Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

March 17, 2013

Terry Wooten: Veteran's story told in poetry

Olive Drab


You’re looking at me like I’m crazy,

but I’m thinking sometimes the bullets

went right through me.

The firing was so heavy

it was like walking on bullets.

To this day I can’t figure out

how I made it home

except for divine intervention.


When Maurice first came home,

my parents owned cabins on the Rapid River

just north of Rapid City.

We had a hand water pump

and an outside toilet.

If I had to go to the bathroom at night,

Maurice would come with me

with his rifle.

He’d stand guard till I came back.

It was pretty scary.


My mind said, “She can’t be out there alone.

The Chinese will come up that hill

and capture it.”

So I would go out there with her.

She’d be sound asleep,

and my mind would say, “They’re coming.”

I’d get up,

grab my rifle

and go sit guard on the ridge.

It might be snowing and blowing.


I didn’t know that.


I’d think, “I’m going to kill every one of them,”

but I never took ammo.

When I told that story to the therapist,

he said it was a good thing

I didn’t have shells.


Maurice called me Mama-san.

I’d ask him questions,

but he wouldn’t talk about Korea.

I knew nothing

until five years ago.

I asked him,

“Whatever happened to that happy Irish boy

I married?”

He told me he was killed in Korea.

Maurice was a different person.

He was a good husband,

but now had a terrible temper

and nightmares.

In bed he scared me at times

swinging his arms around and yelling.

I’d have to wake him up.

We had four little boys

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