Marine Corps Issui
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In the Vietnam War, thousands of American soldiers were brutally tortured as prisoners of war. Imagine trying to forget every trace of the torture you’ve been through and to precede with your life as a normal person. This was the case with many POW’s like Johnny”s dad. In the short story, Marine Corps Issue by David Mclean, Johnny’s dad is like a turtle in a way because on the outside it’s solid and rough, however, on the inside, the turtle is very fragile and vulnerable. His character presents people with a false intuition of being tough and hardcore but within him, he is really crying out for help to deal with the unfortunate moments that he endured.
Although Johnny’s dad is a disciplined army soldier, he also displays a emotional and sensitive side to him. When his army buddy came over for a visit, they both laughed heartily and cried over the old war memories. They drank whiskey together reminiscing about their military days and acted as if his crippled fingers were a joke. It was the first time that Johnny had ever seen his dad cry or drink alcohol and a very surprising moment because he rarely smiled or made a expression. The crippled fingers which had ” a grotesque bird-on-a perch appearance ” haunts him of the torture he went through and adds to his emotional agony. His dad’s decision of keeping his feelings bottled up inside forever and concealing his pain only paves the way to more trouble.
Johnny’s father was portrayed in the story as a physically powerful and solitary person. He “finishes speaking, drops Joe onto the concrete floor, and strides quickly away.” The time when Johnny screamed Boo!, he caught his dad totally by surprise and that triggered his instincts from the war. After realizing that it was just his son, he “melted, right there before me, his body slumping down like warm wax…He wouldn’t look at me.” His feelings overwhelmed him with sadness and terror from the days as a prisoner of war which he so desperately wanted to forget. The wooden locker boxes represent Johnny’s father because all the memorabilia is stashed away in there and it is padlocked with a oily bronze lock accumulating dust in the tool shed. Beneath his gruff appearance and scarred surface, there is a cordial and gentle person trying to get his life back on track.
Johnny’s dad was beginning to have a closer relationship with his sons and enjoying life. Right when things were looking up for him, he came upon a unexpected find. Johnny was rummaging through the locker boxes when his dad suddenly appeared. “His eyes were weary, even desperate…his eyes welled, and bright molten tears ran down his cheeks.” Having seen his own son looking at the war photos brought back the tragic experiences. It was a shocking moment for him and everything came flooding back into his memory. Even though he was a veteran soldier who attained a purple heart in the war and also a grown man, he couldn’t hold back the tears any longer and everything that was bottled up inside exploded.
Johnny’s father is depicted as being burly on the outside but is really unstable on the inside. Whether it was reminiscing about the old days, getting a sudden scare, or coming upon a shocking find, all these factors show a different side to him. At the end of Marine Corps Issue, Johnny’s dad begins to share his most heavily guarded moments with his son and confronting those issues will make him a more content person than before. Since Johnny hardly knows anything about his dad, talking with each other about the war will instill a closer bond between them. Sharing about the things that he knew he wasn’t capable of saying was how Johnny loved him the most, that great man. Semper Fi.