The red, white and blue were on full display this past weekend as America honored those who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces. This is a very special holiday that is very near and dear to my heart.
Many of you might be aware of this, but I am currently finishing up my term of service in the U.S. Army. I’ll finally be returning home for good next month. As I sat there on Monday watching the celebrations throughout the various sporting events being held that day, it was easy to see why this country is so great.
Sports are a perfect example of the tremendous freedoms this nation possesses. But it’s also very easy to get caught up in these sorts of things, and I’m just as guilty as the next person. It’s important to remember that it is just a game and even vitally more important we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifices to provide us with the opportunities to enjoy those freedoms.
At the same time, it is not easy as it looks but requires tremendous amount of dedication and practice to become an expert in any sport and definitely not for the weak hearted who look up to it just for entertainment and pastime but end up biting off more than they can chew at the 안전토토사이트.
During my time in the Army I had the honor and privilege of serving with some of the bravest and heroic individuals of my generation and I just want to take a moment to take a step away from the sports arena and honor those who took to the battle field and are truly worthy.
From April of 2007 to June of 2008 my unit was tasked to deploy to Iraq in support of OIF. We spent 15 months with various stints of time split between Baghdad and also Baqubah and Muqdadiyah, located in the Diyala Province. It was an intensely demanding period of time and several casualties were sustained. I personally knew eight soldiers who paid that ultimate sacrifice and I want to make it a point to ensure that their memories will always live on and will always be honored appropriately.
SGT Joseph Dahl, 21, from Los Lunas, NM. He was a victim of sniper fire just one week before he was scheduled to return home to see the birth of his first child. He was survived by his son Kayden and wife Alia.
CPL Luke Runyan, 21, from Spring Grove, PA. During a night operation his team was ambushed and he sustained a number of gunshot wounds from the exchange which he was ultimately not able to survive. He is survived by his infant daughter Brynn and his wife Courtney.
CPL Chad Groepper, 21, from Kingsley, IA. He was the second victim claimed in the previously described operation. His wounds were similar to the injuries that befell Luke. He also was a new father to infant daughter Clarissa and was also survived by his wife Stephanie.
CPL Luigi Marciante, Jr, 25, from Elizabeth, NJ. While driving a Stryker along an uncleared route, his vehicle was struck by an IED and he was unable to survive the blast. He was survived by his infant son Lorenzo and wife Stephanie.
CPL Donald Valentine III, 21, from Orange Park, FL. During an extensive clearing operation he and his squad rushed into a building and were followed by a local national wearing an explosive vest. Upon detonation of the device he and two others were lost. He was survived by his wife Lucia.
CPL Joseph Landry III, 23, from Pensacola, FL. I actually attended basic training with him in Fort Benning, GA. He was one of the three victims claimed by the acts of the suicide bomber. He was survived by his parents, Joseph and Karen, and his brother Christopher.
CPL Nicholas Olson, 22, from Novato, CA. He was the third and final victim of the tragic events that transpired in the previous two descriptions. He was survived by his wife and young daughter.
CPL Jason Lemke, 30, West Allis, WI. While travelling in a Stryker, the vehicle was hit by an IED and he sustained wounds that eventually lead to his passing. He was survived by his parents and two daughters, Elizabeth and Casey.
There is hardly a day in my life that passes without a memory of these great men. So while we only have this one particular day specifically set aside to pay tribute to their incredible sacrifices, their honorable acts are much more deserving than that. As we celebrate their lives and accomplishments, do so with the proper perspective and appreciation and remember those who made all of this possible for us.
I’m sure a lot of you have many others that you know who have made similar sacrifices. Therefore I not only want to thank these individuals I had the honor of serving with, but all of those before and after. As a great nation we are indebted to you and we thank you. Happy Memorial Day!