Ben E. Weihrich


For those who did a tour or two in the service, remember our days in the “BOOT”. That first dark, early morning running off the bus, standing on “yellow footprints” shining in the dawn’s chill. Once in a while, there’s a flashback of cusswords and “I can’t hear EWE (as in female sheep)”. You are called a female sheep from “THE COVER”.

In the darkness of the morning we could not see the face of “THE COVER”. We heard the “VOICE”, the orders, the curses, and the sharpness of the brim of “THE COVER” in our faces and in the back of our head. The 1st two weeks was a whirlwind of orders, clothes, shots, drills, exams of ears, nose and mind. “THE COVER” finally showed their faces: no John Wayne, or Clark Gable, maybe a Chucky or a Freddy.

No easy days, hard workouts or P.T. (physical torture, haha), aching sore feet and ears from the running and the yelled curses of “THE COVER”, General orders, one step Charlie, gas masks, crawling under barded wire with live fire overhead, and “THE COVER” running besides you cursing you with encouraging or despairing words.

“THE SMOKEY BEAR OF THE MARINES, ARMY, AIR FORCE, and the BILLED COVER OF THE NAVY AND COAST GUARD” has for 225 years trained and instilled GOD, Country, Honor, Tradition and Discipline in our forefathers, in us, and in our sons and daughters of the future.

From the first cussword to the last “PLATOON DISMISSED” at graduation, these covers are the most unsung heroes of the military. These “COVERS” taught us what it was like on the front lines and who went for “the 2nd or the final tour. They were our mentors, teachers and as they yelled after getting off the bus, “I will be your mother and father for the next 13 weeks”.

So on this Veteran’s Day I salute the unsung heroes of the Armed Services. “PLATOON ATTENTION, PRESENT ARMS, ORDER ARMS, DISMISSED.”

Gunny E. Davis, I salute you, SIR!

Author’s Note: Gunny Davis was my SDI in ‘69 and he was the 1 who gave me the name “BOOKS”. We met up in Saigon in early ‘73 and he was killed in April of ‘74, escorted his body to hometown, and in ‘94 a big box was delivered to my Mother’s house and she was told to call me get it. Well, to from long to short story: it was his “SMOKEY BEAR” and I retired it when the Moving Wall came to Midland 2 years ago with the original of this poem inside.