When I arrived in country, you were in the bush. I was assigned to your team,

call sign "LITTLE GULL". You were on patrol; I was in your tent.

I did not know you.

I saw your pictures your Mother and Father, your wife your

children, your sweetheart, your friends, Miss January. People you knew and

loved, people who knew and loved you. I saw your Bible, your prayer book,

your cross and beads. I picked up your mail, and laid it on your bunk. I picked

up a care package from home, it smelled so good. It must be filled with lots of

goodies, packed by loving hands. I thought, when you get back I’ll

have some of this good stuff.

I did not know you.

For two days I went to the comm.Center and followed your progress on the

map. Little colored pins were placed, when you reported your position as you

made your way through the mountains. I looked at the contour lines, and

thought how terribly steep they were and far in you were. Howdifficult that

climb must be for you.

But I did not know you.

Then I heard on the radio, "Contact! Contact! Contact! Little Gull, Contact!"

The company commander said (don’t worry) it happens all the time,

they will be all right. We could hear the gunfire when you keyed the handset.

We could hear the explosion of hand grenades. We heard your last choking

words that sounded like GASS. I heard your voice;

I did not know you.

Silence, the radio operator called you again and again, "Little Gull, Little

Gull, sit. rap. Little Gull do you hear me? Little Gull go to secondary

frequency." No answer, only silence. A reactionary team was put together, I

made sure I was on it. We flew out as darkness set in and landed several miles

from your position. There was no moon. In the darkness we stumbled up one

mountain and down another. It was too dangerous; we set in for the night. I

wondered how you were? What happened to you?

I did not know you.

At first light we set out climbing one mountain sliding and falling down

another. We were fourteen, carrying weapons and ammo, you were just six

carrying three times as much, how difficult that must have been for you.

We found your position. I was not prepared for what we saw. All your

equipment, your weapons, your radios were gone. You were strewn about,

hacked apart, tears filled my eyes, rage filled my heart, I gagged and chucked.

I saw you, but I did not know you.

We called for an airdrop of body bags. Six bags for six men. Six bags for six

boys who became men, so far from the people in the pictures. So far from the

people in the letters, so far from those who knew you.

But I did not know you.

I picked you up carefully and placed you in the bag, piece by piece, trying to

put the same person in the same bag. We moved out, back to the L.Z., I

carried you the smallest.

I carried you, I felt you, I smelled you, I did not know you.

I tried so hard not to drop you; I tried to keep you from hitting the ground, as

we went up and down the mountains. I could not, please forgive me. The bag

ripped, blood and body fluids seeped out and over me.

I can still feel it.

I placed you in the chopper and flew back with you to the base. I placed you

on a litter as if you were still alive and watched them roll you away, I never

saw you again,

I did not know you.

All these years you have been a part of me. You have lived with me every

hour of every day of every year. A secret to be kept, a memory to grow, pain

to be nurtured until the secret was too great, the memory overwhelming, the

pain unbearable. I must let you out; I must let you go, I must tell the secret.

I will always remember you; I will always honor you.

I never knew you.