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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just Uber. Just. Wow.

Remember a few weeks ago, I was posting the possible titles of papers RB's classmates were going to hand in, asking you which one did you think was RB's? It was just a tongue-in-cheek post because I thought it hilarious to hear them being called out loud:

"My First Car"

"My Summer In Europe"

"The Weekend I Worked As A Clown"

"My Big Day At My First Job"

and then, RB's "My Last Firefight."

I feel so proud of this man. As you know, he's gone back to school to study to be a nurse. This will be his first English paper since his last one, oh, forty years or so ago. In fact, I don't think he remembers having ever written this many words before. And boy, I just read it, folks.

Having been a college teacher, I wanted to be there to watch the other students' (and the teacher's) faces and reactions to a paper written by someone older, more experienced, and definitely have a story (or two) to tell. I just know that he would blow away every misconception they had about him and they'd never look at him with the same eyes again.

Besides being my business partner, Ranger Buddy has been my best friend and mentor for twenty years. He's a man of incredible wit who suffers fools gladly as long as they aren't on his roof ;-). Through the years, I've grown used to his love of bad puns, horrible singing and equally horrible Michael Jackson moves. I'm also usually the one who would be the least surprised at everything he did, from holding on to my toolbelt while I was hanging upside down from a building, to kicking off a ladder in the middle of a storm so no one could get off the roof until it was done, to walking into a restaurant wearing a bustier picked up from a dumpster over his workclothes as a joke.

The stories he tell are always filled with humor and details. He gave me a lot of insight about being in combat and has always been generous in answering my probing questions--things a woman usually don't ask a man--such as ways to kill (ahem), the weight of an AK-47, jungle bugs, and feet rot.

I've heard the following story many, many times. At least 500. In various versions, some more elaborate than others. But I've never read it in his own words.

With his permission, I'll let him share his first English paper in 40 years with you. It's HOW A FIRST-PERSON POV SHOULD BE WRITTEN. I helped him restructure some sentences/paragraphs and corrected some spellings. But this is all his, an incredible account of

My Last Firefight

Ladies, I think we got a budding writer here ;-). What do you say?




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15 comments:

UNC Girl said...

Oh Holy Shit. He made me cry. Wow, I wish I could be a fly on the wall when he presents it.

dianev62 said...

I agree with unc girl --I wish I could be there too...he's going to blow the class away with this story.

Maybe he should consider a new career as a writer instead of a nurse.

SKKD Lambing said...

Wow, tell Ranger Buddy thank you for his serving. I'm very proud of his sacrifice and those who lost there lives in that so called "Action" which was really a war! And thank you for sharing his experience.

kristi

Deborah said...

Okay, okay . . . I'm not even half way through with this and I have tears in my eyes. I can't read it now as I am on my way to a meeting and don't need people asking me why I'm crying. How can I tell them that a woman I do not "know" had honored her friendship and love the way she has. Jeez, woman, you slay me. I'll read the rest while I'm home, alone, and with a nice glass of wine.

Deb

LadyZannah said...

WOW, pretty scary stuff. Oh and RB "Rangers Lead the Way".

kim said...

well done, thanks

Elaine said...

Tell RB I'm so proud of him. Sniff...

Leslie said...

That was one heck of a story. RB writes well! And to have that in his head for 40 years...just wow....

vanessa jaye said...

Wow, Gennita. I'm speechless. The matter of fact tone to his recount, just tore your heart out. Abso-fucking-lutely, fantastic.

mary c. said...

Please thank RB not only for his service to our country but also sharing this story.

Deborah said...

Wow. I was right. I needed to read this at home.

The line, ". . . a terrifying vomit of gunfire" was exquisite. I agree with you. He should write. I could see, through his words, what he saw and he made me grateful.

Thank you for this and the reminder that, though we may or may not support a war, our soldiers should always be held tightly and respectfully in our hearts.

Thank you both for sharing this.

Deb

Anonymous said...

My former husband is a Vietnam vet, who would never, ever, talk about it. I think bottling up all that emotion, not talking to anyone about it, was part of the reason we're no longer together, although I loved him the day we divorced and wish him nothing but the best now. Thanks, R.B., for giving us a tiny insight into a soldier's life. It was powerful writing. Still, get your nursing degree! You can always write on the side, like someone else we know...
Cecily

Monique said...

I think Just Wow adequately sums this up. Thank you Jenn for sharing this, but more importantly, thank you RB for sharing this.

Wendy said...

It was a beautiful essay. I love the last line. :)

Gennita said...

I'm glad y'all thought the story had a "wow" factor too. As predicted, the rest of the essays in that class were titled similarly to my examples ;-). RB said one of them was "Baking Cookies With My Grandmother," a two paragraph summary of...baking cookies.

Anyway, the paper got quite a bit of attention from the young students and so now we wait for the grade. I told him if that HK teacher give him even a B, he's going to have to talk to a Malaysian teacher ;-).

Maybe I'll collaborate with RB, sort of like Crusie and Mayer, heeheehee. Kidding, kidding....

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