While serving 20 years of active duty military service, I was attached to various special operations, combat search, and rescue units. During that service I obtained a different “perspective” about life and how the world was perceived. A few years after my retirement, I had attended a funeral for a comrade I had served with at various duty stations. The individual was not only a husband/father/co-worker, but he was a “brother in arms”. There is a bond between military members that can’t always be expressed in words, but they still last a lifetime.
The funeral was like no other to me because this was the first time I was attending a funeral as a retired civilian. Initially I felt disconnected and slightly confused because I was no longer in uniform and I didn’t recognize any of the younger airmen that were hosting and attending the funeral. The ceremony was conducted with military honors and the protocol was just like any other funeral. However, this time I was seeing the life of our military members through the eyes of a retired civilian. I immediately started to reflect and recognize the sacrifices our service members currently make, to include those that paid the ultimate sacrifice to grant us the freedom we have today. Towards the end of the ceremony my old unit conducted a fly-by of two HH-60 helicopters with an American flag flown in the cabin area. The sight and sound of the helo’s brought back various memories while still paying the utmost respect to our fallen brother. It was the first time that I was watching the ceremony from an outside perspective and not involved in the process. I was filled with pride knowing that the men and women of the rescue community were carrying out our cherished military traditions, all while paying respect to one of my friends.
Later that evening I came across a picture on social media that one of my clients posted from the funeral earlier that day. The picture grabbed my attention and I couldn’t do much but stare at the photo trying to decipher the emotions. The only word I can use to explain the photo was “Perception”. This was the way I used to interpret various portions of my active service career. Now the baton has now been handed to the younger generation who have their own perspectives, while I too can see things differently as a retired civilian. On board this aircraft conducting the fly-by were fellow brothers in arms and also past clients. These young airmen paying respect to my fellow comrade made me realize that I am a part of a family that will NEVER forget what we are about.
“These Things We Do That Others May Live”