Jimmy Booker was right behind me on my last patrol in Vietnam. I photographed him as we walked the trail atop Charlie Ridge, in the hills west of Da Nang. We almost got into it with 99 North Vietnamese Army soldiers on that patrol. We know there were 99 of them, because we counted them as they walked along that same trail, passing us within feet, as we took a break just a few feet off that well-worn path. We were nine, and they were 99, so it wasn't a good time to pick a fight. Jimmy was killed after I returned to the States. I just learned yesterday how he died. I was told by another teammate, who called me this Memorial Day weekend. There's a Johnny Cash song about Vietnam called "Drive On," and there's a line in it that goes like this: "I came home, but Tex did not. And I can't talk about the hit he got." And I can't talk now about how Jimmy got it. It's makes me mad, and it makes me sad. This Memorial Day, I'm thinking about you, Jimmy, and about Prince Johnson, Marc Garcia, Gerald Poppa, Alvin Belmer, Freddie Haltiwanger Jr. and many more. Semper Fi, brothers.
T.E. Griggs is a writer, editor and photographer and a retired U.S. Marine.