Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“Night Patrol”: New Poem from WWII Veteran Erwin A. Thompson

My father, 91, emailed a new poem this morning. He said:

"I couldn't sleep last night after reading the disabled veteran's magazine, so I wrote the night vigil poem. Moral: Don't read the Disabled American Veteran's magazine just before you go to bed. Those memories were just too real."

You should know that "Tiger" was my Dad's nickname in World War II. Erwin A. Thompson earned the Combat Infantry Badge, and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained near Stohlburg, Germany. He also received the Silver Star for "Gallantry in action above the call of duty," in this same contact with the opposing forces.

NIGHT PATROL
by Sergeant Erwin A. Thompson
"I" Company, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, First Army.

To my foxhole buddy, September 1944,
twelve miles from Aachen, Germany.

The clock hands point to midnight,
And somewhere the hour chimes.
And my weary heart remembers,
Turning back the page of time.

You hear the big guns, as they fire
With their batteries of four--
And you hear the self-same cadence
With the missiles passing o'er.

And you cannot help but wonder,
How close is judgment day?
As you hear the four explosions,
In Aachen, twelve miles away.

And then, of course, it's not one-sided,
The bullets and the flak--
Our biggest personal worry
Were the ones a'comin' back!

So we're sittin' in this foxhole,
"De-Luxe", dug deep, and covered, too.
Our mission was to tell them
When the tanks came charging through.

My foxhole buddy could have been
The model for cartoons we often find,
Forty pounds too much, flat feet,
And completely night blind.

But he had other things--more valuable by far--
Loyalty, and courage bright.
We were relaxed, and fairly comfortable,
As we shared the vigil of the night.

And then he came out with this gem,
Completely out of the blue--
"Tiger, I feel safe
When I'm in a foxhole with you."

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