Waiting For The Train
Tribute to a fallen Marine
By CWO-5 Rodney C. "Rod" Mooney, U.S.M.C. (Ret.)

My name is Rodney C. Mooney (Rod), I am a United Sates Marine-Retired. I am one of nine Mooney's, from two generations, who have borne that title. I am proud to have served my country and Proud to have had the opportunity to serve with and meet some of the people who have made our Corps what it was and is today. Some if these people are legends of their time, others were Marines doing what duty had dictated they do.

I served with Marines who were in WWI, the Banana Wars, China, WWII (some of whom were at Bataan, Corregidor, Wake Island and others who spent their time in hell on islands too numerous to name). Marines who served in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Desert Storm and in other far-off non descript places where duty called. Marines who had distinguished themselves in battle and those who were among the countless thousands who just did what they could to serve the cause and to survive another day.

I was just an Irish kid who lived on the wrong side of the tracks. I lived with my mother, three brothers, my grandmother, and aunt and uncle. We didn't have much, but we had each other. My father left my mother and us boys for a new life and a new family. My one brother tells it like it was, "We were poor but did not know it, others lived under harder circumstances than we".

During our school years we were accepted by some or our classmates who lived similar lives and to others, we were just OK. I even worked for a "FAMILY" running errands and doing "other things", just to make a buck or two. When I entered the Corps I soon found that it didn't make a damn where you came from, rich or poor, you were going to be molded into a Marine, If you had what it took to be a Marine.

Enough of my younger years, I would like to introduce you to some of the lighter moments I experienced during my "tour," active duty and in the reserves. My friends would call me MOON or MOON MAN, (among other things), so now with my (Tales From The Moon). These are actual events/occurrences and not just sea stories, (or as we used to call them, no BS"ers).


In the early part of 1950, while I was out of school for Easter break, I heard on the radio that the Marine Corps Reserve was enlisting people for a newly formed Company in the Tri-cities. With our family tradition of serving in the Marine Corps going back to the Spanish American War and all subsequent Wars including the Korean and Vietnam Wars, I was very anxious to tell my older brother Buster about what I heard on the radio when he came home from work.

In May 1950 Buster turned 18. He enlisting in the Marine Corps and became a member of the 21st Engineer Company, USMCR. We had two uncles who were in our same age group and when Buster enlisted, they couldn't be out done by him, so they enlisted as well.

The rest is history.. The North Korean Army invaded South Korea and the Army's occupation forces that were stationed in Japan and Korea could not stop the onslot and retreated to what is now called the Pusan Perimeter. This was the last part of June and into July. The Marine Corps Reserve Forces in the United States were activated with orders to ship out in August.

What a send of. There were about 2,000 people at the rail station in Rock Island, Illinois to see our Marines off. Bands played, Mayors spoke and everyone wished them farewell and a safe return. Not the same in December 1951, when our family and friends waited for the train to bring our Buster home. I wrote "Waiting for the Train", in memory of my brother Buster.


It was a cold, bitterly cold December night. No moon, no stars, just the cold wind blowing across the ice bound mighty Mississippi river----waiting for the train.

In the distance you could hear the mournful cry of a train whistle as it was sounding for its crossings. If you listened hard, it sounded like the mournful cry of anguish as it echoed off the buildings and frozen water----waiting for the train.

If you looked hard enough at the Rock Island shore line, you could just barely make out the silhouette of the train as it passed through the shadows and dim lights that were there----waiting for the train.

The closer the train came to the station, the more mournful the sound of its horn. The more mournful sound of the horn, the more somber the small shivering group that was assembled----waiting for the train.

As the train rambled across the old Crescent Railroad span, you could just barely make out the steady beat of the wheels against the joints of the track, as the sound echoed off the ice of the river----waiting for the train.

It was as though someone or something was beating out a special tattoo signaling the return of a fallen warrior----waiting for the train.

Gone were the brass bands, the cheering crowds, the other families and mighty city leaders. Gone were the well wishers, who sent him and the others off to war----waiting for the train.

Present were his wife, his mother, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, his brothers, sister-in-law, some friends and the morticians with their big black hearse----waiting for the train.

As the train pulled into the station, the cold wind seemed to start blowing harder, as if to signal I'M COMING HOME----waiting for the train.

When the train finally stopped, the engineer let out one last signal on the horn. This one being more mournful and somber than the rest----waiting for the train

The doors of the baggage car opened wide to expose a large flag draped olive drab colored chest sitting in the door way, and behind the chest stood a Marine Escort, a well decorated Staff Sergeant----waiting for the train.

It was a very heavy scene, it was gut wrenching, what a nice gift for the Christmas Season, the date was December 30, 1950, the place Davenport, Ia.----waiting for the train.

Dedicated to my brother, Cpl. James W. Mooney Jr. 1119508 USMCR Wpns Co. 2nd Bn. 1st Marine Reg. 1st Marine Div., FMF, (reinf) USMC KIA, 14 Sept 1951, Hill 749, Kanmubong Ridge, Kajon-ni Republic of South Korea.
Marine Forever

-CWO-5 Rodney C. "Rod" Mooney, U.S.M.C. (ret.)

Page published Aug. 10, 2013