Mark Pankow

Mark enlisted in the Army as an engineer. After a few years, he was commissioned in the Military Police Corps as a graduate of Officer Candidate School. He was later dual-branched as a Military Intelligence officer specialized in Counterintelligence. He retired as LTC from the Joint Staff after 25 years of service and now works as a Duty Director in the National Operations Center, Homeland Security. Mark’s wife, Patty Reese, is a well-known local musician, who writes most of her own songs. Patty sang "Last Call for Love” and “Keep Me in Your Heart,” at a surprise visit to the MDWP tent on a Memorial Day in Washington, DC.

To hear Patty’s songs, click on the link below:

Last Call for Love

Keep me in Your Heart


Over lush green fields we did tread,
Among the stones of honored dead,
As my father sought to impart,
To me a young patriot heart,

Ten thousand names, ten thousand stones,
Ten thousand souls who’d left their homes,
To take an oath, a solemn pledge,
Chose country over privilege,

I yearned to grow that I might be,
What my father had hoped for me,
Til my day came and I stood in ranks,
or his example gave my thanks,

Ever proud of our nation’s past,
I trained to fight, to win, to last,
Lived a life of silent sacrifice,
Until I, too, paid freedom’s price,

Lying in our eternal bed,
Above, we hear soft footsteps tread,
As a father seeks to impart,
To his son a patriot heart

For Those Who Also Serve

For God, country, they raise the hand,
To join the ranks, defend this land,
To take up arms in noble cause,
Yet for others, too, must we pause,

Of those who serve there’s daily word,
But naught of those behind is heard,
Whose loved ones their hero’s blood spend,
While they back home the hearth fires tend,

Who drive the team while Dad’s away,
For others’ sake their dreams delay,

Who read the stories beside the bed,
And daily strive to clear their head,

Who raise the kids with values strong,
Endure each absence far too long,

Who write letters that lift the soul,
Mail the cookies worth more than gold,

Who send pictures to mark the years,
And silently abate their fears,

Whose trees with yellow ribbons adorn,
Re-read love letters now well worn,

Whose candles in the window burn,
Await each night the sweet return

Who dress again the severed arm,
That once had kept them safe from harm

Who those abed their spirits mend,
With sympathetic ear attend

Who in worship bend knee and pray,
Dread chaplains’ visit some weekday,

Lend friends shoulders on which to grieve,
Fear one day they’ll the same receive,

For parents’ pride o’er sharp new pain,
Their children lost for freedom’s gain

For lonely widow’s lost caress,
Whose man was lost in nobleness,

For child’s fond thoughts as pictures fade,
Whose parent their last measure paid,

Who scribe lost names upon the plaque,
When those long missed did not come back,

Who drape star-studded casket pall,
O’er friends who chose and gave their all

Who mournful Taps at graveside play,
Tend fields where honored comrades lay,

Who plant Old Glory on graveyard plots,
Sell Poppies and Forget-Me-Nots,

Who calmly bear harsh protest word,
From ingrates shielded by the sword,

Who forward rush for new first kiss,
As sharp commands the ranks dismiss,
Then, in full family embrace,
Old fears and loneliness erase.

Dear Lord, grant thy sheltering hand,
Protect by grace this favored land,
And those whose selfless acts of love,
The wealth of freedoms daily prove,
Thus, let us all respect reserve,
For those back home who also serve.

Martial Journey

The thrill of the first kiss,
The question and its affirmation,
The decision to stand for something,
The raised hand,
The shock
of hard life of yelling
of sergeants with clipboards
of doing it again and again until you get it right
of dirt and mud and sweat and cold

The brief interlude at home,
The awkward words of friends and family
not quite knowing what to say,
The vow to the one, who counts most,
The parting kiss that must last,
The promise to return.

The sharp report,
The plunge into the fight,
The instant, instinctive movements
and actions of the well-trained,
The pain of injury,
The greater pain of comrades wounded and lost,
The scene played out again and again,
The eyes that have seen too much and slept too little,
The bad dreams of the present,
The letters bringing good dreams of tomorrow,
The short timer’s calendar.

The long journey home,
The Soldier’s new confidence,
The baggage of scars in and out,
The restless, sleepless flight back,
The Soldier’s new doubts and fears of what lies ahead,
The strong hands hefting the heavy pack for the walk down the ramp,
The strong hands shaking in anticipation,
The eyes searching the crowd,
The dismissal and the break from ranks,
The rush forward,
The discarded pack,
The thrill of the first kiss.