Saturday, September 16, 2006

Goodbye Jeff

So I’ve been debating for quite a while what I should write for my first posting on this site. Many ideas came to mind but nothing really struck me as “significant” for a first posting. Then I decided to share some thoughts based on recent events.

I recently attended a memorial service for SSG Jeffrey J. Hanson. The basic information in the bulletin about Jeff was that he was an Army National Guard soldier from Nebraska. He was, by MOS (Military Occupational Skill) a scout. He had received several awards for performance and previous deployments; he was college educated, married for three years, etc., etc, etc. The information read like a standard, newspaper printed obituary. But you can’t really know a person until you look further than what’s been printed in a bulletin.

As I sat at his memorial service and listened intently to every word that Jeff’s friends had to say, I couldn’t help but think about something my parents told me when I was younger. “Son, you can tell what kind of person someone is, by the type of people that they surround themselves with”.

Jeff was a funny, caring, devoted man that took pride in being a part of something larger than himself. He excelled at physical fitness, teaching & mentoring his soldiers, and staying upbeat & motivated even during the most difficult of times. He had a deep love and commitment for his wife and their marriage. His soldiers shared stories of things Jeff did to inspire them to improve themselves. Things he did to make them laugh and pass the time in this forsaken place. Thoughts he shared with them and they with him.

As the service progressed, I saw men that have survived and endured ambushes, indirect fire attacks, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), and so forth, weeping openly for a friend as if he had been an integral part of their lives since childhood. They were open and honest with their hearts in telling us how they had been blessed to have such a great person in their lives. Their ages varied from their early twenties to early forties. Yet one of the common traits that held them together was Jeff.

As I looked around, I noticed that some of the attendants at the memorial seemed to be contemplating the “what if” possibility of their own lives. Things that come to mind like, “what if I had done this or that? I wish I would have told them this or not said that.” The list can go on and on. My point is not many people take the time to tell their loved ones what they think or feel about them until the opportunity isn’t there or it’s too late. In this line of work, we can’t afford to let those opportunities pass us by. I know for a fact that if anything were to happen to me, my family would know without a doubt that I love them without reservation. I love them no matter what. That I am proud of what I do for my country and those I am surrounded with.

In closing, I had never met Jeff but I found myself weeping for him, his wife, his parents, and his soldiers. Seeing everyone that Jeff surrounded himself with was a testament to the type of man he was: A good man.

Coconut Commando


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