Leonard Shelton

Combat: What I Lost

29 January 1991 — on that day, I lost what is called a soul by some.
During heavy combat I was sent to assist the company Gunny
and there on the site were the remains of seven dead, unrecognizable Marines.
At that moment
in a split second
something left my body.
I could not speak
I could not talk
I could not say anything.
Something left my body and I didn't know what to do about it.
But the fighting continued, I then became a part of war.
What I lost on that day I will never get back.
I’m like and empty shell that you see every day..

The Walking Dead

My Life has changed, at times I feel I never knew who I was. Your lifeless bodies laying on the dessert floor, and we were told to keep going. I was frozen and something inside of me left my body. I could'nt go on, your life was taken in front of me, how could I leave you like that? I had to continue the fight, I left you brothers, I'm sorry I had to go fight. Where do I go how do I fix it? I'm still afraid, wondering where to help and find you. I want to take care of you, you should be laying there lifeless on the dessert floor. How is your family going to know? Will they be told the truth? Where are you I'm trying to find you. Your lives were taken by greedy men who never took the time to know who you are. I live my life to honor the dead which in turn I do not live, because if I leave I betray them. I am not alive, I am the walking dead. I'd like to know or just have a day to know the better side of life, and what it would be like. Death, murder confusion, lost soul, the ghost has left my body and it does not know how to get back in. I search everyday trying to find it, but where is it. It's gone teasing never to return. We talked about coming home. Cpl. Cotto, where are you? I am lost, but you and the others are gone. I now live my life pretending everything is okay with a smile on my face, but everyday I am empty. Take a good look in my eyes and tell me what you see.


I find myself running and hiding all the time.  Running and hiding from life from the pain and agony it brings.  It builds up inside of me, I feel the fire it's burning my thoughts, my head, it blinds me, my thoughts my dreams all gone to waste.

Just letting reality melt away.  Now fear starts to kick in but I like it.  I am familiar of not knowing what to expect next.  Either it be a fit of rage or blinding desire to destroy everything around me.  I go blank.  I know not what I do, I see not what I've done, it's all a blur.  Emotions what are those?  I can't tell anymore.  Is this a dream or more like a nightmare when will it end?  When will the pain I suffer go away?  Go into someone else's mind?

Mine is all chewed up.  I run and run just to find out what I am running from, it is me that I am running from.  I'm a demon in my own life.  I'm that darkness that falls on my own day, eating at my own thoughts.  Destroying my own core.  I'm too far for you to reach your hand out to help me because I've already given up.  I am not what I show you nor what you think.  I am something else.

When you close your eyes you will see me, when you walk alone I am behind you, when you hear a whisper, you have heard me but I know you will not find me.  What makes you think you can look for me if you know not what I am?  I hear voices in my head, I hear laughter at me, I know I have failed in life and I am a tool that has been molded and slowly spiraling day by day until I am sucked in that darker place of no return only to suffer more.

I ask is there a God, is so why so much pain, why?  I tried to kill the pain, but only brought more, much more.  I'm pouring crimson regret, and betrayal I'm dying, praying bleeding screaming, am too lost to be saved.  Where is my tourniquet?

My pain cries for the grave, I want to suffer no more.  I am nothing I will be nothing.  No one understands.  I have given all of myself to others only to find they betray me.  I've lost myself a long time ago or maybe I never was.  All I see is death.  There is no life, no hope.  There is no meaning to life but to suffer.  I have realized that my own children are now been brought into this suffering and I am sorry I have done this to them, it is my fault.

What is being happy?  Is there such a thing, or is it all false?  Is there realization of what life is to be?  What is the meaning of life?  Will I tell you, it is fixed in a manner for failure and misery.  I do not want anything any more only to have it cause more pain.

You're a twisted little fuck Leonard, and you always have been.  You weak little shit, fucking cry-baby, your not a man, you can't be one, nor will you ever amount to anything.  I have proven this to you already and you know it, how many times do I have to show your stupid ass?

The end of the ride is coming, murder, suicide, is how I've been feeling.  I have let you see death and you know it is coming, I have shown it to you in many ways and I know what it has done to you. Cpl Cotto died and the other 7 Marines. You looked at it first hand and I gave it to you.  I let you see it, I wanted you to see it.  And you have been living it everyday of your life since.  And you think you can stop it from coming to you, OK, watch.  We are almost there boy.

I want these voices in my head to stop.  I hear them too clearly and loudly.  I can't cut them off, I can't stop seeing the horrible things I have seen first hand, I can't get out of my mind things I have done to hide the pain I feel.  I am so tired of lies about life, lies I have told, I am tired.  The heat is coming, again I feel it.  It is burning inside of me, my head hurts, it burns, it burns, I feel like I am on fire inside.  I have been running for years and there is nowhere else to run, I am tired, so tired.

Combat: What I Lost

My Dress Blues

Leonard Shelton

I was a Marine for 20 years. I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to serve. I met and made friends with many good people from all over the country. I was a infantryman with 3rdBN 5th Marines in 1986. After my first deployment I transfered to 1stLARBN. On August 12, 1990, I was deployed to the middle east on an advance party, and in Janurary of 1991 my life changed. Now I speak out for peace and participate in Warrior Writers. In February of 2013 Kevin Sites published his book, The Things They Cannot Say, which features my story.