This just in . . .It's a letter about the burial of LTC Orlando, a military police battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) who was killed in Iraq. Please read the whole letter.
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LTC Kim Orlando was laid to rest Friday where he had told his wife he always wanted to be buried among the rows and rows of soldiers interred at the Veterans National Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.
In typical 101st Airborne Division fashion, the "Screaming Eagles" pulled out all the plugs to honor a great soldier, leader, husband and 43 year old father of two. As a military Police Battalion Commander, he understood the dangers of Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). He knew where the most danger potentially would be on the night of 16 October, and that was where he was. As ground forces often have to do, he was eyeball-to-eyeball with bad people, displaying the unrelenting determination and absolute resolve of the American Soldier and this countries' commitment to the Global War on Terrorism. The firefight was brutal and intense. The results are now history. The 716th MP Battalion recovered their dead, evacuated the wounded, accounted for sensitive items of equipment, redistributed ammo and continue with the mission.
Friday, I was present for this outstanding American's memorial ceremony at Fort Campbell Kentucky and burial in Nashville, Tennessee. What happened on the approximately fifty-mile funeral procession from Ft Campbell to the Cemetery is something I want to share with everyone, and something I'll never forget. I wish everyone who wears a uniform, or has ever worn a uniform, could have seen this.
Thanks to the Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association several law enforcement agencies quickly volunteered to assist with the funeral as it would proceed down I-24 South to metropolitan Nashville. Two other great MP noncommissioned officers, SSG Bellavia and SGT Grilley died in the firefight with their commander. SSG Bellavia has a brother on the Hendersonville, KY police department. In an effort to alert motorists and share the information with more local law enforcement, the plan was apparently announced via the NCIC computer system for general knowledge of police and emergency responders.
I haven't seen as many Fire Department, Police, Sheriff, State Trooper cars and motorcycles since the Watts riots. The show of support for our fallen soldiers was overwhelming. And it was a good thing, since the procession was at least two miles long. But the story doesn't end here. Kay and I were in the back of the procession on I-24 watching the myriad light show disappear forward over the horizon southbound. A news helicopter was paralleling the convoy. Then we noticed the first exit/on ramp was blocked with a law enforcement vehicle, driver standing outside and saluting as the vehicles passed. What a class act and great show of support. But then, the next ramp had a similar sight...and the next, and the next. And there were fire, EMT vehicles and emergency responders of all sorts. Lights flashing, people standing outside, lined up, with headgear removed or saluting. The Kentucky troopers and law enforcement stopped at the state line, and Tennessee showed how much their native son's sacrifice meant to them. More vehicles on the overpasses, waiving American Flags, displaying the POW/MIA Flag. These were units from small towns along the route, coming out to the interstate to show their support to a fallen soldier who was at the tip of the spear in the GWOT. To them, he and his troops had gone after the people who had inflicted such tremendous losses on our police, firemen, EMTs and civilians in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. It went on and on...it was about an hour drive. Then, we saw a sight that knocked our socks off. In the distance we could see two large hook and ladder type fire trucks on an overpass, literally spanning the south-bound lanes. One had the ladder extended straight up...and waiving in the wind from it as the hearse and procession went under was an American flag that had to measure at least 30 feet by 50 feet. Enough said....that message was loud and clear. A big "thank you" to each and every one of them for their show of support to our soldiers and the armed forces of this nation. One Team, One Fight.
In loving memory, respect and eternal gratitude for their devotion to duty and ultimate sacrifice to their country: LTC Kim S. Orlando, SSG Joseph P. Bellavia, SGT Sean R. Grilley. National treasure of the United States; soldiers that saw their duty and did it.
Colonel, Military Police Corps
Chief, Army Advisory Group
325 Chennault Circle
Maxwell Air Force Base, AL 36112-6427