As promised in an earlier post I take this opportunity to honor Eddie Newell a beloved member of the ‘Third Herd’. 3rd Platoon, Company M, Third battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment. We were a bunch of teenage professional warriors ably led by then 2nd LT Dana Shreve.
The Orange image is my friend Eddie’s pride and joy. Eddie was a Marine when I first met him. He was not an impressive physical specimen, but he was extremely impressive as a warrior, and more importantly, as a human being. He was also a man of substantial courage and possessed a keen sense of humor, as evidenced here by his truck named for the demon which eventually contributed to his death.
As was the case with many of us who served as Marines in Viet Nam, Eddie and I lost touch after the war. The Individual Replacement Policy, (IRP) instituted by then president Lyndon Johnson, was a political device to prevent the mass activation of Reserve forces to maintain the manpower levels necessary to execute the administration’s war policies. Marines arrived in country as individuals and thirteen months later (with luck!) left as individuals. This method of rotation had many drawbacks, not the least of which was a man going home alone did not enjoy the debrief and decompression enjoyed by his counterpart in earlier conflicts who trained, fought, and went home as a unit. Many theorists attribute the high rates of PTSD suffered by Viet Nam* Vets to this fact alone.
With the advent of the Internet it became easier to reconnect with long-lost friends and in 2011 Eddie, his wife Jeanne, and I were reunited with each other and with other members of 3rd Platoon at a reunion in Frederick, Maryland. We gathered at the home of a close and dear friend, John Austin, to celebrate our bond as warriors and to honor our brother “Doc” Harry Wesley, one of our US Navy Corpsmen, who was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. I next saw Eddie and his wife at the 3/5 reunion in Kentucky which was to be our goodbye, as the next time was at the funeral in Eddie’s home town Fremont, Nebraska.
We are always advised to hold those we really cherish, very close and very tight, because as the old saying goes, “tomorrow is promised to no one.”
*I use the Vietnamese reference Viet Nam in place of the occidental Vietnam