This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.
Doug Logan was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010. He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999. To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview.
SHIN SPLINTS REDUX
There Were Two of Us…
Monday, Memorial Day, was for reflection. Every year I attempt to take some time to remember what happened almost fifty years ago in a fetid, bloody part of the world, Viet Nam, where Nike now manufactures its sneakers and where money is currently being made in ecotourism. And, I always remember that there were two of us.
His middle name was Alfred, my middle name is George. But, we were both 1st Lt. Douglas Logan. He was an Infantry Scout Platoon Leader with the 1st Infantry Division [Big Red One], and I was an Artillery Forward Observer with the 101st Airborne Division [The Screaming Eagles]. He fought in the jungles of III Corps, I in the highlands of II Corps. He was a year younger than me and would have celebrated his 69th birthday this coming 28th of June.
We both enjoyed a good cigar. We were both newly married to women in the nurturing professions, a nurse and a schoolteacher. We were both decorated, he with a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, I with two Bronze Stars. And while we were ducking bullets, bathing in rice paddies and eating mud, some of our contemporaries back home manipulated their comfort and safety. Future warmongers Lynn and Dick Chaney were conning Dick’s Draft Board for multiple deferments as he overstayed his studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Bill Clinton was using country boy charm to weasel out of his obligations of citizenship in Arkansas. And, the guy Bill Maher calls “the Cowboy from Toy Story”, George W. Bush, utilized his family connections to get him a commission in the Texas Air National Guard, assuring him clean sheets, three hot meals a day, and duty no further than Wichita Falls. To his credit, John McCain was ordering room service at the Hanoi Hilton.
We never met in person. We knew of each other’s existence because I received some of his mail and he was sent some of mine. I inadvertently opened an envelope containing intimate photographs of his honeymoon. The hardest letter I had to write in my 13 months in combat was to his widow, Sharon, after I heard he lost his life on June 17th, 1967. If we had talked I am sure that we would have talked about our common experiences playing sandlot baseball. About Jimi Hendrix and Elvis and the Beatles. This son of Crane, Missouri, I am sure, rooted for the Cardinals and hated the Cubs. And, I am also positive, we would have made jokes about just about everything because that’s the way we survived. If we had a serious moment we would probably reflect on the awesome responsibility we both bore for the safety of our men.
He did not live long enough to see men on the moon, steroids in baseball or Joe Willie Namath win a Super Bowl. He would never drink a light beer. He would have delighted in Albert Pujols’ greatness and lamented his exile to Anaheim. He never got a chance to use a cell phone or a computer. He never heard rap music, watched MTV or uploaded a video on YouTube. He was saved experiencing tears and pain in the pit of his stomach on September 11, 2001.
It is far too simple to say that he died and I lived. He still lives on in the memory of his family and his fellow soldiers. A part of him lives etched on Panel 21E, Line 123 on The Wall. And, a part of me died many years ago in that playground of Lucifer. I came back harder, less innocent, and less patient. For years I imbibed in liquid and vaporous substances that allowed me to numb the memories and the pain. I was only able to climb out of that hole with the help of many people over many years.
Several times a year a feeling comes over me that I am living my life for two people. He looks over my shoulder from time to time and urges me to do more. I have no idea whether he approves of how I have conducted myself, but I am sure I will learn one day.
I rode a tank
Held a General’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
Sympathy for the Devil