Friends and family thank me during Memorial Day weekend (I served six years in the Navy.) I have started responding “Thanks, but no thanks!” The response probably seems a little strange, but on Memorial Day we honor those who died serving in the Armed Forces, on Veterans Day we honor those have served in the past, and on Armed Forces Day we honor those who are currently serving.
Here is an example of a service member who died in combat while serving others:
William H. Pitsenbarger wouldn’t receive the Medal of Honor until 2000, about 34 years after his death. Pitsenbarger joined the Air Force in 1962 and qualified for Pararescue. Eventually flying over 300 rescue missions in Vietnam, Pitsenbarger risked his life almost every day to save fellow service members.On April 11, 1966, Pitsenbarger was part of an operation involving two Huskies to rescue roughly half a dozen soldiers near Cam My. Pitsenbarger was lowered onto the ground and secured the wounded. Six soldiers were loaded and flown to an aid station, and the crews returned to evacuate the rest of the men. Pitsenbarger had remained with 20 who were left over, and when the returning helicopters took damage under small arms fire, Pitsenbarger waived them off.
For about 90 minutes, Pitsenbarger tended to the wounded with splints made out of vines and stretchers made out of saplings. He policed ammunition and dispersed it to the active survivors, then joined them with a rifle to fend off Viet Cong. Later that night, Pitsenbarger was taken out by an enemy sniper. His body was found with a rifle and medkit still clutched in hands. Nine more soldiers made it back to safety that day.
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” — G.K. Chesterton
Tiny URL for this post: