Huh? What’s Tarawa? I asked ten people today and that’s the response I received back. It was a small island in the Pacific. The Japanese in WW2 were really proud of it. They said it couldn’t be taken in twenty years. And why shouldn’t they say such a thing. Concrete
pillboxes, ninety percent underground, minimum six feet apart. Point blank suppressing fire on EVERY beach. The highest point was seventy five foot. Reefs surrounded it…I was told I was a ‘hero’ for fighting the County. What Horseshit. My friend, Clem, the world’s worst
mechanic, a drunk of exceptional magnitude. He really was a hero. Sure, he lived in a dump. A tiny house off Sierra Hwy that sat right in the epicenter of Dozer tracks piled ten foot high, old back hoe buckets by the dozen, sheets of aluminum gathered over sixty years. Stuff like that. He could care less. He was within walking distance of his favorite VFW…Last year, in his nineties, the County killed him. Yep. They red tagged his old house and locked him out. He crept into an old step van in the wash that had no wheels on it, tried to keep his small dogs and his old bones warm. Burned to death in the back of it. The County leaped into action. They brought in a ‘Cleansing crew’ that stripped his place down to the DIRT. They then placed a $22,000 dollar bill on his estate. Since he was in his nineties. Who would that even be? The new college across the street going in couldn’t have anything to do with it, could they? Then, here’s the kicker. The County received over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS for all the scrap metal on his property. Pure steel, titanium, copper, aluminum, tin. So what, you might say. If you said it in my presence, I’d smash your fucking face in. Clem was in the first wave that hit the beach on
Tarawa. He was a kid. If you ever asked him about it, he would just stare at you and turn away…I learned one thing about REAL vets. They will not talk about the war. Sure, phonies who are into glory tales will yak it up. That’s because THEY WEREN’T THERE. Clem was there for the three days it took to break the Japs backs. It was do or die. No prisoners in the Pacific. You put your hands up against the Japanese and bullets would walk across your chest. After the Marines realized this, they showed the enemy how to really take the gloves off…Out of one hundred guys around Clem that came off the track driven boats,
six made it fifty foot inland…Guys like Clem are our real heroes. Guys like me just write about them…

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