| Michael James Dodge
Born April 30, 1950Corporal Dodge was killed in a ground attack.
Letters from Michael
Discharge certificate for Michael's great grandfather, James Orlando Dodge
My name is Marianne Dodge and my brother was Michael James Dodge (June 14,1969). I can tell you that Mike was a Medic in the Army (101st Airborne Division, 62 Battallion); Mike's highest Medal received was the Bronze Star
Since I was only 12 1/2 years old at the time of his death, have more memories of Mike as an older brother than as a soldier. If you don't mind, I would like to share some details of how Mike lived rather than just how he died. The one thing that has always bothered me over the years was how a young man's life taken in battle can become a statistic, just Another soldier, just another casualty, just another loss. Remembered more for being a 'soldier' than being the 'person'. truly believe that if we are able to put a human face on the men that have lost their lives for our country, it will make it more difficult to become numb to what war is really about. When I was still in my early teens someone not knowing about Mike's death, asked me if I understood what the Vietnam war was about, I remember answering them with 'The war came home to our house....and it never left'.
We live in Southeastern Michigan. First Rockwood, then moving in 1962 to Gibraltar both small towns near lake Erie. Our father's name was James Edward Dodge and our mother was Mary Patrica (Sparkes). Mike was the oldest, then myself (Marianne Eileen) and our younger sister (Margo Carmel).
Mike was a tall, handsome, somewhat shy, yet always very funny guy. His room was off limits and getting an invitation to listen to records was a rare and special occassion. He loved listening to his records (only touch them on the edges....never....never leave fingerprints on them, or else!!!) He loved the Beatles and would sit up in his room listening to his albums and reading from a Mad magazine. It was hilarious to hear him doing all the voices to the characters...especially animal sounds and female voices. Mike had a deep voice and a slight lisp and could read like he was a professional.
He was a prankster and loved to scare his younger sisters with the 'pen up the nose' trick. He loved baseball and hanging out with his friends.
We spent a lot of time playing Monopoly (he ALWAYS was the racecar and I took the dog). Each game usually ended with him getting frustrated and storming off, swearing never to play with me again. Time would pass and he would come up to me, game in hand and asking if I wanted to play.
Mike loved animals. We always had an assortment of dogs and cats growing up. Mike left for Vietnam leaving behind his favorite 2 year old cat named Sam and our dog Rufus. Sam survived to the ripe old age of 17 and Rufus made it to the ripe old age of 20!!
Whether it was scooping me up at 4 years old and running home while I screamed from fishooks stuck in my hands, or using his baseball mit to brush red ants off my legs at 5 (yes, I was screaming then too), or defending me from the neighborhood bully... Mike was always destined to be a hero.
He chose to be a Medic because he thought it would be better to help people than kill them. recall him coming home on leave from basic training, just before he left for Vietnam with a suitcase full of rolled bandages. I was his official test 'mummy'...although...I admit..that even at that time I was very aware of how serious this was, also realized the change in my brother. t was normal for him to either be teasing, or avoiding his sisters, but during his last leave he spent almost every minute at home
On Mike's last day home he brought me upstairs to his room and opened his closet where he kept all of his cherished records. He just stood there for a moment then looked at me with a serious look. He decided to give me all of his records, even the Beatles!! n total silence, immediately realizing at that moment the reality and I remember telling him 'no' and began to cry. I had realized at that very moment that I would never see my brother again and I think he knew that too.
Mike left later that afternoon..we drove him to the airport in silence. I watched him give a hug and kiss to our Mother, then Dad, a hug to Margo and then a hug for me. Mike never showed affection. At that moment, I knew. Over the next several months Mike wrote several letters home, one funnier than the last. Sometimes telling stories about the 'long...long..walks', but many of his letters were begging for care packages.
One early summer day we returned home from a shopping trip to get supplies for our vacation up north. We had just carried the bags in the house when I heard a car door and looked outside to see a tan car and two men in uniform approaching the house. Again, I screamed. My Dad just looked at me then towards the door....then my Mother...we all began to cry before the doorbell rang. Mike was missing in action and we waited until the next day before we heard that he had been killed. His room mysteriously filled with the scent of roses the day we heard he died....finally fading only after each one of us had the opportunity to go to his room and smell it. We decided it had to be him letting us know he was okay.
Living in a small town means that everyone pretty much knows everyone. Mike was the first to be killed in Vietnam from the downriver area. Mike's funeral was so large that I recall cars and school buses parked on both sides of the street for blocks. t was the first time I heard Taps in person, it wasn't the last.
If you've noticed, Mike never had the chance to work his first job...never had the opportunity to go to college.....never had the opportunity to be married, have children, or grow old. The life I described was basically that of a childhood. School buses full of his friends at his funeral, Beatle albums and baseball mitts...I can't imagine what that had to have been like to go from childhood to Hell and then from Hell to Heaven before you barely reached 19 years old. Like the poster from the 70's said 'War is not for children, or flowers, or other living things'.
I appreciate the opportunity to pay tribute to my brother and would be happy to offer any further information I can about his life, and his service in Vietnam. We still have his letters and all of his citations and medals.
Oh ....yes...and still have his records.