03 September 2009

A moment of silence

Today, I had the honor of assisting our base Protocol office with a Fallen Hero ceremony. A hero returned to his home today...

If you haven't taken the time to see HBO's "Taking Chance", I recommend you find it on Netflix, HBO OnDemand, Bestbuy, etc. What happened today is related to that movie.

Myself along with four other Protocol augmentees served as crowd control although it wasn't needed. The Patriot Guard Riders were there which is always a site to see. Knowing that they were there to support the family puts me at ease because I understand why they do so much to honor the fallen. Thank goodness the stupid WBC wasn't around.

Army Capt John L. Hallett III is from Concord, CA. He was killed in a roadside bomb incident in Afghanistan on the 25th of August. Three other soldiers were killed with him. They were all stationed at Fort Lewis, WA.

The Lt from Protocol had warned us earlier this morning that it would be very emotional during the Fallen Hero ceremony. The casket would be removed from the aircraft and placed on the flight line for a few moments for the chaplain to say a prayer and the family to pay their respects. From there, it would be placed in the hearse before making the drive to Concord. What would make the ceremony emotional?

His family. Capt Hallett is survived by his wife, his two sons (4 and 2 years old), and his 2 week old daughter, whom he never had a chance to meet.

The site of his wife was what started the tears for me. A relative helped her out of her car in front of the flight line and I could see everything. I watched the four year old, almost white blond hair dressed in a long sleeved light blue button down shirt and khaki shorts, get out of the car and hold hands with a relative. Another relative helped the two year old out of the car, who looked so much like his older brother and even dressed like him too. Then the wife stepped out of the car and took her two week old daughter into her arms. Our base commander, Col Vechry, greeted her, and she started to cry. I think he asked her if she needed help because she said she was fine.

Watching her try and keep her composure was it for me. The next time was when the casket was placed into the hearse.

While watching everything that was going on, I felt proud of Capt Hallett for serving our country, fighting for what we hold dear, I was proud to be there to show my respect upon his return home- but seeing his wife grieve sent a wave of sorrow over me. I knew that there was/is nothing I could possible do or say to ease the pain and it made it harder to watch...

" A Soldier's Prayer...
The soldier stood and faced his God Which must always come to pass...
He hoped his shoes were shining Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier, How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek? To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and Said,"No, Lord, I guess I ain't...
Because those of us who carry guns Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent, Because the streets are awfully tough.
But, I never took a penny That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help, Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place Among the people here...
They never wanted me around Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much, But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne Where the saints had often trod...
As the soldier waited quietly, For the judgment of his God,
"Step forward now you soldier,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."