Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the Home Front Hero's of this war

When serving in the Military, you take for granted that folks will die. Crazy as this sounds to me, you just know that if a buddy didn’t make it out of his plane or an IED blows up next to a guy you are friends with, it was part of their job. We are a unit, all brothers in arms, and we all feel that loss. There is also another Corps of folks out there supporting our Military Men and Women every day. They don’t receive medals for what they do, nor will you see their obits run in any national paper under the death toll of the war, but they help keep the morale of our men and women to the level where this thing is bearable and in my mind, are the backbone of our Military.

I have made many Cyber friends through my experience in Iraq. Some, I’ve had the honor of meeting in the last two years, and still many more keep in contact via email. These folks span many states and spend countless hours either on the computer writing our troops or standing in line at the post office to send a package of support.

So, when one of them dies, I feel the loss as one of our own has passed. In the last twelve months, I have lost two of my biggest supporters. The first was a mystery woman named “Betty.” Actually, the letters were always signed “The Two Betty’s” because as it turned out, Betty had moved in to take care of her mother, also named Betty, and together they picked out Marines and Soldiers on AnySoldier.com to support. Being a crazy Marine, I had posted a request for help tracking down the agent of Catherine Bell, the Marine LtCol actress from the TV show J.A.G. It was my intent to get her over for a morale visit to the Marines in An Bar Province. Betty saw this post and responded immediately to my request with a phone number, cell phone number, and address for her agent. I was blown away by this immediate response, and asked how she came across this valuable information? She wouldn’t say, but from her style of writing there were many clues as to her background, and it was obvious that she was someone of extreme importance. As it turns out, I was right; she was a retired Senior VP for a major company in the US and still had her finger on the pulse of all the right people all over the world.

She wasn’t one to complain or go into her problems but as it turns out, she was suffering from a pulmonary problem that restricted her to her house, and now in the care of her mother. She passed away last March, and a part of my “Army” was now gone. I still go back and read her letters, for she had such a great way with words.

Recently we lost a former Marine named “Big Bro Jim I.” Jim liked to support our guys and gals with a box full of cigars and chewing tobacco if you were so inclined. He had spent his time in Vietnam and, by God; he was going to let our troops know that there was a segment of this great nation who supported them. I always pictured Jim as a big grizzly former Marine sitting at the keyboard pounding out letters to us with mitts the size of an outfielder’s hand. Jim liked to type in all caps, which to me is hard on the eyes, but it made it easier for him to read, I guess. One day I was in my office and I received an email from his wife “SusanIron@XXX.com” and when I opened it I read “TACO, I WANT YOU.” That was it, no more, no less.

Hmmmm, Taco, I want you what? Is she hitting on me? That is strange. So I hit reply and typed "Thank you very much for your email. While I'm flattered I'm sure that Mr. Iron might have an issue with this as well as my wife. Thanks again and have a great day."

About ten minutes after I sent this out, I received another email from Susan Iron that said "TACO, I WANT YOU TO GET ME SOME SAND FROM IRAQ AND MAIL IT TO ME, BIG BROTHER JIM." Ole Jim, not too savvy on the keyboard, had sent me an email prematurely while using his wife's account. It gave me a big chuckle later but had me worried for a while!!! What a crazy ole bastard!! I had to beat him to stop using CAPS too!!

Those were just two folks out there like you, the average Joe who lead a secret life of super supporter, and while we don’t have a medal made up for them just yet, you can bet a million dollars that their contributions to the troop morale will never be forgotten. God Bless you Betty and Jim who are now guarding the Pearly Gates for us, and all the countless others out there in Cyber land I haven’t mentioned. Now that my sermon is over, the Church Ladies will lead us in our next hymn…
Semper Fi,
Taco