written by SSGT Forrest Purdy, USAFRES

SSGT Forrest Purdy, outside his truck in winter, in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, 2007

SSGT Forrest Purdy, USAFRES, Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan, 2007

GWOT veteran Forrest Purdy wrote us after reading Vietnam Marine Jack Woodard’s post on his brief time in Graves Registration.  The post, and the conversation with Graves Registration veterans on a recent VBC Happy Hour, reminded Forrest of his time transporting KIA service members to a morgue tent in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2007. Forrest has kindly allowed us to publish “On His Way Home,” about his memory of one casket prepared for transport.


A military transport arrived at Lima twenty-four

It is a place I have been many times before

The snow fell softly as we stood at attention

The rear of the plane opened, to our apprehension

The snow made everything cold, wet and damp,

As the Honor Guard marched silently in, up the ramp

A single casket there, draped with our banner

We all suppressed tears in a military manner

Our Comrade in Arms was on his way home

The Captain and I saluted slowly, with all respect shown

I carried my brother’s remains to a safe, quiet place,

All the while believing in God’s saving grace

I know not the name of the warrior I carried,

Nor can I tell you just where he is buried

All I know is that he gave his life – yes his all,

And I’m proud that he’d answered our great nation’s call

Years later the tears still run down my face

I can never forget that soldier. I will never forget that place


Forrest Purdy is author of Korea: A Soldier’s Forgotten War, the story of his father’s combat experience in the Korean War.