The Ultimate Sacrifice: In Memory of Julian, Ryan, Nicholas and Justin

February 29, 2012  •  1 Comment

"I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."     {Abraham Lincoln in a letter to Lydia Bixby, November 21, 1864}

SrA Julian Scholten               Capt. Ryan Hall

Capt. Nicholas Whitlock           1Lt. Justin Wilkens

VIEW THE PHOTO GALLERY HERE

On February 18, 2012 these four young men lost their lives when returning to base from a standard mission in Djibouti located in the Horn of Africa.  This hit close to home and I had to be there for the memorial, which was held yesterday, Tuesday February 29, 2012, here in Fort Walton Beach. It was a reunion like no other, solemn yet filled with heavy smiles as friends and loved ones brought up funny stories about the lost airmen. It's interesting to me how in these moments we want to laugh and remember the silliness, the funniest and craziest things we remember about them. 

 

As those close to me remember the plane crash that changed my life on October 13, 2009 in the snowy northern mountains of Afghanistan, in which we lost our team of three and aircraft. Randy, JB and Jeff were our family, seriously. You end up loving everything about each other, even the stuff that at first drove you crazy about them, because you learned to trust and rely on your team members to get the mission done, and at the end it's that trust and sense of duty and mission that bonded us. It was the one thing that tied us all closely together.

 

As I leave the beach in a few days, I prepare to make the drive to Louisiana to see my parents and give a big hug to my dad who is fighting his worst battle with cancer. Whether on a mission overseas or at home, there are battles to be fought all around us, and we lean and rely on those we trust and love us, family. At the end of the day, family is about that trust and reliance... and love. 

 

I MUST leave you with the lyrics from KEITH URBAN's new song, "FOR YOU". It's a song he wrote for the new movie, "Act of Valor". I think it puts into words exactly what I'm feeling and may not be able to say just right... 

 

"All I saw was smoke and fire; I didn't feel a thing, 
but suddenly I was rising higher.
And I felt like I'd just made the biggest mistake 
when I though about my unborn child;

when I thought about my wife.
And the answer rang out clear 
from somewhere up above: 
No greater gift has man, but to lay down his life for love.

And I wonder, would I give my life?
Could I make that sacrifice?
If it came down to it, could I take the bullet, I would.
Yes I would for you.

Maybe you don't understand
I don't understand it all myself.
But there's a brother on my left and another on my right.
And in his pocket just like mine, he's got a photograph. 
And they're waiting for him back home.

And it's weighing on my mind.
I'm not trying to be a hero;
I don't wanna die.
But right now in this moment, you don't think twice.

I wonder, would I give my life?
Could I make that sacrifice?
If it came down to it, could I take the bullet, I would.
Yes I would.

You don't think about right; you don't think about wrong.
You just do what you gotta do to defend your own.
And I'd do the same for you -
Yes I would.

I would give my life. 
I would make that sacrifice.
'Cause if it came down to it, could I take the bullet, I would.
Yes I would do it for you.
I'd do it for you."

 


Comments

1.Coretta's Jewels(non-registered)
Powerful. Powerful stuff here Dez. Thank you for your service. We honor these American heroes.
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