June 3, 2017
Leelee Daschbach Cusenza walked across the fog-hazed Golden Gate Bridge Saturday, tears streaming down her face. The 62-year-old Pleasanton resident was joined by scores of gun violence survivors and demonstrators, clad in orange shirts, for the second annual march across the Golden Gate Bridge to honor National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Cusenza’s sister, Michele, went to Salon Meritage in Seal Beach in Orange County for a haircut on Oct. 12, 2011, and never returned. Scott Evans Dekraai was involved in a child custody battle with his former wife. He went into the salon that day in October and killed his ex and seven others, including Cusenza’s younger sister.I wept when Lee Moshier was killed by a cheap hand grenade, planted in the ground of Vietnam in 1969.
Lee didn't trip the booby trap; The point man thought his combat boots had snagged on just another of the "Wait-A-Minute Vines" which dominated the ground foliage 40 miles north of Saigon. So he just kept walking. He didn't realize that he had just initiated a buried Hand Grenade set not to kill the Point Man of the platoon which had been working this area near Vietnamese peanut fields for two days, but to kill both the Point Man and the "Pace Man" (the one man whose duty was merely to keep track of the distance we had traveled from one salient point to another).
Three seconds later, the buried grenade exploded, pounding tiny bits of shrapnel into the point man's backpack and back, buttock thighs and legs.
One of those metal bits were among the other particles, to the rear, and it drove directly into Lee's heart.
"Doc" RAN from the back of the platoon column (we always tried to protect our medic) in the most profound display of bravery I've ever seen ... but even before he got up to Moshier, it was already too late. We all knew that we had just entered the "Twilight Zone" of a minefield, but Doc's only priority was to save the life of a fellow soldier.
Lee was terrified; Doc tried to insert an Esophegeal Airway down his throat, but Lee was unable to un-clench his teeth. It probably didn't make any difference; when you get a quarter-inch plug of steel wire in your heart, it's just like a bullet; you're a deader, Dude, and there's nothing that ANYBODY can do before your heart stops.
We just stood there, most of a full platoon of GI's, and watched Lee die. And watched Doc cry, because he wanted SO bad to bring his platoon buddy back from the brink of death.
A team of surgeons in a sterile operating room couldn't stop that death. It was inevitable.
Mosier was almost entirely un-hurt. There were a few drops of blood on his webgear an on his weapon, but he didn't bleed much.
It doesn't take much to stop a heart, even a Very Good Heart like Mosiers, who liked to carry candy so when we stopped at a Ville he was the most popular guy to the VietNamese kids we met. They didn't often get candy, except from GI's like Lee, who loved kids but never had any of his own.
And ... now ... never will.
We called in a dust-off, to pick up his body and carry it back to Division Headquarters. We didn't alert the surgeons there, because Lee was past all help.
We divied up his gear, because you never leave gear in the field for Charley, even if you lose a man.
Doc carried his M16; he thought it was his duty. Chief carried his helmet. Stehman carried his ammunition.
I was the platoon Sergeant, so I carried his web belt; the Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Nobody, carried his pack.
I'll never forget the smell of Mosier's blood on his canvas web belt; the weight of the belt with the magazines in the carrier. The sight of spots of blood .. there was never a "Gush" ... on the green canvas gear.
We walked for the entire afternoon back to the Battalion Base Camp, packing little bits of Mosier back home.
Two days later, we held a memorial ceremony; his rifle was pounded into the ground, muzzle first, using the attached bayonet (which we never used except in these ceremonies). There was a Padre to lead us in prayers which we didn't believe in. I think we were suppose to sing along with the tenor who arrived with the Padre, but nobody sang. Most of us wept. An un-manly thing to be sure, but even people who didn't like Mosier didn't want to see him die.
And we all, all, stood there and watched him die. Helpless, as Doc cried as he tried to insert that God Damned Esophegeal Airway into Moshier's throat ... and it probably wouldn't have made a bit of difference if Doc HAD managed to insert the damn thing past Mosier's Clenched Teeth because he was a gonner as soon as the grenades went BOOM!
Every body knew it. We just tried, because that's all we could do. Doc tried hardest, but it's hard to tell which of us cried hardest.
The next time we hit the Slop Chute and got a few beers in us and were able to alibi our tears on account of the beers. Enlisted Men's bar, NCO bar, or Officers' bar ... it was probably the same. I think it's a mistake to separate the three rank levels in mourning, but that's just the way it is in the Army in 1969.
I wrote to his parents, on behalf of the platoon; I was head NCO, it was my job; and the OIC who had directed us through THAT particular strand of trees was not capable of rational discourse.
(He felt so guilty, he requested a change of unit; he was granted the transfer on what I have always though were "humanitarian basis" or whatever kind of bullshit the army used then to get an officer out of a unit where one of his men had die.. Personally, I don't blame him; I blame me. I had been through the area the day before and suspected the woods were mined, but I didn't work very hard to convince the El-T .. Lieutenant ... to posit another egress route from our ambush site.)
The death of that young man .. a guy I never particularly liked, but he was MY RESPONSIBILITY ... has been hoovering over me like a ghost for more than 50 years. I'm sure a few folks are like my family members who say things like "That's all past you now, let it go".
And "There's nothing you could have done."
And "How could you have known?"
I should have known.
I fucked up. A fine young man (one that I never particularly liked) is dead because I was so glad to get out of the Heart-Shaped Woods .. a known Booby Trap area ... that I didn't demand that my Platoon Leader take us out on a route that we hadn't used before. A route that the local villagers hadn't seen us use before.
So .. San Francisco Gate!
You fine young folks who have never had a shot fired in anger at you, who have never seen a man killed in anger, who have never had to carry his body home or answer to his family; you who never fired back at your aggressors, who never held the burdon of the life of your friends in your hands.
You're perfectly okay because you don't DO that shit!
What would you do if you were drafted into the military, and were forced into that situation?
Would you, on your return to The Real World, be quite as vociferous about guns (which allow you to return fire when fired upon, and probably break up the aggressive intents of your attackers)?
Would you believe that guns have no valid purpose in the world, after you have been fired upon and used a gun to stop the really really bad guys from shooting at you and your friends?
You do realize that bad guys will shoot at you for no reason that you would understand, right?
And maybe you even have spent some time thinking about what you would do to defend yourself when bad guys are attacking you.
I'm 72 years old; I can't defend myself in a fist fight any more.
But I go to the range every week, and I can pull a trigger MUCH more consistently than I could when I was in a foreign war zone.
Now the war zone is HERE. And anybody who doesn't understand the violence which is being directed toward our nation and our citizens ... is living in a dream world which has no connection with reality.
I do realize that many of you cannot accept my narrative of my friend Mosier (who I didn't like all that much anyway, but he was in my platoon). And I don't much care what you think. I'm doing you a favor ... I'm educating you about The Real World.
Nobody likes you very much, either.
Especially the guys from ashcanistan who have different beliefs and who believe you are a target, not a person.
So go away and ignore everything I have said, and the world is probably better after you have been blown up by terrorists anyway. If you don't care enough to protect yourself and your family, I don't much care about your own personal genotype.
The world is better off without people who haven't inherited a survival gene.
And even if you ARE paranoid ... that doesn't mean they won't kill you first.