143rd Signal Co, 3rd
Armoured Div. & 142nd Signal Co, 2nd Armoured Div.
VISIT TO MARGRATEN"
By Don R. Marsh
Tustin, California, December 2008
It was during my recent recovery from liver cancer surgery while I was confined
to St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, California, that I experienced a strange
"out of body" transformation. I don't know how else to explain it, but I felt
that I did make the trip to the Margraten American Military Cemetery in Holland.
It was surreal as could be and is still with me today.
It happened on November 16th when the pain from the incision was so intense that
my IV drip of morphine could not totally suppress the pain that the nurses
provided me with a hand held pump to increase the medication. I could press the
button on the pump three times before it automatically shut off and would send
me into the arms of Morpheus and darkness. I reluctantly used the pump, but not
being a hero, at times I had to block out the pain. Then when the darkness took
over I always had the sensation that I was falling into a bottomless black hole
where I could not escape.
It was during one of the black hole departures that I felt while my pain-racked
body lay in the hospital bed that my soul took flight and I travelled through
space drawn by a brilliant sun lit marble garden in a place called Margraten,
Holland. I found myself standing at the grave of my former commander, Major
General Maurice Rose. I began to render a hand salute to his white cross when
suddenly he appeared. He was dressed in his immaculate uniform and wore a
quizzical look as he studied me standing in front of him. I addressed him by
saying, "Sergeant Marsh reporting for duty, sir."
After what seemed like a long pause, he said, "No, Sergeant, you are not
reporting for duty here. Once you report for duty here, you will remain here for
eternity. Consider yourself on a one day pass."
I managed to reply, "yes, sir."
He then startled me by saying, "I understand that you and this fellow, Steven
Ossad, have written my life's story?"
Again, I replied, "Yes, sir."
With a slight frown on his face, he said, "Don't you think you were somewhat
harsh in your criticism of me?"
My unapologetic answer, "No, sir. When you erred in judgment of others, we told
the other half of the story."
That remark brought a slight smile to the corners of his mouth with his
response, "Fair enough. History will right the wrongs. I am thankful that you
found my two sons and included them in your book. By the way, Sergeant Marsh, I
want to thank your Dutch friend Bianca for visiting me with flowers. Sergeant,
your interview is ended. You realize that you are out of uniform. You are
dismissed. Return home and continue writing."
I stood there and started to salute him when his vision disappeared and I
realized that I was standing at his grave wearing a hospital gown with my
backside totally exposed.
The next thing I knew was that the sunlight was streaming into my room in the
recovery ward and I had visitors my two daughters, Judy and Donna and my niece
Lisa. One of them noticed that I had opened my eyes and asked how I was feeling.
I replied, "I've been to Margraten and saw The General." This brought a smile to
their faces and one asked, "So how are things in Holland?"
I answered, "In good hands. In good hands."
More story's by Don R. Marsh