James H. Smith


Dian Vietnam, home
Or as close to home as anything
I had a bunk, footlocker, place to hang my clothes
But most of all a wooden floor upon which to put my feet
Most days were spent in the Jungle or swamp
My nights sleeping under the stars
Hoping that when I awoke
I won’t wake up and find myself dead
But Dian was home
The place we went to rest and forget it all
The shout came and all started to run
Pack it up, saddle up now, move, move, move
25th division, OVERRUN
Happy Birthday me, November 1966
I grab my gear and run
The LZ but a few short steps from my back door
No slicks yet, so we’ll wait
They’ll be here to pick us up soon
I watch my squad as they run up
Packing their lives on their back
Running on two legs, that are always tired
Three arms, two of flesh and blood
The other, a black M16
The arm they grew, after they came in-country
Eyes of old men in boy faces
Eyes that have seen too much, now look too far

They have learned never look your friend in the eye
You find life, but in the next moment you may find death
They call it the thousand yard stare, this look we have
I prefer to call it the thousand year stare
It should have taken a thousand years
To put that look there
I can hear the whoop of the chopper blades
Feel more than hear, coming closer to take us on our way
When I look to the other end of the line
What is this my eye’s see
Two women in light blue dresses
What could this be headed my way
Two round eyed white girls in blue
Shaking hands, now and then a hug for the men in the line
Should I run before they get here
VC, I can handle, round eyed white girls, there is some question
Too late, she stands before me, Good luck, Take care, Come back
God! Her eyes are blue, do I dare look her in the eye, God! Her eyes are blue
The first lift of slicks is coming in behind us
The rotor wash is whipping her skirt around her legs as she turns and moves away
We are mounting up, to go do what we quite often do
Pull somebody’s ass out of a jam, they got themselves into
But I will always remember, an Angel in a powder blue dress
Who for just the briefest of moments, made the war go away
As the choppers lift and move out, I can’t think of her
I must think of war, staying alive, coming back
Thank You, Angel for this small moment in time
All I can think, God her eyes are blue

Author’s Note: This was written for me; I have looked at it over the years and thought I should maybe clean it up a little if I was going to let anyone else read it. But no I think it shell stay the way I wrote it.

For just a minute I could remove myself from the war.

It’s also a Thank You to the Doughnut Dollies who were there in-country for us. This was how I started my 22nd birthday. She is as clear in my memory today as if it happened yesterday, now 40 years later. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most and remembered the longest.

Jim Smith: February 18, 2007