Veteran Poems by Roberto J. Prinselaar


Don’t envy a man his medals

All those ribbons on his chest

He did not try to get them

They’re not there at his request

They were earned in stinking hellholes

Where no man would like to go

Or in cold and wintry places

Where there’s only ice and snow

He didn’t know he earned them

Till they were awarded at parade

And they were bright when he first got them

But in time the colors fade

He was told he had to wear them

And to wear them all with pride

But when the colors fade

He was told he had to wear them

And to wear them all with pride

But when the memories come to haunt him

Those same medal’s make him hide

Cause those medals will not bring back

All those guys he left behind

And he would trade them all forever

For a little peace of mind

So don’t envy a man his medals

You don’t want to take his place

Thinking back to long gone battles

And meeting dead friends face to face


I feed my soul with conversation

A talk with men who were there too

Who left their friends in far off places

The men who now become so few

Our gray hair is an indication

That we are now among the old

Our talks revolve around an era

When we were young and oh so bold

We talk of war and talk of pleasure

We talk of friends who are now gone

Our martial past a fine honed memory

But now, oh God, we’re so alone

We are now strangers in our country

Civilians do not think the way we do

So when we talk, we’re back together

The ones who went, the proud, the few


I loved the names we gave our food

Although some names were downright lewd

One thing for sure the stuff was light

That made a difference in a fight

The rations now are MRE’s

The rations then were mostly “C”s

There were some good, and some were bad

But damn it all, that’s all we had

And there were times that you could swap

Cause there were guys who loved the slop

At every meal came time to trade

It was a fun game that we played

There was one ration we all know

I’ll tell you now we loved it so

The one we really loved to eat

“Ham and Mothers” was the treat

Yes, lima beans were good for you

They manufacture methane gasses too

But if you think I’m selling sky

I’m just a vet, and never lie


I watched a movie about all the vets

Exposed to defoliant spray

And I thought of all of the vets

That are hurting and dying each day

This isn’t a movie we watch on TV

This is real and it’s not just a tale

They are blind, they are crippled

And some slightly nuts

They are prisoners of hurt with no bail

They all did their duty away from this land

And sometimes it was too much to bear

It’s hard to watch buddies die in the dirt

And wondering if there’s someone to care

Then going home happened, t’was a great day

Leaving all of the misery behind

But the war never left, especially at night

It’s almost like losing your mind

And some left some pieces, no longer whole

And some are dying real slow

And they’re lying in beds all over this land

With wheelchairs that no longer go

So I think of the movie, and think of the war

And I think of the friends I have lost

And I wonder how many just watching that film

Remember just what it all cost

I’M O.K.

I’ll admit I’m slightly troubled

And there are times I’m downright sad

When I think back on things that happened

And some of those were really bad

But I’m O.K., I tell you truly

I’m alive, and that’s a lot

I’m better off than some old buddies

Yeah I’m alive, and they are not

There are times I dream about them

But mostly now, I only sleep

I’m telling you I’m doing fine now

Why should I think ‘bout things so deep

I never cry, cause that’s not manly

It’s not the way that I was taught

And what the hell, it’s all behind me

I’ve put aside just why we fought

I can’t remember all the reasons

There had to be some, I suppose

I do remember, for God and country

But it was more than only those

I lost some friends, for lofty reasons

And they are now forever gone

But I’m O.K., yeah, I’m still living

But sometimes GOD, I’m so alone

Roberto J. Prinselaar

I have served my country, in the Navy and Coast Guard for 31 plus years. During those years I was in Korea, China, and Southeast Asia. I entered the service as a Seaman recruit, and after becoming a Chief Petty Officer, I received a Presidential commission to LTjg. And retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

LCDR Roberto J. Prinselaar, USCG (Ret)