V. K. Inman


V. K. Inman served as 3rd Platoon Commander of Echo Company, 2nd Btn, 5th Marines from November 1969 to March 1970 near Da Nang. V. K. kept himself busy as a teacher for the deaf, a novelist, and has remained active in the Marine Corps Reserve where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.  V. K. published a booklet of his poetry and audio tape entitled: Our Most Noble Victory?Poems on the Vietnam Experience, produced by Westminster Media.



For the Ungrateful Nation


Sixteen years too late,

a visitor in a country club locker room,

the words slipped from my lips,

"When I was in Vietnam?"


"You were in Vietnam?"

Words tinged with a little astonishment.



A hand was extended,

Thanks, thank-you for fighting for our country."


What do you say?

A moment of shock,

then up-bringing kicks in.

"Your welcome."


Fighting for our country?

You rich country club boys,

you never went to war.


Ernie, over there,

screening sand in the ash trays,

he was in 'Nam.


But he doesn?t know

why he fought and limps

on a prosthetic leg.

You can be damn sure it wasn?t for you.


Do you think we fought

so that you could play golf?

Do you really think Ernie

thought no more of his leg than that?


This nation visits the Wall and reads the names?

gives free care in a hundred hospitals?

remembers Veterans Day?

Does trying count?


When will you ever begin to understand?

It was not for you.

It was for us we fought and died.


For the History Teachers


You do not honor the dead

with your talk of the unjust war.

Though some things about it were.

Poor boys fought together

from West Virginia, Main, Watts, Harlem

and the Ponobscot Indian reservation.

How wrong it seemed that we sent only our poor,

for the rich were in college

and the National Guard

doing their six and six.


You do not honor the dead,

when you call them victims

of a bad society gone worse.

When you expose the hoax of Tonkin,

tell it all;

not just the self justifying truth

to ease the consciousness of rich boys

as they explain to their grandchildren

why they didn't go.


Talk of our nation, of laws and obligations,

talk of expatriates and LSD spaced-out hippies.

Tell how some men wore hard hats,

waved flags, and served in the Guard,

and other men screamed "Hell no?,"

and dropped out.

And talk of men who believed in integrity

and saw the way out as only straight ahead.


Tell the Afros, Navahos, Chicanos and Rednecks

often afraid to give their reasons, served-

drafted we did not resist,

or volunteered preempting the inevitable-

covered each other's ass,

stopped each other's sucking chest wounds,

and even picked up our buddies' pieces

trying our best to stack

the right livers, limbs, and severed heads

with their owners' disemboweled bodies.


We were not poor boys and victims.

We were America's best.


Bluebird Days


Christmas eve,

Two dead, two mutilated,

From our own grenade

With a one-second fuse.


I ripped open sand bags

And spread the sand

Over the pools of blood

Where the men had died.


You wrote to me,

Any Marine, Vietnam.

I hadn't answered

That letter yet.


What do you write

To a ten year old

From Cedar Falls

On Christmas day?


I know you wanted

To cheer me up,

And I so wanted

To be polite.


I don't remember

What I wrote.

Maybe something trite

About going home soon.


You wrote back to me

About your Christmas doll

And how you lived

Bluebird days.


I didn't write

To you again.

But I hope you still

Have Bluebird days.


He Hated


He laughed and joked

And hated it all.

We knew he did.

The way he talked about home,

About his folks,

And the way he complained

About sleeping in the rain,

About eating from cans,

About killing men.

He hated it.

And through him

We all remembered that we hated it too.

He made it easier on us.

He laughed and joked and

Talked about going home.

But he never did.



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