They were indeed bleak days.
Several years ago I did a search of all those in my basic training company to see who didn’t come home. Everybody did, but one. And it happened to be my best buddy. It had been nearly forty years since he was killed in Vietnam and I didn’t know until then.
His name was Dave Lupien. Although outgoing in nature, there was a certain loneliness and sadness about him, but I suppose that could be said about all of us back then. I only found in recent years some of his life was spent as a foster child.
There was a song that resonated with all of us. One night in the barracks it was playing on the radio. Dave said, “Can ya turn that crap off. It’s depressing.” He was right. The song was Coming Home Soldier by Bobby Vinton. The lyrics were about a lonely soldier away from home and Dave never made it home.
Here’s the song;
I wrote a poem about him a few years ago, but I suppose it‘s as much about the absurdity and pain of war. Here it is also:
David G. Lupien
By Kenton Lewis
David Lupien was in basic training with me
He never had a chance to live and see
Children and grandchildren upon his knee
To have what I’ve had and happened to be
At the age of twenty he died alone
In a place that is foreign and far from home
For logic and reason he did not know
Brave and naïve he volunteered to go
I looked upon his photo and saw
The boy I once knew and fondly recalled
His name now appears on a granite wall
To be seen and remembered by friends and all
Those who knew him will also pass away
The photo and wall are here to stay
But those who come and silently pray
Never heard his voice or words he did say
Like so many his life was troubled and brief
Future and glory stolen like a thief
Possibilities were quenched also belief
By those who ordered him to the grave beneath
Nobody knows what could have been
Nor do we know who, why, or when
Memories are all we have from within
of boys we once knew and died as men
Many have died for rights to defend
Why did it have to be my friend?
Many have died for the life of another
Why did it have to be my brother?
Many have died to conquer what’s bad
Why did it have to be my dad?
Many have died for the glory of one
Why did it have to be my son?
Many have died for the flight of the dove
Why must it be my own sweet love?
Many have died to reap what is sown
The ones who died are never unknown
In God’s memory they patiently sleep
To be awakened to life that is replete
On God’s new earth to suddenly discover
Laughing and joking with my long lost brother
On God’s new earth when the day is done
I can sit and relax with my long lost son
On God’s new earth once again I’ll depend
On help and support of my long lost friend
On God’s new earth I’ll be the proud lad
The one I hardly knew, my long lost dad
On God’s new earth like hand in glove
I’ll stroll again with my long lost love
Memories, photos, and walls will fade
In God’s memory we are all kept safe
In a land far away he gave his last breath
Without loved ones, passed from life to death
I hope to see my ole barracks buddy again.
And shake the hand of David G. Lupien.