The following is the first installment of what was originally titled A Burial at Sea: Remembrances of a Casualty Notification Officer. Written by Lt. Colonel George Goodson, U.S.M.C. (Retired) it was published in the Marine Corps Gazette in September 2007. Because of its length it’s divided here into three parts. Part 2 and part 3 will be published here over the next two days.
This story is a personal one, but shared with many from a unique perspective. It is one Marine officer’s 18-month long experience as he notifies the families of soldiers killed in Vietnam when casualties were on the rise. In 1967 — when this story begins — the U.S. saw the number of its soldiers killed increase from the year before by 81% to more than 11,000. The following year 1968 would be far worse. 16,592 American G.I.’s were killed that year. By the end of the Vietnam war nearly 53,000 would die. Unbelievably those numbers pale to those lost in the Civil War, but by today’s standards they’re difficult to comprehend.
Someone once said: A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’ That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.
What follows is shared in remembrance of all our veterans who have served our country faithfully. We especially honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to the families they left behind. Thanks to Colonel Goodson for sharing his story.