Tribute From Jim Petty In Memory Of His Two Friends

     This tribute made its way to this page by way of an email received from former Alpha Company Commander 1st Lt. J.R. Petty
26 July 2001  

 1stLt. Latimer Jr. Richard E.   Tinker AFB, OK
02 Dec 1968  Alpha Company  37W    23

1stLt. Myllymaki, III Carl W.     Westerly,  RI
02 Oct 1968   Echo Company  42W  63

I find it astounding that so many of us who would have had nothing to do with God over thirty years ago have been found by him and enlisted into his service.  I wonder often why, for instance, my two best friends, 1st Lts Bud Myllymaki and Rich Latimer were killed and I was not.  I told Jan Myllymaki, Bud's widow, just this last Feb. that in some ways I felt like the old fella at the end of the movie, "Saving Private Ryan". When kneeling at the grave of his rescuer, the now aged Ryan said something to the effect. "I hope I have lived well."  I am not ashamed to say that I am now close to being overcome with emotion, tears filling my eyes---"Bud, Rich, I hope I have lived well for both of your sakes."  Perhaps those of us who came back have made a small difference--if not in our own generation then perhaps in the one following us.  I hope so.

When I received word that Bud had been killed in action I sat in the livingroom of my apartment in San Clemente for hours just holding the letter.  The apartment grew dark but I couldn't move I just continued to sit there--you know the routine---"If I had been there--If only I had been there."  I had rotated home 40 days earlier.  The really crazy thing is that over the years everytime Marines have been involved in some kind of hostile action and some have been killed I have reacted in the same way.  I was outraged by what happened in Beruit--no excuse for that to have happened.  Those men never should have ben billeted in the manner that they were.

Jan gave me a picture of Bud and me--the only one I have of the two of us together.  It sits on my desk two feet away from me.

Rich's parents had sent a box of his clothes to my parents home to wait for his arrival.  He had bought a new Corvette and was going to pick it up and drive back to Oklahoma.  I was to come up that next weekend to spend some time with him---I will never forget my Dad's call---"Rich's parents called, he was killed--he's not coming.

We all have too many stories like that--some happened while we were there others after we came home.  I honestly don't know which was worse.  I hated the solitary grief that I experienced back home.

Semper Fi and God Bless  


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