Boobs On The Ground


Air(wo)man deployedI fell in love twice today, once more than my usual visit to the VA.

Sophia is my cheerful torturer, lending me unearned vitality as she teases, cajoles, and punts me through my physical therapy regimen. I have a standard nurse crush on her, the kind you cherish for a woman who sees you at your worst and still banters with you as though you were a fully functioning adult, capable of defending yourself.

But that’s the love you expect, part and parcel of the treatment and nothing like the fast flush you get when smitten out of the blue by curious, irresistible attraction.

I was on the pull-up bar when I saw the soldier at the rail, reflected in the glass across the courtyard like a ghost from every past I have. Walking, stopping, leaning, smoking, then moving away with that abrupt step-off that starts every formation lurching forward in unison. Lean, hunched, dressed in the fashions of five years ago and wearing last night’s dreams like a chrome grille guard against today’s incredible delusion of safety.

When she walked, she walked fast. When she stopped, she smoked hard, sucking on that cancer stick like it was the last Camelbak in the desert. I hated for her to see me through that window – loose-bellied, hung out to dry, exposed to fire, vulnerable and getting better while she was armored into her broken self – but she wasn’t looking at me; not into the gym, not at present reality.

Image courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Whatever that is.

She was looking straight into the war that never ends with a gaze that never flinched and that makes my love for her fraternal and eternal in a brotherhood shared more closely with our enemies than with those we defend.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For she to-day who sheds her blood with me
Shall be my brother; be she ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle her condition;
And pundits in America now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while women speak
Who fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

WASP pilots

Titled in response to FOX News, but offered here in respectful memory of my great-aunt Mary (May 1924-September 2014), a Women Airforce Service Pilot, and all my brothers and sisters in arms.

“Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men.” –Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the United States Army Air Forces.


  1. Monte Miller says

    Dear jack, Through your words, you help me shape my own thoughts and prayers offered up for my still serving Soldier Son. Each time he and his Airborne brothers jump from an aircraft, with each deployment to some of the vilest places in the world, every time a brother is wounded or lost, I am reminded of how well you are able to speak my thoughts for me; as I also evoke a memory of how poor my words might be. Blessing on you and your house.

  2. Michael Pierce says

    Wordsmith. That is what you are. A teller of truth, a carrier of legions who would otherwise go uncarried.

    Thanks again for being able to express what so many of us cannot.

  3. This is one of those articles that gets better the more times you read it.

    Nice use of updated Shakespeare. One of my favorite passages in all of his works.

    (If anybody wants to read the original, it’s a countdown: Henry V, Act IV, Scene III)

  4. Outfuckingstanding, soldier…

  5. Daughtergrrrl says

    Thank you, Dad.

  6. Damn, Jack – credit your pix please!

    I was gonna ask you which of those women was your aunt but decided to google it first.

    Please write more about your aunt. 🙂

  7. Re-reading this for the nth time since the post & still teary-eyed, gut-punched. Not that I served (4F all the way, made Dad happy). Daddy still IS a Pacific Marine, followed Chesty onto Peleliu at 18 & kinda never left; 2 sons came back from Iraq except for parts of their beautiful souls but they CAME BACK. Finally worked up the nerve to say thanks for words that for some reason help ground a few Marine-mom, Marine-daughter loose live-wires. Thanks.

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