Danny stared with disbelief as he watched him run through the minefield, with stray bullets whistling past his tattered uniform, and touch triggered explosives blanketing the jungle floor. In his heart he knew it was the end, yet he still tried to get up and run after him or call out to him but the platoon held him back, keeping him in check with the terrifying reality that stood before him. Danny peaked out of the mud to see what had happened and saw the men dragging the soldier through the mud and into the back of a stolen U.S. PR truck. He had always heard the gut wrenching stories of being a POW but now his fellow soldier would experience them firsthand. He couldn’t let it happen, Danny was ready to do whatever he had to, to save his friend.
* * *
It was June 6th, 1969. There were about 500 people packed like sardines into the rotting wood bleachers of the Breckenridge High School football field in western Kentucky. It was graduation night; you could feel the joy of the crowd and students as it floated in the air like a cloud of happiness over the people. Danny was sitting 10 rows back from the front, where he waited patiently and watched as his classmates walked onto the stage, shook a couple clammy hands and received their high school diplomas, their tickets to the real world. James was sitting 3 rows in front of Danny and couldn’t help from turning around to show his excitement to Danny every couple minutes.
Danny and James had known each other since they were little boys, both living on big family ranches. James’ parents were very well known throughout Breckenridge because of their irreplaceable skill for training horses to compete in the world famous Kentucky Derby.
Danny on the other hand grew up a bit less fortunate that James. Danny’s dad Frank was seen as the town drunk and was known to go out on drunken escapades around the town at least monthly. Danny’s mother Dorothy was a genuine person from the inside out and loved Danny more than anything in her life but she didn’t control him or his father. It was almost like Dorothy was permanently scared of all men, when Danny was a young boy, Frank used to get all liquored up and beat Danny until there wasn’t much more he could do and Dorothy would just ignore it by going into the other room. Maybe it’s not her fault but how she watched that happen is beyond me.
Both the boys were good kids in high school. They both got as good of grades as anyone else at Breckenridge High. Both James and Danny played varsity football and were captains of the team, Danny played linebacker and James unsurprisingly played Quarter Back.
After trudging across the graduation stage, and struggling through the congratulations, the boys headed to their own homes for a quaint and relaxed night with their families now that high school was officially over. James walked in the door of his country ranch to see a letter where his dinner would normally be sitting at the table.