John A. Ward

He claimed the West Coast franchise. After we parted company, I decided to annex the East. That way the tradition could be passed on forever, like the Phantom or the Dread Pirate Roberts. That is how human heroes become immortal.

I met him in Officer Basic School at Quantico. In an assault, when other Marines were yelling "Here's one for Mother!" or "Semper Fi!" or their version of a "Yeeehaa!" rebel yell, Aaron would cut loose with an enthusiastic "Whoooopeee!"

On weekends, we drove to Fredericksburg where Mary Washington, the women's college, was located. Campus protocol required that anyone calling for an M. W. lady be wearing a suit coat to enter the dormitory. Aaron had an old corduroy jacket that he kept in his sea bag for just that purpose. Every Sunday night he would stuff it to the bottom and every Friday evening he would fish it out. It was wrinkled beyond the wildest aspirations of prunedom, but he liked it.

He never had trouble entering the dorm, although the dorm mother looked at him with a squinty eye, and he never had trouble getting a date. It was his attitude that charmed the Southern ladies. They were woozy after a taste of his insouciance. He was fun to be with and when we were living with a gnat swarm of petty rules and the specter of war half a world away, anarchy was an attribute to be cherished.

First published: May 2005
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