Letter of the Month - June 2011
My “Papaw,” First Sergeant J. C. Caldwell, was a drill instructor during Vietnam.
He recently turned 75 years old and lives next door to me. He makes trips to the Waffle House every morning. He’s never had a lot of money, never was famous, but he’s the most important person in my life. He’s had heart surgery; he has diabetes; he lost a toe; had his gall bladder removed; had half of his left lung removed and his kidneys are failing, but through it all, he’s still the toughest man I will ever know.
Back when you had your “ ‘Top-10’ Badass Marines” [April 2009] issue, he laughed and pointed out Ernie DeFazio and said to me, “If he’s such a badass, why’d I beat him in a beer drinkin’ competition in 1960?” Of course, like all old Southern women will, my “Nanny” came charging in the room, saying, “J. C., it’s the badass list, not the drunkass list!” We both just laughed.
My little brother Travis left for [Marine Corps Recruit Depot] Parris Island, S.C., on May 9 to follow in Papaw’s footsteps.
I know your magazine is for men and women who were Marines and will always be, and I don’t mean any disrespect from what I’m about to ask, but what would you all think about running a little something about my Papaw?
• Lindsay, we just did. Thanks for your letter, and give our best regards and thanks to 1stSgt Caldwell for his service to Corps and country.—Sound Off Ed.