The transfer case carrying the remains of Master Cpl. Byron Greff, 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, rests in the cargo hold of a C-130 on Bagram Air Field as a Canadian bagpipe player bows his head in prayer during a ramp ceremony Oct. 31. Greff was killed in an Oct. 29 Taliban attack when a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into the armored passenger Rhino Greff was traveling in. Greff served as a NATO Training Mission advisor and instructor, developing trainers to educate Afghan Army service members. Approximately 920 Canadian forces personnel serve in advisory and support roles at training camps and headquarters locations primarily in the Kabul area. Smaller contingents serve at training institutions in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and in Herat in western Afghanistan. The mission's mandate extends to March 2014. Photo by Senior Airman Katie Justen.
A Canadian service member holds a pillow bearing the badges, beret and poppy flower of Master Cpl. Byron Greff, 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, during a ramp ceremony on Bagram Air Field Oct. 31.
REPOST: From 2003 and 2010. I spent part of yesterday thinking about Bill and his family, times past, and the future. May you do a bit of that too.
I wrote what is below back in 2003. I'm reposting it here today, and will link to some of the other posts going up as I can. Remember them, as individuals and a group. They came in peace.
Darn Sgt. Hook anyway, it's his fault the dust has gotten into my eyes. That's my story and I am sticking to it.
Over at his wonderful site, he has a memorial up, one that I missed. Part of it is my fading memory, and part of it is something else, something deeper that I really don't want to look at too closely.
At this memorial site, to which the good Sgt. sent me, there is a list of names. With trepedation I scrolled down it, and there it was:
Stelpflug, Bill J. USMC LCPL 10/23/1983 AL Auburn, AL
I never really knew Bill, but I knew his family. His mother was a student in the English department where I both studied and dated one of the graduate students/teachers. His sister was a gorgeous creature on whom I had quite a crush, with a wonderful personality and soul to go with the package. His sister even modeled for me when I was learning portrait photography, and I never did have the courage to tell her how badly I screwed up the shots. If they were not perfect, I was not going to show them to her. For her, I was not willing to show or share anything less than the best. Everyone of the family that I was graced to meet were such good people. The kind of people who epitomized not just Southern hospitality, but charity, grace, consideration, and all the other attributes that make up those special, rare, people in the world.
Then came that day. The news filtered out, and then the worst news came. One of Auburn's own was among the dead. Bill, a loving and laughing brother was not coming home. The lights dimmed, but the family did keep plugging away. At least in public, they never lost the core of what made them such good people.
I never did have the words to express my sorrow to them, and I still don't. All I can say is "I remember." And to that, I will add "NEVER AGAIN!"
Damn dust. Need to clean up more in here.
Today, as always on this day, I remember Bill Stelpflug, and I remember his family. My thoughts go out to all those who lost loved ones this day.
Go check out the following (far too few) remembrances as well:
There is a special place in this world and the next for the healers. This is especially true for a very special breed of healer.
Those that truly know what it means to be of the brotherhood, that know honor and courage in a way others never will, know that breed. For they have seen that healer appear and rush towards them when all others would turn and run. They know in the depths of their souls that this person would truly give their life to help save theirs, for they risk without hesitation their life to help those fallen and in need. That they will tend to all, no matter what.
Military history is filled with such people, those who risked all to heal those in need. For all that there were, there are never enough. For it takes a very special person to join that group, and the number we have is now one fewer.
SSG Brian Cowdrey was one of this very special breed. A loving husband to his wife Jill, a devoted father to his children, brother, and son. He was so very proud that his oldest son, Justin, had also chosen to serve, passed basic, and was now a 15T with a flight crew. His middle son, Nathan, has dreams of West Point and his youngest son, Jacob wants to make a positive difference in this world -- just like his dad. Jacob has posted this for you to see:
This was not the first time Brian had risked all to help another. I send you here, to read a final interview with him; here to read one of several stories about him from Soldiers' Angels Germany; and, here to see another video.
His high-school sweetheart and love of his life Jill, is now left with a void in her life that can never be filled. They were together 17 years, and Brian always had a secret smile for her.
Family meant everything to Brian, and he leaves behind not only Jill and his sons, but a brother, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Brian had options in life, but chose to re-enlist. He also chose to do that which was his calling, and rather than take an instructor slot at Ft. Rucker, he chose to be with "his guys" in Afghanistan. Truly, no greater love.
Those of mean and venal nature can n'er understand. Those of normal courage can but stand in awe. For there are those who do not hesitate, who go where angels fear to tread, to bring hope and healing to those in desperate straights.
Please take a moment to follow the links, to read a bit about this man. Keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers now and in the days ahead. In time, their pain will fade, but one thing that never will is his love for them, and the last full measure of devotion he gave.
Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey, 39. KIA 13 October 2011, Kunar provence, Afghanistan.
Long-time readers know that I have done volunteer work at a place called Wolf Park. Some of you have even come down and visited there, or even helped the park out a bit.
The park truly began in 1972 when founded by Erich Klinghammer, who taught at Purdue. The very proper mode of address would be Professor Doctor Klinghammer I believe, but that was never Erich's style. Having a Ph.D., or a Ph.D. in the "right" field, was never his criteria for evaluation or judgement, just as not having straight A's was a bar to working with him academically (or otherwise). He was far more interested in the knowledge you had, and the passion to learn and do that drove you, than anything.
Erich would be the first to tell you that he was "complicated" and even that he was selfish. The first is actually a bit of understatement to my mind, and I am sure the second was true. To understand both, however, takes a bit of background.
Below is the fourth and final episode to the story of ODA 574 (thanks to the NRA!). The conclusion is epic and, if you've followed along so far, you'll not want to miss this emotional and stirring ending to one chapter of their lives.
On November 14, 2001 a U.S. Special Forces team of Green Berets known as ODA 574 infiltrated the mountains of southern Afghanistan to carry out a tribal revolt against the Taliban. Learn more about ODA 574 in The Only Thing Worth Dying For by Eric Blehm and at the NRA's Life of Duty site.
Each year on this day, I've written something about that day. There is only so much one can share about your memories of the day without becoming maudlin and repetitive. Besides, my memories of the day are now intertwined with the smells and sights that came after, when I was in NYC being driven around to meetings by a member of New York City's Finest. To this day, when I see photographs of that day, they bring up the smell of baked lime and and the faint whiff of burnt sweet pork; and, the feel of that fine gray ash/grit that was everywhere.
Today, I plan to avoid the drek on television and the mindless bits of pseudo-intellectual mental masturbation that are the approved inclusive multi-cultural "celebrations" of the day. Frankly, the mental midgets pushing that, er, stuff can stuff it as far as I am concerned. I do not forget, I will not move on, and I will not embrace my enemy. We were not attacked because we were arrogant or otherwise deserving. We were attacked because a group of homicidal mysogonistic throwbacks to the dark ages can't stand that we are not them and that the world is not theirs. Period. Dot. There is no negotiating with such, there is no turning the other cheek, there is no compromise. They will not stop until the world is theirs and the way they want it, or they are dead. That simple fact is one far too many are unwilling and unable to face.
On this 9-11, I will be out with Standing for the Fallen, honoring and remembering those lost this day ten years ago, and those who have died in defense of liberty, this country, and the classical values that are Western civilization, our civilization. Those that have died since also have died for all other civilizations and beliefs that are not islamofacism.
Through the stand, we will be collecting to help Soldiers' Angels Germany and the wounded that go there. Doing something good, positive, and constructive for those fighting to protect us. It is my honor and priviledge to join the stand and support it.
On this day, remember the attack, the more than 3,000 who were murdered as a result of the unprovoked and unjustifiable assault. Honor them. Let not what happened be lost.
This is a different kind of post for us. We want to take a look at how 9-11 has changed our readers. How it has affected you after 10 years, and how it is likely to affect you the next 10. This blog, and blogs like it, came about, eventually, as a result of 9-11. That is one huge change in my life as an example...
Myself- In September of 2001 I was living in Denver. A commander of the 207th MPAD, USAR, assigned to the reserve center there. I received a call from my commander, the Colonel; she asked if I was aware of what was going on. It was still early in Denver- and I was getting ready for the day. She asked me to turn on the TV- and this was just about when the second plane hit as the news captured it. We both went silent, and I then said 'Ma'am, it looks like we might need to come in.'' She agreed, and went to get the staff rolling. I said I was on my way in.
Suffice to say, it didn't take me long to get to the center, even with it being a 30 mile drive plus traffic. I was 'moving at accelerated rates' but was being passed by the Feds who work in the center like I was sitting still. The Fed Center in Denver is one of the largest federal sites outside DC, and EVERY agency you can imagine had an office there. Pick 3 letters, and if they are an agency, they were there. That includes DoD. Right in thru the gates, lights going, the guards waving them in without pause. Our unit had an HRT team of MP's in it; after 9-11, we never saw them as a unit again. They received orders rather rapidly that week.
The rest of us were under direction to get all of the units in the Brigade accounted for, and the unit locations secured. We spent the next several days doing that, then standing down as the immediate concerns lessened.
As the weeks went along, and preparations for going into Afghanistan increased, we started seeing WARNORDS and PLANORDS coming out for units, and getting them prepared. My unit, not being one called up initially, allowed me to resume being a civilian. I went to Montana to work, and was there until April of 2003, when I was notified that I needed to return in preparation for Iraq.
9-11 began a transformation in my life that, had it not happened, I can guarantee I would not be where I am today (supporting efforts in the middle east, let's say). I can say that I am likely to be here over the next 10 years, as things in that part of the world are likely to be 'fluid', to put it as mildly as I can.
This weekend, I'm participating in rides around Florida for different 9-11 groups and veterans groups, hoping that my 'regular job' is quiet for a spell. After that, I'll be back on it, going after the bastards who did this to us.
How has the last 10 years affected you? What changed that led you down a different path than where you would likely have been? We definitely changed as a nation like never before- and it may be a century or more before we can change again, if ever.