• March 29, 2009
  • 34

By Way of Introduction

Whenever I meet new people I like to tell them the story of how I met my buddy Roger’s wife Wanda.

There are a number of reasons for this. Mostly, it’s a stinkin’ funny story. But it also gets a few things about me out there which saves time as well as lets people know that I’m not hung up on a lot of things.

At the time Roger and I were stationed together with 3rd Recon Battalion in Okinawa. Roger and I had struck up a friendship that we still maintain today. As a matter of fact, he and I are in the picture above with fixed bayonets.

One day, during martial arts training, Roger and I were trading hip throws when he suggested that we all go out to dinner that night so he could introduce me to Wanda. She and I both grew up in Hawaii so he was sure we would hit it off.

Since Wanda had heard there was a local boy around she was naturally excited to meet someone from home. The usual battery of questions ensued. Since we had the islands in common these questions went something like this:

“Do your parents still live in Hawaii?” Wanda asked animatedly.

“No, not anymore.”

Her enthusiasm as yet undiminished, she pressed on, “Oh, what does your father do now?”

“Well he passed away a few years ago so he’s not doing a whole lot.” This was true. It’s not something that keeps me up at night. He had led a good, adventurous life with no regrets. Works for me.

“Oh Michael! I’m so sorry to hear that.” Wanda turned in the passenger seat
in the front of the van and gave me a sympathetic look. At the time I was not yet America’s 1stSgt, so this was forgivable.

Unbowed, Wanda immediately brightened up moving on to a subject less depressing as death.

“So where does your mother live then?”

“She has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home in California.” This was also true. Alzheimer’s sucks and wishing death on someone is less cruel than wishing them this disease. But once again, it was a fact of my life and not something I spent a lot of time bemoaning.

“Oh my gosh! Michael that’s so sad. I’m sorry.” Wanda was no quitter though. Gamely she moved on to better and brighter topics.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” She beamed hopefully.

It is a well known fact by friends of mine that I am an only child. Some would even venture that this fact alone could explain any number of things about my character. People closer to me would say those friends don’t have much of an imagination. Me? I have plenty of imagination.

“My brother was killed last year in a drunk driving accident.” Sighing, I slumped my shoulders in artificial melancholy.


At that point poor Wanda was truly grieving on my behalf. She also felt utterly sick that she had dredged up what were no doubt feelings of great loss from the inky black mire of my broken heart.

Roger, who knew my true sibling status, valiantly tried to keep the the van in between the lines on the road as he endured what can only be described as a grand mal seizure attempting to stifle his laughter.

Dispirited and sorrowful, Wanda caught her husband’s full body spasms on the edge of her field of vision. Realization crept into her eyes as she turned to face my crooked smile.

“YOU ARE SUCH A JERK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Wanda totally digs me.

Picture credits

/ / / /


  1. you are a real prick, you could be my 1st Sgt. Maybe someday I will do a post about the worst 1st Sgt I ever had, in the mean time I am laughing my ass off…..

    I was on Okinawa in 1967 went to Vietnam from there in 68. When you are bored to death, go to my blog and search for My Life, I did a series of 19 post.

  2. Since you don’t have a father anymore does that make you a bastard? It seem I heard alot of 1st Sgt’s and, well, all sargents call that at one time or another. I guess it is a requirement to get into the Marines.

    Have you ever pulled sea duty?

  3. I couldn’t help myself. The opportunity presented itself and I ran with it.

    Sarge, you wouldn’t recognize Oki now days. It’s not a bad duty station. I had a blast, and not always at Wanda’s expense either.

    Coffepot, now days there isn’t much in the way of sea duty for Marines. We still float around on ships as part of Marine Expeditionary Units but sea duty in a traditional sense, not so much.

    Wanda is a great sport. Why she puts up with the likes of me is anyone’s guess.

  4. He Top,
    This sounds all normal to me. Why’d Wanda get upset? Keep them on their toes, keep em’ guessing.
    Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect and love…
    but have a plan to kill them just incase.

  5. Good stuff, Burke. You have quite a way with people! Ha. I seem to recall my daughter’s reaction to you the first time you met. Remember that, also in the car?

  6. CI Roller, the Marine version goes: Be kind to everyone, friends with no one, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet. The ones I have to keep guessing are my own guys, Ha!

    Stark, yeah she loved me until I smashed her little fingers in that book. Not a high point of my visit that time.

    J, you’re fooooooooooollowing…

  7. Oh man! I just remembered what Stark was referring to.

    We had met up after not seeing each other for a couple of years and it was the first time I met his baby girl. He picked me up and drove to his place.

    At about 90 MPH, somewhere between D.C. and Baltimore, the poor kid barfed Cheerios and fruit punch all over the back seat of the car. How a little baby body could contain that much industrial waste is a mystery still unsolved by science.

    After pulling over, the heroic father dutifully comforted his crying daughter. While this was going on guess who was wiping up baby puke in the back seat?

    That’s right, America’s 1stSgt, that’s who.

    The same American warlord that would go on to smother IED blasts with his open palm, silence insurgent snipers with a hard look, and dismiss enemy mortar fire with a wave of his hand balked at baby barf. I still shudder at the memory.

  8. First from one only child to another: you’re a little shit… but that’s a good thing *grin*.


    “The same American warlord that (…) would smother IED blasts with his open palm, silence insurgent snipers with a hard look, and dismiss enemy mortar fire with a wave of his hand…”

    Um, lemme guess… Chuck Norris has wet dreams about you.


  9. Out of her five years on earth..that was the most she has EVER puked ๐Ÿ™‚ She just wanted to test your fortitude…

    I remember that day.. I was happily sitting in a dark theatre watching a movie ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I saw a lot of humor in it..

    I would dig for you to meet her now..she could probably kick your a**… ๐Ÿ™‚ Unless of course she thinks you are “cute” then she will just blush and run away to hide from you.. ๐Ÿ™

    Ugh.. Five going on 15..

  11. Noelle, if there’s even an inkling of shy affection when Ava next meets Burke……stand by, world. The heavens will part, the earth will crack, and America’s 1stSgt will go down in flames like Ragnarok and Armageddon all wrapped up in one!! Then again you’re right, she can probably kick his butt. A little spit up and he’ll flee in horror! Ha ha.

    That was a good memory though, Burke. If I didn’t say it back then, thank you. You really should come visit soon, Ava is so big. 5 going on 15 like Noelle said. There’s a “Where the Wild Things Are” movie coming out this fall, maybe you could take her!

  12. Noelle, I’m with you, baby barf and Burke is a movie screaming to be made. I once sent him a picture of my littlest guy, Matthew covered in brownies he pilfered while I was in another room. The email message which went with it was something like, “uhhhh Mike, you and your ninjas’ brownies are going to be a liiiiittle late.” After he expressed his sentiment over the little guy’s appetite, he commented on the convulsive state of his stomach upon seeing said pastry smeaared all over face, teeth and gums. So, I’m starting to see a pattern now.

  13. Maj. Peters said, “I’m not sure how, but I’ll make it happen.”

    Kelleng16, this is why I have such respect for the Corps as an institution and the attitude it embues. Thanks for the link. Powerful story.

  14. Hey Stark, Good idea only instead of sharing circles we’ll have noogies to start and have them push while Burke reads them a bedtime story about what is in their closet and how many fingers it’s goig to gnaw off wihen the little tykes go to sleep to close. Huh? huh?***nodding head at brilliant plan***

  15. Lol…I loved it! I too was hoping Roger could keep a straight face a little longer, I was eagerly awaiting the horrible fate in store for your non-existent sister ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. LOL….I love it! I wish that Roger had been able to keep a straight face a little longer, I was eagerly awaiting to know the horrible fate of your non-existent sister ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Oh me oh my, upon the Angel forum, this link did I spy.
    (and it’s not even my fault)
    Loved the story!!
    What did happen to the sister that ne’re was?

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