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HISTORY AND POETRY (7)

(7)

FAREWELL TO A FRIEND MY SERGEANT

I followed slowly behind him
   with softly muffled tread.
With many of his comrades,
   to bury our own dead.

The thoughts among us private,
   yet joined in our remorse.
For he had been our sergeant,
   and often set our course.

We thought of him as forceful,
   and drew our strength from him.
He gave assurance and confidence,
   to know that we could win.

He was coarse and brisk,
   yet gentle too, a very special man.
And when the battle started,
   he was in command.

The war was over many years,
   before we found each other.
It was he who brought me back again
   to my airborne fellow brothers.

It was he who made me realize
   that we were special men.
What we went through and had to do;
   we'd never do again.

So short a time passed quickly by,
   till death had come to claim him.
Our families met to begin anew
   with friendship strong within.

We've had our time of glory,
   God willing we survived.
To take our place in family life;
   til this sad day arrived.

We knew him and we loved him,
   this paratrooper brave.
And now he's made his final jump,
   as we lay him in his grave.

He's not alone, he's with his men,
his Commander gone ahead.
And we who wait our final flight,
   to join our gallant dead,
Will board our plane when we are called;
   to fill our place in ranks.
Again to leave our loved ones,
   with final tears of thanks.

Then we'll be gone to join our men,
   in line at heaven's gate.
And proudly pass to history -
   with the Men of the 508.

William W. Bell
82nd Airborne
508 Parachute Regiment
WWII  "42-45"

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