10 July, 2007

A Tragedy and a New Chapter

Since my last post a brave soldier Adam Sheda, returned home, spent a week with his family, and then was murdered in my home town. You can read the full story here. My brother also has some comments about everything here.

I am deeply saddened by such a senseless crime. I am sad that this brave soldier lost his life, and I feel for his family. There are many more things I want to say about this tragedy - but most have already been said and the others probably aren't appropriate.

I usually don't read my local newspaper or watch the local news because there isn't much that's newsworthy that goes on in my town (in my opinion). I didn't find out about Adam's death until the Monday after it happened. The unit he deployed with is the unit I used to support as a recruiter. I've known Adam for a while though. What makes me mad is that I can still remember welcoming him home and shaking his hand just a week before he was murdered! His unit full-timers called and told me about his death and asked if I would be part of the funeral detail. Without hesitating I said yes.

Funeral detail is probably one of the greatest honors a soldier can ever do. Being there and laying down a fallen brother properly - to be part of that is simply amazing. Since I graduated AIT I have done every funeral any body's ever asked me to do.... the number of them is somewhere between 60 and 70, most of them being WWII and Vietnam veterans.

Of all the funerals I've ever been a part of, I've only personally known 2 of the soldiers who passed. Out of all of them, this was by far the hardest one to be a part of. Out of all of them this is the only one I've ever actually cried at.

The service was a good service. At the end of the service friends and family were invited to go to the podium and say a few words about Adam or their favorite memory of him. I can tell you that Adam was truly loved and Adam truly lived while he was with us. After that we carried Adam out of the church. As we carried Adam down the steps of the church I started to get choked up. When we placed him on the truck (not a real truck, the holder for the coffin is called a truck) everybody gathered around us. His parents were just to my rear left. We raised the flag off the coffin, and the 21 gun salute started. When Taps started I could feel the tears welling up as his parents sobbed behind me. After Taps I started folding the flag making sure every detail was right. At about the third fold the dam broke and I could feel the tears flowing down my face. Out of the corner of my eyes I could see the other soldiers of my detail were crying too. When I was done folding the flag, I handed it off so I could inspect it. With some final adjustments the flag was handed off and presented to the parents. After the funeral his friends and family hung around for a while and talked about Adam and ate lunch.

I've had over a week to think about everything and hope and pray that I never have to experience losing a child. The pain a parent is unimaginable. The pain Adam's parents must feel is probably 10 times worse. Adam spent 16 months in Iraq and came home without a scratch. His parents were able to see him and hold him in their arms - they were able to thank God their boy was alive and well. A week later that relief, that happiness was torn away by some low-life thug. No parent deserves to have that happen to them. Nobody deserves to be murdered, especially after serving his country for so long away from his family.

My thoughts and prayers are with Adam and his family. Their pain will never go away, but with His will they will get through this.

This last weekend marked the end of a chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one. This weekend was my last weekend as the NCOIC of the RSP White Phase - the "Jump Suit Jockeys". We had a lot of fun, the company even had a family BBQ for us on Saturday. It was nice to talk to all my soldiers, wish them luck at Basic Training, and meet their families. Some of my soldiers even bought me a cake to thank me! That was a nice thought.

Sunday was a day full of SINCGARS (radio) training and then some unexpected "remedial training". I didn't really plan it - but I guess it wouldn't have been right to leave these young soldiers without smoking them one last time!!!

I hope I was a positive influence on these young soldiers and that I was able to prepare them for BCT while they were in my platoon. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to train these guys. When I got involved in RSP I was expecting to be a squad leader and have just a few soldiers underneath me. Being thrown into the NCOIC/Platoon Sergeant position was unexpected and worried me at first. I actually went from never having soldiers to lead (I became a recruiter days after getting my E-5), to being in charge of training and taking care of almost 80 soldiers all by myself. It was a lot of on-the-job training - but I think everybody benefited from it in the end. While I really enjoyed training these soldiers, I am ready to move onto a regular unit. Next month I will have my first drill with my new company and I am really excited!

Looking back at this chapter of my life I realize that I have changed and grown so much. I started recruiting almost 4 years ago a young inexperienced 22-year-old kid. I see now how much I've grown as a person, as a soldier, and as an NCO. I see that these last few years have made changes in me that will last the rest of my life. As I end this chapter of my life, I look forward to the new chapter - A new company, college, and much, much more awaits me.

My RSP Platoon


Flag Gazer said...

Thank you for sharing the story of SSG Sheda's aervice. When I read the story at Troy's, I was disheartened - but, your story of his service brings back my faith in people.

yankeemom said...

What Flag Gazer said.

I'm glad you were part of honoring his last march.

Anyway to send a card to his family?