Semper Fi
Bubba, Age 15, Ashburn, VA


Allen Matthews still couldn’t get the sound of the explosion out of his head. Even after a month of trying to recover in the infirmary, he could still see his comrade's eyes as they lost their sheen, lost the gleam that gave them life. Michael Hannam’s voice still rang in his ears as he spoke his final words to his partner, his comrade, and more importantly, his friend.

“Semper fi…Semper fi.”

Tears rolled down Allen’s face, his mouth forming the words as he heard them.

“Semper fi…Semper fi,” Allen said.

Always faithful, as the Romans said, Allen continued to repeat his motto. He had always wondered why the corp. had chosen that saying, Semper Fidelus, as their motto. Now after seeing the heat of the battle, the torment of the war, and the damage of the battlefield, he knew. He knew that even after the battle, even after all the blood and gore witnessed on the battlefield, he knew he would always be faithful to his country. This had taken Allen much time reasoning and pondering to figure out.

However, no matter what else he thinks about, he will always remember how Michael died that day in Korea.

It all started like a typical day. Michael and Allen woke up in the barracks, went and ate breakfast, when they heard that the Korean army was advancing toward their base.

As they got ready, Michael pulled out his photo of his wife, Michele. He stared at her face lovingly. He was going to go home to her in a week. After a few minutes, he put the picture inside his vest and continued to prepare.

In a matter of hours, the Koreans had reached the battlefield. The two armies stood still for several seconds, sizing up their opponents. Fingers were twitching on the triggers of their guns, itching to get this battle over with. New recruits silently perspired, praying mutely to ensure their survival. Everyone was waiting for another to make the first move, to dare start a battle. Finally, the first shots of the battle cracked through the silent sky. The soldiers on both sides gave a brief jolt as their senses were awakened. Many more shots echoed after the first, making it seemingly impossible to decipher any other sounds. Eventually, the shouts of those wounded added their sounds to the mix. Allen and Michael lost each other in the heat of the battle, traversing to different ends of the battlefield, looking for enemies to vanquish, their faces damp from the torrential downpour.

After what had seemed like hours, Allen was retreating back to their base, looking to get some more artillery, his suit muddy from the action. As he neared the base, he saw Michael running towards there, as well. They arrived at the base together, their eyes meeting briefly. Allen grabbed an armful of grenades and handed some to Michael. Allen was throwing a couple of grenades into the middle of the struggle, when it happened.


Allen screamed as the explosion shot shrapnel into his calf muscle, tearing the muscle viciously. As he fell to the earth, he saw Michael in a muddy heap on the ground, his body mangled from the explosion. Allen swiftly crawled over to his friend, and grasped his hand firmly, trying to hold onto his friend’s life as well. Michael had been destroyed; his legs were broken and cut open, pouring out blood onto the battlefield, mixing ruby red with the muddy brown. However, he was still holding on; Allen could see it in his eyes. Michael had not yet given up on life. His efforts went in vain, as, little by little, his eyes lost their shine. Looking his friend in the eye, Michael used his dying breath to utter his final words: “Semper fi…Semper fi.” Seconds later, Michael’s hand went limp, like a wet tree after a gust of wind, and lying next to him was the picture of his wife, quickly dampening in the rain.

Allen came rushing back to the present, tears dampening his clothes. It turns out that the grenade he handed Michael had already been activated, and it went off before he could throw it. The explosion had driven Allen close to insanity ever since.


His face, perpetually moist ever since the cruel battle, hardened as he realized how harsh fate could be. Michael, who never hurt or offended anyone, never did drugs, did no wrong, and was going home to his loving wife, was the one who was taken. It could have easily been Allen who had picked the grenade, and Michael in the hospital bed, their roles reversed.

But Allen soon realized that it had been Michael’s time. One day, Allen would answer the call and death would speak to him. Everyone and everything will one day come to an end, and it will be their time.

A couple of days after Michael’s death, the doctors took Allen to see his friend’s body. Shocked at his friend’s frozen body, Allen realized that he had never said any last words to his comrade. Sitting there stone silent, Allen reached into his pocket, pulled out the picture of Michele, and placed it in between Michael’s hands. Staring at his best friend, he whispered his chosen words.

“Semper fi…Semper fi.”

And from that day forward, Allen always remained faithful to Michael Hannam.

Home | Read | Write | Copyright | Privacy

This page was last updated on April 04, 2010 by the KIWW Webmaster.