One year ago today, this Country, the State of New York, and some families and brothers in arms suffered a terrible day. We lost 3 courageous soldiers from our ranks and they are still missed as much today as they were on that day. I didnâ€™t know SGT Seabrooks or SPC Mangano, but I did know SGT Rodriguez. Rod was one of my soldiers, in fact I was his very first â€œTopâ€ that he ever had. I remember when he came to the unit and watched him grow into a very professional and disciplined soldier.
Last night about 15-20 of us came together at VFW Post 7545 in Tonawanda, NY to remember these three great men and the sacrifices they laid down for their country and the people of Afghanistan. For many of us, we caught up with friends and soldiers past, we shared laughs and we shared somber times.
I watched men who I once knew as barely out of childhood, as scared privates now stand there with me as seasoned, experienced and proud warriors of this country. These are men that have walked into the gates of hell, looked around and were able to walk out. Of course that did not come without a cost, it cost each of them the innocence and ignorance they once had as plain oleâ€™ Americans. They walked out of those gates of hell and back to civilization stripped of those virtues, but now with new ones. Pride, Honor, Sacrificeâ€¦all are traits that were now embedded in them for life. They now share the brotherhood with so many men and women that have walked before them who has served in combat and were willing to give up their life for this country.
Yes these whom I watched, laughed with, shared a beer with and raised a shot of whiskey with in honor of our fallen brothers, are now part of the fraternal brotherhood. The brotherhood of those who will willingly put their bodies and minds at risk so others may live in freedom.
As the quote in the movie At War says, â€œWar is the scar that we wear with pride even as it defacesâ€.
Rest in Peace Rod, Seabrooks, Mangano, and Walton. You are part of the fabric that makes this country so great.