my tiger ~ tech sergeant mike reed ~ far man standing on the left
guarding the president and air force one
it is veteran’s day. 2012.
as i write this it means that most workers get an extra day off.
as i write this there are men and women out there who are serving this
country we call our own.
i have thought that wars are not really fought over ideologies.
they are simply fought for that space in time.
my father fought the nazis and now it is a real treat to get to travel
to germany. and the enemy was also japan. and now . . .
we buy their country’s products and we are all friends.
friends who used to be bitter enemies at one point in time.
busy killing each other.
my father . . . my brother . . . and his son . . .
and all my uncles . . . and my grandfathers . . .
and even great grandfathers . . . were all veterans of wars.
my tiger above ~ mike ~ now stationed at a base with nuclear arms . . .
is career military. he’s already been deployed 4 times in these current wars.
yes. in this current point in time war.
the names of wars are the only things that change.
the danger. the sacrifice always remains the same.
here is a letter that was written about my nephew.
he still gives that same respect now
and now he commands his own respect unknowingly.
simply because he is that kind of man.
(for his story go to categories and click on ‘the good ones’ scroll to tiger)
this was written by a lady named patti kilbourne, from alva oklahoma.
it was a letter she sent to the vance base commander where the tiger was
stationed at his first post.
here’s her letter :
i want to share with you a long overdue word of gratitude for an occurrence at your front gate on january 11, 2002 and express a word of appreciation to an unknown airman under your command who was on guard duty that afternoon.
my dad had been in failing health and was hospitalized in alva on christmas morning 2001. he was 84 years old at the time. he stayed at the hospital five days and remained in frail health for a while after returning home.
my dad is a retired marine . . . so they use the retirement benefits allotted to them, which includes the use of vance air force base pharmacy, commissary and bx in enid, oklahoma. my sister and i drove my folks to enid for groceries and medicine on that friday afternoon.
we arrived at the vance afb gate about 1pm.
the guard at the gate walked up to the car as i stopped. dad was sitting on the far side of the back seat. i told the airman that my father was retired military and passed him dad’s military ID. the airman took the ID . . .
read it and raised a salute.
looking at my dad directly and intently he said
“United States Marine Corps. (ooh rah) Sir!”
and the moment was over.
no one in the car, not even my dad had noticed anything except that we had been saluted onto the base. which was the normal occurrence.
here’s what i saw. my frail and failing father in the back seat . . .
and a young, strong and proudly patriotic airman at the base gate. the ID passed to this young airman . . . he snapped to attention with a crisp salute. and in one moment he gave recognition to the meaning behind that ID and the years of service it represented.
“United States Marine Corps” and then . . . slightly under his breathe, respectfully but conspiratorially – a brother in arms, he gave the gutteral “ooh rah” then the louder “Sir!”
this airman did not see a frail old man. he saw an old warrior and paid due respect. i was moved.
dad is now 85 and doing better and has resumed some of his interests. but i don’t think i will ever be the same. it has occurred to me since then that being from a military family i should have been more aware of what it cost my dad to be a marine.
all of my life i have heard dad’s ‘war stories’ about hawaii, the south pacific and korea. i never tire of the often-repeated stories. they are a part of the fabric of our family life. but now i have a renewed sense of what those stories represent ~ thanks to one lone airman standing his post.