There, a soldier is bleeding and down,
Many within those walls wearing a frown.
Some may say, learn to pray, mindful of that hour.
Don't be distracted, a selfish kind of coward.
Think on this for a moment before throwing a sharp spear.
What else is there to do but exist with hope detouring fear?
So those in that second to spread a disease
Realize help comes from above and fate's knocking, so please,
Listen up, and listen good;
What else would you do if you could?
Soldiers are trained, and this we know,
To keep our heads on straight and our hearts not low.
Then a watchful eye with quick reaction time,
Your brother in arms alive, much more costly than a dime.
A steady hand and sharp eye, a soldier's soul-draining job,
No matter the situation or moral on their C.O.P. or F.O.B.*
Jokes and laughter help to carry out what's to be;
Don't judge — we're here to make this world fit for your family.
*C.O.P: combat outpost; smaller than a**F.O.B: forward operating base.
This interesting memory includes me and other soldiers with civilians in a bunker (a large concrete tunnel built to shield soldiers when taking incoming artillery from the enemy) during an attack. I thought about what this situation might look like from a deviated point of view and logged it in my mind, later forming this poem.
Once my heart was torn,
Copious instances of sorrow to mourn.
Time then mysteriously amended,
Every occurrence perfectly connected.
With eyes wide open, moving forth,
Bursting with gladness, an exuding force.
My love meant to never grow coarse —
Now to be altered, set for dissimilar direct.
Destiny's face implausibly revealed,
A neoteric future with infinite zeal.
How would you say this came to be?
My story now for all to see.
Distraught, helpless, feeling alone —
Another noticing, moving into the zone.
Now in her midst, a man with drive,
Ensuing her innermost being, making alive;
A childlike trust innocence reborn.
Her countenance can now finally adorn.
Eyes beholding magnificent visions,
Once thought to be idiotic conflictions.
This journey's morphed and recreated,
A dreary mind full of sorrow — forever faded;
Determination and wonders, ambition effusively changed,
Her life's tale lavishly rearranged.
Overseas With 101
Sometimes a soul's yearning is to simply forget.
What I hold in my heart, 'tis true, man should ne'er tell;
These pictures and sounds, one ought not take out of its shell.
So deep within buried they lie, grudgingly clinging to my
Rotting away a sweet fragrance that once filled this empty
No more shall my spirit and body be refuge for all that seems
That which was once has now become forever untwined.
This poem came to me in the middle of the night, telling of the images that seared my soul and left a lasting impression I'll never forget. I was out at a C.O.P. in Paktika Province, Afghanistan fixing generators, which I found to be a rewarding job overseas. Surrounded by all infantrymen, I listened to their stories of blood, guts, and gore. Their remembrances imparted to me left a strange empty hole inside. As I lay in a room that greatly resembled a dark, dreary cave, unable to sleep and thinking on my own tragedies, I sat up and began to write.
The Fatuous Kind
Fatuous people irritate me to no end;
Seems as though there's no way to make amend.
Being irrational is like having a dagger thrust into a lung;
Innocent bystanders just sit there and hold their tongue.
Frustration is sharp and quick, lingering a long while;
Visions of hostility then come about like pouring from a vile.
Inflicting pain for a smile on my face, a conundrum.
Let's just abandon this thought, tedium.
Wow, where did all this hostility come from?
Who have I now become?
Seclusion in the desert will rot a soul,
Turning the pleasant into a dark and dreary hole.
Once so much beauty was beheld here,
But now that time has passed — an infinite tear.
Moving on with one's self when change is unwanted,
Such a tough situation but optimism must be flaunted.
I can live with myself and learn to manage a short fuse.
I can learn to ignore the intellectually challenged so muse-
Realizing time is now of the essence;
No scowling, just learning to find the effervescence.
With an ecstatic demeanor (due to my being on R&R or a short vacation from deployment to Afghanistan,) I boarded an aircraft in Georgia bound for New York. A stewardess soon after approached me with concern from one of the other passengers. The fact that I was using my lighter to burn the loose threads on my uniform had an older couple upset. I rationalized with the stewardess; she smiled and then walked away.
Just when I thought that situation had been resolved and I could go back to planning the first day with my sons, the older couple began to get my attention. The lady said, "Sorry, ma'am, I mean that was so scary. Couldn't the lighter make us blow up, I mean!"
I quickly turned my head in amazement, and my blood began to boil. I wanted to ask the lady a few questions to evoke rational and logical thoughts. Maybe I could ask if she thought I was soaked in gasoline or had some other accelerant up my sleeve but instead, as the professional soldier I was trained to be, I kept my comments to myself and just began to write.
Excerpted from A Drill Sergeant's Fame by Kimberly Mae. Copyright © 2015 Kimberly Mae. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A Hero's Sacrifice, 3,
A Drill Sergeant's Fame, 6,
Troops Seen through Another's Eye, 9,
To the End, 12,
The Soldier's Guardian, 14,
Irony within a Combat Bunker, 18,
Innocence Reborn, 21,
Overseas with 101,
Forever Untwined, 25,
The Fatuous Kind, 27,
Afghanistan Beauty or Boils, 30,
Treachery from Within, 33,
Life's Fear or Fate's Glory Tear, 36,
Cavernous Vile Remnants, 39,
Anticipation Changing, 41,
Inner Peace Now Unleashed, 44,
Basic Combat Training,
Our Own Fight, 47,
Fashioned Just Right, 53,
Hasty Decisions, 55,
Man Up, 58,
Army Owned, 61,
Born and Bred American Soldier, 63,
Freedom Killers, 66,
Epiphany's Edge, 75,
A Joyful Tale, 77,
A Memory's Whisper, 80,
A Heart's Mend, 82,
Memories End, 85,
Love's Cruel Passion, 87,
Inept Dreams, 90,
A Special Thanks,
Incessant Love, 93,