• Chapter 74: “Any Marine”

    March 10, 2016
  • Earlier I had mentioned in a letter to my sister that I had received a letter from a seven year old boy from Mesquite. Wolf was the one that gave me the letter. I don't know if he was the original one to receive it or if he was just looking for someone to give it to who was from the Mesquite area because it was addressed specifically to my unit. The kid's family must have heard on the news about certain military personnel that were from the Dallas area that was serving in the Gulf War. I never asked about how they got my unit's address, but I can imagine they probably got it from a Marine Corps recruiter. Most of the letters were to "Any Soldier" because kids don't know the difference between soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. The fact that they singled out Marines to write to was flattering.

    Anyway, someone told Wolf that I lived in Mesquite. When he asked me, I told him that I grew up in the Garland area. He had no idea where that was so I told him it was right next to Mesquite so I was familiar with the area. He handed me the letter and said, "Here, someone needs to write this kid back who lives in his neighborhood."

    I had already received letters from other kids. I was corresponding back and forth with one eleven year old boy and his mother from Virginia. I took the letter but didn't actually read it until later in the day. When I did finally get around to reading it, it really touched me. It was not at all like the other letters. Here was this young second grader talking about how he was watching the news and was very worried about us. He writes,

    "Dear Soldiers,

    I have been watching the news. I hope that you are okay. I am very nervous for you, but I know that you will be okay.

    Be very careful. We think about you a lot. Can some of you right to me, if you have time?

    Love, Zachary"

    He included his mailing address. His mother rewrote the address just to make sure it was legible. She also included her own note, "He would love to hear from someone. He follows the news very closely and thinks of you all often!"

  • I wrote Zachary back that evening. I knew that mail could get lost or slowed down, so I wrote a second one the next day. And I wrote a third one before all three of the letters were picked up in a mail run. I don't know when, but all three letters arrived the same day. Apparently, Zachary had been writing for some time, but never hearing back from anyone. I was the only one to write him back.

    Zachary's mother shared details about that day when he finally got a letter from a Marine in the war. "Every day when Zachary got home from school, he would check the mailbox for any letters from the Gulf, and every day he would find none; until your's arrived. He checked the mailbox as usual, but this time he saw strange looking envelopes with a red, white, and blue border. When he pulled them out, he saw that they were addressed to him. He was so excited that he ran home with all three letters, leaving the mailbox open with the key still in it. The apartment manager noticed it and immediately knew who it belonged to. She returned the key to us, and we all sat around reading the letters."

    One of the letters even had a souvenir in it. It was one of the flyers that was dropped over Kuwait about surrendering. Zachary treasured the flyer and kept it in a safe place. They read the letters over and over again and he couldn't wait to tell his friends and teacher at school. It would not be the last time I would hear from Zachary and his family, and it would not be the last time they would hear from me. We would eventually become more than pen pals. We would form a special bond. 

    “Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero’s heart.”
    – Unknown