On Veterans Day, I always think of three young Soldiers I never met. They were killed in June of 2006 in Iraq. I was there as well, working at the Press Desk, which essentially is the hub for journalists to call for information during an event.
I started getting calls about three missing Soldiers. Obviously, if the reporters are asking, something has generally already happened. I started sending up inquires on the situation for releasable information. When Soldiers are missing, information is held tight for their protection (and hopeful recovery) and out of respect for the families’ privacy. Of course, media have a job to do, so they still call wanting information. It is a tough balance between operational security and the public’s right to know.
As the story eventually unfolds, all three Soldiers were found murdered. Casualties of war. Story over.
But for other Soldiers, the story is never over. I had not met them, but my tiny involvement in their story burned them into my brain forever. I thought about how these three young men (who were only in their 20s) would never go home. They would never grow old. They would never know how much people loved them.
Now, whenever I salute the flag, hear the National Anthem, or celebrate a patriotic holiday, I think of them. I have their names written in my calendar so I can be reminded of them. I try to live my life to the fullest because they can’t. I work on being a better Soldier in honor of them.
So as you celebrate today, put them, and their families, in your heart and prayers.
Pfc. Kristian Menchaca (23), Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker (25), and Spc. David J. Babineau (25), I will never forget you, and I am sorry you never made it home. I am sure God needed some warriors by his side though and I hope to meet you one day in Heaven.
For some basic information on their story, click here.