To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Observercast

Foxholes

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BY DARRYL ROBERTS

The metaphor “I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with that guy” is often used to disparage the courage and loyalty of a person. Recently I watched Donald Trump as he waved his hands above his head when referring to Sen. John McCain, stating, “I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with these people, including Ryan, especially Ryan.”

I speak as one who spent a number of months in foxholes in Vietnam.

When I was a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, Admiral John “Jack” McCain Jr., was Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command [CINCPAC]. He was the boss.

At that same time his son, Lt. John McCain III, was a prisoner of war held in North Vietnam. Lt. McCain had suffered grievous wounds when his Phantom jet was shot down. The North Vietnamese, sensing a propaganda coup, offered Lt. McCain an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. McCain refused the offer as the Code of Conduct required.

As a result, the torture of McCain increased. His hands were tied behind his back, a rope thrown over a rafter and he was lifted off the floor with his arms behind him.

The Marines in my foxhole down south were all between the ages of 18 to 22. We talked about a lot of different things in the foxhole … “The Second Battalion is getting hit hard tonight, lieutenant, glad I am here with you” … what kind of car we were going to drive when we got home … home … and going home.

We were all familiar with the lyrics of the Animals song, “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” For many, it was.

I can’t ever remember talking politics in a foxhole. Probably because most of my Marines weren’t old enough to vote.

“Lieutenant, they offered to let that guy McCain go home, what would you do?” Hard question, which I didn’t answer, but did think to myself, “Bet Lt. McCain would give anything to be with the Second Battalion tonight.”

The iconic POW/MIA flag is inscribed with the words, “You are not forgotten.” With the passage of years I have forgotten the names of many of those young Marines in my foxhole, but I still remember their faces. Today, when I see Sen. McCain speak on television, I always notice that he can’t raise his arms high enough to button the top button on his shirt and it brings back memories of days long ago.

John McCain chose to serve. Unlike McCain, Donald Trump chose not to serve his country and did all he could to keep from serving.

We didn’t get to choose who was in the foxhole with us. It was just whichever Marine or Navy corpsman that jumped in the foxhole with you.

I am a diehard Democrat and John McCain is a diehard Republican, but if it came to choosing who would be in a foxhole with me, John McCain would be one of my first choices.

As for Paul Ryan, he does remind me of the Marines in my foxhole, physically fit, calm, cool and collected. I think he would measure up.

Mr. Trump, you will find that women are sensitive about sexual harassment and assaults, and veterans don’t take kindly to those who disparage those who served. In the future, you probably don’t want to use foxholes and John McCain in the same metaphor.

Darryl Roberts, an Ardmore Democrat, served in the state Senate from 1982-98