Christina A. Sharik


Saw a program the other night –
and realized I’d forgotten some of the details –
Brief glimpses of things filtered thru my mind
Cambodia – a ship – hostages – a rescue mission – Marines –
and three young men who were left behind.
Kho Tang – the island – one month
after the ending of the War –
and heavy fire
and the crackling sound of helicopter crews
talking and shuttling back and forth –
Are your men on the beach?
Are they ready for extraction?
We are ready – we are on the beach –
and then, toward the end,
for the last “extractions”, some men
were so far off the beach as to be in the
water – and all was tense –
Is that all, their saviors crackled?
Are all your men accounted for?
Yes, came the answer
we’re good to go…
but they were not.
There were dead Marines
heaped like litter on the island,
destined to be left behind
forever in the very spot
in which they died,
and three living men, who would soon
join their deceased brothers –
and I would later hear
that two were floating in the sea
and one was wrapped in plastic
after being “questioned” –
what were their last hours like –
how do the leaders feel now?
They who miscalculated, in the madness
of the time?
Do they dream of them –
what scenes pass thru the survivor’s mind
when he thinks of those
he left behind?
I’ll bet that unlike me, he remembers details –
All that time, unknown to them,
the hostages of the Mayaguez
were safe and sound.
God’s blessing upon
those Marines who survived,
and those who fought and died,
and those left behind one day in May
on someone else’s island ground.

Christina A. Sharik: Mayaguez Madness