Saturday, December 26, 2009

"been down ta Las Cruces" by Mike Marcellino

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, New Mexico

been down ta Las Cruces
by Mike Marcellino

A soldier's reflection:  From the Cold War to Vietnam and Afghanistan 

Written in 2007 by Mike Marcellino, the poetry song was originally recorded and performed by Mike's first band, Split Peace in Cleveland and again recorded by his new band, the Mike Marcellino Band, accompanied by musician Tomas Texino, composer and producer.

In the piece, Mike recalls living in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a few months after returning from the Vietnam War where he served in the U.S. Army as a combat correspondent and photojournalist.  He sent the winter a tiny trailer outside a small horse ranch in the desert hills near the Mexican border.  His most enjoyable time were walking through the desert hills and escaping to Juarez, Mexico, now one of the most violent places on earth.

You're invited to listen on the music player on Mike's Networked Blog, or visit our band website and be a fan of our new folk band.


Las Cruces is near the White Sands Missile Range and not far from McGregor Range, near El Paso, Texas.  It was on this range in 1967 that Mike, using a Pentax with a 300 mm lens, photographed in color and black and white the test firing of  Army Hawk missiles. The photos were picked up on the Associated Press wire and transmitted around the world.

For his first person story and photographs, published in "Army Times" and other newspapers, Mike accompanied a Hawk missile battery, part of the 32nd Army Air Defense Command stationed throughout in West Germany to defend against a possible attack by Soviet army during the Cold War.  This was before "the fall of the Berlin Wall" and the Soviet Union, reunifying East and West Germany.

Today, in part, the Army uses McGregor Range to practice urban warfare in a desert setting.  They call it "urban ops pursuit."  These soldiers and others like them are certainly tuning up for fighting in the Afghanistan War.  Some will die or be wounded in service to their country.

US Army National Guardsmen from C Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment, dash out of a building in pursuit (US Army photo)

Meanwhile, here are the lyrics of a song written by a soldier just back the the Vietnam War, the nation's longest war, taking the lives of more than 58,000 American troops.

been down ta Las Cruces
by Mike Marcellino

been down ta Las Cruces
by Mike Marcellino

been down ta Las Cruces
one time,
down ta
sundown wine
color slide pictures
of mists rising from
the dusty brown
tumbleweed town.

been down ta Las Cruces
down ta the circle
of six can't stand up inside
beside the coral
sleeping in the afternoon.

been down ta Las Cruces
down ta walking
desert brush hills
with mountain lions
and pretty fast rabbits.

been down ta Las Cruces
waiting for spring
down ta
Sunland Park
quarter horses
getting lost in
lost in Juarez.

been down ta Las Cruces
down ta
my worn,
second field forces
sittin' in
the backyard
sun beatin' down
makin' me feel
warm again.
been down ta Las Cruces
one time.

Copyright Mike Marcellino, 2007