Veteran’s Day 2014

I promise not to do this very often, but I’m going to step away from my photographic journey for a moment to reflect on the day.  Veteran’s Day is very special to me, and it has become more special in recent years.

November 11 is the day we thank those who have taken the enlistment oath, put on a uniform, and put their lives on the line for our country.  My father worked in the National Guard as a traditional Guardsman and as a federal technician for 42 years, so we always treated Veteran’s Day as special.  My ancestors have proudly stepped up since before the nation was founded.

It is a day that I reflect on those with whom I personally served, and on family, both known and unknown, who have defended their nation – from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the great wars of the early 20th century and the conflicts and police actions of the later 20th century to today.  Thanks to everyone who has served, and especially to members of my family.  We can document my ancestor’s service dating back to the Revolutionary War, fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico with Gen ‘Blackjack’ Pershing, and in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

My wife’s parents met while they were in the Navy, her uncles were sailors, and one of her cousins currently serves in the Marine Corps.

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My lovely bride, Susan, with her father, Don Hardy, Uncle Ed Hardy, and cousin, LTC Jeff Tlapa, in Washington, D.C., in September 2014. Don and Ed were part of Nevada’s Honor Flight and Susan went along as an escort. Jeff is stationed in our nation’s capitol. Ed and Don both served during World War II, and Don served again during the Korean War.

 

I enlisted during the Cold War, in 1985, and made great friends during my 25 years of service.  I am proud to have served with these awesome people.

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A friend from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron with me, sharing a quick lunch during Contingency Engineering training at Eglin AFB FL, July 1987.

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A light moment during field training.

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l to r: LtCoL Butch Van Leuven, COL (Ret) Don Del Porto, LtCol (Ret) Craig Wesner, me, LtCol Kevin Knuf: when we were captains together in the Nevada Air National Guard.

Sometimes, we sent our children off to serve.

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Captain Amberlee Kurkowski (center), US Army, with her dad, CMSgt (Ret) Tom Kurkowski, and me, just before one of her deployments to Southwest Asia. Tom and I served together for many years, and we talked often about his daughter’s time at West Point and her subsequent service, and my son’s time in the Navy.

As I said, my father served for 42 years, retiring as the first federally appointed Command Sergeant Major in the Wyoming Army National Guard.  My older brother, Bob, served in Vietnam and died in the line of duty as a Deputy Sheriff, trying to save a little girl during a flood.  Dad and I visited my brother’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery last year, and took in a few of the memorials while we were there.

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Bobby is interred in Columbarium 1. Top row – second from right.

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Dad at the WWII Memorial…

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…and at the Korean War Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my son, Devon, served in the US Navy for 10 years.

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Brother Drew, Mother Susan, and Devon at this graduation from basic training, December 1999.

Now you understand why this day has such special meaning for me.  Please pause on this day to think about everyone who has served, but thank our veterans every day!  God bless America, and God watch over those who put themselves in harm’s way in her defense!

PHOTOROGR

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