I served 12 years active duty in the Air Force and was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991. After the war at our ticker-tape “Welcome Home” parade in Phoenix, I was introduced to Veterans For Peace. VFP helped me begin my healing journey, which evolved into a combination of reading, writing, public speaking, art, equine therapy, yoga, reiki, acupuncture, and other healing modalities.
Poetry is my newest challenge. It keeps me focused one moment at a time. Poetry has become a method of reconnecting my past with the present. My current project is a book of poetry, art, and photography from my military experience. Poetry helps me unravel, examine, and define the hooks of emotion surrounding some tough moments.
One such moment was the bombing of our sister base, Dhahran. The direct hit from a SCUD missile killed and wounded more than 128 reservists from the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, a water purification unit out of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. It took me over 20 years to find the names of those killed, which I wrote onto a piece of paper art made out of my uniform. It was the only time I cried in public, as I wrote down each name and their age.
My take from my experiences is that we need to stop our focus on war culture, language, attire, and preparation. Perhaps when we stop sending our children to fight the wars our leaders won’t march in, they will not have anyone available to do it for them. Diplomacy is much cheaper.
In Memoriam to the 475th Quartermaster Group, PA, 1991
My guilt is entombed in this memory
King Fahd sirens quiver … i n c o m i n g
Dhahran is unconsciously off key
missile overshoots Fahd like a shooting star
penetrates in starburst on Dhahran
we cheer take selfies
they pose naked with wings of despair
we continue poker games
they inhale flaming fiberglass and shrapnel
our music resumes
their rescue lights dance with Death off broken glass
I hesitate with superficial letters home
dying they beg … ‘please … don’t forget’
few sleep until the next alarm