James E. “Jim” Baskin

James E. Baskin

James E. Baskin
Jim served with A, B, and C Co.’s, 4th Batt, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968 and was a recon sergeant for all 3 companies at different times. He served a second tour in Nam in 1971 and stayed until the end of ‘72.


He was turning grayer he thought
As he looked in the mirror.
‘Maybe the beard needs to go,
Hmmm? Grecian formula maybe?’

Finished shaving
He walked into the kitchen.
Bacon and eggs
And strong black coffee.

The sun was just breaking
As he stepped onto the porch
With coffee cup in hand
He greeted mornings’ gentle breeze.

Later that day
He rambled through his closet.
‘I know it’s here, I saw it last year.’
Pulling out box upon box.

There stuck in the corner
An old handmade box.
Gently with trembling hands
He pulled slowly it out.

His wife, now long since gone
Still haunted his mind.
She cried he remembered,
As he looked, double time.

The streets now alive
With kids running wild.
And off in the distance
A very familiar sound.

Picking up his step
He felt right at home.
Marching in time
To a sound so all alone.

He reached the bend
Of an old country lane
And pausing again
Gave a glance, as if to proclaim.

The rows were all neat
And trimmed oh so close.
He thought for a moment
‘I must be a ghost.’

Family and friends’
Now older and wiser
Walked softly with reverence
As they quietly got ever closer.

The flags were all waving
In spirit they did soar.
And all down the rows
Smiles did’st appear.

“Mommy, why is granddaddy here?”
The mother couldn’t speak.
The tears flowed openly
And flushed, ran down her cheeks.

“Why honey, he’s sleeping
With friends’ of his own kind.
And one day when your older
You’ll understand just why.”

Blonde hair and blue eyes
They twinkled when she smiled.
Gave the old man some warmth
On this dear and hallowed ground.

He watched all day long
As the masses grew smaller.
And remembering the little blonde
Made his heart soar ever more.

‘What’s that sound?
In the distance so clear.
I remember it well
It’s moanfulness brings me tears.’

‘If only I’d stayed’
He thought one more time.
‘If only I’d moved,
I’d not be in this line.’

The sun now setting
Gave shadows all a glow.
O’er crosses marked SOLDIER
Row upon row.

The little girl paused softly
And knelt on trembling toes.
And kissed the headstone gently
While mommy rose to go.

He lay there thinking
As he looked to the sky.
‘Oh Lord, I’m glad I’m here
Someone had to die.’

‘And if in dying, freedom
Is left on this great land,
Then let my cost be easy
For my granddaughter has a plan.’

It won’t be easy
That he understands.
But soldiers’ must be willing
To die for freedoms’ hand.

His daughter paused a moment
Quietly held out her hand,
And placed the cup of coffee
Upon the line of strand.

She knew his every movement
His thoughts, his prayers, his plans.
She watched him quietly shaving
And gripe of the burnt frying pan.

“Dad, I thank you
For all you gave to me.
A daughter blonde and blue eyed
Much like you and me.”

“For time to sit and ponder
Upon your earthly time.
And even of your fear,
When that bullet sped dead-time.”

“I cannot say it quietly
For fear I will exclaim
My dad he lies asunder
In beds’ where SOLDIERS’ dream.”