Thankful for my freedom, but it wasn’t free.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A time to spend with family, and give thanks. Telling all what you are thankful for, and gathering around a big turkey dinner. However, there are families tomorrow, who will spend their first Thanksgiving without someone very special to them. Many servicemen and women give their lives every year to ensure that we have things to give thanks for on Thanksgiving.

I was a soldier in the United States Army. Before I joined, I was an only child, living in a small suburb in America. Since then, I may be an only child by birth, but I have over a million brothers and sisters. I fought alongside many, and no matter the outcome, I would take a bullet for them, just as I would do my own wife and daughter. Sadly, this time of year is harder for some families. There are thousands of servicemen and women who will not be present with their families for the holidays, Whether deployed, or no longer among us.

Back in 2011, I was deployed overseas in February. I missed many things with my family, including Valentines Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. I was very fortunate to be able to both come home for the birth of my daughter, and also be home for Christmas. I know from experience, that it is just as hard for the service member, as it is for their families. Which is why one of the many things that I have been thankful for over the years, was Skype (or Facetime, Facebook Video, and any others.)

Now like everyone else, I am thankful for my family, my friends, my life, and all the normal essentials. But there is one thing I will forever be thankful for, and for it, I will forever be indebted to my fellow service members. My Freedom. Without what they stand for, and what I stood for, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog. “Freedom don’t come free” is a statement that couldn’t be more true.

Here are just a few who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can live free in America. These individuals gave their lives, and they didn’t think twice about who was their President, they didn’t care who didn’t agree with the war, and they didn’t care who protested their funerals, their departures, or their arrivals. They fought for their country, and their families. That is all that mattered to them!

Staff Sergeant Matthew C. Lewellen – 27, ARMY. Died of wounds sustained when his convoy was attacked upon entering a Jordanian military base. He was a husband, and a brother. He was a Green Beret.

Staff Sergeant Kevin J. McEnroe – 30, ARMY. Died of wounds sustained when his convoy was attacked upon entering a Jordanian military base. This was his third tour of duty overseas.

Staff Sergeant James F. Moriarty – 27, ARMY. Died of wounds sustained when his convoy was attacked upon entering a Jordanian military base. This was his second tour of duty overseas.

Captain Andrew D. Byers – 30, ARMY. Died of wounds sustained in a firefight with enemy forces.

Sergeant First Class Ryan A. Gloyer – 34, ARMY. Died of wounds sustained in a firefight with enemy forces.

Major Phyllis J. Pelky – 45, Air Force. Died when her helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

First Airman Kcey E. Ruiz – 21, Air Force. Died when the C-130 Aircraft in which she was riding, crashed at Jalalabad Airfield.

Gunnerís Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge – 19, NAVY. Died of Non-Combat related injuries sustained while deployed in the U.S. fleet area of operations.

Staff Sergeant Louis F. Cardin – 27, USMC. Died when his unit was attacked by hostile rocket fire while deployed.

*Most Recent* Specialist Ronald L. Murray Jr – 23, ARMY. Died due to injuries sustained in a firefight with enemy forces.

At least 8,352 servicemen and women have died in combat for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) since 2001. There have been at least 31 in 2016 so far. Take the time to think of the families of these courageous men and women over the next few weeks.

 

**Image file http://rotwnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/BLUE-STAR-AF-Day.jpg

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