Three Poems

by Louis G. Parrillo
Vietnam 1969
submitted by, Gene Parrillo (son), WS LM-23,
© Copyright 1998)

I've had these poems and journals that my father wrote for several years. I never knew he was in Vietnam until after he died. He never said a word. I wonder what made him so ashamed? The certificate with his second Purple Heart states that he was wound in a night defensive position in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. He served with the 1st Marine Division Alpha 1/1.
      My grandmother also gave me my father's decorations, pictures, a NVA flag and some other items.
      He was a very giving man, who couldn't do enough for people. He loved kids. Growing up the kids in the neighborhood, including myself, adored him. It's funny to look back. He would be outside doing something and in twenty minutes there would be a half a dozen kids out there helping. He made everyone feel important. I remember when we moved, kids in the neighborhood brought him little gifts that they made. He use to say that only people who liked him were kids, older people and animals. He was right. He had very few friends his own age. He spent as much time with older people as he did with kids. They admired him as well. He help organize a Senior Olympics locally that was one of the first programs of its type. I always went with him when he worked with senior citizens, and it was fun to watch how they behaved around him. It was almost like watching the neighborhood kids.
      People his own age seemed to be fearful of him, as if he knew something that they didn't want to know. It took me a while to understand why this was true. People his own age sensed that he had faced his own mortality and that was something they were denying. They were fearful of that.
      His whole life was spent helping people. He received a lot of recognition for his efforts. I guess I'm still trying to understand why someone who did so much, was still unhappy. Anyway, thank you for reading his poems. I'm not sure what to do with them. My greatest fear is that if given to the public to read, they would judge him unfairly.

submitted by, Gene Parrillo (son), WS LM-23


This Was My Best, That Day
by: Louis G. Parrillo

submitted by, Gene Parrillo (son), WS LM-23,
© Copyright 1998)

War-Stories.com This Was My Best, That Day

Dear Mom,

I held him in my arms like a father
holding his newborn son,
proud and afraid.
I was afraid that he would die
before I had a chance
to tell him
what he needed to hear.

He looked up at me and smiled,
trusting me,
believing in my strength and courage;
believing that I could carry him to safety.

I lied to him. I told him fairy tales,
stories I heard as a child.
He looked at me
and listened,
his eyes filled with wonder and hope.
He was innocent and pure,
a child cradled in the arms of weakness
and doubt,
swaddled in trembling fear and desperation.

His eyes closed slowly,
and his arm slipped off my shoulder.
It hung limp and lifeless at my side.

His body,
draped over my arms like a green shroud,
relaxed and rested,
shed its bone-tired weariness
and final fear.

He was asleep,
peaceful, eternal sleep.
He was no longer troubled by the thoughts of war
--the fear of death.

I laid him on the ground in a soft bed
of blood red dirt.
I removed my flak jacket and placed it
under his head for comfort.
I pulled a canteen from a pouch on my web belt,
unscrewed the cap
and poured some over my fingers.
I touched his eyes, hands and boots
with my wet fingers;
and mumbled this simple prayer: "I give up
to You,
this innocent child,

... My arms are tired.
He is too heavy
for me to carry ...
Forgive this man
and take him
to his final resting place
beside You!"

I scooped up a handful of dirt
and sprinkled it over his body,
burying him deep
in my memory. Like me,
he is just eighteen, alone and frightened
--and afraid
of dying. That fear is over. A voice called.
I picked up my rifle
and ran for cover.

This was my best
that day,

Your son,
L/Cpl L. Parrillo
USMC 1/1
Vietnam 1969


One of his first journal entries ... 

In Memory - First Kill
by: Louis G. Parrillo
submitted by, Gene Parrillo (son), WS LM-23,
© Copyright 1998)

War-Stories.comIn Memory - First Kill 

I see his face in the back of my mind.
It's the only one there, and not hard to find.
I see his cold, dead eyes starin' out at me;
Burnin' in my memory, remindin' me.

I shot a man, and I killed him stone cold dead.
I put two bullets in the front of his head.

I piled his body up in a nice neat stack;
Then called the number in to the big brass shack.
They marked that number on their big black tote board;
And told me to kill more of the yellow horde.
"We need more numbers, like these, to raise the score;
To show the folks back home, we're winnin' this war!"

I feel the cold hand of Death on my shoulder.
I feel myself gettin' bolder and bolder.
He's like my new father, he's comfortin' me.
He's tellin' me to be what I have to be.
He's tellin' me to be a bad ass Marine,
And to be the best goddamn killin' machine.

Death talked to his son, like every father should.
His voice whispered, was calm and strong as he stood,
Lookin' into his eyes, deep down inside him,
Holdin' him in place, grippin' his tremblin' limbs.

"Listen, son, if you wanna be just like me,
Then you gotta hide low in those jungle trees.
Wait for Charlie to come bebopper' along;
Then, drop his sorry ass and show him who's strong.
Use your rifle, son; use your jungle knife.
But just remember to take life after life.
You've got a lot to kill to catch up to me.
So, get busy, son; get on our killin' spree."

I took his words to heart and made them my own.
With my first dead man kill, the seeds had been sown.
My hands aren't stained, and there's no blood anywhere.
There's just the smell of death hanging' thick in the air.

This is my future in this place, in this war.
This is what I'm here for: To kill more and more!
I can't be that nice young man that I was once.

Not now.

Not ever.

I'm tattooed like most grunts.


My father never talked about the time he spent in Vietnam. All that I've learned has come from letters he wrote home and a diary that he kept. According to my grandmother, when he needed to think and understand he wrote poetry. He wrote quite a few poems while he was in Vietnam. He wrote Who Cares to help himself and also to help his mom, my grandmother.

Who Cares
by Louis G. Parrillo
(Gene Parrillo, © Copyright 1998)

War-Stories.com Who Cares

Some times I wonder what my mother thinks,
As she stands alone at the kitchen sink,
Looking out the window, into the yard,
Making me cookies, measuring the lard.

Is she worried about me over here?
Does she think I'll make it through the whole year?
Does she whisper to Him, a mother's prayer?:
"Please watch over him, God; Protect him there!"

"He's my only son, and I love him so;
And I cried so hard when I watched him go.
He was embarrassed by the tears I shed.
But they were the words I left unsaid."

"The joy, Dear God, he brought into my life;
Filled it with happiness, freed it from strife.
He is to me, God, a labor of love.
No greater good could've come from above."

"I held his hand at night when he was scared.
I held the bugs, worms and frogs, and I shared,
The many times when he was cold and sick;
The many times I switched him with a stick."

"He is no angel, God, you can be sure.
It'll take lots of forgiveness to make him pure.
But, he is my only son, and I Love him so.
Tell me You'll protect him, please let me know!"

"My empty hearts pleads to Your loving grace.
Let him come home, dry these tears on my face.
I want to see his grinning smile out there;
Outside my window--in the yard--out where ..."

"He played when he was just a little boy.
When life to him was just a great big toy--
Something for him to throw and kick around;
Something stuffed in his pockets, that I found."

"Thank you for listening to me up there.
Thank you for giving me his life to share.
And, thank you for hearing this mother's prayer.
Let him come home safely without a care!"

The cookies done and cooled and packed up,
Will she sit down and have a half a cup
Of cold coffee, held in her trembling hands?
And think again, her son's in another land.

A mother's anger and a mother's pain
Will break her poor heart and drive her insane.
But she trusts God, and makes her simple plea:
"Bring my only son safely back to me!"

Thanks, Mom, for thinking about me. Your son,
L/Cpl L. Parrillo
USMC 1/1


My father took his life in 1991. As for a picture, I'm not sure there is one. He destroyed most things before he died ... it was as if he was trying to erase his existence. Things that survived such as his letters and journal, the NVA flag and medals were things that his mom, my grandmother had. Even those things were thrown away at one time and retrieved by her. The poems are already protected under copyright laws.

At the suggestion of the psychologist who treated my father for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I sent copies to the Office of Copyright earlier this year. The psychologist was the one who suggested that I contact someone, like yourself. He believed the poems would be appreciated and benefit other Vietnam Veterans. The psychologist has used several of his poems in counseling sessions with Vietnam Veterans. One veteran, for example, was unable to tell his parents what it was like to lose his best friend. Apparently, the poem "This Was My Best That Day, Mom" said what he wanted to tell them about the lose of his friend. The psychologist, who has worked with veterans since 1969 when he was stationed at Walter Reed Hospital, broken down and wept after reading one poem. My father often signed his poems Einstein -- apparently, the men in his unit gave him that nickname because he wrote a lot.

Gene Parrillo


Date Posted: Wed, March 19 2008, 9:38:57
Author: Jared Bulette (Incredibly talented and inspiring)
Author Host/IP:
Subject: Poems by Louis G. Parrillo via his son Gene

I just wanted to briefly comment on the poems written by Louis Parrillo concerning some of his wartime experiences. First off, I am sorry to hear he felt he had no other option but to take his own life sometime ago. It is very apparent that he had a God given talent with the poetry he wrote. He was able to verbalize many of the thoughts and feelings I'm sure many vets feel in a very descriptive yet emotional way. I was very moved by them and felt like I knew exactly how he was feeling as he wrote each one. I'm sure that these poems will be a lasting legacy for him without him ever knowing or intending them to be. I have no doubt they will have some kind of positive and theraputic impact on other vets w/ similar feelings who just don't know how to put there's into words. I'm not a Nam vet, but I was touched by this man's writing just the same! God bless.

Responding regarding Louis G. Parrillo -- Sandra (Wow), Wed, December 13 2006, 10:40:47 (
Well i just wanted to say that this storie you wrote was really interesting. Im a student that goes to Foster and for a project we had to research war stories and write personal reflections.
This story shocked me. i couldnt believe that as a result of vietnam war, he did what he did. I honestly believe that the vietnam war is extremly powerful in many ways. Mind, Body, Spirit and soul. Its good and bad. I just want to say that your doing a really good thing, keep on researching. Hes poems were amazing, i wished he wouldnt of destroyed some of the other ones. I understand why they called him Einstein now.

Good luck.


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