Sgt. James C. Hagler
Sgt. James C. Hagler served with the 56th SPS, NKP, 1974-75, Delta Squad, Knife 13. He would later write poems and short stories capturing his service and those who fought. Below are two of his poems.
Knife 13 Good Byes
Standing on the metal tarmac, peering at the stars, on that warmish May night,
Three blinking lights appeared on the horizon, heartbroken, the fourth nowhere in sight.
In breathless slow-motion anticipation, not knowing which ones were to no longer be,
Our Brothers in arms, we were told, lost, four Jolly Greens, now only three.
Standing there, my heart sinking with the pounding arrival of each whirring rotor,
Reading the numbers on their sides as they powered down each pulsing jet motor.
I began to realize that Delta Squad would no longer disembark,
My brothers, no longer there, began a sole quenching reality, a missing spark.
My youthful spirit quickly emptied, as an hourglass where sand had once been,
Heroes who volunteered and broke bread with me, now the ghosts of Knife 13.
Through Gods intervention I was taken from that craft just hours before,
Hand shaking and hugging good byes, not realizing there was never to be more.
I shifted between anger, despair, the realization I would not see my comrades alive,
A twenty-year old Sargent, instantly growing in maturity to a tempered age thirty-five.
In my thoughts over four decades since that warm and fatefully clear night,
Where three blinking lights appeared, still heartbroken, a fourth nowhere in sight.
11-11-11 Veterans Day
As I sit in my chair on 11-11-11 Veterans Day and begin to slowly sigh,
I reflect on the many Veterans Days gone quickly by.
Not sad for the losses and wartime horrors known, felt, and seen,
But for all of the events, known, felt, and seen between.
I watched the wreath placed at the tomb of the unknown,
Wondering in which direction has our great nation grown.
Have we replaced responsibility with blind tolerance?
Have we replaced humane behavior with the lack of common sense?
Our great nation is at a crossroad of demanding guilt and debt.
Some ask “is our best of times behind us”? Oh I know, not yet!
A change was promised, some lose hope as our enemies grow bolder.
Do not fear, the bricks in the wall of freedom that protect us are held by the mortar mixed in the blood of the American soldier.