I won’t go on tape……… An essay by William Marshall

I like to interview veterans. Yesterday, Skipperville, AL, I was fixing a washer. Daughter, about my age, feeding her mother in a hospital bed. She said mom has Alzheimer’s. Easy fix on the washer, I was chatting, asked about Veteran license plate on the truck. Dad appears, daughter says, really? He is a retired 1SG too. I said, “cool. I do a thing I’ll record us, let’s chat.”

“I won’t go on tape, none of us will. You say you were a jumpmaster? 82nd?”  

“Airborne!” I replied.

He changed tone a little bit. He almost accepted me for a minute. He had decided. I’ll tell you two things, but I won’t go on tape. I just listened. This was a former 1SG talking, just a different era.

“1” he said, “I was an 11C. Then suddenly they made us something else, told us, but didn’t really tell us. We became a new unit. I became 95 something or 97s maybe, I don’t remember. They made us a Special Forces unit. I was in a A team, before there was any training. We figured it out. It was crazy times. 1961 I think.”

“2” he said, this was his second point.  

“None of us can go on tape, we can’t say the things we done. My wife ain’t got long left and I’m just right behind her. If I had to go and do it again, I don’t know how I could have changed anything. We did some bad things, I looked into some sad eyes that left our world cause we were too lazy to “capture” them. I guess that’s just the way its meant to be. But I can’t go on tape.”

I thanked him for his service. I gave him the military discount. 

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