Seven years ago today, Memorial Day 2003, my friend gave his life to save his soldiers. At 715am - the approximate time that he was killed - I was at his grave in New Berlin, Wisconsin to say thank you.
I left this note...
Brother, after seven years, I can't say that I'm at peace with your passing.
Like I promised, I've followed up with your troops. Found the last one a few months ago having some serious issues. It wasn't easy (but you probably know this). Like you did for me years ago, I made sure that he was going to be okay. They all miss you. Almost all of them have told me that you were the only officer they ever knew that gave a shit about them.
I am thankful to you, for my life, my family, my role in taking care of our brothers and sisters, and for teaching me the greatest lesson of all - that, in saving others, you save yourself. I'm a better man for knowing you.
Punch Cooter in the balls for me.
As usual, I also left a bottle of Jack, a Green Bay Packer pennant and a flag planted in the ground. And from the Book of Common Prayer (Korean War Edition), left another copy of this prayer that I gave to him before the war started:
FOR A DAY OF BATTLE
Heavenly Father, on a day of battle I commit myself body and soul to thy keeping. When I am in peril of life give me courage to do my duty. When I am tempted to sin give me strength to resist. If I am sick or wounded grant me healing. If I fall, of thy mercy receive me to thyself, forgiving me all my sins. Bless all who are near and dear to me and keep them in thy fatherly care. And in thy good providence, out of this evil bring a lasting peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.