I didn't know what to say.... I don't know if I ever will.
So instead, I tried to tell him what a "Hero" was.... I think he got bored and went and watched SpongeBob.
I helped send SFC Bernard Deghand home to his family. I wrote in my journal at the time something that I haven't shared up until now that you can see after the jump...
Major Larry Bauguess was killed just before I left to come home. When I found out the details of what happened, having only been on an operation with him and his boss at our firebase the week before, I was upset. I hope his family is doing well and I feel as if I have missed out not getting to know him better, because I know he was a good man.
And as many of you know, Earl was one of my soldiers. And that makes it all the more personal...
And to my off duty supervisor, Call-sign Household 6, Happy Veterans Day to you. And Happy Veterans Day to every veteran, at home, at war, and retired.
I am standing there in the dark and no one is saying anything. I can see the faces of my comrades and it seems hard for us to look at one another. It is all business as we go over the positions we will all be in as we carry SFC Deghand and where we will walk to the helicopter when it comes in. I can hear the bird coming and it comes to a slow hover and sets down. When the bird landed, we went in to the freezer, assumed our positions, picked SFC Deghand up slowly and carried him to the bird. I don’t know why at the time I felt this was important, but it seemed appropriate to say a little something before we put him on the bird, because the noise is deafening, and no one but me would hear it anyway.
“Our Father which art in Heaven.”
The rotors are still turning and it is really loud. The crew is in a hurry to get moving and it is late, and early. I don’t know if anyone can hear me, but I keep saying it anyway.
“Hallowed be thy name.”
SFC Deghand is lying on a stretcher and there is an American flag draped over him. The edges of it are flapping in the rotor wash as we walk closer the helicopter. It is like I am in a tunnel, I see the helo, the crew standing there, but they seem so surreal, so far away. I keep walking, but I don’t feel like they are getting any closer.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
It seems that we suddenly reach the helicopter. It surprises me that I am standing there. I stop and gently place him on the floor of the helicopter. The 1SG is yelling the commands and I turn to face the man across from me. No one makes eye contact.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
We keep sliding him gently into the bird. The crew takes a hold of the handles of the stretcher as we slide him across the floor. No one is looking at anything accept the flag that is strapped to the stretcher.
“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass.”
We salute him, turn about face, and march away from the helicopter. We get to the entrance to the pad about 50 meters away and form 2 ranks off of the pad.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
We all salute as the bird takes off. I can feel the wind increasing and there are rocks and dust stinging my face and I can’t see the bird. The wind is buffeting me and rocking me back and forth. I put my head down and close my eyes against the dust as I hold my salute. I can feel the dust sticking to my face as it is wet from the tears I cry for him and his family.
For thine is the kingdom of heaven, and the power and the glory, forever.”
And then as quickly as the bird was here, the bird is gone. The dust subsides and we all quietly walk back to our trucks for the short ride back to our barracks and to what remains of the time we have to sleep tonight. No one says a word, accept me.