Support the news

On A Starry, Starry Night03:31

This article is more than 10 years old.

For more than 30 years, David Lowery has struggled with the memories of a firefight that claimed the life of his Marine buddy Nick. It was early September 1967, north of Da Nang. David was in combat for the first time, after several months in Vietnam. It was a small skirmish, David says, on a forgotten field. But he just cannot forget that night.

On this Memorial Day, David Lowery takes us back. He recalls carrying a fellow marine to the medical helicopter. It was only after the chopper took off that David realized it was Nick:

Gazing into the blue haze of night

Red ribbon tracers mark the flight

Dragon-ship circling some distant fight

On a starry, starry night

A loud explosion, on my right

Rifles crack hand grenades ignite

Flicking lights give little insight

This is the beginning of a fight

Large incoming rounds smite

Increased firing on our right

Machine guns add their repetitious bite

The fog of war confounds one's sight

In the midst of all this plight

No time for apprehension or for fright

So perfectly focused eager to requite

Strange work to do this night

Friends are dying while others fight

Cascading star shells add a curious sight

Incoming rounds both left and right

O what a starry, starry night

As the firing begins to slacken

Suddenly eyeing battle's red token

Marines shouting for a corpsman

Volunteers running to the fallen

Carrying a friend his face out of sight

Small arms erupt hand-flares ignite

Wounded look so peaceful in the eerie light

Waiting for a chopper on this bloody night

At last the chopper finds our site

One sees at once the corpsman's plight

No room for all on the flight

Is he to decide who shall live tonight?

The corpsman's look of sheer despair

Thank God I'm not in his affair

Alas Valkyries came taking all in sight

Sparing him triage's guilt this night

In a footrace back to the firebase

I'm feeling fright's forlorn embrace

Awaiting daylight's safer first trace

Hours to endure in this forsaken place

Gazing into the blue haze of night

Red ribbon tracers mark the flight

Dragon-ship slowly coursing a new fight

On a starry, starry night

This program aired on May 25, 2009.

+Join the discussion

Support the news