29. May 2006 · Comments Off on Other Memorial Day Blogging · Categories: A Href, General

A La, over at Blonde Sagacity, has a Memorial Day post that includes suggestions of how to put the “Memorial” back into the day. She also lists out various wars since WWI, with number of deaths.

Paying homage to all who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country (always, but especially today):
1917-1918 World War I 116,708
1941-1945 World War II 408,306
1945 Okinawa US Navy 5,000, USMC/Army 8,000
06 Jun 1944 D-Day 1,465
1945 Iwo Jima 6,503
1950-1953 Korean War 54,246
1957-1975 Vietnam War 58,219
1983 Beirut Lebanon 241
1990-1991 Persian Gulf, Op Desert Shield/Storm 363
2001-Present Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan 295
2003-Present Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq 2,464

She also links to a Memorial Day Quiz. (I got 7/9)

Capt Ed remembers an Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal of Honor winner.

Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.

Citizen Smash posts a letter from the mother of a fallen hero.

God may have been ready to call my Marine to heaven on April 18, 2004 but I wasn’t, and I can’t wait till the day we will be together again. Rick is a hero to me and all that knew him and loved him. He left behind a legacy that will endure forever. A Marine camp in Iraq was named for him (Camp Gannon). An award for Leadership to the top graduate at the Naval Academy carries his name. These are two reminders of his dedication and sacrifice to his country, but there are thousands of personal reminders that are seared in my heart forever.

His Memorial Day post will be up later.

And Sgt Hook brings it home with memories of a career-long buddy and former roommate, who volunteered to help rescue 4 Navy Seals trapped and surrounded on a mountaintop in Afghanistan. MSgt Tre Ponder was in the ‘Stan for training, not duty, but he went anyway, and died with most of the rest of the rescuers and rescued when the helicopter crashed.

Most of the crewdogs could be found at our place on the weekends where we would bar-b-que meat from the commissary and share war stories over several cold beers. The old adage of “working hard and playing hard” certainly was our mantra, and nobody worked harder than Tre.

Tre could always be counted on, with his easy going, dedicated attitude you never doubted that he’d come through. He always did, and usually with a “shit eating” grin on his face.

Some of the fondest memories from my days as a crewdog involve Tre Ponder.

When our tour on the ROK was over, we went our separate ways, I to Italy, Jay to Georgia, and Tre to Kentucky. I ran into Tre five years later, after my Italian adventures, when I moved to Kentucky. He and his then pregnant wife helped me move into my apartment, lending me some tools and a ladder. Though a little older and now a family man, Tre was still that same old easy going southern boy that you could count on.

I just popped back over to Smash’s site and read his official Memorial Day post.

Every year, two days before Memorial Day, hundreds of Boy and Girl Scouts from all over San Diego County converge on Fort Rosecrans to honor these veterans by placing a single American flag in front of every gravestone and internment marker – all 85,000 of them.

After the opening ceremony, I grabbed a bundle of flags and rushed ahead of the torrent of Scouts, towards the far end of the cemetery. I had some people that I needed to visit. (snip)

My final planned stop was the resting place of Lieutenant Thomas Mullen Adams, my brother’s friend who was killed in a tragic helicopter accident in the opening hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I arrived at Tom’s grave just ahead of the leading edge of the scouts, and reverentially planted the flag. We had a few moments of quiet before the masses arrived, so I told Tom about Grant’s wife and new baby, and their new home in Hawaii. (snip)

I stood up and walked a few feet away while the scouts passed through, taking only a few seconds to methodically place a flag on each grave, salute, and move on.

A man, one of the scoutmasters, paused in front of Tom’s grave. “He’s just pining?” he said, “What does that mean?”

“It’s a joke.” I told him. “It’s a line from Monty Python’s ‘dead parrot sketch.’ You know: ‘E’s not dead, e’s just pining for the fjords.'”

“Oh!” he said. “Did you know him?”

“Yes, he’s my brother’s friend; they served in the Navy together.” I told him the whole story;” (snip)

I could see it on the man’s face, something had changed. These weren’t just tombstones anymore, they were real people.

Let’s remember that, if nothing else. These honored dead, these hometown heroes, were real people. They lived, loved, and laughed, and because they served, we are free to live, love and laugh. May we also serve as honorably as they did, in whichever way we choose to serve.

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