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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Courage Under Fire

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
Thomas Paine, 1775

It is the veteran, not the preacher who has given us the freedom of religion.

It is the veteran, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the veteran, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the veteran, not the campus organizer who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the veteran, not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

It is the veteran who salutes the flag.

It is the veteran who serves under the flag.

I have the greatest admiration for our soldiers....they are not drafted, but choose to serve our country graciously, keeping in tact our way of life, and our freedoms and liberties alive. They train for months, under hostile conditions, being prepared for what lies ahead....war. Most have no idea what to expect..... the rollercoater of emotions that will flood them when they fly half way around the world, are placed in a life or death situation, the sights and sounds of combat, the feeling of fear. How can you prepare yourself to lose a comrad, a friend...your life? I know my son Ben shared these struggles when he deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic for the 877 th PSD combat team, supporting the 101st Airborne, and the 25th Airborne combat teams. He was trained by the best, but until you're there, you just can't know. While there, he would write poems, expressing what had happened during the missions he was sent on. This one in particular tells of an experience that will always be a part of him.....literally. He tatooed this on his ribs as a reminder of the first life he was required to take.

It isn't fear that grips him,but a new heightened sense of things.
The scent of burning sulphur and black powder fills his lungs
The cavitation of shrapnel can be heard
as gravity guides it toward earth.
Trigger finger to cold steel activates the firing pin.
Rifling embraces naked brass as an inanimate object
is born into an animate world.
An advocate of righteousness tears superficial skin tissue.
Sleep now admirable foe; let not the world judge you but our
Lord God and Savior.

"The air was silent as we emerged from the outskirts of a village located at the bottom of a deep ravine. The valley was wide and its inhabitants were spread out. There were little kids playing on the side of the road begging for food. Now at the end of the mission, I was becoming tired and losing focus. We had already been up for almost two days and it was getting about that time to hit the sack. My back was facing the lid of the rear hatch as I provided sector security from my 6 to 12 o'clock position. Suddenly, a loud explosion shook the earth and woke the convoy from behind. Muscle memory had me dial in the red dot scope on my M-4 and initiate fire superiority. As I peeked around the corner of the rear hatch another explosion shook the ground and made me take cover yet again. Surely there won't be anymore, but as I peeked around the corner, yet again another explosion heightened spirits even closer than the last. The shrapnel traveled so fast that I could hear it whistling in the air. But this time I saw the flash and location of the shooter. The gunner didn't have contact so I knew something had to be done. It was a rocket propelled grenade team and I knew that eventually they would shoot close enough to hit the truck and kill our 50 cal. Gunner. Trigger finger to cold steel activated the firing pin. A 5.56 bullet struck the insurgent almost 400 yards away and the sound was hollow as hit passed through his organs. Now my gunner did have contact and put several hundred rounds through insurgent's house. "Smith two o'clock, Smith two o'clock" AK-47 flashes coming from the door of another house 100 yards to the left were seen as I pulled the trigger. This man fell forward and began to crawl on the ground to find cover. As he crawled a young kid, maybe 14, ran to his aid. But Smith, our 50. Cal gunner, already received my radio contact, and sprayed rounds throughout the 2 o'clock position. The kid went to sleep in several dozen pieces as the man whom was crawling was lying motionless. Standard Operation Procedures provided by our commanding officer had us push through the kill zone and get back to base. Special Forces were in the area and took care of the bodies. The accounts of this day have been kept between our combat team since the day it happened. Although the characters in this story are real, the names and location will not be disclosed. All the events will be denied should this land in the wrong hands. "

May God bless those who serve our country with courage......till next time, adios.

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