Never forget…

The Memorial March team has been phenomenal, the communities have been more than supportive and the sacrifice has been well worth it.

We’re not quite there yet, but these men can sense the end is near.  Some have told me they are ready to go home.  They have families and friends waiting for them and they want to be with them to share their stories of triumph and injury.  They want to hug their children and never let them go.  Some have told me they could go on forever as they just don’t want to stop because that hammers in the fact that our fallen will never return to us.

While it’s true they won’t return to us, what is also true is that we will never forget.  And the communities who learned of the march helped us remember why we’re here.  We’re not only here to honor the 17 fallen and show the families that we will never forget but it’s also to educate the public.  So many who turned out just had no idea what a combat controller or pararesueman was but when they found out they were thankful that people like that exist.  They were thankful that someone would risk their life to save others.

In our world today where so many have no idea of the sacrifice our men and women in uniform make everyday, it is crucial that we spread the word as far and wide as we can.  And especially for our special tactics Airmen who put themselves into harms way on a day-to-day basis.

This march embodies that steadfastness, that determination that gets them through the next 12-mile leg and helps them to carry that 50-pound ruck sack.  It embodies camaraderie and strengthens the bond between this tight-knit community. That bond may be formed by comparing blisters on their feet or  by telling stories of the neat people they’ve met during the march to include the retired Vitetnam vet who said he lost so many friends but no one ever did something like this for them.  That bond holds together the memory of the Memorial March and of the men we are honoring.

The story captured in this clip is truly what this is all about….honor our men who lost their lives too soon,  spread their story and never forget.

Absolutely awe-inspiring…

These guys just don’t stop despite intense heat and sun beating down on them all day, blisters the size of this great state of Texas we’re marching through, and the pain of the 50-pound ruck sacks weighing them down.  It truly is awe-inspiring and brings me to tears quite a bit when I think about their sacrifice and their huge hearts.  They tell me that no amount of pain makes up for the emotional pain of the families of the 17 fallen Airmen we’ve lost.  And although we are only honoring the special tactics Airmen with the batons the men are carrying, I know that these guys would go to any lengths to honor all of our Air Force family who have fallen.

I’ve learned a few things since I arrived to Air Force Special Operations Command.  It’s never about us, it’s about them.  What I mean is that these guys never do anything for themselves, they do it for their Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine brethren they are protecting or saving.  They do it for their comrades.  They do it for their families.  And they do it for their country.  I believe that these men all retain a unique quality of never giving up.  No job is too tough, no mission too hard to get through, and there is no life not worth saving.

I know I keep going back to my Dad in these posts, but he truly was my hero.  He was a Marine and he truly embodied what it means to be a Marine…the sharp uniform, the command presence, the impeccable military bearing, the brute strength, and the heart that never quits loving or defending our country.  Our special tactics Airmen are no different.  Our Navy Seals are no different.  And our Green Berets are no different.  These are the men who will always give all to save lives and protect others.

I know you probably feel like you need to put patriotic music to this blog right now, but I can’t help it.  If you were to come out here and see the men marching, sweating, bleeding, aching, all in remembrance of their fallen comrades and especially those they left behind, it would inspire the heck out of you too!

From the woman who shook one our men’s hands and then drove off crying, to the little kid on crutches who kept up with the men as long as he could, they understand what these guys are doing and they understand the importance of self-sacrifice for others.