Today we honor those who have protected our freedom. Where Memorial Day honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,Veterans Day honors all those who were willing to put their life on the line for us.
As for my family,I have had many who have served: My Dad ( Army, New Guinea,WWII),my brother Valmore (Army, Vietnam),my brother in law,Tom ( Air Force,Vietnam),my brother Dennis ( Sea Bees,Gulf War),my niece Tara (Air Force,OIF),and her hubby Scott (Air Force,OIF), my Uncle Bobby (Army,Korea),and my Uncle Valmore (Army,WW II-killed in Hawaii by someone in his tent cleaning his rifle).Brother B was in the Army National Guard. My father in law,Dick,was in the Coast Guard during the Bay of Pigs. Rick's uncle was a POW in Vietnam.
While my family has had many serve,Rick's family has a long line of military service.His family has been here in the US since the 1620's. They came over from England with the wave of Puritans fleeing for their religious freedom.In fact,he has family members that arrived in Plymouth,MA in the boat after the Mayflower,which was called the Anne.He has had family members who fought in every war since the French and Indian Wars.Some died in war,one at Valley Forge,and a great great grandfather who died in the Civil war at Fredricksburg and is buried in Virginia.
|A down time moment at Camp Shelby,MS|
When I met Rick,he was already a veteran.He had been in Airborne in the 1980's,stationed in Italy and had been in many "quick" combat missions (which of course,he can't tell me about). I refer to them as "Reagan's Secret Little Wars." He did serve in Nicaragua,which is not a place he remembers with great fondness.
In 2000,he wanted to get back into service,so he joined the National Guard. Then of course, 9/11 happened,and he went to Iraq after doing two tours on Homeland Security at the Air National Guard base down in Newington(Former Pease Air Force Base,now the Pease International Tradeport)
|Ready to meet whatever comes his way|
Rick was sent to Ramadi,which at the time was the worst place in Iraq. It is located in the Sunni Triangle,or,"The Triangle of Death." It is on a main highway from Syria,where many of the insurgents came from. To quote one solider, "In 2004-2005,Ramadi was the shit." Reporters were rarely allowed into the city because it was so dangerous. Rick became a Scout,which meant he could sneak around gathering intel,or kick in doors and take prisoners. He also called in air support,and was a "long distance problem solver." They were attacked daily,several times a day.He saw combat each day.He took lives. He also helped train the Iraqis,which on more than one occasion, fled when they were attacked,leaving Rick by himself. When they went on patrol in town,he was either on point or in the rear. He did not have the luxury of staying at Forward Operating Base (FOB).He stayed in Outposts in outside of town.They were wooden shacks,no shower,etc. There were those who were at the base who never left it. They were referred to as FOBBITS by those who actually engaged in combat,and it was not a compliment. When there would be hot water at the FOB,it would be gone by the time Rick and his fellow Scouts went to shower,because the officers used it all (who never left the base).
|One of the outposts|
|One of my favorite phots|
Before Rick was in the Scouts,he was in a squad that patrolled in Bradleys. He was in the turret quite often.
He was wounded on July 28,2005 in an RPG attack. He spent two weeks at Landstahl in Germany,before being sent to Fort Gordon,GA ( Walter Reed was full) where he was in medhold until April 2006.
|Rick home for good!|
Of course,that is where our struggle as a family really began-living with PTSD and TBI and dealing with it. It has made us stronger,but it took a toll on our marriage for a few years. His emotional walls were up so high,I could tell as soon as I held him for the first time since he was wounded that he wasn't the same.I could feel it. It took a few years for those walls to come down,thanks to medication and therapy (which he still does) and he is more like his old self. Our connection finally returned three years ago,and it still took a while to get back to where we were even then.
So,while this day is about Veterans and their sacrifices,I want to give a shout out to the families of veterans as well. They cried tears of sorrow,tears of joy,and tears of frustration. There are some whose loved ones are no longer here,and there are those who lost their loved ones due to mental issues and who have seen their marriages crumble. There are those who are caregivers to the physically and mentally disabled,and there are those who are blessed with no issues.Whatever their circumstances,they also deserve to be thought of today.
A couple years ago,we went to Malone,NY to visit the boyhood home of Almanzo Wilder(Laura Ingalls Wilder's hubby). Our tour group consisted of the three of us and a couple from Ontario. The gentleman was a retired member of the Canadian Air Force. Rick thanked him for his service to his country and shook his hand. The gentleman looked taken aback at first,thanked Rick as well,then commented,"It took me 19 years and to have to come to the US before anyone ever thanked me." So...thank you. Thank you to our wonderful Canadian friends up North (hello,Kymber),thank you to all those countries who have sacrificed for the greater good and who have supported the US with your blood,sweat,and tears throughout our history,and of course,thank you to My Fellow Americans. You continue to keep us free. I am humbled and grateful.