Saturday, November 12, 2005

Desert Veterans

In addition to regular duties and missions, yesterday consisted of ceremonies, gatherings, BBQs, and sports events--fitting for Veterans' Day. It's never obvious to soldiers that Veterans' Day is about them; the majority of us think of our parents and grandparents and others who have completed their service or may have retired. I am proud of my extended family's military and combat experiences. My father served a tour in Vietnam and my uncle in Korea both with the Marine Corps; my grandfather served a tour in the South Pacific in WWII with the Navy; other ancestors fought in WWI, the Spanish American War, the Civil War, and the Revolutionary War--and of course many other family past and present (including in-laws) have faithfully served in times of peace. I imagine that with each of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines--there were wives, children, family and friends supporting them with love and prayers.

Yesterday started reverently, soberly as we gathered ceremoniously in formation to observe Veterans' Day by dedicating our battalion and brigade headquarters' building as the CPL Aleina Ramirez Building. CPL Ramirez was killed-in-action 15 April, 2005 at FOB Dagger--our previous home on the banks of the Tigris. She was a military police officer and a member of our commander's personal security detail--a team of four gun-truck crews who provides transportation and security upon the battlefield. CPL Ramirez was 33 years-old, from Puerto Rico, and is remembered for her quiet friendliness and professionalism. A tree was planted in her memory back at Fort Stewart, Georgia; her family attended the ceremony. I doubt anyone who experienced the night she died will ever forget the event, but I am certain we will always remember and appreciate her. Yesterday is just one of many ways we will do so--both corporately and personally.

The battalion aide station--out of which our medics and physician assistant, Major Pam Roof, treat our soldiers--is on the other side of the chapel and my office. Soldiers commonly do their one-stop-shopping in this building. Major Roof refers some of her patients to my office and vice-a-versa. Yesterday, she and her team had a BBQ--pretty rare around here. They had a small charcoal grill on which SPC Hartley cooked steaks they bought from the PX here on the FOB. (I didn't know the PX sold steaks.) As my wife well knows--I don't care for steaks; I'll take a peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread any day. However, the medium rare, one-inch thick Porter House steak SPC Hartley cooked for me yesterday was delicious. It was so big, I skipped my post workout protein shake--then again, I also skipped my workout! Instead we listened to music, played horseshoes, and visited with each other in the 65 degree sunny weather. I ended the day with my Friday night program: Movie Night at the Chapel, where I showed and we discussed The Legend of Bagger Vance. When I woke up yesterday I wasn't expecting the day to be so fitting to the occasion.

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