Mike Subritzky

(Afghanistan War 2001)

‘Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the fleet
the engines were thumping
like an eagle’s heartbeat.

Our ships were on station
with interlocked arcs
making sure that no terrorists
slipped past in the dark.

The missiles were stowed
below decks with great care
just in case Mullah Omar
or Bin Laden were near.

The Ensigns and JG’s
were tucked in their racks
with visions of blondes
and Budweiser six-packs.

And Jay in his watch cap
and I in my shorts
had turned in for the night
after checking Target Reports.

Then just as I dozed
there arose such a clatter
I reached for a flashlight
to check out the matter.

When ‘Lo and Behold’
at the foot of the hatch
sat a fat, bearded, old guy
trying to strike on a match.

He was dressed head to boot
in red combat fatigues
with Afghani dust
on his trousers and sleeves.

“Yo Shipmate!” he called
“Can you show me some light;
I’m just back from the Sharp End,
what a hell of a night!”

There’s Berets and Marines
in the T – Bora Range
and they’re fighting Al Qaeda
and all that remains.

You can speak of those Taliban
killers in past tense,
they all changed their minds,
and they’ve plum jumped the fence.

The first of those terrorist
strongholds to fall,
was Kabul, and then virtually
all of the North.

The B52’s then
pounded their ass
leaving no place to hide,
so they scuttled South fast.

At Kandahar city
they would fight to a man
but as soon as the US
Marines came to hand.

They fled to the hills
and left all of their shit
there’s even a video
of Bin Laden’s murderous hit.

So it’s just T – Bora caves
that are left with these pests
and then you and your Shipmates
can take a long rest.

Then; with a wink in his eye
and a twist of his head
he reached deep in his seabag
and withdrew a small keg.

“It’s a fifth of Jack Daniels
and I’ll split it with you
the Marines got the C Rats,
the ammo, and food.”

So we chugged from that keg
for a minute or two
then the old guy said
“Sailor, I’ve gotta shoot through.”

“I’ll be on the ‘Teddy’
until this side of dawn
there’s a whole lot of Ships
to visit before morn.”

Then raising his right hand
to the side of his head
he saluted, said “Get Some!
And pay for our dead!”

And down near the fantail
I heard soft bells and hooves
then his bullet holed sleigh
lifted slowly astern.

But I heard him exclaim
as he rode out of sight.


Author’s Note: Proud to have served with: VXE6 Squadron, US Navy, Antarctica 1973. This poem is dedicated to all those US Navy personal who served in harm’s way during the Afghanistan War 2001, and especially the Officers and Sailors aboard the ships: USS ANTIETAM, USS COMSTOCK, USS DUBUQUE, USS JOHN C. STENNIS, USS JOHN PAUL JONES, and USS PRINCETON out of California.

Submitted for the December 2001 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “A Memorable Christmas