Memorial Day – Iraq

For most, Memorial Days past have been those of facts and figures and numbers. It is a day most often described by X number of service members who have died in Y wars in Z years. Memorial Days past have been of remembrance, maybe casual or solemn depending on the individual, and reflections of loss that liberty has demanded throughout the decades. I’ll admit I was one who celebrated another day off rather than the privilege of being alive in this great nation, thanks to those who have fallen to make it so. It’s difficult to imagine the price of freedom when one is basking in a Brazilian sunset or pedaling a mountain bike along side South African zebra. I know because I’ve been there. But this Memorial Day is special, and I know every one following will be equally as important.

For the last three months I’ve had the honor of working with four members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. First Lieutenant Erwin Godoy. Staff Sergeant Brian Burwell. Sergeant Kevin Imholte. Sgt Juan Lopez. Men who know this AO like the back of their hands. Men who’ve been shot at, mortared, rocketed, ambushed, and blown up. If it’s an insurgent act, they’ve been subject to it. When I walk out the wire, I don’t flip through charts and statistics or leaf through procedures written by men sitting comfortably behind desks in air conditioned rooms. I snatch up one of those men and ask them directly. Advice from them is more important to me than any opinions from “supporting” elements.

The 506th deployed directly from Korea and has been on deck here in Habbaniyah for ten months now. They’re tired and worn ragged. But still they fight. Day after day, week after week, they scour the battle space for insurgents, IEDs, and weapons caches. They protect the local residents while weeding out the bad guys, one by one by one, and still find time to throw horse shoes behind their hooch and join the jarheads in a barbecue or two. The fighting men of the 506th, the same men putting boots to ass all around Habbaniyah, have earned my respect. More specifically, my Charlie Company soldiers are the best I’ve ever worked with. They continue to defy every stereotype I’ve had of Army personnel. Professionalism. Work ethic. Uniform and PT standards. Even hair cuts. If not for them and their expertise, I may very well have been in a pine box on my last trip home by now.

But all is not sunshine and rainbows in Charlie Company, 1-506th. They know how it feels to lose one of their own. They know how it feels to see a name on a statistic sheet and put a face to it, a family to it, a life to it. This Memorial Day is one they’ll remember too.

Staff Sergeant Sean Huey was born 15 September 1976 and died 10 November 2004 in Modique, Iraq. He is survived by his wife and newborn son in Hope Mills, North Carolina. Staff Sergeant Huey was Charlie Company’s third platoon light infantry squad leader. He had served in the 85th and 25th Infantry Divisions. Competent, fun loving, and motivated, Staff Sergeant Huey loved his men and was up for any task.

Staff Sergeant Marshall Caddy was born 2 February 1977 and died 16 November 2004 in Khaldiyah, Iraq. He is survived by his wife and parents, Sheila Williamson and Marshall Caddy Sr., in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Staff Sergeant Caddy was Charlie Company’s weapons squad leader for first platoon. He had served with 2-9 in Korea. He was a professional man who always did the right thing.

Staff Sergeants Huey and Caddy are not just names on a KIA roster. They’re not statistics nor are they simply pictures on a memorial wall. They’re men, like most others, who had families and bills and car problems. They’re men who fought for othersfreedom, sacrificing everything they held most dear in order to provide it. They’re the fallen heroes who the media pass over in favor of the latest sex scandal or prisoner abuse case, but they’re heroes none the less.

So this Memorial Day, instead of taking advantage of another opportunity to sleep in or get dry cleaning done, remember these two men. Remember there are families and friends who would give anything for them to be back, complaining about car problems or just throwing some horse shoes out back. And thank them for what they’ve contributed.

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The author.Born in the year of the Dragon, the author grudgingly accepts the fact he has too many interests and not enough time. A cyclist as long as he can remember, an avid yet inconsistent writer since age eleven, and a U.S. Marine since age twenty-one, the author also adds peak bagging, diving, snowboarding, and computers to his list of interests. Incidentally, he is aware of his inability to make a living from any but the Corps. The author accepts this as fact and remains optimistic. Feel free to drop him a line.

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