In Dec. 1967 I was a young Marine in Vietnam. After 13 months, my tour was ending in a week: I loved classical music as it seemed to help me keep the surreal experience of combat separate from life back in "the world" at home. When my dad sent me a tape cassette of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus I was playing it inside our tent when I noticed 4 or 5 other young Marines standing around listening to it. When it finished, Cpl. Tony Handley said, "Wow. What was that? Is that classical music? No wonder you like it so." When I left to come home he asked me if he could have the tape. I gave it to him and returned home.
Two months later he was killed at Khe Sahn. I like to think that maybe "The Hallelujah Chorus" brightened his life for a few minutes. Now whenever I hear it again, I remember the damp, musty smell of rotting canvas and mud. And how it made my best friend, Cpl. Tony Handley, happy for that one bright shining moment. For that I am forever thankful to Handle.