L. Neil Smith's
Number 249, November 30, 2003

From a practical standpoint

The Kaptain's Log:
Godspeed, Gunner

by Manuel Miles, aka Kapt Kanada

Exclusive to TLE

I just now (Wed, 26 Nov) found out that a close friend of mine has passed away. He was, as a mutual friend says, "a great man."

Now, some people think that Churchill or Lincoln or Bismarck were great, because they had a major, albeit negative, impact on history. Me, I disagree. To me a great man is one who did his best to do good, and who had a positive impact on the lives of others. My friend, Tom Trotter, was one of these latter.

Tom, or "Gunner" as we knew him online, was a Viet Nam combat veteran. He hated it, and became a warrior for peace. He quietly, calmly and persistently worked and argued against the madness of aggressive war, and he considered me, a Viet Nam era draft refuser, to be a fellow Viet Nam veteran. He felt that we all fought that war, and were wounded by it, in one way or another.

To those of us of "the Viet Nam generation" this is not so strange as it sounds. We are a unique lot, being the post-WWII "baby boomers", and those of us who fought against the Viet Nam War were always in touch with friends and family who were fighting in it. It shaped, and deformed, all our lives. It was a year of heat and insects for 90% of the US forces who went to Viet Nam, but for the 10% who were, like Gunner, actual ground combat troops, it was a year of hell which others cannot imagine.

As many have pointed out, the horrors of combat dehumanise soldiers, but Gunner's humanity triumphed over every obstacle. He was always concerned with others' well-being, and always determined to heal in a world of hurt and hurting.

In one of my last emails from him, he mentioned that he had injured himself while pulling someone out of a car crash. He didn't discuss his injuries after that, even though I tried to get updates from him, and encouraged him to do his physiotherapy faithfully. That's typically Gunner.

It's hard to express how much loss his friends feel. The shock of this news is beyond my ability to convey. Gunner has the true greatness of a kind heart and generous soul, and God alone knows how many he helped and how many he encouraged and how many grieve his loss. Despite the worst efforts of the State, Tom Trotter was a fighter for Peace and Liberty.

Watch your six, Gunner, and Godspeed, my friend.

This will be the last entry in the Kaptain's Log for a spell, as I am going ashore for a bit. As the governor of California says, however, "I'll be back."


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