It was 1966.
I was a freshman in college.
He was a friend of a friend,
a recent graduate with a
degree in accounting,
heading to Vietnam as part
of an Army artillery battalion.
I toted my books from class to class
day after day.
He put his ledgers aside
manning machine guns,
mortars and howitzers.
I retired to the comfort of an
air conditioned dorm room.
He sweat buckets in the jungle 24/7.
I bemoaned dorm food.
He ate C rations.
I penned letters on crisp stationary.
He scribbled on scraps of paper
in pencil, as pens were rendered
useless by unrelenting heat and humidity.
I fell into a safe, cozy bed at night.
He wondered if he would see the morning.
I was immature and self-absorbed.
He exemplified dedication, service and sacrifice.
I was a link to normalcy and home.
He was a glimpse into the chaos of war.
I went on to graduate school.
He resumed civilian life in Iowa.
A call came years later, just to say hello.
Pen pals still connected.