David R. “Poppa” Alexander

JAKE

I was a kid of only twenty
I reported to OCS without any money
Pulling up in front of the company on a bus
As soon as I got off, I could hear the senior candidates cuss.

I knew I was in trouble when the first thing I saw
Was a Second Lieutenant and he made me low crawl.
Pulling my duffle bag with me, I made it to the steps
And immediately this Lt. said, “Give me fifty reps.”

I was tired and hungry by the time I got to bed
It was 2300 and we had to get up by 0330 the Lt. had said.
My first impulse was to quit and continue to be enlisted
Although it wasn’t a disgrace but my goals had been twisted.

Lt. Burns or “Jake” as he was called,
Was my Tac Officer and if only I had a dollar for every foot he made me crawl
He refused to let me quit and he told me I would finish or die
For he had lived in Kentucky the same as I.

He pushed me and taught me till an officer I did make
And only did I make it because of a Lieutenant named “Jake”
After I graduated and got my new assignment
He took me aside and schooled me on manners and refinement.

He was actually from Utah, his wife a southern girl pretty enough to ponder
And I don’t think he ever got used to words like “over yonder”
As I left he told me “I didn’t know if you would make it
But see what happens when you don’t quit.”

A few months later, I saw “Jake” in Vietnam, standing by a LZ
At first I couldn’t believe my eyes till he turned and he saw me
We talked but a minute as we were both going on different missions
We agreed we would meet in the world under different conditions.

This was in early June of 1967
And on the 22nd of June, Jake was on his way to heaven.
I’ve tried to find his wife and girls for over thirty years
And tonight I talked to Shelia, the oldest, on the phone through a lot of tears.

By chance, I found her on a web site I hadn’t seen
And how my heart jumped when I saw her name on the screen
I can’t wait to tell her about her dad and I in the old days.
The Lord sure does work in mysterious ways.

Please read this poem in conjunction with “A Daughter Left Alone” ~ ©Copyright August 4, 2002 by Sheila F. Sherfick