A Secret Grave 143: G.I. Joe

 

Ramona learned that Lloyd had been married, but she wasn’t sure how many times. He didn’t like to talk about previous relationships. There was his first wife, Linda, and his second wife, Carla. Both were nice ladies who hadn’t understood him very well. And there was Patsy from New Jersey, whom he’d loved deeply but who’d been a little too demanding for his taste. And there was Becca, a Mormon, who’d tried unsuccessfully to convert him. And Kate, a homespun beauty he’d loved more than any of the rest, who turned out to be an alcoholic. All of these were mentioned in passing without terribly much detail.

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past relationships

Women in Lloyd’s Past Girls’ Night Out!, Lana, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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When Lloyd talked in depth, it was usually about his childhood – hunting with his father, wriggling with boredom at church every Sunday, skating on a bumpy pond under a sky as hard and bright as diamonds, backyard barbecues with his father’s fellow cops drinking beer, and laughing in a tight knot around the grill while the wives ran in and out of the kitchen with trays of food. He wasn’t as elaborate about events that happened after he left Minneapolis. When Ramona asked him where he went to college he was silent for a moment and then said the University of Virginia, but he didn’t finish his degree. He’d gone to Vietnam at age eighteen, another phase of his life he talked very little about. He’d been taken prisoner, tortured, and awarded a Medal of Honor on his return to the States. It was in Vietnam that he met Joe Bennett, a farm boy from Iowa who ended up in the same platoon. The two became buddies. In fact, Lloyd told Ramona, he wouldn’t be alive today if it hadn’t been for Josiah, who’d grabbed him and thrown him out of harm’s way right before a mortar blast. Then he told Ramona an amazing story.

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vietnam

60mm Mortar Crew, 5 April 1967, USMC Archives, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Josiah had fallen from a tree in Vietnam. He’d climbed up, as nimble as a monkey, to get a sighting of their location during a mission. But when he climbed down he missed his footing and hurtled to the ground, landing so hard the wind got knocked out of him. He broke a collarbone – no big deal. But he also lost consciousness for a few minutes, and that, as it turned out, had a life-altering effect.

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crash landing

Blurred Jump (edited), The Mighty Tim Inconnu, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ https://www.pinterest.com/bigchico/huey-helicopter-823/

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