Just a common soldier – a soldier died today

Maybe it’s because I’m a veteran or maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember the war that these older WWII guys fought, but I must admit that this video chokes me up.

WWII vets at memorial

Compared to many, my part was a pitiful fraction of what many guys went through. I was in during peace time and part of the ground crew for B-47’s (remember them?), so I was never in any real danger. I was in Gen. Curtis Lemay’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) so the most difficult thing I had to deal with were the periodic “alerts” where we prepared additional B-47’s to mimic an actual launch of our bombers to attack Russia. They were designed to be as real as could be so we’d be prepared if the Russians attacked. There was thought to be a real possibility of that happening. A number were always flying on an air alert status with “weapons” already loaded and were just awaiting targeting information to proceed.

But that doesn’t hold a candle to those guys who fought in WWII, or Korea or Viet Nam – many of whom didn’t come back – or didn’t come back with all of their parts. How do we repay them and their families for what they lost? There is something undefinable inside of me that has a humble respect for all of my brothers who served, and especially those who were unfortunate to be thrust into a war zone. I’ll always feel something for those who fought for our rights and freedoms that I don’t believe that someone who has never been in the military can understand. And maybe it is why I get choked up to hear the Star Spangled Banner or watch Old Glory pass in a parade. I’m a grizzled, obstinate, opinionated old geezer but my heart belongs to these United States. I took an oath and only death will rescind it.

Before I get any more emotional, PLEASE watch this video, it’s only 5:34 and if it doesn’t bring a lump to your throat, you’re not a true patriot.

Garnet92, with a grateful H/T to Bobbie!

 



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12 replies

  1. That has me blubbering like a child. It’s true that the politicians are honored so and the soldiers who have served us all don’t get much of a by line. But his family knows, and God knows.
    My husband served in the Air Force during the Viet Nam War. We’ve both blocked out that time of our lives. Our daughter was born then, in 1969, in NC. Air Force brat.

    Thank God my husband served 5 years and was safe and is alive today. But so many died, so many.
    Thanks for this one, Garnet.

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    • This was sent to me by an old blogging friend from the Townhall and Band of Bloggers days, Bobbie. Realizing that I’d neglected to give her H/T credit, I did go back an include that in the post. She was wise enough to realize that it needs to be distributed far and wide to honor our veterans.

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  2. I also choke up on hearing the Star Spangled Banner or watching Old Glory pass in a parade. But nothing moves me to the verge of tears more quickly than those simple, mournful, twenty-four notes of TAPS.

    I was privileged to spend my last 18 months of active service as Petty Officer in Charge with the Honor Guard at NAS Whidbey Island. During that time, I served in, or presided over, final military honors for 156 fallen brothers and sisters called to their last duty station.

    From the funeral of a popular local Police Chief, attended by several hundred, to the quiet graveside service of a WWI naval officer, attended by four family members and a preacher, memories of each well up whenever I hear the volley of rifle fire, then a bugler playing that final tribute echo across an otherwise silent landscape.

    Four decades later, I can still see the eyes, filled with grief, of every surviving spouse, child, parent, sibling, or grandchild to whom I handed that solemnly folded flag, a small token of appreciation for their departed’s loyalty and service to this Nation. I am still humbled by knowledge that it was not I, but the over two hundred million American citizens I represented, who stood before them speaking the words:

    “On behalf of the President, Department of Defense, Department of Navy, and a grateful Nation,,,”

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    • Having just recently experiencing this touching ceremony, while also being surrounded by dozens of Patriot Guard Riders standing motionless with flags waving in the breeze, I can tell you that it means everything to the family to see their loved one honored this way. It brings tears to my eyes again just thinking about it, and now I have that flag proudly displayed in my home.

      To you and all the others that do this for families, your efforts are greatly appreciated.

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      • Again, my condolences to you Kathy. It must have been bittersweet to see your dad honored that way, on one hand proud, but on the other hand sad to lose your father. I’m glad that he was honored with a proper ceremony and shown the proper respect. It’s sad that so many veterans pass without anyone noticing – as in the video.

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    • What an honor to do that. I think that you’re a better man than I am since I’m not sure I could do that over and over without breaking down. Taps has that effect on me too, but probably not as deeply felt as you. I salute you, sir, for doing an extremely difficult job, but one for which our fallen men and women deserved as a final measure of respect. The handing over of the flag must be a very difficult, but necessary ending to that final honor.

      My sincere thanks to you, Salty.

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    • Thank you so much for doing that for our soldiers and soldiers’ families, Saltwater. God bless you with his best blessing.

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    • Please allow me to respond with a single post, rather than individual replies.

      First,, I want to thank you all for the kind words. It was my profound privilege, and humble honor, to have served in that capacity. I must acknowledge that it was the most rewarding, yet disconcerting, of all my military experiences.

      Kathy, I knew, intellectually at least, that our efforts provided some measure of comfort to those left behind. Beneath the sorrow in faces of family and friends, I also saw joy, a joy at knowing the departed were loved by many beyond those in their immediate daily circle. It was 15 years later, at the services for my father, a WWII veteran, that I truly understood that dichotomy of emotions over a single act of respect by strangers, who were not really strangers after all.

      Garnet, I could never go so far as to allow those one hundred fifty-six services had no ill effect. I felt a deep sense of loss each and every time, especially for the two who were personal acquaintances. However, I did what military personnel have done for ages when faced with traumatic or unpleasant circumstances. I separated the good from bad, compartmentalized each, quarantined the bad in order to protect my own psyche, then‘soldiered’ on. This is a self-defense measure with which I am sure you are familiar. However, those buried demons eventually break free to cry, “Havoc!”

      Mine escaped a few years after my father’s death. I was monitoring the activities of several contractors outside a sensitive facility. One of the workers accidentally knocked his portable radio off the loading dock, watching it shatter as it hit the ground. A fellow worker popped to attention, brought a closed fist to his lips, and tooted out TAPS as if playing a kazoo. His friends laughed. I lost it, sobbing and blubbering like a baby, as long denied tears roiled to the surface. Their foreman saw my distress, and asked if I was alright. I could only respond, “Just a vet healing.”

      I noted the fading Army and combat tattoos on his forearm when he placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. This warrior, no older than I, then spoke the words I needed most to hear. “It’s OK, son. We’ve all been there,” he whispered, before turning to his crew and admonishing them, “Show’s over. Get your dead asses back to work. We’ve got a schedule to keep.”

      Yes, tanngle, I was indeed blessed that day. An angel of the Lord, in the form of another vet, reached out to pull me away from the precipice of total despair.

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  3. Reblogged this on Jack Carson Pickard and commented:
    Salute!

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  4. Oh wow, that one had me in tears from the start. I have the utmost respect for all our men and women who signed that blank check. They are a special breed and the rest of us are truly blessed to have people willing to risk their lives for us.

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    • So true Kathy. I remember the way that returning vets were treated back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Thank God that our population regained its senses and now at least show respect to our military, especially when in uniform.

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