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Sir, Yes Sir!

Posted Monday, November 10, 2008, at 7:23 AM

This week we very rightfully recognize Veterans Day. One veteran pointed out Memorial Day is about the guys and gals who died in serving our country; and all veterans are humbled by the day. Veterans Day, he said, is about the guys and gals who are serving now and those who served and came home. Veterans Day is not, in this opinion, about only those who served in combat. It is about giving honor and recognition to all who served any branch of service and all levels of duty. As one who loves the study of history and knows of the sacrifice my own father made in the Merchant Marine, I truly do admire veterans wherever they served. You will perhaps forgive me if I admire just a little bit more our own two sons who are veterans.

The son currently serving is our middle child, Matthew David. On October 29, he graduated in Class 08-25 as a Warrant Officer One of the United States Army. We are reliably informed he made the Commandant's List. Naturally we are very proud of him, as I may have mentioned to Matthew once or twice. It is not exactly clear to me, though, what a WO1 is. Apparently non-commissioned officers of 40 years experience have to salute him, but he salutes 22-year-old 2nd Lieutenants who finished ROTC the same day Matt graduated Warrant Officer School.

According to the Internet ("If it's on the Internet it must be true," Homer Simpson):

"The Army WO is a self-aware and adaptive technical expert, combat leader, trainer, and advisor. Through progressive levels of expertise in assignments, training, and education, the WO administers, manages, maintains, operates, and integrates Army systems and equipment across the full spectrum of Army operations. Warrant Officers are innovative integrators of emerging technologies, dynamic teachers, confident war fighters, and developers of specialized teams of soldiers. They support a wide range of Army missions throughout their career. Warrant officers in the Army are accessed with specific levels of technical ability. They refine their technical expertise and develop their leadership and management skills through tiered progressive assignment and education."

(Para 3-5, DA Pamphlet 600-3, Dec 2005)

Other than that combat part -- and the fact it is Army talk -- this does sound like Matthew. As previously reported I don't really understand what he does (if he told me he'd have to kill me); but I do know the Army seems to need him and his talent really, really bad.

Our other veteran is the eldest, Kenneth Allen. He was in Spain during the First Gulf Conflict refueling planes on their way to Saudi Arabia. One of those fueled was something called Air Force One. Now, if you don't think that's vital to military success, try flying across the Mediterranean without gas.

Technically I think Ken is still considered Ready Reserve. I'm pretty sure this means that the next time he and Matt are together Ken has to salute his younger brother and say, "Sir, yes sir." But we'll believe it when it happens.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@joink.com.


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The veteran has a perplexing situation on days such as this. When someone thanks you for only doing something that has to be done, it is hard to reply. To say "you're welcome" implies that we've done something when often we feel like we haven't, or at least like we're only doing our job. On the other hand, we can't reply with a "thank you" either because that wouldn't make any sense. But I think this is the most appropriate response because I am returning my appreciation for your support. So from a veteran who definitely feels as though he's just doing what is being asked of him, you're welcome and thank you.

-- Posted by theoneinthearmy on Tue, Nov 11, 2008, at 10:18 PM

John Milton, in a poem titled "On His Blindness" described one aspect of military service that many civilians do not understand.For every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine who is in combat, there are many who provide the support that sustains him or her there. Even in the present rotational deployment of troops, many in uniform will not see combat, yet are vital to accomplishment of the mission. Milton's quote is "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Convey my thanks to your sons. I salute their efforts.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Mon, Nov 10, 2008, at 3:54 PM

What an honor to have 2 such great sons! You must be very proud

-- Posted by sassypants on Mon, Nov 10, 2008, at 1:21 PM


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