Another Veteran tells us what it’s like as a Veteran on Memorial Day. As a Veteran myself, it is probably the hardest day for me to deal with.
What Memorial Day Means to a Veteran
By T.J. Woodard
When I was a young seven-year-old, I noticed my neighbor’s mother crying. I learned that her brother-in-law, a helicopter pilot, had been killed in Vietnam. I felt bad about it, but to me, it was just a story.
When I was a high school student, my Uncle Bob, a police lieutenant, sat in our living room and told us of a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. I remember Uncle Bob sitting there, wiping tears from his eyes as he explained the officer’s actions that day. Uncle Bob was on the scene and was about to take command when the shooting occurred. “It was a hell of a brave thing he did,” my uncle reported. Uncle Bob’s story was of valor and sacrifice, but still only a story to me.
Sacrifice became real for me many years later in Iraq. I was the executive officer (second in command) of a newly formed task force — Task Force Tacoma. We had the mission of preventing mortar attacks on the largest American air base in the country, the security “outside the wire” for 20,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilians. It was a difficult mission. The area was known as “mortaritaville” because of the constant threat of attack by rocket and mortar fire.