Category Archives: Heroes Among Us

Epilogue – Neptunus Lex

EpilogueNeptunusLex1

EpilogueNeptunuLex

It’s funny where life takes you. Sometimes the smallest step takes you in an unforeseen new direction. I had never heard of Carroll “Lex” LeFon, until that fateful day at chicagoboyz when David Foster told his readers of Lex’s accident. He linked a few of his favorite Lex posts, and from my very first Lex post I was off in a new direction.

How could I have foreseen that from one click on a link over 5 years ago I’d be writing about Lex today? How could Lex have foreseen 14 years ago that for nearly 9 years he’d be telling readers stories of his life and opinions of the day? Or that he would come to consider many of his readers to be “the best friends he never met”?

I found his writing to be addictive. I had, however, been trying to understand for quite a while why his writing was so enjoyable for me.

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Memorial Day Messages

By lex, on May 28th, 2011

From the Chairman:

Back at Dover, the pitch-black night begins to yield to dawn, and the ramp lights fade behind a persistent mist. The flag-draped caskets are gone, and those in mourning retreat for a few short hours of rest before continuing their final journey home with their fallen loved one.

Nevertheless, the sun will soon rise. A new day will begin.

And on that day, troops will still be deployed around the world, still defending all of us. Sadly, some will come home to Dover, others to Bethesda and Walter Reed.

On Memorial Day, we pause to honor those who selflessly gave all to their nation. As we do so, we must also keep faith with our Wounded Warriors, forever support our Gold Star Families, and stand alongside those who still wait for the missing.

It is these efforts — not only on Memorial Day but every day — that truly make us a people worthy of their sacrifice.

From CNO:

While our sailors continue to make extraordinary contributions across the globe, it falls to us to ensure their personal sacrifices are not overlooked. This is why our Navy remains committed to support for those who have been wounded and the families of those who have given their lives, with the very best care our Nation can provide. This is why we prioritize family readiness and quality of life through housing, child and youth services, and education. And this is why we must not waiver in our commitment to provide sailors with the tools they need to perform the many missions we will ask of them.

It is my greatest privilege to lead the finest sailors in the history of our Navy – these distinguished Americans, these “fortunate few” answer the call to serve. In tribute today I ask you to join me in remembering, thanking and taking action on behalf of those who sail the oceans, serve on land and patrol the skies in the greatest traditions of the U.S. Navy and in the best interests of America’s future security and prosperity.

From the Commandant:

Our nation places our freedoms and hopes for a more peaceful world on the shoulders of these brave, young men and women who serve without complaint in dangerous places far from home. Our Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen, coast guardsmen and military families have been tested over this past decade at war, and they have measured up in every regard and been equal to every challenge. They have kept faith with their oath to defend the American people, and it is our duty as a nation to honor their sacrifices and keep faith with these noble warriors and their families — especially those who have been injured or fallen in combat. These young heroes represent the highest qualities of service to our nation and to its people. Let their example remind us all of what it means to be truly selfless and just how much the human spirit can endure, accomplish and overcome.

From a writer:

On Memorial Day, we pause at the graves of lost soldiers and make speeches that sometimes open to view the heartbreak and love that are their last traces. But this is not enough, because they do not hear, and because those who will have followed in the years to come will not hear. Love is not enough, rationalization not enough, commemoration a thin and insufficient offering. The only just memorial to those who went forth and died for us, and who therefore question us eternally, cannot be of stone or steel or time set aside for speeches and picnics.

We should offer instead a memorial, never ending, of probity and preparation, shared sacrifice, continuing resolve, and the clarity the nation once had in regard to how, where, when, and when not to go to war. This is the least we can do both for America and for the troops we dispatch into worlds of sorrow and death.

Amen.

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Giving Back

By lex, on March 29th, 2011

Meet Luis Ferrer, 39-year old infantryman and recent HBO sports executive:

A rising HBO Sports executive has abandoned the Manhattan high life to enlist in the Army — and will land in Afghanistan any day now as just another grunt.

Luis Barragan Ferrer, 39, left his prestigious position as director of sports programming at the network late last year and set out for a Georgia boot camp. Voluntarily…

Influential in HBO’s boxing division, Barragan, a lawyer, chose a two-year departure into peril over his swanky Chelsea condo and regular work assignments in Las Vegas. Leaving behind his fiancée, Eden Gonzales, only made the decision more grueling.

“I had to stop myself from crying when he first told me,” Gonzales said. “I was just worried what might happen. But when you care for someone, you have to let them pursue their goals. He knows I’ll stick by him no matter what.”

“I just feel that I owe this country a great deal,” Barragan said by phone as he prepared for deployment in the battle zone. “I never believed that my education or professional success absolved me of a duty to serve.”

Huah

 

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Silver Star

By lex, on February 16th, 2011

Having read the Sigacts summaries back when I was on active duty, I was routinely impressed with the quiet professionalism of the heroes from explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD. When the story of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are finally told, they would be the unsung heroes.

But one among their number was recently awarded the nation’s third highest award for combat valor:

It was approaching midnight Sept. 7, 2009, at the Malmand Bazaar in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when the leader of an explosives disposal team was horribly wounded after stepping on a pressure-activated IED — an improvised explosive device — buried in the dirt.

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Naff Off

By lex, on November 21st, 2010

Yobs are street hoodlums, UK style. And like street hoodlums everywhere, they are not knocking about in their anti-social little way whilst on holidays from Oxbridge. They are doing, in other words, about the best that they can.

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The Common Thread

By lex, on November 16th, 2010

Writing in the WSJ, William McGurn reminds us of the common narrative connecting all of our most recent Medal of Honor awardees, including that of then-Specialist Salvatore Giunta – exceptional courage to save lives, rather than Hollywood-style efforts to kill the foe:

When we think of military heroism, we may think of Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy. In fact, the opposite is true. Every Medal of Honor from these wars has been for an effort to save life. Even more telling, each specifically recognizes bravery that cannot be commanded.

Of the eight who have earned it, three—Army Pfc. Ross McGinniss, Navy Petty Officer Michael Monsoor, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham—threw themselves on grenades to protect their comrades. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy knowingly exposed himself to enemy fire so he could call in help for his team.

Army Staff Sgt. Jared Monti died trying to rescue a fellow soldier. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller was killed while diverting gunfire from Taliban forces so his team could carry their commander to safety. Army Sgt. First Class Paul Ray Smith—the first from these wars to earn the Medal—took on an overwhelming Iraqi force from a machine gun atop a disabled armored personnel carrier, allowing the safe withdrawal of many wounded American soldiers.

On that ridge in Afghanistan, Salvatore Giunta could not save his sergeant. But he did deprive the enemy of its victory—and death of some of its sting.

It’s clear from SSgt Giunta’s television interviews that he is uncomfortable in the role of hero, and that he doesn’t need the Medal of Honor for himself.

But we need it for him. We need it for us, to affirm to ourselves what it is our soldiers fight for, and the values of the civilization that gave them birth.

 

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An Unwritten Book

101stAirborne

I have thought often of how many people have magnificent stories that stay hidden. Since my father died, my mother and I talk more. As a young woman she was in Manhattan during V-E Day – at Times Square. (the famous Alfred Eisenstadt picture Lex referred to  was during V-J Day).

My mother was in Washington DC during that day.

Anyway, today I am at the In-N-Out hamburger place and see an elderly man with a 101st Airborne cap. So I have to ask him where he served.

“I jumped into Holland”

At Arnhem?, I asked.

“Yes”

“Then  I was at Bastogne in 1944″. It was 11 below zero. ”

He was one to the defenders at the Battle of the Bulge!

He is a true hero…

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