Heartfelt Honor for those Who Served

It may just be my pet-peeve, but folks who have not served using military metaphors glibly without an appreciation of what they mean to someone who has served their country in uniform. Case-in-point, guys (or gals) using "Band of Brothers" to reference random groups of their friends or acquaintances.

Listen up! Just because you had beers together or played some game with some folks does not make you anything like a "Band of Brothers". When you serve with someone, before you ever earn the right describe yourself with some appellation, you train, you drill, you sweat, you suck it up, you miss meals, you miss sleep, you keep the pace, you DON'T GIVE UP. Sometimes that means picking up the slack for a buddy, encouraging the guy who is faltering even when you feel like sh*t. In the normal course of realistic training, there is going to be pain, injuries, and blood; and that is just training.

In an operational environment, folks go down range, they go over the horizon, and there is no guarantee that everyone makes it back. I was fortunate that all my guys made it back; I never had to write one of those letters.

Before I took my commission, one of the longest conversations I ever had with my Dad was when he grabbed some beers (already being a few beers down), took me aside and started telling me about a night action he had where his Swift boats were called in to make direct fire suppressing runs in support of a US unit in heavy contact. They were taking incoming from the jungle edge, and suddenly the aft .50/81mm went silent, and my Dad went down the un-engaged side of the boat to see what was up - the aft mount had taken a direct hit on the blast shield from an RPG. The only thing left of the gunner was a bloody mess and boot with a foot in it My Dad spoke of that gunner by name - sadly, I cannot remember that name. It was one of the few times that my Dad ever spoke of Vietnam and his sudden emotion was startling to me. With tears on his face, and his voice shaking, I will never forget how vehemently he said, "You had better be F*cking Damn Sure you can write that letter before you hold up your hand and take that oath!" With that, Dad was done, and we never spoke of that again, although he did come out to see me graduate, and he administered that oath to me himself.

In my perspective, "Band of Brothers" is a term reserved for those who have served together, risked together, and sometimes bleed together. If you haven't, don't be a poser.


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