By Lance Corporal Michael P. Prikril
Dang Ha, Vietnam
June 10, 1969
We sit in a circle
At the end of each day
It sure was a hot one
That’s what we always say
We scrounge up some soda
Hoping it’s cold
Then talk of our past
The same story told
Of Mom and of Sis
Standing on the porch
And always of girlfriends
Carrying the torch
This is our joy
Simple it may be
If you can’t understand it
It’s because you’re not we
“THE SILVER GHOST,
By Sergeant George W. Henley
Corsair F4U-1, the Silver Ghost
I saw this old beat up Corsair,
There at Eniweotok Atoll;
On an island called Engebi,
As I took my daily stroll.
And beneath that cripples Corsair’s wing,
A Marine mechanic stood;
I asked if it could fly again;
He said “I’m sure it could.
He said the Corsair had a past,
They placed her here, to rest at last;
But I could see her, now and then,
Flown hard and fast, by gallant men.
He said “with some effort and tender care,
This bird could be flying in the air”.
I could see fullment of my dream,
In this old plane, with silver sheen.
He said the plane had served its time,
And now deserved a rest;
But I knew this plane was searching,
For someone to put her to the test.
They had stripped away her coat of blue,
Her hull took on a silver hue;
I knew this plane could fly real fast,
I’d found my perfect plane at last.
We both agreed to spend our time,
To clean off all the dirt and grime;
I know she is ready, and wants to fly,
I promised she would as time goes by.
He tuned her engine to the nth degree,
The rest he said, was up to me;
I spent long hours to wax her wings,
And clean up all the little things.
Several older pilots came by to gape,
Some climbed upon her wing;
Then they all remarked the very same,
“This bird is sure a pretty thing”.
Some pilots came by asked to take her up,
But they had said she’d never fly;
So I said “No thanks, she is my girl”,
And now its time to do or die.
There was a lot they never knew,
My silver Corsair, once was blue;
She was a gallant bird, and ready to fly,
And with a little urging, so was I.
One shot was fired and her engine started,
And I heard its mighty roar;
She was telling me, she is ready now,
It’s the right time for us to soar.
I taxied her over, to the end of the strip,
We started to roll, she’s a beautiful ship;
I gave her full throttle, and she picked up speed,
I pulled back on the stick, that’s all she did need.
Now we’re clear of the strip, and climbing fast,
I now have a new friend, with a glorious past;
I held the throttle forward, to check her on top speed;
I found she has a lot more, than I would ever need.
Then we flew back to Engebi, I took her in to land,
When we finally reached our tie down space;
They all gave the Silver Ghost a hand,
The old Silver Ghost, they once despised;
After just one flight, was idolized.
The guys at R & R re-installed her guns,
They knew this lady was back making runs;
The Colonel came to me, said “I’ve something to say,
You and your silver Corsair, will lead the strike today”.
The Colonel never knew all the facts,
That this would be my first bombing run;
But with my trust in the “Silver Ghost,”
I knew it would be fun.
When the strike was over, and we went into land,
All the off duty pilots gave us a big hand;
My Corsair flew circles around the Colonel’s Hell Cat,
So I kidded the Colonel, “What do you think of that”?
I’ll never forget that beautiful plane,
I’m going home, I must say adieu;
And that was the end of the “Silver Ghost”,
They gave her a new coat of blue.
Each time I see a Corsair,
With its gull wings flying by;
My thoughts go back to the “Silver Ghost”,
And a tear comes to my eye.
She handled well, and flew so fast,
She finally found her place at last;
Another man had flown her fast and far,
For the last air battle of the war.
The Marines had landed on Okinawa’s shore.
So this gal of mine racks up her score;
With a gallant man to set the pace,
The old “Silver Ghost” made him an ace.
Now, each time I see a Corsair flying by,
I see a “Silver Ghost” there in the sky;
She dips her wings as if to say;
“I know your here, for me today”.
When I first saw my Corsair friend,
She had flown her last, it seemed;
But with a lot of love, and some hard work,
The Ghost had been redeemed.
I took my wife to a Marine Air Show,
And met a pilot, I used to know;
He spoke of things, we used to do,
Before the Silver Ghost was painted blue.
These poems are from “Poems by Marines in Combat” by Nancie Sexton. Nancie is the daughter of a Marine Korean War Veteran, she collected poems which were written by Marines while they were in combat. The book includes poems written during World War I through to the Gulf War. Find out more about this book, which recently won an award from the Marine Corp Heritage Foundation, at www.po emsincombat.com.