Memorial Day

Another Memorial Day is upon us. While it can be a celebration of life, it is also a time to remember those who have sacrificed. A major theme of this blog is “…Those who have gone before.” Every Memorial Day I get quite emotional. I have personally met men who later died in battle or sneak attacks. It would take one misstep, or one fluke for me to join their ranks.

For most men of arms that I know, it is a time of deep reflection.

“Will my family be taken care of if I’m gone?”
“What will my parents think?”
“Will I honor my family and my service by my actions?”

About 2 years ago, I had a post about my personal honor roll. As with any warrior, it grows every year. On the one hand, I am thankful I am still here. On the other, there but for the grace of God go I.

We had 2 sailors die in a mudslide this year. There was nothing we could do about it. They were living in that location because of their duty station. This is their day just as much as those who have died in combat.

There are others as well. Many warriors suffer from PTSD. This is their day too. Some of their sanity was lost at war.

By all means, honor our men and women of the Armed Forces. But this is a day for them to honor their lost brothers and sisters or fathers and mothers. For some, it is quite personal.

This is not a day to praise a veteran or an active Armed Service member. It is a day to thank the young child that will never meet their father. It is a day to thank the Gold Star mother or wife. It is a day to remember the father who had to bury his son. That is an inversion of the natural order.

We have our days. We have Armed Forces Day and Veteran’s Day. This is our day to honor our fallen brethren. We shall drink and carry on, because that is the way the military honors their own. We will remember funny anecdotes and stories.

On Monday, we will be placing flags on the graves of veterans at the local cemetery. It Is a small action. It means the world to some. I find it to be quite an honor.

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

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Strong Men and Strong Legacies

A couple years back, two veterans that are very near to my heart passed on. One was my paternal grandfather. The other was one of his good friends. These are men that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. They would be at your house in a hot minute if you suddenly needed a friend. During the course of a Facebook conversation bemoaning their loss, my brother made an excellent point. It is our job to be those men for the next generation. My Dad is now Grandpa Snipe. I am now Uncle Snipe. It is our job to give the same care to the next generation that our forbearers gave to us. Take the lessons we learned, and pass them down. Such is life. If ever you look back and think about the good old days, bring those days forward. Teach the young ones how to ride well, shoot straight, and speak the truth.

I realized one day that I am a rare creature. I have been in the US Navy since before 9/11. There are very few of us left in today’s US Navy. One day, God willing, I will be the old guy that kids look up to with awe. I want to be worthy of the legacy of Grandpa and his buddy. I want to eventually be the worn out old man at the parade doing his level best to stand up in the presence of the National Ensign. I want to be known for helping others and supporting other vets. I want my legacy to be such that my future grandson and his friends view me with the same awe and respect that I viewed my Grandpa and his friends with.

Every man has a season on this earth. I want my season to be worthy of comment. If no one is mourning when I pass, then I have failed. I want to touch lives, even if it is in the smallest way. I want to live my life in such a way that even my exes show up at my funeral. My Dad’s ex wife showed up at Grandpa’s funeral. That must be the surest testament to a man’s character ever. In short, I want to be like my Grandpa. I want the whole town to know when I pass.

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

Those That Have Gone Before

http://williamlopez1984.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/the-medal-of-honor-a-handful-of-hereos/ has a post that really opened my eyes. It expounds on how few people can name a Medal of Honor winner and how many people can name all 5 Kardashians.

The Medal of Honor(not the Congressional Medal of Honor) is this nation’s highest award for military valor. It calls for service above and beyond the call of duty. For men whose call of duty includes rescuing comrades from burning rooms, and surrendering only as a last resort, above and beyond is some next level valor. Like Mr. T, Duke Nukem, and GI Joe rolled into one awesome fighting man.

I have met a few Medal of Honor winners and heard others of them speak. They are some of the most humble farm boys I have ever met. I couldn’t quite picture them charging machine gun nests with flamethrowers, or organizing desperate last stands. The historical record shows that they did just that. They took lives and saved lives. It was their call, and they answered.

There are two Navy Seals who recently earned that medal that now have ships named after them. One jumped on a grenade, which is a movie cliché, but a real life choice. The other exposed himself intentionally to enemy fire while calling in reinforcements.

On a whim, I gave Mrs. Snipe a quiz. I asked her how many Kardashians she could name, and she named one. I asked how many American Idol winners she could name, and she named five. I asked her how many Medal of Honor winners she could name, and I got a blank stare in return. I can name three. It would have been four, but I forgot Woody’s last name. He is from my home state, and spoke at my church once. He is the basis for my flamethrower example above.

I posted earlier about what constitutes courage. These men, and their brothers, had it in spades. Even if they were scared to death, they manned up, and did what was required of them. These men are real heroes. The ones I have met or heard speak, downplay their actions. They will say they hid in a foxhole like a good LT. They almost always skip the part where they stood up, guns blazing, in the face of a numerically superior enemy, to give their men time to reorganize and counterattack.

That is what Americans should be honoring. Not some tart who is famous because she is famous. Audie Murphy and Sergeant York were two of my heroes growing up. Not a ballplayer or celebrity. Two men, who in their respective wars, earned an amazing amount of awards for valor. To further prove my point, it is worth noting that Alvin York was a pacifist, who entered the war only reluctantly. When he realized that his squad was in grave danger, he hunted humans like he hunted ducks. He didn’t find it proper to let men die because he didn’t want to kill. It seems to me that most men of that caliber find themselves in similar circumstances.

If you can name more celebrities than Medal of Honor winners, please reevaluate your priorities. I, for one, proudly represent the fighting spirit of those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world. It is my mission to learn about them, and to tell their stories.

Always remember, fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

On the Shoulders of Giants

In the Bible, the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 11, has a people of faith hall of fame. It goes down the list from Abel to David and more. Christians strive to emulate the people in that chapter and to continue writing that verse. Some men fail at the ideal and some men excel greatly.

Pastor Chuck Smith excelled greatly. He mentored a lost young man that later became my pastor, and a man I learned much from. The Bible has a few parables about seeds. One man plants, one man waters, and another harvests. One little part goes toward the other. One of Pastor Smith’s protégés became the man that led me from the land of the lost to the land of the living.

A man can see farther by standing on the shoulders of giants. Pastor Smith is a giant of the faith. My pastor saw farther by standing on his shoulders. I, in turn, can see farther by standing on my pastor’s shoulders.

Pastor Smith succumbed to cancer this morning, may he rest in peace.. I have no doubts he is laying his well decorated crown at the feet of Jesus this morning. He will be missed, but as Saint Paul said, he fought the good fight and finished the race.

Every thing we do counts. Pastor Smith followed Jesus and saved a countless number of people from hell. We need more men like Pastor Smith. God bless, fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

Those who have gone before(again)

While making the rounds of the blogroll, http://mostlycajun.com has reminded me of two monumental events in history that today is the anniversary of:

1942World War II: Battle of Midway. U.S. Navy dive bombers sink the Japanese cruiser Mikuma and four Japanese carriers, the Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu and Soryu. The Japanese don’t give up yet, but the Imperial Japanese Navy is done for. Snipe comments: This was the turning point of the War in the Pacific.  This is also why a US Sailor can pretty much get free drinks all over Australia.  They remember and they aren’t even American.  All sailors learn the importance of this battle from boot camp onward.  If not for this battle, Australia was on the Japs list of coming attractions. 

1944World War II: Battle of Normandy begins. D-Day, code named Operation Overlord, commences with the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in France. The Allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history. Watch the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan”.

I have admitted in many previous posts that I have the utmost respect and awe for, “…those who have gone before me, to defend freedom and democracy around the world.”

The men who participated in the above battles, from all services, are the reason I could choose which branch of service to join.  They are the reason I can hillbilly it up right now, which amounts to drinking beer and watching the CMT Music Awards on TV.

Now for what tears it.  We receive a monthly calendar from our apartment complex that highlights “important” or noteworthy dates in history.  There is no mention of D-Day.  It talks about The Globe in England, the original Stars and Stripes, a roller coaster in Coney Island, Ford’s first auto, and a bunch of other historical shenanigans and drivel, i.e the founding of CNN.  I guess the moonbats running this place don’t want us to remember the sound trouncing thier ideas took in the ’40s.

Today marks the anniversary of one of the most well known battles in history.  If you are an American, it is your duty to remember.  That is all.  Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

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.

“Those who have gone before”

As a sailor, I have memorized the Sailor’s Creed and recited it on several occasions.  My favorite part: I proudly represent the fighting spirit of the navy, and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

While making the blogroll rounds today http://nicedoggie.net aka Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler has an excellent post about the Doolittle Raid.

From the comments: The Pacific War held one special significance for both sides, the Axis had dropped bombs on the homelands of both nations, and were repaid for that brutality by a combined force that ultimately led to the abandonment of a planned invasion of the Australian continent.   Lest we forget.

This was a time when military men were made of stern stuff.  The best paragraph:

Doolittle expected to be court-martialed when he returned stateside. He had lost all 16 planes and inflicted minimal damage in return. To his surprise he was instead promoted to Brigadier General and presented the Medal of Honor. The raid had shaken Japanese confidence and gave American morale a desperately needed boost. In their country’s darkest hour the Doolittle Raiders had shone as a beacon of hope. A more practical, and strategically vital, result though was that the raid forced the Japs to pull valuable fighter forces back to the home islands to defend against another raid. Concerned about the ability of America to strike deep into Japans defensive perimeter, Tojo decided that Japan needed to expand into the central Pacific. This decision led to the monumental Battle of Midway, from which the Imperial Japanese Navy never recovered

My thoughts:  The raid commander felt he had failed.  He lost planes and lost lives.  No leader feels that lightly.  However, the Japs now had to guard homebase.  He had succeeded amazingly.  The men that gave their lives did so for the greater good.  As stated above:  In their country’s darkest hour the Doolittle Raiders had shone as a beacon of hope

Hope can carry a person or a nation when all else has failed.  Hope carried the American Revolution.  I look at those men in awe.  As a professional sailor I wonder, “Would I be able to do that when my country calls?”

I will be there for you in your darkest hour.  I will keep the wolf at bay.  I will sacrifice the best years of my life to defend you and yours.  All I ask is that you use and cherish your freedoms.  Vote, carry your guns, and speak freely.  My shipmates and I are on the pointy end to make it so.  If you neglect your freedoms, our sacrifice is for naught.

“Woe betide the wolf when I stand guard at the door”.