Summer of the Blue Helmets

By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)

But our helmets were green, with ragged covers
Our training was still pretty much John Wayne
Our gear was mostly made in ‘42
Except for the M14 – that was new

Sergeant Schneider barked at us, his young heroes
And made us crawl the beach at Oceanside
And tho’ he made each day’s harsh training1 sting
One evening at Mass we heard sweet children sing:

“O Mary, Star, Star of the Sea
Pray for all children, pray for me”2

Author’s notes:
(Title) The blue helmets allude to riot helmets in the summer of 1968. Why blue? Was that thought to be a soothing color?

1) “…each day’s harsh training…” – sometimes all day and all night too.

2) The last two lines are as I remember them from long-ago at Mary Star of the Sea Church in Oceanside, California while I was in Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton. I don’t know if the song my friends and I heard is a traditional hymn or if it is an arrangement by the teacher or choir director for the children’s choir. It was wonderfully beautiful, and I remember it with joy.

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