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Wallowa Gal: She had his six

Published on October 31, 2017 2:45PM

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Vietnam Veteran Richard Stickroth and Brownie.

Submitted photo Vietnam Veteran Richard Stickroth and Brownie.

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In spite of my efforts to become a Wallowa Gal, my Southern roots make occasional appearances.

A fundraiser was held during summer to build a shed for Vietnam Marine Joe Lewellyn in Joseph. Money was raised, the shed is completed and now shelters his new Action Trackchair. Joe is tickled happy.

We are now putting together a Chili Feed for Veterans Saturday, Nov. 11. Chow will be served 11:30 a.m. at The Place (next to Joseph United Methodist Church), 303 S. Lake Street. With seating limited to 100 people, we are selling tickets for $10 each for sponsors and friends of veterans to purchase and then give to their favorite veterans.

These funds will help pay for the event and future activities for local veterans.

Free tickets are available for veterans and their families, veteran widows and parents at Community Bank branches in Wallowa, Enterprise and Joseph. Tickets may be purchased at The Bookloft in Enterprise. Other locations may be posted on Facebook.

The Southern roots thing comes in because we’re serving Texas chili, which means no beans. I didn’t realize this could be an issue until after the Wallowa County Stockgrowers Association agreed to donate the ground beef. Oh, well. Still learning. So if veterans are brave enough to try something different ... y’all come.

Arion Canniff (co-owner with wife Amy Wolf of the new Dog Spot going in at the former Silver Lake Bistro location) is cooking. “Homemade Jam” is playing. And friends are stepping up to serve. We’re looking forward to a community-wide expression of “welcome home” to our veterans.

The following poem is posted on my blog. Feel free to share it as a gift to your favorite veteran for Veterans Day:

She Had His Six

“She’s yours, not mine” He was gruff to say of the pup squirming in my arms. But she won him over With soft brown eyes. Her honesty was her charm.

A cellophane pop. The grab of his cap. It was time to have a smoke. She stood at the door. To the sacred porch. Then she gave his leg a poke.

How often I gazed through the curtained glass at the two who were now a pair. Not a word was said. Not a move was made. But I saw the thousand yard stare

Without a sound he told her of The Hueys that swarmed like bees. The tracers of light. The ear-numbing booms. The blood, the cries and the screams.

“We didn’t have friends. Just ‘Buddy’ would do,” He told his little girl. She wiggled her tail and nudged his hand. His fingers would then unfurl.

By then I ran to the kitchen sink pretending I didn’t know she was on his six in the places where his wife was forbidden to go.

And now he lies on a hospice bed. Agent Orange counts the rise of his chest. She nuzzles his hand on top of her head. Too soon is his final breath.

She had his six like no one did. He was safe with her along. His little girl dog. Her mission complete. She trailed him all the way home.

Katherine Stickroth is a freelance writer who blogs at awallowagal.com.


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