ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day - A Parting Thought

Matthew Heidt of Froggy Ruminations has this post on Memorial Day (HT Michelle Malkin):

At this time of year I feel compelled to remember some of my comrades that are no longer with us.

The first close friend I lost in the Teams was HM1 Brad Tucker who died while conducting a K-duck in 1997. A K-duck is a way to drop an inflatable boat from beneath a Blackhawk helicopter onto a body of water. Brad and I went to BUD/S, 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant Course), and follow on training on the East Coast. He was also very close to my wife as we all shared this time together. Brad was an ebullient man, who put a smile on every face when he walked into a room. The K-duck was dropped at night at an altitude of 160 feet over the waters off the coast of the Bahamas which is obviously way too high. Brad, ever the aggressive frogman, followed the duck soon after it was suddenly released and fell to his death.

BM1 Neil Roberts was the LPO (Leading Petty Officer) of Brad’s and my BUD/S class. He fell out of a helicopter as the pilot attempted to avoid enemy fire in the mountains of Afghanistan. The helo pilot flew away not knowing that Neil had fallen, and landed a km away once Neil’s teammates had informed him what had happened. Neil’s boat crew and several Rangers regrouped and went back in under heavy fire to retrieve Neil’s body. Predator drones in the area recorded a critically injured Roberts fighting all the way up until he was captured and executed by AQ/Taliban forces. After a pitched battle which claimed the lives of at least four Rangers, Neil was recovered and dozens of enemy were killed. Neil’s boat crew leader was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions that day, and there has STILL never been a Navy SEAL left behind in combat … dead or alive. Greyhawk had this link to an eyewitness account of the actions occurring at Robert's Ridge (Takur Gar)

HMC Matthew Bourgeois died in Afghanistan as a result of a land mine probably left by the Soviets decades earlier. He was a good ole boy from waaaaaaay down South, and his accent might as well have been Mongolian if I didn’t know he was a proud southerner. I met him at SEAL Team ONE, and he was just a fantastic person in every way. His death may not have been a glorious as some of my other deceased comrades, but that did not diminish his sacrifice in any way. The story related by Dave Rogers (Congressional Candidate from RI) is classic Matt, and gives some insight into a man of extraordinary dedication to his brothers in arms and the Teams.

BM1 Brian Oullette was all Boston, all the time. It is a shame that he didn’t get the chance to witness the Red Sox break the curse this year. Brian was in my first platoon at SEAL Team FOUR, and we had something of a rivalry going. Before the Patriots were any good, we had a $50 bet on the outcome of the Raiders-Pats game. The Raiders won that time and Brian had to pay up so he went into the bank and came back with a sack of $50 worth of pennies. I was a little miffed at the time, but Brian was so competitive and spiteful that his beloved Patriots had lost that he had to make his statement. Brian was killed by a land mine in Afghanistan on Memorial Day this year while out on patrol in Afghanistan.

There are many other Teamguys that have given their all for our country and for their platoons in the vaunted history of the Teams. Unfortunately there will likely be more. I encourage my readers to contemplate these sacrifices and thousands of others in the US military as the Christmas season approaches, and say a prayer for those who remain. Until you have spent Christmas in some third world $hithole, you will never know the loneliness and longing of the American fighting man.

Take some time today to reflect on the people in your life that have sacrificed for you and I. That might be a fallen hero or a veteran that lives nearby. Thank them. Show them your support.

I attended a ceremony on Saturday marking the opening of a Veteran's Historial Plaza in my community with my mother (Navy) and father (Air Force). Even though the ceremony was really not much more than a place for local politicians to show their mugs, I cannot tell you how proud I felt to stand with my mother and father as veterans while we were recognized by the assembled crowd. When the bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" while the colors were on parade, I cried quietly to myself thinking of the men I wrote about here. That is why we have Memorial Day; so we can take a moment to remember fallen comrades... and perhaps cry a little.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler