When our country goes to war, it is inevitable that we will lose people. When we do, it is the job of the Casualty Notification Officer to deliver the terrible news to the family of the deceased.The job is not one that many people can handle. You have to meet people to tell them the worst news they can imagine hearing. News that they likely dreaded and have worried about ever since they were told their loved one would be deploying to a combat zone. It's a terrible job but someone has to do it and they have to do it well.I recently read this account of what it was like to be a Casualty Notification Officer from a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel who had the unenviable job during the Vietnam War. George Goodson, USMC (ret) wrote this account of his time in the role that left him "used up." If you've ever wondered what that job was like, you have got to read this story. From Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel:
BURIAL AT SEA…..
by Lt Col George Goodson, USMC (Ret)
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LTC (ret) George Goodson and family[/caption]In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial. War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.Now 42 years have passed, and thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montagnards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army.Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:*The smell of Nuc Mam*The heat, dust, and humidity*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung DaoAND……..*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia and MarylandIt was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car. A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds, 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.Do not miss the rest at Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel[mwi-cat-listing cat="94" ppp="4" cols="4" desc="false" type="view" btn_color="black" ]