Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

Up Not Forgetting Department Memorial Day Memorial Video 2005

Memorial Day

Most of us have heard the distinctive crack of an AK-47 and smelled cordite after a firefight. We have felt the dry desert sand in our boots and sweated in the oppressive heat of a jungle, loaded an aircraft with unspeakable things or shivered in the outbackís of nowhere.

Those who stand on a steel deck, fly through hostile fire, type our orders to come home or tend our wounds both inside and out are just a few of the members of our chosen profession who have felt the adrenalin flow in a hostile arena. A select few wear the honored purple badge of courage and some have been awarded bronze and silver.

A medal suspended from the neck on a ribbon of bluebird blue with a clasp of 13 white stars arranged as three chevrons holds a medal bar with the word VALOR engraved on its gold surface. The Navy has a gold anchor instead of a bar. Attached below is a 5-pointed star each unique to the branch of service. The recipients of this medal have all of our most sincere respect and we honor them as no other. They are to all of us, the bravest of the brave. 

Everyone in the armed forces plays a support roll in combat activities regardless of what job you performed including those who are left at home to tend the children and mind the home front.

We rub shoulders every day with people who donít have the slightest idea what a veteran means to this country but we know and thatís why our experiences codify our honored status as we are all comrades that have been in harms way.

I have put a few words together about how I feel about Memorial Day that only comrades in arms can understand as brothers and sisters united in a common cause.

Memorial day is traditionally set aside for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in service of their country.  Particular honor is given to those who died in battle or as the results of wounds sustained in battle.  Many of us would not be here if those brave men and women had not given their ultimate sacrifice.

     With an early morning mist hovering just at ground level, I walked the hallowed grounds of the Biloxi National Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi.  I watched volunteers and military members place tiny flags a shoe or boot length from each head stone or bronze marker.

Ground level bronze markers flank the rows of white gravestones that are positioned in austere military order.  I stood by the markers of fallen friends and comrades who made the supreme sacrifice for our great nation.  The same feeling of honor and pride swelled in my heart when I stood in our cemeteries from the Punch Bowl, Vicksburg and the markers of Normandy.

It is a feeling that only a veteran who saw and felt the sacrifices can understand.  It is far more than the loss of a friend or comrade but an immense feeling of honor, pride and sadness mixed together.

     The tears began to flow when I talked to my old friends who held their last muster.  The poignant melody of Taps echoes in my heart as the glistening white stones stand in review.  I feel the distant roll of the drums knowing full well that soon I will be resting with my friends and comrades, as we make our last patrol together on the grassy slopes of this honored setting.

Before leaving, I rendered the hand salute and said a special prayer for all who stand in harms way and guard our freedom in the outposts of the world and for the fallen that went before us.

Lee Parmeter

MSgt USAF (1stSgt) Retired

AI8SO Monkey Mountain RSVN


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