Dear Big John and Little John and Billy and Hughie and Londo and Eddie Mac and Breda and Kujawski and the comrade I carried to his death whose name I never knew and all the others I pray for every night yet, the men of the 31st Infantry Regiment;
Every reading I’ve done for more than sixty-five years simply begins this way: John Maciag was all bone, knees, elbows and jaw, hated his rifle, proficient at killing, wanted home so badly it burned his soul. We leaned up that mountain near Yangu, frightened. War’s hurricane tore our ranks, trees of us lifted by roots. I came running down three days later. Like cordwood the bodies were piled between two stakes, all Korean but that jaw of John Maciag I saw, a log of birch among the pine. The sergeant yelled to move on. I said no, maybe never. I am going to sit and think about John Maciag’s forever, whose fuel he is, what the flames of him will light. Perhaps he will burn the glory of man or God.