My father was a Marine; I was a Marine and the PSMO (Pack Shit, Move Out) evolution is part of that life. It’s a hassle, but a little help makes it easier.
My eleventh move, from a Spanish colonial house in Venezuela to Quarters 13 aboard the Marine base at Quantico, came at the beginning of my sophomore year in high school in 1971 when I was a long-haired colonel’s brat. After three years on the side of a mountain in the Andes, it was great to be back in the land of the big PX.
My family was unpacking boxes the morning after they’d been unloaded from sea crates when there was a knock at the back door. I opened it and a tall, skinny guy in blue jeans and a white t-shirt smiled and said, “My name’s Louis Wilson. I’m your neighbor. I don’t know where anything goes, but I’ve got a strong back and I’m here to help.”
He held out his hand.
I shook it and said, “Great. My name’s David. Come on in and meet everybody.”
We walked to the living room where my father, his back to us, was putting books on the shelves by the fireplace.
“Hey, Dad,” I said, “This is our neighbor, Louis Wilson. He’s here to help us unpack.”
My dad turned around quickly. His heels came together; his back straightened and his thumbs went to the seams of his trousers.
It turned out that the guy in blue jeans and a white t-shirt was my dad’s commanding officer at the Marine Corps Development and Education Command, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor and soon to be 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
He helped me unload my books and record albums, connect my stereo, hang pictures and put my bed together. We listened to Jethro Tull and James Taylor. The general preferred Sweet Baby James to Aqualung.
He got seriously jacked up in Iraq back in 2003. An RPG blew him out of the vehicle he was riding in and bounced him off the deck.
That’s not good for the human body. It broke his neck, damaged his spine, vertebrae and hip as well as injuring him internally, but it didn’t stop him from continuing to lead his Marines through the firefight.
He also has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy which causes severe chronic pain and makes it even harder to walk and perform day to day stuff. It’s all degenerative.
He could use a little help.
The Home Builders Association of Oconee is working with an organization called Homes for Our Troops to build him a specially designed house at 114 Maplewood Court in the Waterside Crossing Subdivision where he should be able to move around better than in the conventional one he lives in now.
They could use a little help. They need professional construction workers, building supplies and money.
Putting a star-spangled “Support the Troops” sticker next to the Jesus fish on your car is one way to show what a compassionate patriot you are, but it won’t provide a place to live for a single Marine mangled in the service of the red, white and blue.