The Catholic Defender Remembers His Brother David A Marine
45 years ago, July 4, 1976 my Brother David was killed near Seattle Washington. I know that he had planned a marriage and had much to look forward to in life. His life was cut short in mystery.
Two months after his funeral, Mom receives a letter from David that came late through the mail. At the top of his letter, David writes on bold letters, "Happy 4th of July Mom". That was very difficult but from that letter it shown his disposition.
Growing up, I didn't really get the chance to get to know my oldest Brother, David.
He was 6 years older than I was and very involved in sports when I was still in grade school. David was a standout wrestler and football player.
I grew up following his footsteps in playing sports, but I never had some of the opportunities he had, especially football.
He was a great football player who had much potential, almost went into pro-football before he joined the Marine Corps.
The Marines changed is life forever. He served in Viet Nam and been in several skirmishes, my Mother spoke of the time he had been lost in the jungle getting separated from his patrol due to a "Firefight".
He had to survive and make his way back while being in enemy territory. That was never easy as you could not light a fire in the bush, you could invite someone you do not want to welcome into your camp. Plus there are a lot of traps set out that could kill you in the jungle.
David would survive Viet Nam, but he didn't survive the antiwar climate that was everywhere. When David's enlistment was completed, he began going to a local college trying get his life back in order. Like many other Vets, David did come home but because of the climate of the times, many Viet Nam Veterans never fully integrated back to the States.
According to John Draper, the project director of the "National Suicide Prevention Lifeline" states that Viet Nam Veterans are the highest of any particular group.
Every time he would drive into town, the local police would always mess with him. They would harass him, reminding me of the movie, "First Blood" with Sylvester Stallone. They would always stop and search him driving into town.
On one occasion, knowing that he was going into town, he found a black snake living in one of our sycamore trees and he placed it in the trunk knowing they were going to stop him.
Sure enough, they did and when they found the snake, that earned him a flash light across the back of the head. He felt that he had at least some satisfaction that he earned that one.
David enrolled in a local bible college thinking he could get himself set on a right path, but that did not last long. This was one of the hardest things my Mother had to endure watching one of her Son's enduring much pain just to live.
David would end up moving away from home (Missouri) going ultimately to Seattle Washington where he began working at a hospital helping the physical therapy department.
It seemed like a couple of years went by, I was in college myself with a baseball scholarship when the Chaplain called me to his office. It was then that I found out David was killed. The Chaplain didn't know how at the time, but I spent some time in the chapel and made plans to go home to help my Mother.
I'll never forget at the funeral my mother somberly played the piano, that was the only time I saw my mother play the piano. Later, Mom and Henry went to Seattle to see what was happening about David's death, the killers were never found but David is not forgotten. His family still remembers and honors his service to this Country.
This life is but a journey, we are pilgrims in a strange land. We have a God who truly loves us. Jesus is our King, and from the cross he gives us His Mother that we can place our pain before Our Lady of the Valley.
I dedicate this song, Lady Of The Valley :