A Purple Fox Story

© J.D. Owens
When did I first notice, when did I begin to count?
It all seemed so simple, not so very long ago.
My awakening was rather rude, I had plans, mountains to climb.
The letter from the Draft Board, a planned physical for me!

In 1966, for me the Vietnam War was a distant thought.
I arrived at this juncture, naive and unprepared.
What would a classical language, Theological student know about war?
The Army, for me, was not to be; A Marine Aviator a better calling!
I believed the things I heard, all from the wiser generations,
the stories passed on, told of things unknown.

Why did I stop believing, how did I get so smart?
Where did the simplicity go, when I began to look away?
They speak of the “Greatest Generation”, as though there can be only one.
But, what of the many others who gave their all, or nearly died trying?

I’m not a hero, and over the decades, I have rarely given witness.
For in my circle of friends, my stories pale to the bravery of most.
In the “Purple Fox” lair, the reward for heroism…, the chance to fight a new day.
Helicopters in Vietnam, the life blood for the brave Marines on the ground!

The Drill Instructors in Basic Training, the highest authority of all,
preached the gospel of truth to every recruit…,
who could doubt that every Marine is first a rifleman, even in the air!
Close Air Support, it means…when you need a CH-46, count on it!

Like it was yesterday, in the calendar of my conscience,
that fateful day, in July of 1970, when my comrades’ call sounded urgent;
All that mattered, if not this Purple Fox, their names on the Wall!
It mattered not, the 100 foot ladder, 12 feet short.
This CH-46 will chop away the tops of the triple-canopy!

Under heavy enemy fire, this Forced Recon Team, John Waynes All,
stirred up the anger of an RVN Regiment, along the TRAIL.
With my complete faith in the super-human talents of Captain Blades,
This 1st Lt. - Co-pilot went along for the ride of a lifetime, and to cheat death.

We knew the risk, we knew what would happen, if a branch was too thick,
this CH-46 was doomed to imitate a brick, with all the souls within and below!
We knew the risk, if not this Purple Fox, their names on the Wall.

At last, the first Marine hooked to the ladder, at long last, the team attached.
Now, will this CH-46 have the power lift beyond the tree tops…?
At pinnacle’s edge, the in-coming rounds, their toll too much,
This Purple Fox was destined to fall.

For those who know the glide ratio of a helicopter, the choices in the cockpit were few!
Find a clearing beneath and away from the mountain top of origin,
pray that the glide slope matched the remaining time aloft.
And, to lay this brave bird firmly into its final resting place,
But, with all souls ready to fight another day!

But, most of all, the opportunity for each to speak of this story to our grand-children!

Back or Home