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Manuel Garcia, Delta 67/69

A Warriors Thoughts

I don’t know how he got me, I just know he did. I was only eighteen and still a virgin. I didn’t know much about the world but I knew what it felt like to feel, to trust, to love, to be happy and cool. To hang out with the “vatos” (guys), to cruise and flirt with the “jainas” (chicks) on a Saturday night. It was heaven.

I knew that no matter how much I tried to ignore him, he would eventually find me. He liked guys my age. He was so smooth that one day I fell right for his old bullshit, “come on over, “ese” (dude), lets see what kind of “huevos” (balls)… you’ve got,” he whispered. “If the wimpy Tony could go and come back, so could,” I uttered to myself.

So I got ready for him, even though deep down inside I hoped that the day would never come. In six months I was in this backyard ready to kick some butt. It was the biggest yard I had ever seen. I knew he was watching me but again I pretended to ignore him. I didn’t have to go far to see the faces of other dudes who had seen him, smelled him and felt him. They looked into my eyes and somehow I knew what they were wondering. Was I, or wasn’t I going to make it. As the days went by, I challenged him “come on… do it! Do it now while I’m fresh.” He ignored me. The place was packed. Whites, Okies, Blacks, and more vatos like me. All of us had one taught in mind, “to make it.” That’s when I came to the realization that sooner or later he would find me. And if he did, so what…I was getting tired of playing his stupid game. Besides by know I was starting to get a little cocky. I was ready.

Every day I would look for him and every day I would hear of someone else getting it. I would see their names and wondered what was it like. I would visualize the pain and sorrow their loves ones would have to go through. And I would hold my breath, because I knew I had to be strong. This went on until one day he let his presence known my zapping our leader in the head. I held back my tears until I could no longer stand to see his wounded body. As I looked away I saw more beds filled with wounded warriors all looking at my direction. I looked towards the sky and wondered if this is the way it had to be. I knew I couldn’t ask for any favors, all I wanted was to be strong, tears began to drip, so I quickly left not wanting anyone to see a Marine cry.

Suddenly there he was! “Please God, I’ll do anything…don’t let him get me. Let me dream another night.” I got my wish that night but his signal was loud and clear; he would be back for more. I pleaded with God some more, “give me courage.” And then it happened, “this bastard can’t hurt me, and if he did, so what,” I was pumped up! Maybe I’ll go back early, (like my leader) or to heaven…where all good warriors go. The next day he came bright an early, holy shit! He’s coming right at me. Face to face, my time had come. “I got to give it to him…no, maybe I can talk my way out,” I murmured to myself. “Pura Madre!” (Bullshit) I’ll give it to him like he would me! Yea, all the way…more, more, more.” I was winning, it was thick, and it was hot. It felt so good; I closed my eyes and hollered ”tenga cabron!” And then it was over. “Where did he go?” I wondered. I knew I had just whipped him. I felt him, I saw him. The BASTARD faked me out. He put someone else in his place. My legs begin to wobble, “stop it dammit! Stay in control, I’m in control, I’m all right,” I kept saying.

I knew after that day that I was nothing to him. I was only one body out of thousands he could have, anytime and anywhere. This was his playground. As each day went by, I went along hoping he would forget my face. But I was ready just in case. I read some more names, and I wondered once again, how? How did he do it?

Finally the time arrived when I could go home. He was letting me go. As I walked to my plane, I saw the new faces that had come to play. They looked at me and I looked away, I didn’t want to know who they were or how they looked. I just went home and wondered how many he would spare. I did my best to screen him from my life, but every now and then, I feel his mighty sword penetrate me hard and slow. He has marked me for life. I know him and he knows me. Semper Fi

Manuel G. Garcia
1st Marine Division, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion
Delta Company - Empire State
December 27, 1967 to January 20, 1969