Today is Veterans Day, and I remember...

I remember that my father and three of his brothers went off to World War II, but only three of them came back. Edward died near Remagen, Germany and is buried in Belgium. I remember watching newsreel footage of the war in Vietnam every evening after dinner. I remember watching helicopters pushed over the side of ships to make room for more refugees when it was over. I remember protesters throwing things and spitting on troops as they came back from Vietnam... I volunteered anyway. I remember 321 long cold nights deep under North Dakota watching the lights on the Launcher Status-Missile Indicator Panel. I remember cold winters in Alaska coordinating snow removal on the runway in order to recover RC-135 aircraft. I remember near panic when KAL flight 007 was shot down because our recon asset was airborne at the same time, and relief when a few minutes later the crew called from Shemya to report a safe landing. I remember two long years in Korea coordinating and planning over and over what to do if North Korean tanks crossed the border, and duck and cover drills in full NBC gear in preparation for North Korean Chemical Warfare attacks... I remember struggling to find a job, working at Sears selling screwdrivers for a year when I got out of the USAF... I remember joining the Alaska Army National Guard as a Medical Service Corps Officer, sweating through training in Texas, processing soldiers for war, and individually deploying to Germany myself... I remember Mosul and Fallujah... not because I was there, but because of the tidal wave of casualties arriving at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where I was the Senior National Guard Advisor and Patient Liaison Officer... I remember burns, and missing limbs, and gunshot wounds... I remember blood. Lots of blood. I remember one Specialist from Washington State who was blown up five times and was essentially uninjured each time. I returned him to duty four times. The fifth time his commander begged me to send him stateside "because no one will get in a gun truck with him". I remember how hard that Specialist fought not to be sent home... He only gave in when I arranged for him to care for his injured buddies back at Fort Lewis. I remember frigid cold dawn on a mountain top in Mongolia... Lines of Mongolian Civilians waiting patiently to have eye surgery to remove cataracts, have teeth filled or extracted, or to get medicine they had not seen in several years... I remember the thousands of comrades in camouflage, some of whom, like my uncle, did not make it back. Yes I remember. The good. The bad. The unspeakably horrible. It was worth it. If you are a Veteran, thank you for standing with me. If you are currently serving, thank you for not letting the flag fall. If you know a Veteran or a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine, take time today to say thank you in some small way, or find a way to pay it forward. Freedom is in no way free. Doug Harvey, LTC, MS, AKARNG (RET) MWP Director of Veterans and Active Duty Affairs Veterans Day 2015


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