John-Ward Leighton

RANKS OF THE LEGEND

They were here
and now they are gone.
Old comrades die
in old soldiers homes.
Old friends
they were without family
to speak of
except
that band of brothers
the regiment.
They now peer out at us
from yellowing photographs.
Were we ever that young?
They were called to the Colours
much earlier than most of us
and ribbons, wound stripes and medal encrusted
had simple humorous responses
to those climbers in rank
similarly unadorned.
They had an easy confidence
which unnerved those of bombast,
spit and shine.
They had already heard the bugles call
and went to the sound of the guns
in World War two and Korea.
The trivial concerns of peacetime soldiering
were amusing to them
having been to the edge
for a panoramic view of the abyss.
They provided guidance
through the minor bogus terrors
of orders parade,
fourteen days CB
and twenty five dollar fines,
imposed on rookies and vets alike.
In those minor discomforts
true character was born.
In the airplane door
at eleven hundred feet
our courage was tested
and we could view with awe
their nonchalant response
to any crisis
real or simulated.
Those marvellous stories
told over a beer in the wets,
each telling embellished
until they became
legends in their own time.
Goodbye
“Machine Gun”
Bill Fisher
you have left this life of the living
and joined the storied
ranks of the legend.

John-Ward Leighton: Ranks of the Legend
“Machine Gun” Bill Fisher is the man standing directly behind our kneeling platoon Sergeant,
Sgt. Jim Brewer, and I’m the Cpl. just to the left of Sgt Brewer