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March 21, 2009
Army Creates Surviving Family Members Advisory BoardBy Greyhawk
From Robert Stokely:
Wanted to share some good news of the honor and privilege of being appointed by General George Casey Army Chief of Staff to serve on the Surviving Family Members Advisory Board. This board advises General Casey on how the Army can serve the needs of the families of the fallen with a particular focus to meet General Casey's goal of keeping them as connected to the Army family as the family of the fallen would want to be. I am the first parent appointed as well as the first representative of the National Guard fallen to be appointed to serve on General Casey's advisory board. I realize I have sent the attached pictures to you previously but included them again because it was during the "chat" at the conference table that he asked me to think about serving and I did for about two seconds before saying yes. However, I wanted to wait to share this with you until General Casey had actually made the appointment official a week or so after my visit with him at the Pentagon February 19, 2009.
The advisory board will meet at least quarterly in Washington or such other place as we are given "Orders".
I wish I didn't have a reason, and thus this opportunity to serve. But, I didn't get to make the choice whether Mike died 0220 hours 16 Aug 05 near Yusufiyah, but I did get to make a choice how I would handle it. At the moment I met the notification team in my driveway, knowing why they were there, but before they could speak I asked "is my boy dead?" to which I heard these words "We regret to advise you...." In the instant it took to bend double and forward, leaning back against my car, feeling like a vacuum hose was sucking all the air out of me, unable to breathe or cry, it was an initial instinct to want to be bitter and blame. But, in those first few seconds of being unable to make a sound or move, I thought of Mike and how much I loved him and how proud I was of him. My mind raced as I thought "what do I do, what do I do..." trying to figure out what was I supposed to do. And suddenly in those seconds that seemed an eternity, I made a choice - I would Remember With Honor the life my son lived, and gave for his family, his friends, America and the cause of freedom. Suddenly, I raised up, and started asking questions - "who was with him, who else got killed?" Mike was the only one killed by the roadside bomb, but two were seriously wounded I was told and I responded "keep them alive, do whatever it takes to bring them home alive to their families; do not let their parents bury a child; get me their names so I can call their families; I want to know where they are at, where they are going and how they are doing and I want to know as soon as possible." In that first response to the words of Mike's death, I reacted instinctively to the words Mike said to me when he told me of his decision to turn down the exemption to go to war and stay home and recruit. "they are my guys and I can't let them go it alone..." I owed it to Mike to not let his wounded guys and their familes go it alone.
I do not have the military training, stamina or fighting will my son had and that of his "guys" and I never will. As I told General Casey that day in response to him asking me to serve on the advisory board, if I could go fight in my son's place I would, but it is past my time, but I will serve United States Army in any way I can and the guys my son loved so dearly.
I am also privileged to serve as the Family Readiness Co-Chair for Bravo 2 / 121, now located in Newnan / Coweta County GA where I work and live. This unit is now comprised of Mike's old E 108 CAV (which was folded into Bravo shortly after their return from Iraq in 2006). This combined unit sustained 12 of the 26 KIA the Georgia 48th Brigade had in Iraq, with nine, including Mike coming in a three week period. Bravo will soon be deploying to Afghanistan and I will be here to serve their families and do what I can to put my son's guys mind at ease as they go to serve America and the cause of freedom. I just wish my "boy" Mike were going with them.
But as I said, I didn't get to make the choice whether Mike lived or died that morning near Yusufiyah. I just get to choose how I handle iit.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 21, 2009 9:15 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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