S.Y.O.T.O.S a Poem In Honor of Veterans Day
In honor of Veterans Day, we share this powerful poem/memoir by Benjamin P., a member of Project HOME and a veteran. He recited this poem at a recent community gathering, including photos of his squadron mates he honors in this poem. We thank Ben and all veterans for their service – and we pray for the families and friends of veterans who gave their lives for our country.
(see you on the other side)
a poem by Benjamin P.
There were 10 of us, when we all met, We all looked around, like we knew each other our whole lives, we grew up together knowing we would always be friends.
Now we are much more then friends, we are a family, we all went to school together, sat next to each other in the same class, and caused a little trouble here and there, but when 9/11 happened we already knew what our goal was after high school.
For those 4 years we motivated others, as well as ourselves, we did all the fun stuff any teenager would do, but our goal was to graduate high school first and so we did.
We all went to boot camp at the same time, not knowing where we would end up after we got out, the 10 of us finished boot camp at the top of our platoon May 5, 2004, and closed out our graduating class
As luck would have it, we all ended up in the same unit, in the same place, at the same time, First battalion, 32nd support unit, Bagdad, Iraq, “We got our orders!!” I say in motivation “Now let’s show these people what we American Marines are really made of!!” To which there response is “Semper Fi, HOORA!!”
For those of you who do not know what “Semper Fi” means, it means “always faithful” As the marines’ service song states “we never lost our nerve” in the heat of a fight.
One year after boot camp, we all survived our rookie year, in that year we all made rank, we went from Private, to Private 1st class, all the way to Sergeant.
As the months went on we found ourselves in our first big fire fight. Sadly the first of us to fall was Sergeant Alice Finn the youngest of our 10 person family born 1985 died July 2005 and so the first call was made saying she will not be coming home alive her body now resting in a grave and awaiting the rest of her platoon family “9 of us left”
9 of us angry and sad but we all had a job to do and that was kick butt and cross off names on our hit list, and we did just that, three months later another one of us falls Sergeant James Rawles born 1983 died October 2005.
2006 took three more members of our unit, Sergeant Kim R., born 1984, Died February 2006, Sergeant Stuart Paolini born 1982, Died August 2006 And Sergeant Iris H., born 1983, Died November 2006.
Three more phone calls to make all with the same message. “There not coming home” Their bodies sent home to be buried in that small plot of land where our youngest has been put to rest, now joined by three of our oldest she is not alone anymore.
2007 was no different Sergeant Robert W., was taken out on the first day of the New Year along with the call that was made so many times before. But as our job would have it we continued to move forward and didn’t let them die in vain we did what did best.
March 9 my birthday a day that was the beginning of my life instead it was a day of loss for another fallen Marine as another phone call is made, and another body sent home Sergeant Isabella D., born 1985, died March 9th 2007.
Several months later Sergeant Drew B., is gunned down. I was standing next to him when he was killed. As he died he watched me shoot back with courage and commitment but in all actuality I was shooting back with rage, anger, and adrenalin. Sergeant Sara J., saw what happened and joined the fight, to state some humor in the middle of this fire fight “I thought you were a diplomat!!!” I said, to which her response is “there comes a time in a young woman’s life when…” BANG BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! “AWWW YOU GET THE POINT!!” Sergeant Drew B., born 1984, died July 2007.
The rest of 2007 for the two of us that were left went without a single shot fired only to find out that Sergeant Sara J., was captured and imprisoned it was now my job to get her back and so I did find her, the only difference was we had to fight our way out. We were half way out of the prison camp when we were met by a U.S. convoy what a relief it was to see them.
But on the way back amongst all the shooting of getting her out of that camp she died in my arms of all places month before she told me “I would rather die in the arms of someone I trust with my life rather than alone on the ground”. At the moment she passed on I held her close to me as she said her last words “S.Y.O.T.O.S. Sergeant Pinto”
And as a gesture of gratitude, I said “It was a pleasure to fight by your side and rescue you Sergeant Johansen S.Y.O.T.O.S.”. Sergeant Sara J., born 1984, died December 2007.
Fast forward 2017 and I’m still here, all of them buried in the same place waiting for me, every morning I look in the mirror and I see them behind me I know they got my back they can no longer speak to me but they know what I mean when I say “S.Y.O.T.O.S.” which stands for:
See you on the other side