Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grateful. Times Infinity...

Hoping you had a great Sunday today.  Mine was rather normal.  Got up early, we went to church, took a friend to lunch, ran some errrands, planted some flowers.  It was a great Sunday.

For me.

But for my niece's fiance, Captain Tim "Otto" Collins, I'm guessing it was anything but great.  

You see, he's in Afghanistan.  He's on his sixth tour.  Yes, sixth.  
My niece and Tim got engaged right before he deployed.  I haven't even met him yet.  But boy, do I love him.

I received an email this afternoon that he had sent out to all of his family and friends.   We haven't heard from him in quite a while as email is not always something he has time for.  I think other things are more pressing.  

Here's a snippet:

 "Earlier that morning, July 19, 2012, Marine Corporal Joshua Ashley, 23, was killed during combat operations in the Helmand River Valley.  Cpl Ashley was a Military Police Dog Handler.  He was killed by the same type of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that he and his dog "Sirius" had successfully discovered many times before, saving the lives of the Army Special Operations Team he was attached to.  This was his Ramp Ceremony before being transported out of Afghanistan to Dover Air Force Base.

I was awestruck by the scene.  My senses were completely overloaded.  Have you ever heard the saying, "The silence was deafening?”   I stayed back about 50 yards away from the ceremony.  Hundreds of personnel were lined up in formation on either side of the end of the C-130’s ramp, facing to the center forming a narrow corridor for the casket to pass from the Hummvee ambulance to the C-130.  Even that transfer is executed with meticulous care and ceremony by the escorts who walk the coffin through the corridor and into the cargo plane.  It was so quiet I could hear the ringing in my ears caused by too many deployments to places like this.  There was no movement and no noise - that is, until I noticed something moving in my peripheral vision to my front and left, about as far away from the C-130 as I was.Off to the side of the ceremony, lined up at perfect attention, were six - maybe nine - Marines, each with a dog at their side also sitting at "attention" perfectly still.  But there was one dog in the center of the formation that couldn't be stilled and his whimpers couldn't be muffled by the two dog handlers on either side of him.  It was obvious which Marine this dog was bonded to.  Cpl Ashley's K-9, "Sirius," knew something wasn't right about what was going on.  When the formation around the C-130 was dismissed and the dogs were escorted away, Sirius just kept looking back at that C-130.  It was one of the most emotionally moving things I have ever witnessed."

He ended with this:

"All that we ask from you is this:  Don't forget about the daily struggles of the countless wounded warriors you have never heard about that fight like hell to heal like Colin Smith, Derek Herrera, Dan Crenshaw, Dan Cnossen and Matt Lampert.  Don't ever forget about the ultimate sacrifices made by real American Heroes like Jenn Harris, Jared Landaker, JT Wrobleski, Richard Gannon, Ronnie Winchester, Kevin Shea, Kyle VanDeGiesen, Matt Freeman, Brendan Looney, Travis Manion, Matt, Ryan, Sky and so many others.  Forever appreciate and never forget what they have done for us.  I never will."

OK, I'm planting flowers -- and God knows what he and the other men and women he serves with are doing today.  Though I pride myself in taking nothing for granted, I'm very sure many things slip by me.  Like taking a hot shower every day, taking a walk by the lake.  Even air conditioning.

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but just wanted to pass this on to all of you.  May it serve as a reminder to include those amazing men and women who have been wounded far from home as well as those family members who have lost someone who is irreplaceable. 

And please keep Captain Tim "Otto" Collins in your prayers too.
I can't wait to meet him.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This was a much needed reminder. As a mom of an 18 & almost 22 year old, I couldn't imagine having them go off to Afganistan (or anywhere) & not know if they'd come back, or what they were being exposed to day by day. These men & women are TRULY heroes & we DO need to stop & pray for them! You're not being Debbie Downer, you're being Realistic Ruthie!