Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

American Sniper, American Hero


***Blogger's note: I have changed the names of the individuals and some of the places discussed below for privacy.
Pic courtesy of Firstnetsource.com

The other evening I stopped at my local firehouse social club, the hosey, to meet my friend Sue for a beer. A lot of my neighbors and friends head down there on Wednesday nights for drinks, games, and fun. I figured I'd join them for one beer, maybe two, maybe two and a shot of Fireball. You get the idea.

I had just walked in and who did I see across the bar but my friends Dan Myers and his wife Louise. I hadn't seen them in a couple of years since they had moved west to Missouri. I had gotten to know them fairly well when I was bartending at the hosey a while back. They lived around the corner from me and then moved out west for work after Dan had spent month after month job hunting in our economically depressed county. He finally gave up and went where the work was after no success up in this area.

I went over, gave each of them a hug and we caught up. They still have a son locally in Pinegrove so they were visiting for a couple weeks. The hosey was such a part of their lives, they decided to come down for a couple drinks and revisit their old haunt.

After our conversation, I returned back to the other side of the bar to sit with Sue and said something along the lines that Dan was truly an American hero. She asked why and I began to tell her about my afternoon with him one day a couple years ago.

I was bartending on a quiet Sunday summer afternoon. No one had come in for at least three hours until Dan strolled in. I poured him his usual Captain Morgan and coke and we sat talking about this and that, nothing in particular.

Since Dan was leaving for Missouri in a couple weeks for work, I decided to buy him a drink. He was a loyal regular customer at the hosey and I would miss our long lazy Sunday talks. I bought him a shot, and before you know it, I bought myself one and came around outside the bar to do our shots together.

I don't know how we got on the discussion of his past, but we did. Maybe it was the two or three shots. Dan opened up about his years of service in Vietnam War when he was 'over there'. Now I was never in the military, but my brother, my dad, and my stepdad all were. I have learned not to ask specifically about certain things such as one's time serving in war unless they go into it themselves.

Dan told me that he was a sniper. I said, "Really? Wow, that must have been an experience."

He paused for a long moment, got lost in memories, in thoughts and then began to tell me about it.

"I remember each one of them. I see each of their faces. They're forever burned in my mind."  He stopped and took a long drag from his cigarette before continuing.

"It was horrible but it was my job. And I did it well ... I did it well."

At this point, tears welled up in his eyes, rolling down his tanned leathery cheeks. I remained silent. I knew instinctively that this was his story, not to say anything, and just listen.

"I took out 76 of them. 76 confirmed kills. They were trying to kill us and I had to kill them. That was my job."

Dan sobbed briefly, then regained his composure. I put my hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze in reassurance.

"You did your job, Dan," I began. "You did what you had to do and you did it well. I'm proud to have you as my friend and thank you for your service to our country."

I realized how hard it was for him to tell me this. He seemed to grapple with feeling remorse for those he killed but knowing he did the job he was supposed to do for his country.

He looked at me, smiling slightly while wiping the tears from his cheeks.

"Thanks bud. Whew!" he said shaking his head. "Sorry man, I haven't told anybody that in years. I don't know why I unloaded on ya, but I just felt I needed to. Thanks for listenin'."

"It's all good. I appreciate you telling me." I started as I walked back behind the bar, "You are a hero in my eyes."

"Thanks buddy."

Another patron came into the bar. I went back to being the afternoon bartender and got him a beer. Dan and I never spoke about it again but I feel honored he felt comfortable enough to tell me.

Ironically, the movie American Sniper was released this year but for some reason, I didn't think about Dan's story until I ran into him that night. I wanted to tell his story so others would know about those heroes among us who gallantly served their country but now for their own personal reasons, remain silent about their service.

 

6 comments:

  1. Great one Marc!! That last sentence is so true!

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  2. Brought tears to my eyes. God bless all of our peiple in service who defend our freedoms.

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  3. Thanks Marc. Nice story. You are right about the hero's not wanting to talk about what they did. My daddy, once he knew his time was coming close, started to tell us a few stories about fighting the Japanese out in the Java Seas. He hated himself for the men he killed. The young hero who is dancing on "Dancing with the Star" lived and schooled in the same area as my children and went to our Church. One of my friends from Alabama taught him in religious ed. I know he will not win but to see him dance with only one arm and one leg (double amputee) is quite amazing. There are so many heros and we appreciate them all. Thank you again. Morag

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  4. Again... a great read... and certainly moving. and to all those men and women who served, we all commend them and thank them for their service to our country.

    Jack

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  5. Thank you, Marc.
    Really enjoyed reading that.
    KSinFL

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