His twang was at just the right pitch. His black stetson parked on his head at the correct angle, and his song selections perfect for his tenor. He sat in a wheel chair, with one leg bandaged and supported at a 90 degree angle; his other amputated just above the knee. Involuntarily, he tapped his amputated limb as he rolled through the lines on the screen in front of him. As he finished, his friends, fellow amputees and civilians alike, cheered loudly and he wheeled back to their perch in the bar.
It was Karaoke night at the bar James and Kate took me to, and I had never had so much fun and felt so patriotic. Kate and James' group of friends includes mostly James' fellow military intelligence unit stationed at Fort Belvoir. The smiling faces greeted each other, cheered for those competing, and sang along with some memorable chorus lines from well-known tunes. More than once, the bar was quiet with reflection as a sad country tune recounted the trials and tribulations of soldiers fighting for our freedom and their own lives. The room was filled with OIF vets, all of whom lost someone in their units, in addition to their own natural mobility.
As the night wore on, I heard someone say, "Oh, that's the Coastie." Not one to be shy, I wandered over and introduced myself as a Coastie wife and asked her name. She smiled, gave her name, and stated that she is stationed with the Honor Guard there in DC. She had just come from the ISC here in Kodiak. Thrilled to recount home with someone, we spoke of Tomi-san at Powerhouse, and she begged me to pay him her regards. What a small world. As she and I laughed about the upcoming winter in Kodiak, her friend pulled up a chair. "hey, why is it that you are getting hit on by the ladies and not me?" I turned my head and greeted the vet with a prosthetic leg, and the Coastie replied, "She's married anyway." "Damn," he replied. Nonetheless, we chatted briefly, and I thanked him for his service to our country. I held up my Yuengling in Cheers fashion and returned to my tables of revelers.