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Poems by Harold A. Paulson

A Small Sampling from Set's #1 and #2

NEW from Hap in 2006 - 2008:

  A disabled German tank almost appears to be saluting a passing M-36 from Spearhead's 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion outside of Langlir, Belgium, on January 13, 1945. The German vehicle is a late-model Mark IV (Pzkpfw IVH medium tank). Signal Corps photo from Jim MacClay, Web Staff.

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What Did You Do in the War, Grandpa?

"Tell me, Grandpa, about the war.
What do you remember the most?"
That stumped me for a little while,
Had it been creamed chipped beef on toast?

Or was it that awful, onerous smell
Of dead, bloated cows in the field?
The seasickness on the USS Shawnee,
A boat ride that still makes me reel.

Was it the bugs and snakes of Louisiana?
The brutal cold, and snow of the Ardenned?
The screaming strafing by Stukas?
The desert heat baking boys into men?

The dead and dying along the roads?
Burned out hulks of trucks and tanks?
Six A.M. and earlier, wake up calls?
They never earned my eternal thanks.

With so many of these bad memories,
Which we must, surely, all recall
It sounds odd that I remember
The GI humor most of all.

For no matter how frightening
Our position might be,
There was always some joker
Sending us spasms of glee.

Our humor was raunchy,
It was gross, it was coarse,
But it revived our spirits
When we thought all was lost.

The cartoons in Yank,
Windy City Kitty, the Sad Sack,
Though double-entendred
Brought our spirits right back.

But the greatest morale boost,
When our spirits were low --
Life never got as bad for us,
As it did for "Willie and Joe."

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I Do Not Like Thee Infantry

I do not like thee, Infantry,
Queen of battles, you may be,
But slogging in mud, is not for me,
So, I do not like you, infantry.

And artillery, you are not my choice,
With your cannonading, booming voice,
That deafens us, and/or worse.
Artillery, you are not my choice.

I do not like thee, either, tanks.
I hate your noisy, smelly ranks.
A sauna in the summer -- cold winter flanks
Armored Corps for me? -- No thanks.

What can I say of engineers?
Building bridges, in swamps up to your ears,
Working 390 days of the year,
I want you not, engineers.

If war again spreads its plight,
I really do not want to fight!
Dear Lord above, I claim the right,
To watch it all on satellite.

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The Liberation Commemoration

The cities in northern Europe
Are planning commemorations,
For five decades of freedom,
And we received invitations.

Preparing for their trip abroad,
To represent our Division,
The committee pondered, very long,
And came to a decision.

They would place a plaque in every town,
Holding a celebration,
To signify that "We remember"
Their day of Liberation.

Then number of plaques, and the cost of each,
Soon stirred up quite a fuss.
One man decried that the other divisions
Had placed their plaques ahead of us.

Then one man stood up, and proclaimed,
In a voice that was quite loud,
His words impressed me, and I thought,
"Abe Lincoln would be proud."

"The land was hallowed, dedicated,
By those of our comrades who fell,
And now lie under crosses
In France, and Henri-La-Chappelle."

Thus spoke this gallant warrior,
Let his words stay in our minds,
There can be no greater memorial.
Than those we left behind!

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I Coulda Been a Contender

Television has fed us a steady diet
Of movies concerning the "War."
The 60th anniversary of "D-Day,"
Pearl Harbor, Korea, and more.

As I watched those actors in green berets,
Led by a guy called "Duke,"
Whose main line was "Let's move 'em out,"
It almost made me puke.

Those guys would work eight hours a day,
Then go home to bed with their wife.
While the GI's slept in foxholes
And had no respite from strife.

I could have spoken the same lines,
Had a nickname like "Prince" or "Earl,"
And ended each day with a starlet,
Some cocktails and a bedroom whirl.

I could have paced the deck of a carrier,
Flown a plane through overcast skies,
Done some magical feats of daring,
That you wouldn't believe your eyes.

I could have portrayed Patton,
A marine on Guadalcanal or Wake,
Then watched my name go up in lights,
And many a bow, I would take.

I could have portrayed anyone,
But, alas, my friends I was shafted...
I coulda been a great war hero,
If only I hadn't been drafted.

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The Army's Secret Weapon

It was late '41, or early '42,
The newspaper headlines blared,
"The U.S. Army has a secret weapon."
I'll bet Adolf Hitler was scared.

The tank destroyers, the papers added,
Will fulfill the army's need.
They'll seek out the enemy, destroy his tanks,
And dazzle him with speed.

I was a tanker with "Hell on Wheels,"
I went to OCS, I was assigned,
Upon graduation, to the Third A.D.
When put in TD's, I didn't mind.

But out there, on the Mojave sands,
I gasped at what I saw.
A French 75, on a half track,
This was not the way to win the war.

This "Secret Weapon," I quickly saw.
Would not stop the "Krauts we were after.
(Unless, we showed them this secret weapon)
And they all died from laughter.

It had no armor, it had no speed,
Its cross-country's maneuvering stank.
The short 75 could knock out a truck,
But, never a "Tiger" tank.

We moved to Virginia, and were re-equipped.
They gave us the new M10's.
It had a three-inch gun, and a lot more speed,
And could travel through marshes and fens.

With this "Secret Weapon," we went into war,
Against light tanks, it was OK,
But when we fired at "Tigers" and "Panthers,"
We only played "Ricochet."

Ordinance gave us the M36,
Near the end of 1944.
With its long-barreled 90, and "souped up" ammo,
We had the TD to win the war.

But, alas my friends, it was the same old tale,
We still couldn't face them "head on."
If we got in a flank shot, they were done,
Hit their front plate, the shell bounced on.

Forty years later, they perfected the weapon,
Four decades, I guess that's the "norm."
But they ultimately got the ideal TD.
In the "Apaches" in Desert Storm.

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The Right the Army Forgot

The Army taught us a lot about "right."
Column right, right oblique, and right flank.
But they didn't tell us about "Right Guard,"
So, at times, we really stank.

The steel helmet, alas, was our bath tub,
And whenever time would permit,
We'd use it to heat up some water
With a rag and soap bathe in it.

This wasn't too bad in the summer,
You could bathe, and dry in the sun,
Or if quartered in some kind of shelter,
You could strip right down to the bun.

But come winter, that cruel winter,
With its cold and snow and sleet,
With only a foxhole to be our abode,
The only thing bathed was our feet.

For a month, the TDs were on roadblocks,
With never a house, shed, or barn.
To give us relief, from that cold biting wind,
We had no chance for a bath, nice and warm.

None of my platoon became "prisoners of war."
The reason for that, there's no doubt,
Had any German called out, "Hande Hoch,"
The arm pit odor would have knocked him out.

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War & Computers - Both are Hell

A few days before Christmas
My oldest son sent to me,
A present I thought I wanted,
A computer ... a Dell PC.

I looked forward with anticipation
To contacting neighbors and kin,
Swapping tales with the guys of the 703rd
And exaggerations with 3rd Armored men.

I removed the typewriter from my desk,
And uncrated the boxes on the floor,
But, the desk provided too little room,
I would need a few feet more.

Then a kindly neighbor told me
She had a table she didn't use.
If I wanted it, I could have it.
So, how could I refuse?

Then, on the second day, I assembled
Computer, printer, and screen,
But they didn't provide a printer cable,
So I had to dig deep in my jeans.

Radio Shack took me for seventy bucks,
But I finally was able to grin,
For years I assembled toys for my kids.
So, now, at last, I was in.

But then on the third day.
I sat down, with pain on my face,
I had almost gotten a hernia,
Trying to put the screen on its base.

I turned on the power and got a blank screen.
I called my son for advice.
He told me, "something is not plugged in."
I said, I checked it twice.

But sure enough, I found it,
A plug caught under the screen.
I was aching, mad, frustrated,
My Christmas spirit was "mean."

At last it worked. No problem.
I thought I was doing just fine,
Until a computer literate asked me,
If Verizon upgraded my line?

So I called and got an upgrade
For twenty bucks they'd sent to me,
A gizmo for when I was using the computer,
That would keep my phone line free.

I feverishly worked to get on line,
By now, it was Christmas Eve,
And I thought I might send out greetings.
What a fool I was to believe.

Christmas came, and Christmas went,
I thought my brain would bust
Though I'd read "PC for Dummies,"
All I had was more things to dust.

Then, a neighbor's son, on a visit,
Said "Hap, let me take a look"
He spent most of Monday morning
Hitting keys that were not in the book.

He explained all the things in the windows,
Then he said, I was on my own,
The computer's connected, go use it.
I was left to go it alone.

I tried to dial up a bridge game,
Or play a hand of solitaire.
All I got was advertisements
To buy games that were not there.

I tried to dial up some music,
And I got frustrated again.
The only things on the menu,
Were hip-hop or Eminem.

My e-mails were mounting daily.
There were twelve in less than a week
But when I clicked in, I got windows
But none with the things that I seek.

My sister returned from vacation.
She said use the left clicker twice.
Then there was the window with e-mail.
My feeling was turning to nice.

I emptied out the mail box,
Even sent out a message or two.
I thought I had mastered my PC.
That shows how little I knew.

I still can not log on to,
Which was my primary chore.
Getting the hang of this computer, I fear,
Will last longer than the War.

I have not reached the twelfth day of Christmas,
Dear friends, I just lasted one week.
Now I'm tired, frustrated, frantic.
Late at night, I wake up to shriek.

So you'll have to excuse my mistakes here,
Those errors you find in this prose.
Since they put the straitjacket on me,
I am forced to type with my nose.

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We Need a New Memorial

I just returned from our reunion,
In Washington, D.C.
It's a city full of memorials,
To honor folks like you and me.

Tribute is paid to the Air Force,
The Seabees and the Marines.
Vets from the war in Korea,
Vietnam and other scenes.

We honor the women who went to war,
And those who stayed behind,
And the National cemetery at Arlington,
Is a reminder for all mankind.

Please don't think we have enough now,
I'd like to add two more,
To the paraplegics, the blind, the lame,
All those invalids from the war.

I'd place one on the White House lawn,
And one on Capitol Hill,
A gruesome reminder to politicos
Of those men still paying the bill.

It would have a wheelchair and crutches,
A cane for those who are blind,
A hospital bed from a burn unit
And orthopedics of every kind.

I'd place one so that the PRESIDENT,
When he arose each morn,
Would get a reminder from it,
Of the load these men have borne.

And the one up at the Capitol,
As an inscription would have this plea,
"The next time you declare war,
Enlist yourselves, but don't send me."

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Good Conduct Ribbon

As I approach the big nine - oh,
I fear I haven't long to go.
I survived the depression, a couple of wars,
Had days of hunger, and feasts galore.

I had a wonderful wife, and raised three boys,
Experienced sorrows and also joys.
My life was full, but I must insist,
And yet there's something that I missed.

The Lieutenant said, "A model soldier you must be."
That struck a funny chord with me.
"A model," I replied while smirking,
"Is a small imitation of the real thing."

The rest of my outfit made quite a sight,
The bars on their chests gleamed red and white.
The "Good Conduct ribbon" shining there,
Alas, my friends, my chest was bare.

I was a great soldier, I'm not fibbin',
But I never got a Good Conduct ribbon.
I missed out, friends, and it makes me sad,
To think the army thought I was bad.

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