I met a man once with a dog tattooed on his whole back. It was a special animal, his war dog back in the day, and they had been through a lot together he said. He asked if I knew what had happened to the military dogs of Vietnam, when their handlers were called home for good. I said that I did… Over 35 years had passed since the man had returned from Vietnam, but one sensed that he possessed strong memories. Maybe the dog was the least of it, but it was something that he was able to talk about with a stranger.
I thought of this man while I was reading Captain Shannon Meehan’s new book, “Beyond Duty”. Another veteran, who has come back from another war, and he has memories. He also has a stunning resume of successes, and medals, and promotions, and is obviously a “good man”, who went into the military, and the war, with the highest ideals.
“Death Dealers” was the name his company picked, and it was not even a boast, only a simple fact in Iraq. Beyond Duty is their story. Many good books have come out of the Iraq Was experience, and they are helping civilians get a grasp of what we have asked, have demanded, of our military. The ones who “stand in the gap” and “take our place” in the deadly conflicts against those we fear.
Meehan’s book is a must read, with accolades from men who know, like Tim O’Brien, and Brian Turner, among others. Not political, offering no moral judgment, it is a tale of modern warfare, and the power of memory.
Just the memories, and what they can do to a man or woman over time.