H&S CO, 3RD BN, 26TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
From Natchez, Mississippi
29 October 1945 - 22 January 1968
In June 1966 I went on active duty after five years of reserve service. I got my first "Crow" (E4) as an Engineman and cross-rated to Hospital Corpsman in 1965. The Navy didn't know what to do with me because I had not attended Corps School, but was a Petty Officer. So in their wisdom they sent me to Corps School in San Diego. I was the senior person present, so Naval Hospital, San Diego, assigned me to be Company Commander to two Companies of Corps School students. That's where I met Bob (Robert Logan Wickliffe). We were both college graduates (Bob, Louisiana State University) and developed a friendship based on more than how much we could drink and women chased (come on, we were in our early twenties and that is what occupies most of the time of young guys). We "hung out" together a lot.
Corps School came to an end in early spring 1967, and we were all reassigned duty stations and went on leave. I finished in the top three of the class and requested Antarctica, Kodiak Island, and Adak Island. And of course the Navy assigned me to San Diego Naval Hospital. Bob was assigned to Fleet Marine Force, Camp Pendleton.
Some time in March or early April, 1967, I saw Bob again. It was after work on some weekday as I was driving past the Gedunk on my way home or to some now unimportant and unremembered place. He was sitting alone at a table outside. He saw me and waved. I waved back, but didn't stop; must have been some thing important on my mind. I said to myself "I'll see him again." I never did.
That moment is seared into my memory. What could have been more important than seeing and talking with Bob? Forty years later I still can not answer that question. Guilt? Remorse? Selfishness? Yes, all of the above, but the question that haunts me is "Why me writing this and not Bob?" Why me writing this and not any of the 14 other names that I knew that are on The Wall? Only God knows.
Is this a tribute to Bob and the others? You be the judge, but if just one person reads this and does not pass up an opportunity to share a few moments with a brother- or sister-in- arms then this remembrance will not have been in vain. You may never see them again. I know.
"I looked for you to find myself|
and neither of us was there.
The leaves rustled and the
sound was far away.
But suddenly the light of you
Thank you for the match."
George A Thurston, Da Nang, Viet Nam
The database page for Robert Logan Wickliffe
Memorial first published on 30 Jul 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009