Friday, November 11, 2011

Honor and Duty

Today, November 11, is set aside to pay tribute to those valiant Americans who have served their country in times of war.  In my family, the military is an honored tradition.  I have chosen to honor here only those family members whom I have known personally.  Many have served whom I did not know personally. 

To every man or woman who has served our country, I offer heartfelt appreciation for your sacrifice.  Our country can only remain great as long as there are men and women who are willing to make the sacrifices you have made.  Thank you for showing us the way to patriotism and honor by your commitment and service.

All gave some...........some gave all........may we never forget.

Ralph Fentress Newland
11 Jun 1915 - 13 Feb 1998
European Theater, World War II
The Battle of the Bulge
U.S. Army

Uncle Buster was how I knew this quiet man.  He never spoke of his service.  By research, I discovered he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received many honors for his gallantry and sacrifice in the face of extreme danger.  I will never forget Uncle Buster or the way he quietly went about his every day life. 

After returning from Europe, he married and moved to Flint, MI.  There he became a plumbers apprentice and earned entry into the union.  He worked there until his retirement.  Upon retirement, he and Aunt Mayena moved back to Tennessee, where both lived out the remainder of their lives. 

Van Patterson McDonald
4 Nov 1932 - 20 Sept 2011
Sharp Shooter Team Leader
Post-Korean War Era
U.S. Army
 This is my Daddy.  I honestly never knew how proud he was of his service to our country or how much he valued it until the very last days of his life.  Prior to being called home, Daddy made very specific requests regarding how his Memorial Flag should be cared for and respected.  He was buried with military honors.  I have never felt quite so honored as when the soldier placed that flag in my hands at the graveside ceremony.  It is a moment in my life I will never forget.

Daddy led a sharp shooter team (now known as sniper squads) in Germany and was offered a promotion to Sergeant and an entire squadron if he would re-enlist.  He chose not to do so and return home to Tennessee and the farm where his family lived.  He was notified of possible deployment to South Vietnam in February of 1957.  He and Momma had planned to marry that month, but delayed their wedding until they knew if he would be deployed.  They waited until March with no definite word from the military.  They decided to go ahead with the wedding.  Thankfully, he was never deployed.

Brian Keith Eppers
19 Mary 1980 -
Operation Iraqi Freedom
U.S. Army

Brian (my nephew-in-love) enlisted in the Army after 9/11 with full knowledge that he would be deployed.  He trained as a Medic and was deployed to Iraq in early 2005.  He spent nearly a year there and returned home just before Christmas in December of that year. 

I will never forget the look on his face, or that of his children, as they saw him for the first time when he returned home.  Pure joy and absolute love shone from the face of Brian, my niece Katie and their children Alix and Jaden, as the kids ran across the parking lot to see their Daddy for the first time in almost a year. 

Brian continues to serve with the U.S. Army as a Medical NCO, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Civil Support Team member.  To say we are proud of him is a gross understatement.

Caleb McDonald Watkins
6 Mar 1991 -
Military Police
U.S. Army
TN Army National Guard
 This dashing young man is my youngest nephew.  He graduated from the U.S. Army AIT training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO on Oct 20 of this year.  He is now an official member of the TN Army National Guard as a Military Policeman. 

What roads lie ahead for Caleb, we do not know.  He has so many plans for his future, realizing that the Army has first claim on his time and commitment.  I cannot tell you how proud we were to stand in that auditorium and see him walk across that stage to receive the Top Gun award for his entire platoon! 

Where he will go from here, only God knows.  I have every confidence he will make his mark in this world; a mark for his God and his country.

Endure suffering along with me,
as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life,
for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.

2 Timothy 2: 3-4


Felisol said...

All brave men, but your father really was something special.
He could easily had been a movie star with those eyes and that jawline.
My experience is that most soldiers keep their war experiences to themselves.
That may be for their best. Living on the edge of life and death must be more hurtful than we ever will know.

Our family was surprised, but also honoured when my uncle who fought for America in France was buried with military honours in 1996 or 7.
Somehow that's not a Norwegian tradition.

But it feels so right, that their tremendous offer never shall be forgotten.

Amrita said...

Happy birthday Diane