Letter to the editor: Jack Piland

Published 8:14 pm Saturday, August 22, 2015

You never know who or what will make your day. Mine was made by an elderly gentleman as I made my way into Tayloe’s for a prescription fill and an ice cream. As I approached the front door, an older guy stumped his toe on the paver and went sprawling. I rushed over to help him up and see if he had injured himself. He pulled himself up, brushed himself off and thanked me for the assistance. He said he was OK. It was then that I noticed he had on a red baseball cap with Marines written on the front. I told him, if I had seen that cap, I would have tried to fall under him to break the fall. He laughed. We allowed as how, in front of the door, was a terrible place for a yellow concrete obstacle. I said “Semper Fi” to leave. He asked, “ Are you a Marine?” (Being a Marine is never asked in the past tense.) I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “I fought at the Pusan Perimeter in Korea.” I asked him if it was cold and did they have the correct uniforms. I had heard the God-awful Korea stories and of the bravery of the Marines at Pusan during my time at the reserve unit in Raleigh. He explained, as only a Marine can, how cold it was. It was brutally cold and they didn’t have winter gear as he recounted how he and his buddies liberated boots in order to keep their feet from freezing. He said all of this with a twinkle in his eye as if he was actually reliving the events from this month 65 years ago. He was 19 or 20 at the time and 85 now. I thanked him for his service and wished him well. I wish he hadn’t fallen, but I was so proud to have helped him up.


Jack Piland