Kwajalein is located in the Central Pacific Ocean,
about 2,500 miles west of Hawaii and 1,500 miles
east of Guam

Bones In The Sand

Doc was stationed on the Island of Kwajalein in WWII
and still sees bones in the sand.


Today is as bright

As the darkness of night;

When the moon fails to shine

And heaviness is mine!


No hope can be seen

And companions are mean;

The Wilderness is calling

And bivouacking is appalling!


Today's "camel-ride" is hard,

With no music from a bard;

No sweet birds are singing;

No fragrance the breeze is bringing!


Like a picture-puzzle unfinished,

The burdensome load undiminished;

Whose bones are these in the sand?

They are the bones of a Japanese man!


This is an island

Of strange sounding name;

The stench of death

Is ever the same!


Bones lie in the sand.

That were once part of man;

Yesterday he walked upright,

But gave up the ghost last night!


Guns and bullets robbed him of life.

I wonder, had he a wife?

Will she learn how he died?

He'll never know how she cried!


War is HELL: blood and guts!

Come on soldiers; move your butts!

Stand up and meet the foe,

For one of you has to go!


The sands will catch us

When we fall

And the sands sucks

Up one and all!


Does the sand absorb the soul

As well as life's blood,

When a barrage of shrapnel

Comes in like a flood?


The word is out that

Japan lost 4,000 today;

Their bones lie about

In hap-hazard array!


The decade of the forties,

When airmen flew sorties

Over the Isle of Kwajalein;

I close my eyes but bones are still seen!


It's not the sight

So much as the stench,

For it hangs heavy

Over many a trench!


A Japanese anchor

Marks the spot

Where 4,000 are buried

After being shot!


I remember the Jap

Anti-aircraft gun,

With wheels and all,

On the beach in the sun!


How many planes

Did this gun bring low,

The warm waters alone

Know where they go?


No sand to receive them

Where they fall;

Not a soul to hear them

When they call!


No trees left at all,

On Kwajalein where they fall;

No one to mourn the loss,

At so great a cost!


How many of us are left

With over a thousand a day

Of World War Two vets,

Just wasting away?


Yet we remember the sands

Of far away lands

Where bones mark the place

Of the Japanese Race!


After all these years

The memory brings tears

To the eyes of all

Who remember their fall!


War has come to an end

And the foe is a friend!

The thought comes to me,

Have the bones vanished in the sea?


If only bones could talk,

And stand up and walk,

What would they say

On Kwajalein's Isle today?


Will the memory turn loose

Of the day and the night,

When foe met foe,

And many met fright?


Are the hearts still empty

When loved ones in homes,

Received no dog tags,

Not even their bones?


Has the island grown trees,

And grasses covered the sod,

Where brave men died,

Known only to God?


My daughter e-mailed me

Just a few days ago,

Asking about what beauty

The Pacific Isles did show!


I don't know what to say,

In answering her today!

When men's bones decorate the sands

Of strange-sounding island lands!


Will you tell me what to say?

Shall I speak of stench and death?

And all the soldiers

Who lost their breath?


And those bones still lie

In the sands

Of strange-sounding

Island lands!


Names like Kwajalein, Enewetok,

Bikini and Tinian,

Where these islands hold

Men's bones in their sands!


The question comes to me,

When will memory set ME free?

When will I see bones no more

Upon that sandy shore?


And how long will

The stench remain with me,

When half a world away

I smell it again today?


When I close my eyes tonight

I will remember the sight

And the stench of days gone by,

Where 4,000 men lay down to die?


When I lie down to die

And find my home up in the sky,

My memory too will lie in the sands

Like the bones in strange-sounding island lands.


Then, and then alone

Shall the memory of the past,

Quench the workings of the mind,

Leaving all the bones and stench behind!


Copyright C. Douglas Caffey
All Rights Reserved 


Immediately after WWII, the US Army began establishing bases in the Marshall Islands, known more famously perhaps for the nuclear testing program at Bikini Atoll.
For more information just click on Kwajalein.


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