It seems that to many, Memorial Day is either a three day weekend, or the kickoff of Summer. I find this especially sad when I thought about my good friend Mark Scholl and how he lost his life training for the defense of his country. I also thought about two other men that I had the pleasure of knowing and serving with, Mike Nazionale and Eddy Clark who also lost their lives in training incidents.
I remembered when I first heard the news of Eddy and the other CCT brothers we lost in Spain. We all knew that our career field had a much higher risk factor than just about any other in the USAF, but that kind of news is never truly welcome. Attending the memorial service for Mark, Mike and the others who lost their lives on that UH-60 in Utah is another memory that will never fade. The local newspaper had stated that the service was open only to active duty service members and retirees, however every CCT that decided to attend from past and present was automatically welcomed. No regulation or stipulation could ever break the bond of true brothers in arms, especially when paying respects to their fallen.
My remembering included many who gave their lives in defense of freedom, like my two great uncles who lost their lives in the South Pacific in WWII. I remembered the parade that marked the internment of the Vietnam Unknown Soldier and watching the horse-drawn carriage and flag-draped coffin pass within mere feet of me as the procession made its way to Arlington National Cemetary on Memorial Day 1984. Last and certainly not least, I remembered a man who I never had the pleasure of meeting. A true hero who was publicly not recognized for his deeds for many years because of a "secret" war that was being waged from Laos during the Vietnam War. Chief Etchberger is a true American hero, not just because of the mission, but because of his dedication to his brothers in arms and sheer bravery. He is currently in consideration for the Medal Of Honor and though quite a few years late, most deservedly so.
To tell the truth, I don't just think about my relatives, CCT brothers, or others who have layed their lives down for their country on Memorial Day. I think about them often as I enjoy the freedoms their sacrifices have provided us all.