Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Date with fate post 3 - Pipe in the Stomach - Walk it off Punk!

25 July 2007

Date with fate post 3 - Pipe in the stomach - Walk it off punk!

This entry was posted on 7/25/2007 1:30 AM and is filed under Fate Fairies.

I must have been in Second Grade. John F. Kennedy was still President.  A heavy set kid named Jacky who was in the Fourth Grade was a bully of sorts. He and his neighbor Dave would chuck rotten apples at us little kids as we rode our bikes home. The three-room school was in the village of Lima (population 90?). There were about 60 kids in the six grades. We did not have kindergarten in those days. 

One day Jacky manifested his chicanery on the play ground. It was basically an old farm field. The baseball backstop was some chain-link fence stretched between a couple of old telephone poles. There was a couple of rusty swings, a creaking merry-go-round, and a couple of monkey-bar climbers. The skeletal framework of one of the climbers looked like the capsule of the Mercury space vehicles. We were after all in the "space race" then. The monkey-bars always mysteriously had some parts missing. During recess on the day in question, I looked up from a game of tag with pals to see a monkey-bar pipe rotating through the air right at me. In the background of the ever approaching projectile was the laughing face of..., Jacky. The pipe hit me crossways in the stomach - thank God - if it had hit me like a javelin it would have impaled me. I remember Jacky running up to me and saying with a snarl, "don't cry kid, and keep your mouth shut." My stomach hurt for a month. I didn't cry, I walked it off;  and, I have kept my mouth shut for almost 50 years, of course until I needed fodder for this vignette.

This week's Wisconsin soldier to remember is Specialist Michelle Witmer, 20, who died Friday, April 9, 2004. Her tour in Iraq was a few days from ending when she died. Her vehicle came under attack from enemy using a roadside bomb and small-arms fire in Baghdad. Witmer had been stationed in Baghdad since March 2003 with the 32nd Military Police Company of the Wisconsin National Guard. Michelle joined the National Guard in November 2002, going into the same military police unit her older sister Rachel, 24 was in and also in Iraq. Charity Witmer, Michelle's twin sister, was a medic with Company B of the Wisconsin Guard's 118th Medical Battalion, and was likewise stationed in Iraq. Michelle was the 16th Wisconsin soldier to be killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. According the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Michelle and Rachel helped train Iraqi police. Michelle's job was during the night shift at the local police station. The Witmer children were home-schooled but Michelle went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before being sent to Iraq. At the time of her death, Michelle Witmer was survived by her two brothers Timothy, 22, Mark, 18, her sisters Rachel, 24, and Charity, 20, and her parents John and Lori Witmer. 

3,644 Americans have been killed in Iraq since Spring 2003.

26,953 U.S. troops have been wounded in action in Iraq since Spring 2003.

78 Wisconsin soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Spring 2003.

112 journalists (several nationalities) have been killed in Iraq since Spring 2003.

Soldier of the week, military casualty, and journalist casualty information sources: Committee to Protect Journalists;; and, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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