Some time ago I mentioned coming across a tombstone of Lance Corporal Perry Lee Poole in the Cypert Cemetery not far from Marvell, Arkansas. He was a young Marine, born on January 5, 1945 and killed Oct 16, 1966 in Quang Nam, South Vietnam, a member of the First Marine Division.
I didn’t know the man. Never heard of him. I couldn’t help being intrigued, though, by this lonely tombstone so I spend a little time on occasion searching for information. Maybe I’ll keep doing it for it seems so far that Perry Lee may be the perfect story of a young American sent to his death by old Americans.
Yesterday, I found a comment posted by a childhood friend of Perry Lee's and I spent time thinking about people who are left behind by the senselessness of war. We know of the family members who will live without their loved ones, but we may not think enough of the ones who are left without a hunting and fishing companion, a drinking buddy, or a pal who it was just fun to hang out with when a person had nothing else to do.
Perry Lee would be nearly 70 now. It is numbing to think of the experiences he missed. It is equally numbing to think of the empty hours spent by those he left behind. From the friend’s account, Perry Lee looked forward to becoming a Marine and served his county well. I’m just not sure how well his country served him.
Robert McNamara, one of the chief architects of that awful war once remarked that America didn’t send its best and brightest young men to Vietnam. I sort of think we did. It’s just a shame that so many of them never came back.
“For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot …” - Rudyard Kipling