This is another of one of those short stories about a friend I had back in the day.  I will call him lucky because a lot of the time he was.  I'll save the worst for last.

Lucky grew up with a father that was a very hard man and didn't cut him any slack.  He had worked hard all of his life and he wanted to make sure that his children knew the value of Hard Work!   It was so hard that Lucky's mother finally had her fill and took the daughters with her as she left.   Lucky and his older brother were left with a difficult father and in time, a step mother that made their Dad look easy.  Lucky had the misfortune of being exactly like his step mother and they butted heads at every turn.  I think he also had a streak of orneriness that made him work harder getting out of work than working.  He could manage to make an easy job last longer than a hard one.  I would say that "pissed off" would be a good name for his step mother.  Perhaps I left of the word permanently in that appellation.

Lucky was the same age as I was but because his birthday fell after Labor Day he was a year behind me in School.  We played in the same neighborhood but his free time and friends were generally not the same circle I shared.  It wasn't until High School that I really got to spend much time with Lucky.  I was aware of his feelings and his tough home life, but there was little I could do to help him.  One day, he saw me at lunch and asked me to come out to the fountain in front of our High School.

He said that he had reached that point in his life that he could join the military without needing the signature of his Dad.  He had another year of High School left but wasn't up to swallowing his pride much longer.  What could he do?   One answer was the Military.  Most of us thought about the Military option for our life, just most of us didn't want to join, just wait for the draft.  Lucky just wanted to prove that he was a vibrant and strong man.

Did I mention that Lucky was a little short?  Not a bunch short, but below the national average by about a half a foot.  What does short guys do to prove that their height is not a factor to them?  Yep, he joined the Marines at the end of his Junior Year in School.  Off he went to parts unknown.  I do not know if he was a Hollywood Marine or a Paris Island Marine, all I knew was that when he came home that Christmas he wore his uniform the entire time.  He said they told him he had to and there was no quit in following orders for Lucky.  I think he even managed to patch up things with his Dad that Christmas.   

The next report I go from Lucky was that he was not going to Vietnam until he turned 19.  He had joined the marines and the best qualification he had was as a pop up target known as Infantryman.  There was no shortage of places in Vietnam for him to go and the Marines were salivating until he reached 19.   I did hear that the Marines put him through a special course at 29 Palms and he took and passed the GED while on hold.  Many of us were proud that he was getting promoted and getting some Education.

About the time I went into the Army. I got word that Lucky was in Vietnam.  He was doing well and managed to stay unwounded or killed.  I did meet him once when I was home on leave and he was pretty well decorated and a full Corporal rather than that Lance Corporal.  A little later on when I got out of the Active Army, I heard that Lucky was at 29 Palms in Southern California and was a Sergeant and Married.  A little while later, I heard that he was on a second tour in Vietnam and a Staff Sergeant and his wife had just given birth to a set of twins.  Lucky completed that tour with another set of decorations and awards.

One day I met his brother and he was full of bad news.  It seems that Lucky was assigned to 29 Palms and his wife was living in the Los Angeles area.  Lucky was able to go home each weekend and was wearing out an old pickup truck driving back and forth.  One Monday morning Lucky was driving fast to make it back to 29 Palms by the time to report.  He was in a traffic accident and was killed.  I didn't get the details but I did hear that his wife was going to have the burial in California.

I am sorry that I had to end this story on a sad note but that's the way it happened.  I am glad that he had a chance to be happy for a while and that I hope that memories of Lucky puts a smile in the heart of his friends.  I will try to focus on the good things because I know Lucky would want it that way. Semper Fi! Marine.


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