by James Stockton

We were sitting in O'Leary's bar, a group of friends and me 
when in there walked a guy the likes of which you'll never see. 
He was dressed in salty khakis with creases sharp as knives, 
he says, "I have a story that'll haunt you all your lives

It happened down in Singapore way back in '43 
when my platoon was sent ashore to see what we could see. 
'Twas getting dark and we'd been scouting out the town when
all of a sudden hell breaks loose and shells came falling down. 

Between confusion and the cries, we tried to move about when
my best friend falls down and dies . . . his lifetime had run out. 
But where he fell there rose a ghost, I s'pose you'd call it that, 
a shroud of white was all his clothes—except for a campaign hat. 

I mention the campaign hat because, you'll see as I go along, 
'twas it that brought about the pause and sounded the golden gong.
 He was a peculiar-looking cuss, underneath that hat, 
then he made an awful fuss like a high-pitched screaming cat. 

He turned his head this way and that till he saw what 'twas all about,
then he turned and started forward and knocked those guns right out.
First he caught a flying shell and threw it back for spite, 
it landed in amongst the crew and turned their glee to plight. 

By this time he'd reached the second gun and then 
he grabbed it by the barrel and slew a thousand men. 
The enemy then turned and ran for they'd seen enough, 
what had seemed a simple chore had really gotten rough. 

The apparition sat him down, he raised his hat and then 
in the silence that did abound, you could hear a dropping pin. 
This hat was a thing of beauty, the brim curled fore and aft, 
it shone with all the brilliance of a diamond studded shaft. 

'Twas sweeter than the angels, more clearer than a 'Strad' 
and while we looked on in awe, this ghost of ours was clad 
in shining robes and golden shoes, in purples, deep and soft, 
he waved his hand and then arose, and was carried high aloft. 

And where he went and what he did no man will ever know, 
till at least we reach the shore where all good angels go. 
As for my friend, we could not find, body, trace or stamp,
all we found was the campaign hat . . . dusty, torn, and damp."  

*     *     *
The author: James Stockton was a gunner with C Co., 5thTkBn, 5thMarDiv on Iwo Jima Feb-Mar 1945, as well as other posts throughout the Corps during a 20-year stint.

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The Campaign Hat
Tanks and jeeps roll past the Fourth Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima, circa 1945