Monday, April 04, 2005

Fallen

I attended my first memorial service today. I hope it was my last.

The fallen soldier was not a member of my unit, nor did I know him. He belonged to an Artillery unit that is right next to us and conducts the same type of missions we do, so I felt an obligation to attend. On March 30th his squad was running a conoy north of here when a vehicle packed with explosives pulled up next to them and detonated. Two other soldiers in the squad were wounded.

I'm not sharing this story for the shock value, but rather I wanted to quickly record the memory I have of attending the service. One that will be forever etched in my mind. I will always remember the display. At the foot of an M16 rifle standing on its barrel end was a pair of desert combat boots filled only by the memory of the soldier that once wore them. Mounted on the buttstock of the weapon was the soldier's combat helmet with his name still afixed; a tradtion that stems from how the location of a fallen soldier was marked on the battlefield. Hanging from the M16 were the deceased's dog tags blowing in the wind like a wind chime singing the hopes and aspirations of a 21 year old man that will never come to pass. I'll never forget the haunting sound of a single bugle playing Taps, or the jolting report of a 21 gun salute. All of this was like a kick in the gut reality check of the price that is being paid here.

I find myself somewhat conflicted after an experience like this. I firmly believe in what we are doing here, and I know we will succeed. On the other hand, however, I question the cost and whether it is worth it. Don't get me worong, I'm not here to question or debate the war in Iraq. I just know this guy wanted to go home some day just as much as I do...but he won't.

"The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."

- General Douglas MacArthur

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

John:
That story was a tough one for me to read. I understand your prespective and I guess that is why I always believe that everything happens for a reason. I look forward to your return and was in Austin last week.

Let me know if I can do anything and hope you are enjoying the care packages.
Take Care
Bob

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Shelly and Jessic said...

John~ Now I know why I felt like I needed to check in on you! I think about you daily. Please stay safe.
Love,
Shelly

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, I have no words for you that can make it any easier, nothing but time and prayer can lessen the pain. Just keep your chin up. - Carol

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, that is a tough situation. Every loss over there is significant.

Don't sweat the conflict. That's normal and it confirms that you are human and intelligent.

Keep your guard up.

Lane

9:57 AM  
Blogger jaibone said...

The highest price in war is always human flesh. I still wish american soldiers wern't in Iraq. I'm lucky to have done my seven years of service during a mostly war free period in our recent history.

I have to tell all of those that read this that I'm not at all sure about the cost of this conflict to the families that wonder every day if they will get the next knock on the door... I'm still hoping this conflict will end soon and everyone can get back to doing something besides worrying... or hoping they'll make it back from the next patrol.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Homefront Six said...

Every night at 11pm, Taps is played here. And every night at 11pm, I say one of the many prayers I say throughout the day for all of you over there and all of those who will not come home.

2:14 AM  
Anonymous Andrea Toth said...

I want to say thank you for posting such a sweet comment. For I am his wife. He was such an amazing person. He was very excited about coming home. Thanks so much for attending his memorial over there and I bet it was beautiful.

3:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home


Austin, TX