A Squad on a mission to search and destroy.
A Bomber Crew making a run to Hanoi.
A Gunner on the Mekong in a gunboat of steel.
A Green Beret, a Medic, a Navy SEAL.
A Marine on a hillside at the Siege of Khe Sanh.
A Chopper Crew at a landing zone…the list goes on.
They went forth to do battle and stayed where they fell.
Or spent their last desperate days in a dark prison cell.
They were called on to serve in that strange distant land
For reasons some of them never did quite understand.
The support and respect they would need to pull through
Came too little, too late, and was expressed by too few.
It’s so sad there were many like these left behind.
Although no longer with us, they are still on our mind.
Each one is a hero, every brave, valiant soul.
For these are the members of THE LAST PATROL.
Their spirits cry out in anguish: “Why can’t WE return home?”
As through the jungles and highlands they restlessly roam.
They haunt the rubber plantations, the rice paddies too,
The streets of Saigon, the Delta, all those places they knew;
Like the Ton Son Nhut Airfield, R & R at Vung Tau,
The Repple Depot at Long Binh….just vague memories now.
A flag with a Silhouette honors the POW, the MIA.
And we search for them still, even up to this day.
What’s the number of bracelets that many people yet wear,
Bearing names of our warriors that we left over there?
Will they ever return? No… Not likely, not now.
But their loved ones still hope that maybe, someday, somehow,
A discovery could close this sad chapter of life,
And bring peace to parents, a sibling, a child or a wife.
If as a Nation, we could say: “You did not die in vain.
We gratefully honor your sacrifice, your courage and pain”.
Perhaps, then those sad souls could rest,
no more have to roam,
And our LAST PATROL, in spirit,
could finally be welcomed home.
“There is one patrol still out,” by Frank J. Montoya
The bodies of US Marines lie half buried on Hill 689, west of Khe Sanh, in 1968. The siege at Khe Sanh was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war. Nearly 60,000 US soldiers died in Vietnam with over 300,000 injured.
For the Vietnamese, though, the figure was far higher with estimates of over half a million killed and many millions wounded.
Pfc. Juan Fordona of Puerto Rico, a First Cavalry Division trooper, shaking hands with U.S. Marine Cpl. James Hellebuick over barbed wire at the perimeter of the Marine base at Khe Sanh, early April 1968. The meeting marked the first overland link-up between troops of the 1st Cavalry and the encircled Marine garrison at Khe Sanh.