Much Appreciative

Posted on November 11, 2015


As a child growing up in the high plains of Texas, I never fully grasped the importance of Veteran’s Day.  Numerous family members of mine proudly served in various branches of the military, and yet, there I was, some goofy, butterball of a child, that was oblivious to the American veteran.  It was not until recently that the significance set in.  I had spent so much time mourning my lost brothers that I forgot to celebrate those who came home.  We came home broken.  We came home with scars only we could see.  But, we came home.  We lived.  So, for me, Veteran’s Day has become a celebration of life; a chance to say thank you to my brothers for giving me the chance to make some great memories.  Never would I have imagined in high school that I would ever join the Army, let alone, come out of it all with a new family; a family not of familial blood, but a family born out of sheer circumstance.  I had no real choice in the fact that I ended up in Alaska.  It was dumb luck that I got assigned to the 501st.  I arrived on Fort Richardson  around 11:30 p.m. on Cinco de Mayo 2005.  I was in Reception for 3 days, and was scared shitless.  Not because I didn’t know what to expect, but because there was a group of guys who I went through basic training, medic training and Airborne School with who were just down the road, already getting settled into the 501st.  There I was, one of just a few medics waiting to hear where we were going.  Eventually, the giant, slow-moving parts of the Army handed down the orders and off I went to HHC 1/501st and put under one of the greatest NCO’s to ever have the title, then-SFC Rick.  (He is now CSM RIck).  The subsequent three years and four months proved to be a very defining time.  I was lucky enough to be attached to an infantry platoon where many life lessons were handed down.  I learned that the measure of a man is in his actions, not his words.  I learned that I could drink an entire bottle of Jim Beam by 10:00 p.m. and then wake up at 4:30 a.m. to run six miles and be unphased by it all.  I learned that the best defense was an offense based in foul language and witty comebacks.  I learned that Infantrymen could out engineer the Engineers when it came to making beer bongs.  I learned that I probably should have gotten in more trouble for letting Caldwell stick that rectal thermometer in his mouth when it had been inside William’s that morning.  I have learned that those men, those veteran’s, are my family for life.  Happy Veteran’s Day!

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