Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 17, 2013

Terry Wooten: Veteran's story told in poetry

By Terry Wooten
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — 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

in five years.

We went on vacation across the Straits

with all four boys.

While sleeping in a motel

Maurice had a violent nightmare

and pushed me

right out of bed.

That was the worst time.

Our boys were with us,

and Maurice got real mad

at himself.


I still have nightmares.

They’re not quite as bad after sixty years.

Carol hears them.

She says I sit up in bed a lot

and talk in the dark.

We’re always in a trench,

and I’m running and fighting.

Chinese are popping up in places.

I always run out of shells.

That’s pretty common.

As I get older

the trenches in my sleep are now tunnels,

and my kids are with me.

Dreams are funny things.

The V A therapist

who interviewed me,

said a part of our mind is like a dinosaur.

It doesn’t reason

or think experiences through.

He said, “You’re going to get help

going to veterans’ group sessions,”

which I do.

I hate to miss them.

At the first V A meeting in Traverse City,

the guys said,

“Fuzzy, you’ve got to open up

and tell us what happened.”

So I did.

I know I can put my arms around

any of my buddies there,

and they’ll say, “Fuzzy, if you want to cry

go ahead.”

You can’t do that just anyplace.

Just telling the story helps relieve you.


For help call Buddy to Buddy




The Irish American returned home from Korea with a bad case of shell shock. His wife, Carol, said he was in no shape to work, and made him take a year off.

When Maurice (Fuzzy) Guy did get a job, he couldn’t keep it. He’d get mad if somebody asked him about the war.

Carol pulled him through. Other than their marriage, what helped Maurice was hunting, fishing and playing softball. That’s where he found relief. Finally, he got straightened around and found a job he could hold.

After 55 years, Maurice started opening up and attending veterans’ meetings to share stories with guys who were wounded inside like he was. I’m not a war veteran, but that’s where I met Fuzzy, as he likes to be called. Later he and Carol invited me into their home and life.

They’ve agreed to let me share this poetry dialogue to help loved ones understand a new generation of young soldiers coming home from another avoidable war. The inner landscape has changed, but the darkness is the same

Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for 29 years. He is also the creator of Stone Circle, a triple ring of boulders featuring poetry, storytelling and music on his property north of Elk Rapids. Learn more at