Christina A. Sharik


IWVPA Bronze Helmet Top Poet Award of ExcellenceRows of silver caskets
glinting in the sun
in the background of a photo
of a soldier with a gun.
An extra-added bonus
in the picture that he sent –
it spiraled me to sadness,
which wasn’t what he meant.
He’s smiling in the photo,
and though it’s black and white,
I’m blinded by the caskets
gleaming in the light.

Sam Martin: Caskets at Tan Son Nhut
This is the original photo that my pen pal Sam Martin had sent me “way back when…”

Author’s Note: It wasn’t until many years later that I came upon some of these old photos and looked at the photo carefully, and realized fully what was in the background. A vet who read the poem had told me that they were gun cases in the back ground but Charlie Penley who put this photo up, was at Tan Son Nhut and said they are caskets and most likely empty…

I have never been able to locate Sam after seeing him once upon his return to the States.


(IWVPA e-Group Members)

I told Charles Penley of the 377th Security Police Squadron at Tan Son Nhut about my recent award for “Caskets At Tan Son Nhut” – and that I had mentioned his TSN website.

I received an e-mail a short time ago saying that he just realized that a Samuel H. Martin is now listed as a lifetime member of the TSN Security Police Association – he had found my pen pal, who sent the photo that was the inspiration for the poem! Sam was at Tan Son Nhut in ‘67 – so it has been 34 years since I have seen him – I saw him a time or two after he returned from Vietnam – he had sent me many beautiful souvenirs which I treasured and saved – and when my ex and I split up some years later, he threw all of that sort of thing away.

At any rate, Charlie found a phone number for him and left a message on his answering machine. I hope he is pleased to know about the poem and that his photograph is on two sites (that I know of.)

Small world, isn’t it?


February 28, 2001