Google+ Followers

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memory

My Dad was in the National Guard in the early 60s and had finished his commitment before the Vietnam War broke out. Then, as I understand it, as a teacher, husband and father of three, the military left him alone. (I'm sure there's more to that story, but he passed away several years 
ago and I never had the wisdom to ask about it before then.) My grandfathers, on all sides, missed the wars of their time for various reasons. I was raised with a great sense of patriotism and loyalty to our country and to the armed forces, without any direct connection to the military. We crossed our hearts at the Pledge of Allegiance and
sang loudly, every word, of the "Star Spangled Banner". (I know that doesn't make you a patriot, but you get the idea.)

However, when I married, I got a whole new outlook. Brian joined the Army Reserves when he was teenager. He'd convinced his Mom (whose signature he needed) that he wouldn't have to go to war. So, he trained the summers before and after his senior year of high school and was to show up for other training and drills as required. He finished two semesters at Purdue University and was called to active duty for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm during the first Persian Gulf War. He received the Army Commendation medal for involvement in a critical refueling mission. One of the U.S. armored divisions was engaged in a battle with the Iraqi Republican Guard and fuel became an issue. 

He says, "Our HEMTT (see picture at right) convoy just happened to be in the right place at the right time. We delivered our fuel and they defeated the Iraqi division. The cease fire came the next day."

Thankfully, he served his six months in Saudi Arabia and Iraq without injury. When I say, thankfully, I mean "Thank you, God, for saving him for me".  (I hope this prompts him to post some of his stories.)

His family military history is long. We can start with his Grandpa, Walter Arnold, who served in Europe for two years in World War II, including involvement in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. He moved his way up the ranks from Private (E2) to Tech Sergeant (E7) -- what is a Sergeant First Class in today's army. For us civilian folks -- that's five ranks; all as a result of casualties and deaths in his unit. Walter is now 89 years old and suffers from lung cancer and kidney failure. Surprisingly, he still lives on his own and not surprisingly, sends off-color jokes VIA email when he can. 

Brian's father, Dan Arnold, enlisted (not drafted) in the Navy in 1965 and became a Corpsman. He was assigned to a C.A.C. or Combined Action Company (later known as Combined Action Platoon) in '67, made up of a Marine rifle squad, a Navy Corpsman and a Vietnamese Popular Forces platoon (akin to the U.S. National Guard). Four months into his tour in Vietnam, his unit was attacked and he was seriously injured. During that attack, he was medivaced out of the battle and remembers rounds piercing the fuselage of the helicopter as they flew away. When he woke up in the hospital, he learned, with the exception of one man, his entire unit was killed. He received the Purple Heart. His military experience as a Corpsman served to prepare him for a lifetime of healthcare. Today, he's an R.N. and Doctor of Chiropractic. And, of course, I'm thankful for his safe return, because my sweet man, Brian, was born after he got back!

Not everyone left the country to serve during war-time. The small community where his step-father, Manley Scheurich, was serving as the only physician, wrote a letter to the draft board asking that they not send Dr. Scheurich overseas, because, they reasoned, there would be no one to take care of them for miles and miles. Manley was willing to go, but the community's request was granted.  As a result, we enjoy, Manley as "Dad" so much.  Such a precious part of our lives.

Lest we forget our WOMEN in uniform, you should know Brian's older sister, Kathy Scheurich, was in the Army also. She was stationed in Germany and served in Haiti during their political crisis in the 90s.

Most recently, our brother-in-law, Andy Weiss, enlisted in the Army post-9/11. He married Kate, one of Brian's baby sisters, the year after we got married. His story is clearer to me because it's present-day.  I know the war and the reasons for the war. I know this family now. I didn't know them for the other war stories. I was at Kate and Andy's wedding.  (One of the best times Brian and I ever had!) He and Brian played hide and seek with all the kids in his parents' back yard and they LOVED it.  Andy and Brian, I mean!

Andy served a first tour in Iraq and re-enlisted. Kate and their kids, Lilly and Jacob, were "stationed" at Ft. Hood in Texas while Andy was overseas. His second tour started in November, 2007. 

He was killed in Bagdad by an I.E.D. (roadside bomb), May 3, 2007. The sacrifice is real. The pain is real. It's not a distant story of another time and place. I tell my friends that Brian and his family served and Andy was killed in the process (however convoluted and crazy it is) of keeping me safe. Of maybe preventing my son from having to suit up some day.

As I look back on this story, generation after generation serving in different wars and different times, I know that even if it skips Chase, until the Lord comes back, the likelihood of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren serving our country is very high. Wars seem to end eventually, but the arguments never really do. They just sort of pop up in a different part of the world.

On this Memorial Day, I'm thankful for all those who serve our country and in so doing, serve my family and me. I hope to repay them with honor and respect for other people (all people), with gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy (whether I agree with all of them or not) and by teaching my children of their legacy in our country and in our hearts.

Photobucket



4 comments:

  1. K,

    WOW! I tried reading it aloud to McKenna but choked up before I got finished. Thanks for spending so much time getting it together!

    I can't wait 'til tomorrow!

    T

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful, friend. I'm so glad you wrote it all up! What a legacy your children have. I kept thinking of Andy and his family during that video at church. Praying even now for them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank You Kris! You definately did something very meaningful for the day. It touched me deeply. A great tribute for everyone who served in our crazy family.
    XOXOX
    ~Kate

    ReplyDelete