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My Son Was Killed In Iraq. I Found Closure With The Marines Who Were With Him When He Died
On the weekend of the 13th anniversary of my son’s death in combat in Iraq, I traveled across the continent to be with his team of Marines and Corpsmen who were with him that fateful Friday morning.
I arrived late in the evening at a California airport and suffered through the inevitable rap of the rental car desk clerk trying to sell me his expensive refill gas and to upgrade my choice of wheels. I’ve traveled the route to the home of one of my son’s buddies numerous times over the years, I didn’t need the map to guide my way. I just needed speed to be able open that first beer with the brothers in arms.
I found them around the firepit, already well into juiced stories and heavy laughter. I was greeted as one of their own, a member of their very close tribe, albeit I’m a substitute for a lost brother.
The weekend progressed as it has been done numerous times before, but never with boredom or repetition. At least one of the aging warriors finds a renewed liking of too much whiskey and pays the price the next day. Others tell constant old stories with different viewpoints; the punch lines are known, but the buildup still causes insane laughter. The only complaints I heard over the course of the reunion was that jaws ached from guffaw-algia.
I’m the Gold Star Father in the group, but also a former Marine too. The fact of my Marine Officer status has had no bearing on my acceptance. I’m their lost buddy’s dad and I’ve always treated those guys with the respect they are due. They all risked their lives to save him. They call me by my first name and occasionally “Sir”, but “Sir” is standard to these Marines and as omnipresent as the noun-verb-adjective-adverb universally necessary word, “fuck.”
"I’ve traveled the route to the home of one of my son’s buddies numerous times over the years, I didn’t need the map to guide my way"
I’ve lost many close relatives over the past 13 years including both parents, my nearest in age brother, and my wife. My grief is compounded and confusing. I attempt not to assign degrees of loss, except that my son’s disappearance from our lives over these years has had the most impact on me.
I subconsciously, and actively, search for traditional signs from heaven such as Monarch butterflies and cardinals swooping by. On the anniversary of his death, Orion is clear in the sky in the northern hemisphere and the Orionid meteor shower peaks.
I’ve had trouble sleeping for years. I view Orion at night and again early the next morning before dawn. Even with changing three time zones to be at my annual place of rejuvenation, I found myself up at 0400, staring at the constellation waiting for meteors. I saw none.
As I was about to quit and go refresh my coffee, a silly elixir for too much beer mere hours ago, I spotted a satellite with the same trajectory as one of the 7.62 x 39mm rounds that pierced my son’s body through and through. I was shocked and pissed that my sign from heaven that I had hoped to gin-up was a damn reminder of the event as to why I found myself in Cali.
But I came to realize that the real signs of my son’s continuous presence are actually in the brothers’ laughter, the nonstop jokes, and the barbs easily thrown at each other. These guys are Marines who suffered through months of training, SNCO and officer crap, and bitter combat. My search was complete; the sign from beyond was that the brotherhood remained so tight. No spouse or occupation or school assignment deadlines or any other distraction can break it.
This short time together once a year was their highlight. I am honored to be a small part of it.
Derek M. Davey, Captain, USMC 1977-1985. Naval Flight Officer, EA-6B Prowlers. Two UDP pumps: USS Nimitz, Med Cruise and West Pac. Thirty years as an Accredited Service Officer in NY State and National Appeals Representative in Washington, DC. Fully retired now, enjoying life in the woods, on a lake, with my best buddy Shadow the Dog in the Adirondacks.
The wait is over: the Marine Corps's brand new sniper is officially ready for action.
The Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle reached full operational capacity earlier this year after extensive testing, Marine Corps Systems Command announced on Wednesday. Now, the new rifle is finally available in both scout snipers and recon Marine arsenals.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran announced on Monday it had captured 17 spies working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and sentenced some of them to death, deepening a crisis between the Islamic Republic and the West.
Iranian state television published images that it said showed the CIA officers who had been in touch with the suspected spies.
In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said 17 spies had been arrested in the 12 months to March 2019. Some have been sentenced to death, according to another report.
One of the few things that aggravates your friend and humble narrator more than hazelnut flavored coffee is Soviet apologists.
Case in point: A recent opinion piece in the New York Times claims the Soviet space program was a model for equality, noting the Soviets put a woman into space 20 years before NASA when Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth in 1963.
"Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe: Under socialism, a person of even the humblest origins could make it all the way up," wrote Sophie Pinkham just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
This 100-year-old vet escaped a Nazi prison camp. Now he's at the center of a lawsuit over a Bible at his local VA
Herman "Herk" Streitburger was on his final bombing mission and due to go home when his plane was hit by German fighters over Hungary in 1944. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war, enduring starvation, forced marches and a harrowing escape.
Streitburger just turned 100 years old. That makes him a national treasure as well as a Granite State hero.
Streitburger, who lives in Bedford, gets around using a cane and remains active in POW groups and events. It was he who donated his family Bible to a POW "missing man" display at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, which prompted a federal First Amendment lawsuit.
And every year, he tells his World War II story to Manchester schoolchildren. It's a story worth retelling.
A new Marine Corps anti-drone system that attaches to all-terrain vehicles and can scan the skies for enemy aircraft from aboard Navy ships was responsible for destroying an Iranian drone, Military.com has learned.