Too Short, Too Fragile

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Military
Tags: , , , ,

Life of course is what I am talking about.  I came home from a visit with the family today to the news that I lost a workmate this Friday.  In keeping with my policy of not naming my personal friends or circumstances directly, and out of respect for his wife and family I will maintain that policy.  Besides, those that know him either already know, or like me today, will find out by Monday.  Fellow soldiers know what I am talking about when I say that a death, no matter the circumstances affects us all.  This is even more so when it is someone we work with day in and day out, and it happens in a manner other than would normally be expected in our chosen profession.

A little about my friend.  When I use the word friend, I do not mean someone that I had a true personal outside the job relationship with, that would be a lie on my part.  I do mean however, that he was someone I respected, someone I saw if not daily, then regularly.  He was a competent, fit, career warrior who could be depended on.  He was a leader and a mentor.  He was too young and had a wonderful family.  Never once did I hear him or see him affected by his personal life while on the job.  Like most of us, in his proficiency and professionalism, he did his job without the need of thanks or gratitude.

In keeping with one of the themes of this blog, I bring up my friend because he was one of those who elected to live his life as a soldier.  It is both a choice and a calling. He heard the call and answered.  He did so before our country’s current turmoils began and he continued to do so right up until the point where he could give no more.  He was not the first friend I have lost over the last decade and he will probably not be the last.  The circumstances of his passing are no less tragic than any of the others although it was not as a result, directly anyhow, of the dangerous nature of the job.

My condolences go to the family of my fallen friend.  His wife, his father and his in-laws all of whom he was close to.  I am not one to offer prayer, it is not my way, but given the brotherhood that we have shared and those we have served alongside, I leave these final words from what is commonly known as the SAS Prayer.  The first four lines are the most commonly recited and applicable.

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

R.I.P. Brother

  1. John Nichols says:

    Kool Aid,

    The loss of every service member is tragic and I can’t say I will “prey” for his family due to my lack of belief in Superstition. I am still profoundly sorry for the loss of your friend and It grieves me to think what his family is going through. I recall on CNN there was a thirty second sound bite that stuck me as something of an after thought that some more service members were killed in Afghanistan. It seems that a lot of our fellow Americans don’t to know or care at this point what going on over there.

    When I was growing up I had a neighbor who served a tour in Vietnam and the experience really messed with him. The things he seen were really horrible. The warriors who returned from that war were not warmly greeted by the public when they came home. He carried in his wallet a batter copy of a poem called Tommy written by Rudyard Kipling in 1892. I’ve seen this poem many time since then. I hope that the loss of you friend will not be just another after thought this go around.


    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

    — Rudyard Kipling


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