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Semper Fi Rodney Watson - The Duke Of Earl

Updated on June 10, 2011

He was the Duke of Earl,

From Baltimore.

And I wish we could sing,

The “Duke of Earl, once more.

It was Camp Carroll,

Where I met the Duke of Earl.

He led us to sing in harmony.

We’d talk of home and a girl.

Have you returned from Vietnam yet?

I considered you so wise.

But when I saw you last,

The light was gone from your eyes.

Could we ever forget,

In a million years and a day,

We were young soldiers,

With orders to obey?

Let’s sing the “Duke of Earl”.

I’ll be your back-up, you sing lead,

And we’ll bring everyone,

Up to speed.

It was just another Chopper ride,

But never this far west.

We may as well pray,

Get more stuff off our chests.

Where did we go?

We don’t really know.

We belong to the long list,

Of “don’t need to know”.

Not a word.

Stare. Say a prayer.

Men are stone,

It may all end in the air.

We have only the clue,

“We’ve never been here before”.

As butts are clinched,

On the chopper’s floor.

We’re usually not in the fire,

As choppers set us down.

A field of fire and landing zone,

Are carved on the ground.

We’re off the bird,

As others land,

And they get off,

As fast as they can.

Down this peak,

To another river of creeks,

And rapids are formed,

From drops and leaks.

Unlock and unload,

And put the safeties on.

Hold rifles across the stream,

Or down the rapids you’re gone.

Boot camp memories return,

So many things it teaches,

Like Marines are their brothers keepers,

Who pick off each others leeches.

Walk point.

Go where no man has gone before.

Lock and load.

Take the safety off once more.

Davis, you and Watson,

Go back to the rear.

Help those you can,

Then return here.

There may be casualties,

Find out, come back.

Leave everything heavy,

Especially your pack.

It’s been an endless stream,

This battalion of men.

And darkness and fatigue,

Must put this search to an end.

Voices in the dark,

A rifle’s spark,

A dive into water,

Just another walk in the park.

Snipers and firefights,

Are plenty and too many,

Friendly fire,

Is as deadly as any.

I’m immersed in water,

As a thought runs to me.

Did the shot miss,

Or go right through me?

Thanks for not killing us.

Are there any Marines behind?

Are you the last?

What else will we find?

There may still be Marines.

Some injured were taken back.

Not knowing for certain,

Rodney and I backtrack.

Danger overcomes the darkness.

We will wait for light.

And we’ll wait out the night,

To live for another day to fight.

Wet clothes, jungle boots,

Flack-jacket, M16.

No C-Rations,

Not a bean.

Wet cigarettes,

Are hard to light,

And very hazardous to health,

When smoked at night.

On a rock,

In the middle of a rapid stream,

We settled for the night,

Per-chance to dream.

Soft drinks and ice-cream,

Run through my head,

As I toss and turn,

On this hard rock bed.

Between a rock and a hard place,

What is there to hold dear?

But thoughts of “what if Bette,

Or my family were here?”

There are trials to prove,

What we are and what we’re not.

Like here in Laos between,

A rock and a hard spot.

We’ll start out just before dawn,

While everything is dark.

After all,

It’s just another walk in the park.

We’re just two guys,

Trying to gain back some ground,

Give us two steps Charles,

And we’re out of town.

Our battalion,

Was leaving a trail behind.

C4, a mortar round, a 45 pistol,

Were among things we would find.

As quiet as two Marines in Laos,

Away we tore,

We hopped skipped and jumped,

As the rain began to pour.

And what’s the proper way,

To catch a battalion of grunts?

For the last of the battalion,

Hunts the hunter who hunts.

We track and seek our own.

And to what sounds up ahead,

Do we identify ourselves,

And not lose our heads?

We have to know without doubt.

Furtively we near.

And when we’re sure,

That they can hear,

“God bless America!

...................................Semper Fi!

Duke, Duke, Duke,

...............................Duke of Earl

Duke, Duke

......................Duke of Earl

Duke, Duke

......................Duke of Earl

Duke, Duke

As I

......walk through this world,

Nothing can stop

.............................the Duke of Earl.”

But that story and song,

......................................go on and along.

I just wish you, Rodney,

........................................would finish the song.

Yo Rodney, if I looked in your eyes,

Opened wide,

Would you be there,

On the other side?

Smile at me Rodney.

Show me that “grin within”.

Tell me, “This is another fine mess,

You’ve gotten me in.”

Show off that gold tooth.

I’d love to see that gold star.

It’s another unique feature,

That says who you are.

Let’s sing a bit,

Play some “whist”.

Tell some lies,

About girls we kissed.

Rodney Brother Man,

Did you make it back to the world?

I’ll know, for sure, if I hear,

The Duke of Earl.

God bless Brother Rodney,

~Micky Dee~

The Duke of Earl-Gene Chandler!


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    • mckbirdbks profile image


      6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I have been on Hubpages for 17 months now; this is still the best piece of writing that I have come across.

    • jandee profile image


      6 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Well Micky you certainly came back with a huge piece of Beautiful and emotional writing. So pleased to see you back,keep well.

      best from jand....

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      6 years ago

      Thank you very much.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Micky,

      This is the third poem I have read and the first that I can leave a comment on. All three pieces have left me feeling profoundly grateful to have been introduced to your work.

      Your experiences have provided you with an amazing clarity and perspective. Your writing 'cuts to the chase' amidst all the nonsense of our society, honing in on what is truly important.

      I cannot remember seeing a more poignant YouTube than the "1 Marine vs 30 Cops" in your recent hub (I Almost Became an Atheist Today). That was 5 solid minutes of tears for sure at the outrageous indignity of stupid authority, of which I am too sadly aware for completely differing reasons.

      I wish you so much peace this season. Not to be forward, I offer you a 'virtual hug' for the service and bravery you have given to our country and 'I' am so very sorry for the shitty way that Veterans in general are treated in our country. Some nurses 'are' very good to our men and women and I only pray that you find them in your future care... keep taking care of yourself and fighting for the tests and treatment that you absolutely deserve.

      The drug I would prescribe for you is a little pill called 'kindness and tenderness'. Hugs, mar.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I Voted this 'Most Awesome Hub' today.

    • Mimi721wis profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful Mickey. I enjoy your reading your hubs so much.

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago of my great highlights over the past year Sir Dee

      was meeting you - I admire and look up to you so much - and my life has become a reward with you in it.

      You have such a first class wit and your writing comes from that pure noble heart of yours - there is only one Micky Dee and I love the man! Signed your beautiful mess of a friend , Sunday 8:59am by Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      Chilling and real. Thank you for bringing this compelling poem about an amazing time shared. The two of you share a bond beyond time, I think.

    • Fossillady profile image


      7 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Martie said it so well...the physical wounds may heal, but never those of the mind and spirit! This was our generation and all of us need to be reminded of the good men and women who suffer intimately the wounds of the Viet Nam Ugly War! For whatever reason Micky, God has granted you an important role! Good day my friend

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Duke of Earl as well as your poem emits sadness. It is an indisputable fact that the physical wounds afflicted by wars may heal, but never those of the mind and spirit. Take care!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Great hub in your own unique style.

      I vote up and here's to many more hubs to share.

      Take care


    • Sa`ge profile image


      7 years ago from Barefoot Island

      Bobbi is right I wonder the same thing, when will everyone say NO! and not show up! It is past time ..... no more broken people PLEASE! love U Michael ~hugs~

    • nakhit_x profile image


      7 years ago from Bahrain

      great poetry thank you for shairing this with us

    • acaetnna profile image


      7 years ago from Guildford

      A wonderful tribute Micky. Up and pressing those buttons as always!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      So sad and chillingly realistic, Micky. Hope Rodney is in a better place. Beautifully written - voted up.

    • BobbiRant profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Will a generation ever learn to say 'no'? When will they throw a war and no one show up? All questions asked by too many generations, I suppose. Beautiful tribute, beautiful hub, beautiful human being. *hugs* and Blessings to you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      There are no words to tell you how special I think this poem is. I have heard so many stories from my husband that served in Vietnam and yes he was in Laos also. I also lost several friends I grew up with. Your words spoke something so real and meaningful to me and they certainly are a fine tribute to your friend. God Bless you.

    • profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      7 years ago


      What a beautiful poem and tribute to the men who were your brothers during that awful war! My husband & I are the same age, and graduated HS in 1973. He was classified and would have had to go, but then the war stopped. At least officially. I didn't know him then. I am grateful for good people like you who are here to tell us what you went through. If only our stupid government would listen, or go do the dirty work themselves, wars could stop for good. Bless you my friend.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      And what’s the proper way,

      To catch a battalion of grunts?

      For the last of the battalion,

      Hunts the hunter who hunts.

      Very powerfully said.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I've been to "The Wall." We went there so that Dad could see the name of one particular guy that he'd been friends with.

      My hometown, Kaufman, Texas - is now the home of what used to be the Travelling Vietnam Memorial Wall. It's a 3/4 size replica of the real one. I don't know how we got to have that, but we do.

      Wish you were around here today, I'd share some of East Texas finest with you.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Never thought 'The Duke Of Earl' would sound so beautiful, used to love the song and still do.

      Memories, i guess they never really go away

      No mater how far we travel

      Memories are here to stay

      This was a story told so well

      Of fear and courage

      That only you can tell.

      God Bless you Micky

      Thank you

    • sligobay profile image


      7 years ago from east of the equator

      "...nothing can stop me now" cuz i'm the DOE: Great tribute to a friend. Love the tune. Thanks.

    • vietnamvet68 profile image


      7 years ago from New York State

      A beautiful tribute brother man, So many memories Micky how can we forget those buddies we had and especially the ones that wee left behind.

      God Bless

    • justom profile image


      7 years ago from 41042

      Shame on those who still choose to call it a "conflict", it disrespects all who lost their lives. You can call "shell shocked" PTSD but it doesn't change the reality.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I lost a lot of friends in the Viet Nam Conflict. Great poem.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      7 years ago from Great Britain

      Oh , you´ve got me crying again. Not only because l feel so much for all of you who suffered Vietnam but the WAY you wrote this was so moving.

      l don´t know how you do it , but you reach my heart with you poetry like no-one else can.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Very well done. A fine tribute.

    • Sa`ge profile image


      7 years ago from Barefoot Island

      My first husband served four tours, It does not end whether in Nam or Iran or Pakistan. is it truly necessary? Peace and Blessings~ Love you Michael : hugs :

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Chilling write Mickey Dee. I graduated from a small high school class. It got smaller in 70, 71, 72.

      You've written a beautiful piece here.

    • justom profile image


      7 years ago from 41042

      Brother for the first time just yesterday I looked at the registry of guys from my home town who didn't get back. I'd heard about a couple of them but didn't want to believe it until yesterday and it was with a very heavy heart I found the truth. I've been to the wall in D.C. and I really can't think of anyplace that broke me down more. Peace to you Rodney and all our brothers that had to deal with that war. Tom (Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl :-)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Nice hearing The Duke of Earl again. Your memories of Viet Nam are as searing as ever...hardly "a walk in the park." Up and awesome!

    • Poohgranma profile image


      7 years ago from On the edge

      says so much ... Gob Bless you Michael

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      7 years ago

      Micky this is a wonderful tribute to your friend about a very solemn time. This is especially touching to me as my son-in-law is off to Afghanistan one month from today.

      I hadn't heard "The Duke of Earl" in ages, but I remembered every word. Thank you for a beautiful, heartfelt poem and a stroll down memory lane. up/awesome and beautiful

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Great write 50


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