Saturday, August 23, 2008


Via Chap, something I missed in the WaPo last week: “A Son Goes Off To War.” Excerpt:

For generations, my family has sent sons off to war. The first, Jacob Zumwalt, lies in Fort Zumwalt, Mo., -- his headstone recognizes his military service in the American Revolution. The 20th century bore witness to a grandfather's service in World War I, World War II and Korea; a father's service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam; a brother's service in Vietnam; and my own in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.

Growing up, my brother and I were never told that we had an obligation to serve. It was by osmosis, through witnessing our father's sense of duty to country, that we felt compelled to do so.

Similarly, I never told my son, James, that he bore such an obligation. But I felt great pride when he, too, chose to serve.

Military service must be in our DNA. Even so, it is very difficult for a father to watch a son go off to war.

The first few paragraphs… especially those I’ve quoted above… resonate with me, a LOT. And why would that be? Well… SN1 and his unit are deploying to The Sandbox on September 2nd. It’s not like this is his first time, or anything, and the situation in-country is a whole helluva lot better than it’s ever been. Still and even: I’m a father, and Buck is my son. Worry is part of the territory. I've known about this upcoming deployment for some time now, but what I didn't know... and neither did Buck, until yesterday... was the exact date the unit was gonna saddle up and head out. We know now... and now is when the worry begins.

But, that said, Lt. Col. Zumwalt’s closing paragraph says it all, and says it well:

I shared one other thought with James. Having lost a grandfather, father and brother, I had come to believe all my heroes were gone. But I was wrong about this, too. In bidding my son farewell as he goes off to war, I realized I have been blessed with yet another hero.

What he said.

Today's Pic: Predictable, this. I have a LOT of pics of Buck...but I really like this one. Not so much for who's in the photo with Buck, it's ALL about the occasion and circumstance. The Dining-Out (and Dining-In) is a fine military tradition... and this pic just seems appropriate. YMMV, especially if your name is Erma. In which case, there's this pic:

Buck and Erm... at Buck's AMMOS graduation. This year, at Nellis AFB, NV.


  1. September 2 is Atlas Shrugged Day. Perhaps somewhere someone knows the story of why the date is significant. I don't. If you read the novel, you see everything meaningful that happens, happens on a 9/2, including the beginning of Part I Chapter One.

    Just a coinkeedink, I guess.

    You and SN1 will be in my thoughts. Right now, my fatherly concerns are MUCH less significant. Like:

    Mom (five hundred miles away): How'd he do this morning?

    Me: Great! He's riding his bike to school like a little trooper.

    Mom: You're sure he's gonna be okay?

    Me: No problem!

    (Knocks on wooden table.)

    Mom: What was that??

    Me: Nuthin'.

    Fatherhood. Every single concern you have about things, seems to bring two elves sitting on your shoulder, y'know? One's saying "you aren't worried nearly enough" and the other one's saying "you're going to think you're such a dork when this is over." I've often wondered how widowers deal with this. In my case, I lean toward the "don't worry so much" doppleganger because I know when it comes to being a worry-wart, the mother will do WAY MORE than enough, and there's a need for a stronger, calmer voice. But yeah. Can't understand your position yet, but I feel for this posting of yours. Every little thing that comes up, the conflict begins.

    Great guy, from the looks of things. You are right to be so proud.

  2. I pray for a safe mission and happy return home!

  3. Morgan sez: Every single concern you have about things, seems to bring two elves sitting on your shoulder, y'know?

    You're SO right on this point, Morgan, especially about Mom doing more than her share of worrying. I probably should have chosen my words more carefully... as I'm more concerned than worried. Buck is a big boy and he'll do fine. Besides... there's a BIG difference between being a maintenance officer on a flight line and walking point on patrols in Sadr City. Apples and oranges, in the extreme.

    All that said... I think I prefer being where I am in this father game, than where you are. I try and put myself in your place and imagine how I would deal with being a single parent to SN3... and it simply does not compute. I know I'd muddle through somehow, but life's Drama Quotient would increase by a factor of ten... at the VERY least.

    Jenny: Thank ya, Ma'am!!

  4. Buck, I feel your Pain -the emotional kind that is. I was in your shoes a year ago when my SN2 (The Marine infantryman) was preparing to set sail and head to the sandbox himself. He off loaded in Kuwait in November and spent the next 5 months waiting for a mission into Iraq however, just the way things turned out his unit was never needed.

    When the President visited Africa in March his unit was pulled out to do security for him in the two countries on that side of Africa. No action, he said he only fired is weapons on the Range only, for the entire deployment.

    He returned in June and is, as we speak training for his next deployment which will occur early next year. We think Afghanistan this time as his unit has spent a lot of time in the barren mountains of southern California.

    So, I hope all the best for your SN1 and all the members of his unit. There are so many support groups out there to help the parents of deployed service members. Not like in my day!!!

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  5. You fathers are as amazing as your sons. It has taken good men to raise good sons. Society accepts moms to show their emotions and worries, but fathers, well, not so much. Maybe fathers seem stronger or maybe they are still just being examples to their sons. SN1 will be in my prayers as will his wife and daughters and his dad.

  6. Oops, I got Sam and Buck's kids confused. Sorry. Still, his family will be in my prayers.

  7. Jimmy T: I can relate to your tale. But providing security for Dubya just might be preferable to running around inside Iraq... even though "things" have cooled down quite a bit. OTOH, I can understand a Marine's desire to be where the action is. That desire extends to the other branches, as well, but I believe it's stronger in the Devil Dog bid'niz.

    And you're certainly right about support groups and such, these days. It's night and day, compared to when you and I were in. There's NO comparison, actually!

    Lou: I got your points in your original comment, but thanks for the clarification. You're right about fathers, in general. We're supposed to be stoic in the face of everything. Or so I've heard. ;-) <== BIG ol' grin and wink.


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