The Story of Willy “I am in love and I want to bring him home with me.” No, I am not talking about Clinton’s new ‘happy military’ I’m talking about a four and a half year old orphaned Somali boy named Ibram or, as we’ve nicknamed him, Willy. Willy’s parents were killed by General Aidid’s army during the civil war. Willy has managed to survive on the streets. I remember seeing him the first time our Bravo Company was here in Baardera. Willy then was a dirty, thin little boy who had to fight for everything. Today he is a semi-clean (it’s hard to stay totally clean here) boy with a big, healthy belly. Willy wears a huge, red T-shirt (it goes down to his knees) and a pair of blue shorts. His sandals are fairly new and he is now a very happy little boy. At night he loves to play with a flashlight, shining all over everything and everyone. His favorite drink is orange Kool-aide and he really enjoys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Ed. Note – In case you are wondering how we made him PB&J’s, the chow hall at our base camp had the most amazing dinner rolls. I mean, we’d try to cram as many as we could into our cargo pockets they were that good. The PB&J came from our MREs). He is also very ticklish. To hear his laughter is like music to my ears. Some of his favorite phrases are: ‘finish’ (whenever he’s done with something); ‘no good’ (when he is throwing away his trash); ‘flashlight’ (whenever he sees one); ‘Kool-Aid’ (when he is thirsty); and ‘Sa-eeb’ (a Somali word that means ‘friend’ or ‘same’). Last night on post I was teaching him the English words for the different parts of the face. I’d point to his nose and say, ‘Magaha nose,’ (‘Magaha’ is Somali for ‘name’), or ‘Magaha eyes,’ etc. When it comes to eyes and ears, Willy would say, ‘two eyes’ or ‘two ear.’ I pointed at my beard stubble and said ‘beard.’ He didn’t understand so I took his little hand and ran it over my cheek. He laughed loudly because it tickled and then said, ‘beard, Sa-eeb.’ Then I laughed, too. He usually goes to sleep around 2000 every night. Usually, he’ll say ‘sleep’ and then lay down on some sandbags and crash. Last night, however, he crawled on to my lap, said ‘sleep’ and, lying his head on my chest, went to sleep. I was overwhelmed. I felt a lot of love for this boy I hardly know, who had decided to sleep in my arms. He was sleeping deeply only a few minutes later and I simply looked down at his dark form and stroked his hair. I think last night I had my first real glance at what a parent must feel when he/she knows the child in their arms loves them and feels safe around them (Ed. Note – I was twenty-one years old at the time). I honestly wish I could bring Willy back to America with me but I think Willy is going to survive quite awhile here and grow up to be a fine man. I just hope he will remember the U.S. Marine Corps and our time here.” That is who Willy was. If Willy managed to survive, and while the odds were against him I have a good feeling he has, he should be around twelve years old now. I can only hope he’s found a loving family that has raised him in Somali tradition. I often wonder what it would be like to go back over there, as a civilian, travel to Baardera and find Willy. Find him, see the man he is growing into and thank him. Thank him for being a ray of hope and bright light in the lives of the many Marines whose lives he touched at Post San Diego.