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
He told me he was killed in Korea.
Maurice was a different person.
He was a good husband,
but now had a terrible temper
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
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
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 www.terry-wooten.com.