Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July......Iraq

4th of July and I am in Iraq, I am out from Camp Fallujah and at the Air Base of Al Asad on a collection trip. While out and about today I thought about today and what it means, lots of BBQ's and swimming back home but just another day here, no need for fireworks while in Iraq! In the evening I caught a small part of one of my favorite movies, "Patton" with George C. Scott, and it made me travel back in my memory to 20+ years ago and got me thinking about my Uncle Ray.

Uncle Ray was a combat engineer in World War II serving in the third American Army under the famous General George S. Patton. As a young man home on leave from the Marines to visit family I always made a point to go visit him. I was always greeted with a big smile and a warm embrace then like clock work he would smile, slap me on the back and say " Come on let's go get a beer". Of course we would go down to the local VFW, where he was a founding member, to have a few beers and catch up on things since my last visit home. We would talk about a lot of things and eventually we would end up talking about his time in the Army with General Patton.

He would get a far away look in his eyes as he talked about friends and his experiences and all that he had seen during the “Great War”. Even then he was in his 60's but as he talked it was if it was yesterday to him. I often thought what powerful memories they must be as he recalled friend’s names now some 45+ years later.

I wonder now what will I take away from my time here? The people I have seen? The places I have been? The emotions I have felt? the personal stories I have collected? In 5, 10, 20 years from now will I be the old man in the VFW looking back in my minds eye?

Now I understand Uncle Ray better than ever before, sadly I had the honor and privilege to be a pall bearer at his funeral many years ago. Standing in my dress blues I could not help but shed a tear as a flag was presented to my Aunt by the members of his VFW post.

I also found out years later talking to my Aunt, that he never would discuss his war time experiences with her or my cousin his daughter. Seems Uncle Ray and I had a deeper bond than I ever knew.

Something to think about this 4th of July 2007, our country was made into what it is by people like my Uncle Ray, going back to our early days and the revolutionary war. This will be a special 4th for me, out here with the men and women of my Corps, think about them on this America's birthday.

Happy Birthday America

Gunner Sears


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your nephew is in Al Asad, he's a Capt C130 pilot.. I read everything I can find about the area.. wish you a safe journey. nan

Bag Blog said...

I loved your "Uncle Ray" story. It reminded me of my Uncle Bobby who served three tours in Vietnam including the Ia Drang Valley. I have been to some of his veteran's reunions. Although I can see and understand the bond between my uncle and his buddies, it is not something I have a share in. Just something I am awed by. When the book, "We Were Soldiers..." was published over ten years ago, I remember talking to my uncle about it, and I broke down and cried. His family did not know what was going on or why I was crying - he had never shared any part of the war with his wife or daughters. That book really brought them all closer.

Thanks for all you do.

David M said...

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