Eighteen year old Vincent Cassidy knew that the machine gun nest must be taken out pronto! Without giving it a second’s thought for his own safety, the Derry man ran like a demon toward the cave’s mouth of death. At its entrance, he began to throw hand grenades down into the cave where the unseen enemy was positioned. He kept this up until the Japanese firing began to slow down. This allows his squad to “advance and destroy the hostile position.”
For this action, Cassidy was awarded the Silver Star. His citation reads: “His conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” His medal was pinned on his chest at a South Pacific base by Major General Vogel, the commander of the Marines in the Pacific Theater.
Somehow while Cassidy was in this bloody hell he found time to write a number of poems. Each speaks about the horror and futility of war — an emotion that is shared by soldier from the beginning of time to the present day. One of his poems, sent home in a family letter, was shared with some friends in Derry. It was soon published in the Derry News, then it was republished in the Manchester Union Leader. It was next printed in the Journal of the New Hampshire Legislature at the special request of a Durham representative. Soon it was republished in a Washington hotel’s newsletter. There it read by the nation’s powerbrokers and was published in the United States Congressional Record — a rare honor that was well deserved. Here is Corporal Cassidy’s poem, “Yesterday?”
Ah, yes, I remember
I was young then, light of
Heart and gay,
A stranger still to fear and
But that was yesterday.
The clang of steel, the pang