A Memorial Day Compendium – 2015 Edition

 

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You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done  — Ronald Reagan

Through the years we’ve observed Memorial Day on these pages in a variety of ways. Through it all, we’ve sought to instill a sense of perspective and context to an occasion that, unfortunately, most have come to recognize as a mere green light for the frivolous pursuits of the summer season.

We’ve offered a first person perspective:

Some number of years later the memory came flooding back as we learned of the terrible news. It had been while flying a low-level anti-ship cruise missile supersonic profile for a destroyer. Just a training hop. He’d taken time off from his post-command staff job to climb back in the cockpit he so dearly loved. The big Tomcat was there one minute and gone in a cloud of flame, smoke and vapor. Little was found and a good friend, a husband, father, and fighter NFO beyond compare was gone. CAPT Scott “Scooter” Lamoreaux, USN. Bounty Hunter One. Rest easy Scooter and know that while we all miss you, we each have our memories. Mine forever of an orange and white jet with the countenance not unlike a guppy, suspended against the Florida sky and two young buck aviators, intense on the task at hand and loving every second of it with grins a mile-wide, yet hidden behind an O2 mask, having the time of their life… Flightdeck Friday: T-2C Edition

Other times we used the occasion of the return of an MIA from our past wars — like the story of Spectre 13, an AC-130 gunship downed in Vietnam:

 

It is perhaps fitting the day after Memorial Day that we learn of more former MIA’s whose remains have since been identified and returned to their loved ones. Hence, today’s story of some of crew of the AC-130A Spectre named ‘Prometheus’ callsign Spectre 13 – SJS  Airmen Missing In Vietnam War Are Identified: Spectre 13

 

or this one from WW2:

This raid on Ploesti wasn’t the (in)famous one from August of 1943, yet it was representative of the many missions flown against industrial and military targets in Europe and the Pacific by the men of the Army Air Corps. On this mission 438 B-17’s and B-24’s took part with loss of “only” two aircraft. As we pause to give thanks this Memorial Day for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for keeping the Union intact, for our freedoms, to extend that umbrella of freedom to others freeing them from tyranny and oppression, let us give thanks and always remember.
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.
Welcome home Lieutenant Kelly, rest easy now that your mission is complete.
Memorial Day Remembrance Ploesti Raid Aircrewman Returns Home

Sometimes they were lost in the shadows of a war that was called Cold, but for one brief, awful instant, had gone hot for them:

 

15 April 1969 (Korean time) marked the final flight of a Navy VQ-1 EC-121/WV-2 callsign Deep Sea 129. Roughly 100 nm off the North Korean peninsular site where the Hermit Kingdom today defies the world with its ballistic missile tests, lies the watery grave of 31 Americans (2 bodies were later recovered).  North Korea not only acknowledged the shoot down, they loudly and boastfully celebrated their action. President Nixon suspended PARPRO flights in the Sea of Japan for three days and then allowed them to resume, only with escorts. No reparations were ever paid to the US or the families of the lost airmen.
And Kim Il-Sung celebrated another birthday (April 15th).
15 April 1969: Deep Sea 129 Shootdown

Or served as a harbinger of what was to come:

12 October 2000 . . . When another chapter in the Long War against terror was written in the blood of the free:
The toll:
* Seventeen American Sailors dead:
Hull Maintenance Technician Second Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, of Mechanicsville, Va.; Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, of Morrisville, Pa.; Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, of Woodleaf, N.C.; Information Systems Technician Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, of Rice, Texas; Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, of Rex, Ga; Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va.; Engineman Second Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, of Fond du Lac, Wis.; Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, of Vero Beach, Fla; Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif.; Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, of Churchville, Md
Fireman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, of Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.; Electronics Warfare Technician First Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, of Portland, N.D.; Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, Kingsville, Texas
Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, of Ringgold, Va.; Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, Rockport, Texas; Ltjg Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss; Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md Remembering the USS Cole

Sometimes it was when there appeared to be no war at all, like on one fall morning:

Here are our shipmates who were lost in the Navy Operations Center (NOC) {note: N513 will be posted 10 Sept}. Look closely and ponder the slice of America they represent from every corner of the country, some first generation immigrants who were refugees of war others from a long line that has served this country. None of them anticipated their fate when they left for work that morning from their homes in Virginia, Maryland or the District. From all walks of life they had come to serve and ultimately to unexpectedly die together. E Pluribus Unum. Indeed, out of many, one. Rest in peace…  Remembering Fallen Shipmates Part I (N3N5)
Yesterday, we remembered those we lost in the Navy Operations Center (NOC) who were from within the larger N3N5 organization.  Today we focus on those who were from N513 (note, the Branch Chief, CAPT Bob Dolan, will be part of the post for tomorrow, 11 Sept)N513 is the Strategy & Concepts branch, part of the N51 Strategy & Policy Division of N3N5. N513’s personnel were the folks who looked at “the big picture” focusing on warfighting concepts and maritime strategies in defense of the US and our Allied partners. This is the branch that in the past had worked on the Maritime Strategy and provided the basis of the Navy’s input to the National Security Strategy among other vital documents.  Husbands, fathers, sons — aviator and SWO; all were shipmates and all are missed.  Rest in Peace… Remembering Fallen Shipmates – Part II (N513)

Bob loved to be at sea, but with each offshore assignment he deeply missed his wife and two children. His 20-year career took him to the far-flung corners of the world — Bahrain, the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean — but he still managed to keep in touch with the friends he made in kindergarten. He was a disciplined officer who made it his business to excel at every post, but he also was a “guy’s guy” who enjoyed grabbing a beer with friends. “Bob was a touchstone for many of us because of the person he was, not because of his accomplishments as a leader,” said family friend Mark Wallinger, who was best man at CAPT Dolan’s wedding. “He was a friend to everybody, and a hero to those who knew him.”

“He was a man who viewed service as a privilege,” his wife, Lisa of Alexandria, Va., wrote in an e-mail. “Bob Dolan was the best and the brightest this country had to offer to the altar of freedom.” In addition to his wife, Capt. Dolan is survived by his children, Rebecca, 15, and Beau, 9; his parents, Joan and Robert of Florham Park; two brothers, Christopher of Quakertown, Pa., and Daniel of Bethel, Pa., and several nieces and nephews. (Compiled from various sources, primarily consisting of The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post) The 2996 Project: CAPT Bob Dolan, USN (Pentagon) and Mr. Colin Arthur Bonnett (WTC) The 2996 Project: CAPT Bob Dolan, USN (Pentagon) and Mr. Colin Arthur Bonnett (WTC)

And sometimes – when you think it is all done, that you won’t have to face the empty seat, or raise a solemn toast ‘ere again; when you think that all the markers have been paid in full and the baton passed, Fate, the eternal hunter, cruelly reminds you once again of our mortality – returning you to a first person perspective:

I lost a friend today.
We have lost a friend, a father, husband a comrade in arms. Fellow aviator and blogger-at-arms, Neptunus Lex, was killed earlier today when the F-21 Kfir he was flying in support of TOPGUN’s adversary squadron crashed at NAS Fallon. No word on the cause as yet.  Prayers and thoughts go out to his family please likewise keep them in your prayers in the days/weeks to come.  Lex would be the first to tell you, upon asking (or not), that he was a fighter pilot.  And he was an accomplished one at that having reached the pinnacle with command of a Hornet squadron and XO at TOPGUN (“not two words” he would say) He was a sailor at heart with a love for the sea and those who set forth thereon in grey-hulled ships befitting of one who wore the gold wings of a naval aviator.

And he was a patriot in the truest and traditional sense with a deep love for this country and her people.  Indeed, his last work in this life was training a new generation of fighters to defend this nation.  Ave Atque Vale

Abrek-300x296We find ourselves in an age where heroes are declared of those who strve on the athletic field, or do some other noteworthy thing that gets captured in the relentless 24/7 news cycle and after a while, we find ourselves taking a jaundiced view of the word.  Until we are reminded what real heros do, whereupon we are left humbled and amazed…

Had a lesser pilot been at the controls of Bluetail 601 last Wednesday, there might have been four memorial services this week instead of one.   But Lt. Miroslav “Steve” Zilberman was one of two pilots in the cockpit of the E-2C Hawkeye as it returned from a mission over Afghanistan, heading toward the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in the North Arabian Sea.  The Ukrainian-born junior officer had distinguished himself during three years with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121. He knew the plane – and its training manual – inside and out.  So after one engine lost oil pressure and then failed completely; after one propeller couldn’t be adjusted to balance the plane; after it was clear that there was no way to safely land, Zilberman ordered his crew to bail out. He manually kept the Hawkeye stable as it plummeted toward the water, which allowed the three other men to escape.  Time ran out before he could follow.  
Zilberman, 31, was declared dead three days later. – Kate Wiltrout, The Virginia Pilot, 10 April 2010

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Be they aviator or ground-pounder; dogface or nurse; Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, Coast Guardsman, Merchantman, Guard or Reserve — at one time or another they answered the call.

And in so doing, all gave some — and some gave all.

So before the burgers and beer, before the green flag drops, and before the tanning lotion is applied for the first time — pause, ponder and give thanks to the Almighty that such as these gave their all so that we may remain free:

Remember

4 Comments

  1. SoCal Pir8

    Too many, too soon.

  2. At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.

    Always and forever, until we join them.
    Out there.

  3. Surfcaster

    Godspeed

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