Memorial Day, 2016

Sgt Kenneth May

USMC Sergeant Kenneth B. May, Jr.

Today, on this Memorial Day, 2016, we pause to remember a hometown hero, United States Marine Corps Sergeant Kenneth B. May, Jr.

Marine Sergeant Kenneth B. May Jr. died May 11, 2010, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. Sergeant May, 26, of Kilgore, Texas; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Also killed was Marine Corporal Jeffrey W. Johnson.

Sergeant May and Corporal Johnson, of Tomball, Texas, were anti-tank assault guided missilemen assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.

Sergeant May enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005 and was on his third combat deployment when he was Killed In Action. His death came one day after his second wedding anniversary.

Corporal Johnson, who enlisted in 2007, was on his second deployment.

At the memorial service for Sergeant Kenneth May Jr., the musical selections included “Nothing Else Matters” by the metal band Metallica. It might be an usual choice for some, but not for the avid musician and guitarist.

“Only Kenny would have metal playing at his funeral and at his wedding,” said Mike Brooks, the pastor of a church in San Clemente, Calif., near where Sergeant May was based at Camp Pendleton. “I know he’s smiling about all this.”

Sergeant May was married to Krystal Barton, who marked their second wedding anniversary the day before her husband’s death.

He graduated in 2004 from Kilgore College, where he was in an international academic honor society and put his musical talents to use in the marching band and the chorale, a school spokesman said. Sergeant May also enjoyed gaming and working with firearms.

The Rev. John Gradberg said Sergeant May was a man of faith and humility, who would have told mourners to “save this accolade for a real hero.”

Survivors include his wife; his parents, Kenneth and Karen May; and a sister.

I was privileged to attend Sergeant May’s funeral in Kilgore, Texas, as part of the East Texas Patriot Guard Riders, and stand the Flag Line honoring Sergeant May. May he Rest in Peace, and his family be comforted in their loss.

The preceding information was provided by the Associated Press and KLTV, Channel 7.

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Today Is Special

Today is my “used to be my birthday.”

August 5th “used to be my birthday” until I was 8 years old. My younger sister and I were actually born on November 1st and 5th, respectively, one year apart.

My mom and dad always told us we were born on August 1st and 5th so we could start school in First Grade in September (this was WAY before Pre-K and Kindergarten) in the little SE Texas town of Newton.

This was also before birth certificates were required to enter school. And yes, my mom “lied” to the Newton Elementary school and told them I (and later, my sister) were each six years old. I started when I was technically 5 years old and therefore was the youngest in my class all the way up through high school.

When we moved from Newton when I was 8, our parents told us the truth. For some reason, this upset us and we both cried about it. Then, they reminded us that we had already had a birthday party back in August and we MIGHT have another one in November. That made it all okay.

My mom’s heart was in the right place. She just did not want us to wait all year to start First Grade, just because we were born two months too late, and the school certainly was not overcrowded.

Years later, I found copies of my old original birth certificate. Apparently she had “experimented” with cutting out the year date and trying to tape a new, earlier date onto the certificate. But, since this was the days before photocopiers, her experiment flopped. Her answer was to just tell everyone we were born in August instead of November.

This is the same woman who taught me to read at the age of four from books on loan from my Aunt Joanna Brown who was a school teacher. This is also the same mom who helped me get my first library card while I was still four years old and walked my sister and me to the library for new books every week.

So, happy “used to be my birthday” to me.

I Miss you, Mom.

Jeri & Sonny at Bay

My sister, Jeri Lynn Harness Auld, and I at Matagorda Bay in South Texas the summer before I started school that September.

Our Visit to Dallas

For The Fallen — Lest We Forget

For the fallen

The following are stanzas three and four of the poem, “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon. The original was published in the Times of London September 21, 1914. It is now usually a part of the Ode of Remembrance and the entire seven-stanza poem is recited as a tribute to the casualties of all wars:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

The normal response after stanza four is “Lest we forget.” Today on Memorial Day, “We will remember them….lest we forget.”

Memorial Day, 2015

Remembering Their Sacrifice

Today is Memorial Day, 2015. Many people forget that this is a day to remember the fallen, those who gave their last full measure of sacrifice for our Nation and for their comrades-in-arms. The following essay was written and posted by my good friend, US Navy Retired Chief Petty Officer Robert N. (Bob) Jenkins. I thought it said it all, in a MUCH better way than I ever could and so I am borrowing his essay and re-posting it here. Today, when you are tempted to “thank a vet” for Memorial Day, I hope you will remember Bob’s words here. Thank you, Shipmate Bob Jenkins.

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Pardon me for getting on a soapbox for a minute, but I want to draw a distinction between Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays. Many earnest and sincere well wishes are sent out to all members, past and present, of our nation’s armed forces on Memorial Day. Most of these wishes should be sent on Armed Forces and/or Veterans Day. Memorial Day is meant for paying homage to those who have given their life in service to our nation and the freedom we enjoy.

The origin of Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War. There are many stories from those first years’ observances that illustrate the true purpose of this important day to honor those who died in service to this nation. Civil War deaths account for nearly half of the 1.2 million American Soldiers who died in our nation’s wars. It’s no surprise that a tradition known as Decoration Day was borne out of the tragic loss following the Civil War.

According to historians, on April 1865 former slaves helped recover 257 Union Soldiers from a mass grave in a Charleston, S.C. racetrack, a site that had served as a Confederate prison. After the Soldiers were properly buried and the area fenced in, Charleston’s residents gathered, sang hymns and laid roses on the graves.

In 1866, in Columbus, Miss., a group of women decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle, noticed the barren graves of Union soldiers and the women placed flowers on those graves, as well. The practice was repeated at multiple gravesites during the period.

After World War I, the observance was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars, and volunteers began placing small American flags on each grave at cemeteries across the nation.

From its origin to the evolution of Memorial Day observances today, one key premise remains. It is a moment in time that we all should stop, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to this country.

Today, the American flags marking each grave at cemeteries across the nation represent an intangible devotion. Words can never express our gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our armed forces—and that of our Gold Star Families. We are forever indebted to them. We honor them by upholding the standards for which they fought so valiantly.

I urge everyone to remember the special significance of Memorial Day and what makes it so special and different from other patriotic holidays. What our fallen have paid, is a debt we cannot repay ourselves except in the honor and respect we show them.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (KJV)

Monday, May 25th, is Memorial Day, 2015

Vietnam Memorial

This Memorial Day, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Delta Airlines Handles Military Remains with Respect

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Editor’s Note: There is a lot of false information about this video circulating the Internet.  The following explanation accompanied this video and gives the true details behind it.

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My name is Brian McConnell, I work for Delta Air Lines and coordinate the Honor Guard program for the military fallen, however the information put out by most people sharing this video is incorrect. I know it has been shared with the heading “Watch what Delta does for Fallen Soldier and his K9” but that info is incorrect.

The truth is, the first fallen coming off the aircraft, covered in the U.S. Flag is a soldier missing over 63 years from the Korean War who was identified and was being returned to his family, the second and smaller box was actually additional bone fragments of a soldier who was already sent home and buried, they were to go and be interned with that soldier.

When the video was first posted we had a description on the video but as you are probably aware of internet “trolls” got on it and started some very vile comments and disrespectful comments. Some were very hurtful to our military so rather than have the families who have lost a loved one have to see them we shut off the comments,

So when it was shared “millions” of times, somebody assumed it was a current conflict soldier and his K9 companion. I have posted in many of the video comments that this is incorrect but when my comment is 8 pages down, nobody sees it.

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