Solemn Days

I received word this morning that the gag order we've been under has been lifted. Gag orders are put into place when certain things happen to safeguard operational data but also to enable contact of family when someone is hurt or killed here without their finding out through the internet, email, or some overzealous news agency.

A few days ago we had a visit from our Wing Commander. The base I am located at is part of a larger network of bases forming a wing. We have a "group" here. But the boss of the whole pie was in and took a few minutes to walk around the chapel. I had just returned from the morgue, where I had been summoned by an Army NCO who wished to have me up there to support his troops. We had dead coming in. Five. However, their bodies would not arrive for another 8 hours, so I had returned to the chapel with the news, which I passed to our leadership.

Five is an astounding number for us to experience. I'm not going to say anything more about their death because I don't want to give the xxx who killed them information or satisfaction, though taking satisfaction at killing people who are here to help says something about the evil depravity of their value system.

The next day I formed up with my Air Force brothers and sisters and marched out onto the flight line with our Army brothers to bid farewell to our dead. The sun was out and the day had warmed up. The flags were lifted by a gentle breeze as tears flowed from many faces standing rock solid at attention. Across from me holding his salute from his wheel chair was a soldier, a friend of one of those being carried home, just three hours out of surgery he had had earlier that morning. The commands rang briskley in the air. The slow solemn march of steps as the 5 teams bearing their comrads were heard approaching and passing under the frozen bodies locked in position to render honor to a group of people who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy. Once again I remember the words spoken to a dying man in Ballad -- this is not a hospital but a temple, this is not a gurney but an altar, you are not a soldier, you are more -- you are a sacrifice for freedom. They defend freedom
and pay the price demanded by evil men so the rest of us don't have to.

Yesterday I helped to debrief some young people who formed our mortuary team. They pay a price too. Everyone who mounts up in a vehicle and goes out of the wire to engage the enemy who wants to kill them -- they pay a price. Family members back home -- they pay a price. Children celebrating the holidays, birthdays, first concerts, graduations, marriages, having children, and so forth -- a price is paid. I know a lawyer who has left his practice to stand a post 12 hours a day looking out at a piece of ground to make sure no one comes through that space to cause injury or death -- he pays a price -- willingly.

To the families who will celebrate without their loved ones, especially those who have lost loved ones, we understand and we care. We remember. And we promise - freedom will be preserved. Evil will not win.