There is an episode of NCIS entitled “Call of Silence” in which Charles Durning plays a World War II Medal of Honor recipient who arrives at NCIS claiming to have killed a marine with his handgun.

Special Agent Gibbs is determined to prove that it was not murder, to keep Durning’s character from being prosecuted and losing his Medal. During the course of the investigation, the team reconstructs the Battle of Iwo Jima to figure out what actually happened.

It is eventually decided that Durning’s men were only feet away from the Japanese when his best friend stepped on a land mine, losing both legs. He was screaming in pain and Durning’s character had hit him over the head to try and knock him out. He hit him too hard, however, and the friend died as a result.

Durning’s character is still so traumatized by this incident it is as if it had just happened; and as they make him go over and over his story, his anguish is heartbreaking.

This episode always reminds me of all the men and women that have served this country and have fought for our freedoms.

My heart breaks not only for those that died defending this country but also for those that have returned home wounded in body and spirit. It breaks for those that have to fight the memories for the rest of their lives.

My dad was an ambulance driver in Africa and Europe; his best friend died at Anzio. He could not talk about the horrors he encountered. The one time I asked him about it, he broke down and sobbed, pulling on his hair at the memories, much the same way Charles Durning’s character does in the NCIS episode.

My father-in-law suffered permanent frostbite damage to his feet during the Battle of the Bulge; and one of my husband’s brothers was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago from being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

As I watched this episode of NCIS recently, it hit me that all those men and women that have suffered and died, all of them that will suffer emotionally and physically for the rest of their lives deserve to have the rest of us stand up and fight for the freedoms that they fought for.

We need to make our voices heard throughout this country and stop the rampant assault on the very things that we hold dear. We need to stop the few from taking the rights away from the many.

Otherwise, what have all of those men and women been fighting for?

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2013


I was sitting in the living room watching TV when a commercial came on for a new show called Alias Smith and Jones, starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy.

I remember the quickening interest, the sense of excitement and my hurried question to my mother about whether we could watch the show.  I really don’t know why that still stays so clearly in my mind, but I remember that afternoon like it was yesterday.

The premise was simple – a western, inspired by the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – about two criminals that were trying to go straight.  They worked mostly in the Wyoming Territory, and went to the territorial governor to ask for amnesty for the crimes they committed.

The governor agrees, but tells them he cannot make it public and that they have to stay out of trouble until he feels they have earned their amnesty.  The problem is, with no one knowing of the deal with the governor, they are still wanted men and still being hunted by the law.

There was something about the dark haired, 31-one-year-old Duel that caught my attention; and as only a 13-year-old-can, I was quickly enamored of the actor.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture - the pocket behind the horns made it difficult to take the page out of the page protector.

I covered my walls with pictures of him from all those teen magazines and waited eagerly every week for Thursday nights.

These are some of the pictures in the pocket cut in the page protector.

By December of that year, I was totally hooked on the show and the actor; not knowing about any of the demons that haunted his life.

December 31st, 1971:

As my family got ready to drive to Syracuse for groceries, my brothers suddenly started yelling over the sound of the news on the radio.

Pete Duel had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head, an apparent suicide.

I was devastated; my young girl’s heart broken with the thought that he had been so unhappy, and the question of whether he would have sought forgiveness from God before the gun went off.

The news was full of the story and it was only then that his depression and his drinking came to light.  I never knew until a few years ago, when I read a biography of his life, that he also had epilepsy and had suffered a broken hip in a car accident when he was 18.

The broken hip caused great back pain, especially when he had to be on the horse so much for filming the show.  He had been told at one point that he would probably be crippled within 15-20 years because of the severity of the broken hip.

I  knew none of  this at that time.  I only knew that it felt like I had lost my best friend.

Even all these years later, the thought of his life, and death, can move me to tears.

I did these pages in his memory and decided to post them today, the 40th anniversary of his death.

Thank you for stopping in to share what was a large impact on my life.

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2011