Memorial Day

I am a sailor.  I have served my country proudly and ably for over a decade.  Memorial Day is not about me.  It is not my day.  A few posts back, I went down my personal honor roll.  Friends, relatives, and fellow warriors who shed this mortal coil, some before their time.  I have signed a blank check to the USA for a price payable up to and including my life.  The men whose day this is paid that price.  The below is a sentiment shared by many, but in my way.  I actually thought some of these things today.  As I am a sailor, this will have a distinctly Navy slant.

When the smoke from the barbecue gets in your eyes, remember the men on Battleship Row, the USS Forrestal, and USS Cole, battling fires to save their shipmates.

When the seawater from the beach goes up your nose, remember the men on the Dolphin, the Thresher, and those lost at sea in other engagements.

When you get a sunburn, remeber the men in North Africa, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who died in the sweltering heat from enemy action.

When you partake in ice cold adult beverages, remember the men freezing in Valley Forge, strapped across Jeeps in the Chosin Reservoir, or the honored dead being transported in ship’s refrigerators(why we sailors remove our hats on a ship’s messdecks) to their final resting place.

Remember also the first responders from 9/11, “…those heroes who died, just doing what they knew.”

We have been watching the various war movies on TV and I have been explaining to Pocket Monkey about PTSD and sacrifice in words suitable to his age.

Last night, we watched Tora!Tora!Tora!  Pearl Harbor holds a place of honor and reverence in the US Navy’s collective conscious.  Always I ask, “What would I do in their shoes?”

Always remember, real men are allowed to cry today.  Today is a day of remembrance.   Today, I will cry like a baby.  I will remember those who have gone bfeore me to do defend freedom and democracy around the world.

Men I know have died.

I personally know too many men who have died for our freedom.  Let us honor them. “Happy Memorial Day”  Let us mourn on their behalf.

May they Rest in Peace.

Advertisements

Too few left

I am a fighting man.  Some of my brothers in arms have died.  Some from enemy action.  Some from suicide.  Some from accidents.  I saw something on www.rangerup.com today that made the memories come back.  I have an honor roll of sorts in my brain I revisit during Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and when certain situations arise.  Here is what Ranger Up said:

For most people in America, or Britain, or Australia or Canada or any of our allies, the casualties are a brief moment on the news, never again to be thought of or considered. Only the families of the fallen are left to bear the weight of the loss…and of course us. We know what they gave up. We suffered the same pains, but somehow we came out okay. And they were so damn young.

Now for my .02 “They were so damn young”.

An Engineman I know died during the Cole bombing.  He was near my age, and I was green as hell at the time.  20 or 21 at the oldest.  We were classmates and friends at “A” school. I wrote a condolence letter to his family because he introduced me to them when they came to visit him.

An Ops Department bubba from my first ship died in a car wreck around ’02.  He also was near my age at the time.

The stress was too much for one of my deck ape buddies.  He hung himself in a line(rope for civvies) store room.

An Air Maintenance Chief that died in an ATV rollover accident.  I attended that funeral with the rest of the HT/DC shop because he had been the LCPO of our air det during deployment.

A Radioman from my current ship died in a car wreck.  A bit older than me, but still young.

Those that were older still bear mention in my personal honor roll.

A maternal great uncle and former(never ex) Marine.  He saw action in the WW2 island campaigns as a TOW gunner.

A paternal grandfather and Vietnam Vet.  Agent Orange complications finally caught up with him years after the war.  A true Marine, he fought to the end.  He taught me more by example about riding well, shooting straight, and speaking the truth than any man I know.

A cousin that was in the 82nd Airborne died in a motorcycle wreck in his hometown after chasing the Republican Guard all over Kuwait and Iraq.

Several kids from my hometown, mostly Marines, who I graduated with, died on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The punchline from the above article was that there are too few left.  Amen to that.  The above mentioned men are why you enjoy your freedoms today.  Remember them and those in their company of heroes.  We saw a WW2 vet today at the USS Midway.  I told Mrs. Snipe that there aren’t many of those men left.  I listened to him speak about being a Beachmaster during the war.  I was in awe.  The things those men did are legendary to me.  To them, it was just another fine Navy day.  Never forget, “..those who have gone before, to defend freedom and democracy around the world”.

That is all.  Fall out and carry out the plan of the day.

Un-American

Today, I took Mrs. Snipe and the Pocket Monkey to the USS Midway Museum in downtown.  It was mostly an early Mother’s Day present because Mrs. Snipe wanted to see Jessica Sanchez sing.  There were some good moments and bad moments.  The good was the general all around fun I have at museums.  A part of the crew of USS San Diego was present.  They looked sharp in their whites and represented the Navy well.  Pocket Monkey decided he wanted to be a “red guy”(crash and salvage/bomb squad) on the flight deck when asked by the tour guide.

Let us speak for a moment about respect.  I have learned since I was very young how to respect the US Flag and the National Anthem.  Ms. Sanchez is a Navy child.  Her papa is in the reserves.  Since she was on a US Navy ship museum, she opened with the National Anthem.  She sang it well, that is not my issue.  I put Pocket Monkey down and told him to stand up straight and face the flag during the song.  Since I was in civvies, I faced the flag and placed my hand over my heart(this called teaching Pocket Monkey by example), which I learned in Cub Scouts.  The sailors were in ranks, so only their Chief Petty Officer saluted, which is standard military etiquette.  Now for the civvies.  Over half of the men didn’t remove their hats.  WTH is this country coming to?  As is my custom, along with my hand over my heart, I closed my eyes and remembered those that will never return. That is what you do during the National Anthem.  According to custom and tradition, you may also sing along quietly if you so desire.  I suppose the emcee could have asked the men to remove their hats, but perhaps he figured they knew already.

That burr will be in my saddle for some time.  Until next time, fall out and carry out the plan of the day.

Navy SEALs

We have a phraase in Navy leadership.  It is “Don’t be afraid to call the baby ugly”.  It is a form of forceful backup.  Basically, right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of rank.  This Navy SEAL gets it.

Via http://moonbattery.com/?p=11507 is a rant of epic proportions.  My favorite part is here:

You do not speak for me or any American military man because though you may now be Commander in Chief, you are not the man to whom we can point our sons and say “This is the American dream, this is American exceptionalism, this is what I wish for your future”, because you Sir are NONE of these things. You Sir, are the antithesis of American Exceptionalism. Your idols are Saul Alinksi and Karl Marx and your revolutionary dreams and anti-American ideals poison your every policy. Your every action betrays the fact that in your soul you do not understand what it is to be an American, not what America truly is. Your agenda from the beginning has been to get rid of and kill everything that is and ever was American. You who so easily dismisses America’s greatness and bows to foreigners… YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME. YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE NAVY SEALS. YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE MILITARY MAN AND you SHALL NOT claim as your prize that which you have not earned. The Navy SEALS are NOT a campaign slogan to be bantered about for play. Nor are our accomplishments, including the demise of Osama Bin Laden, yours to claim.

Follow the link above.  It is a good rant.