Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jon, Sully will remain forever young

There's only one place in the world that brings tears to my eyes just by being there.

The Wall.

For most of us in the Class of '67, there was nothing that shaped our lives as much as the Vietnam War.

Two of us died there.

I never knew Mike Sullivan, but I knew Jon Rumble to say hello to. We both lived in Mosby Woods, and we ran into each other from time to time.

A couple of years ago, when I was writing on an earlier blog, I did a Google search to see what I could learn about Jon's death. I saw a tribute site in which a friend of his from the war had posted something; his e-mail address was included and I wrote to him.

Don Dark told me that by the end of 1968, he and Jon had both realized the futility of the war, and all they were concerned with was protecting each other's back. Don still regrets that on a day he was called away to do something else, his best friend died.

Forty years later, he still remembers and he still grieves.

Most of the rest of us in the Class of '67 grew up and grew older. We lived through Watergate and disco, Reagan and the Challenger, Clinton, Bush and 911. We lost our hair and got fat, our kids grew up and had kids of their own.

Not Jon Rumble and Mike Sullivan. Their hopes and dreams died with them.

The rest of us will age and go on Social Security. We'll one day look back at long lives with either satisfaction or regret, but they won't.

Jon and Sully will remain forever young.


Sean Kennedy said...

The picture you show is panel 36W, Row 77. And, I know it well. I’ve been visiting it since The Wall opened. I visit Jon, Sully, and Phil Taft each Veterans Day, and often as a participant in Rolling Thunder in May.

Jon and I were good friends. I still have an old picture of he and I sitting upstairs in a booth at the Dupont Villa on DC. He bailed me out of many a scrap.

He served in the USMC, in a CAP unit, one that lived in the villages, usually 10 Marines, a corpsman and a scout. You would think of his unit as a special forces unit of the Corps back then. He was killed in 1968, the day after Christmas, a few weeks before he was to come home.

Another good friend of mine, and of Jon’s, was Mike Scott. Mike too joined the USMC, and served in a CAP unit. Mike and Jon saw each other briefly, just before Jon was killed.

I went on to college, but often wrote Mike and he returned my mail. He was one heck of a cartoonist and often drew several and included them in his letters. I kept many of them nearly 20 years, and when he returned to Virginia to visit The Wall, I returned to him several of those he had written back in 1968 and 1969. Truth be told, they were more his than mine. I did keep one. It remains a very treasured possession.

Unlike Jon, Mike returned and with him all the physical scars of being wounded in combat and all the mental scars that came along with that experience. He and I have kept in touch with each other over the years. He was intending to come to the reunion, but a family emergency prevented it. He continues his art work, and I have two of his paintings hanging in my home office.

He and Jon are heroes of mine.

Our son Ryan, a Sergeant in the USMC, recently returned from his second tour in Iraq, in Fallujah and in Ramadi. Those months were filled with unrelenting worry for his mother and me. Mike and he intend to get together soon, hopefully to connect in a way that only combat veterans can connect.

He has finished his four years, and is now preparing to continue his education. He hopes to enroll at American University, in their School of International Studies. He would like to earn his Masters in Ethics, Peace and Conflict Resolution. He’s been a blunt instrument of foreign policy. He has seen his share of death and destruction, and hopes to promote more peaceful alternatives. He too is a hero of mine.

I think often of these three men, hoping that I have lived a life worthy of their sacrifices.

I read your American Hologram and would say we are kindred spirits, Mike.

Stacy DeLano said...

I hardly knew Mike Sullivan either, except that he was my Senior Prom date (think we ended up with each other in a process of elimination). The big night was a total disaster, probably not unlike many of us had: we were such a mismatch, my mother made me buy the ugliest dress ever, my 'updo' looked like the leaning Tower of Pisa, dinner at the Lazy Susan in Woodbridge was awful, my parents wouldn't let me stay out after midnight, and the trip to the beach next morning was a joke. Can't remember if Mike and I spoke after that, but through the years I wish I had tried a little harder, if only to have something more concrete to remember him by.

Thanks, Mike, for setting up this blog. Stacy

Anonymous said...

I don't remember much about Woodson, but I remember Jon Rumble. I didn't hear he was killed until I was in college at U.Wyo. Apparently Marlo Mays is dead ? He was a friend in school. What happened to him ?

John Baker