Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day 2008

Tomb of the Unknown
USS Zeilen burial service Tarawa, 1943

Lt Mark Daily

173rd Airborne Brigade

This Veterans Day I decided to revisit a few posts and reflect on the deeds of men in war. One of the veterans my father, returned, and in surviving World War II, caused this author to be born. The other two stories remember Lt Mark Daily whose essay about his reasons for serving his country have become a lasting legacy for thousands to read and know. The last post remembers the men of the 503rd infantry of the 173rd Airborne Brigade who lost nine of their brave souls this past July in Afghanistan.

A Thanksgiving Tribute to my Dad This blog begins with a photo of the USS General John C. Pope as it departs San Francisco bound for Vietnam. The date on the photo is unknown, but serves to illustrate my departure for Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day, 1966. As I look back on my life this voyage was the gateway event that eventually led to this blog. I cannot plea to being a decorated combat veteran. I saw my share of war and the horrors that color that world. The aftermath of Vietnam left no visible impression on me but emotionally it struck a chord deep within my soul. For years after I returned the very sight of anyone Asian left me with a sense of distress. The Fall of Saigon in 1975 only added to this feeling. Years flew by, I raised a family, got divorced, started a new family, moved on, and again found myself searching. I began to look back on my life.
My dad a World War II sailor, had left when I was five, leaving me to wonder what had happened to him and why he left. A long Internet search led me to his grave. Along the way I discovered that I had three brothers from three families that my father had started and left. Out that revelation I found the history of my father and perhaps why he lived the way he did.

Part Two:

A tribute to Lt. Mark Daily
REFLECTION ON A NOBLE SOUL Last January 2007, as the first units were being deployed to Iraq in a campaign labeled The Surge, the U.S. Military was losing men and women to IED's and ambushes almost everyday. One of those days, January 15, saw four men of the 2/7th Cavalry and their interrupter, killed by a massive roadside bomb. The difference this incident had from other's that month, and the times before and since, can be found in a letter left by one of those men, Lt. Mark Daily of Irvine, California. To borrow a phrase from Christhopher Hitchens who writes below, "be prepared to shed a few tears."

The men of the 503rd.
"Give me a second. I gotta go kill these guys first." Even as the previous post reports, war is less intense than anytime in the past half century. But there are still places where it is necessary to confront men who want to do evil in an attempt to return to a world filled with short brutal violence.
It was a small battle, but epic in it's intensity. A reinforced platoon of American paratroopers and Afghan soldiers manning an forward operating base in Afghanistan's
Kunar province. This story is about the men of an outpost of nine men who bore the brunt of the attack by over 200 heavily armed Taliban.

"Give me a second. I gotta go kill these guys first." were the last words heard from Cpl. Matthew Phillips of 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team as he fought Taliban combatants in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

I can not say more to reflect on this day than to honor these men and all who have served.


Yours Truly said...

HG : well, at least your father was a warrior. My ol' man left me last year (he's 'round your age), & he never knew my grand daddy. Heard he was just a casualty of illness. Dang! My ol' man never was much of a hero either, & his ne' er - do - well son's now doin' his bestest to honor him...

HISTORYGUY99 said...

yours truly,

Thanks for your comment. I am sorry to read of the loss of your father. Don't discount your father for not being "much of a hero." Heroism is made up of hundreds of little things we do everyday to keep going.

My father may have been a warrior in war, but in peacetime he could not find his way, and wandered from relationship to relationship, leaving lost sons to wonder who their father really was. I was lucky to have finally found him and in learning his story, forgive him for his failings.


YT said...

HG : maybe I'm bein' hopelessly utopian... may there come a day where men do not have to engage in mortal combat to resolve their disputes...

HISTORYGUY99 said...


You can keep hoping. I noted in the next post that "Culture of War" explains that war is part of the human culture and not able to be erased. In counterpoint, is this video embedded on my blog under the history section. "History of Violence TED Video" by Steven Pinker who argues that as a society progresses to becoming connnected other societies the desire for violence begins to die out. Check them both out and it will give you food for thought.