I did something pretty moving today. They do what they call a "Patriot Detail" here at Camp Anaconda. Since this is a huge hub for transport aircraft movement in and out of Iraq, the deceased come thru here and onto transport planes for the trip home. I'd been getting basewide e-mails every few days about coming over and participating, but today was the first time we did it. Six of us from my squadron went over, and immediately became pallbearers. About 75 members of units from all over the base showed up.
We waited for an hour for the C-130 to show up. When it did, we marched out in two ranks, right up behind the rear loading ramp. Movements by all were about as military as you can get, sharp turns, salutes and all. The van backed up, and the six of us stepped forward. One guy stepped up behind the casket, and rendered a slow salute. As he pulled the flag-draped casket out, the rest of us took hold. We made a sharp pivot, facing the aircraft, and all hands present saluted the casket. They held the salute until we got inside the Herc. Slowly, we set the casket down, stood up all together, and saluted in unison.
When I saw that casket draped with the flag, I got chills. These five guys were on patrol two nights ago in Baghdad, living...breathing...joking around. Now they're here, draped under our mighty flag. They were all killed by the same IED. I thought about how many times this has happened in the last three years...the last 10 years...heck, in every war we've ever had. These guys had families, children, loved ones. Now they lie silent. They gave it all for the defense of our great nation. We hear about these patriots, making the ultimate sacrifice, and now I was face to face with one of them.
It was all I could do to choke back the tears. God bless you my friends, my brothers. Rest in peace.
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