Good FbF. I alst=so was saddened by our senseless Afghan withdrawal, the loss of our Shipmates there and the way we've abandoned many of our Afghan allies.

In 1987 I had joined a forward deployed Navy squadron aboard the USS Midway. First voluteer department head in many, many years. The XO (soon to be CO) was my Maintenance Officer (to my AMO) in a previous squadron. His wife and he made me a member of their family, asking me (a bachelor) to babysit their kids a couple of weekends...a major messure of trust.

Newly married, I reported and was made a direct input MO. About 6 months after the XO took over as Skipper, his pilot flew them into the water on one dark, dark night on a low altitude (EMCON) departure. I had to give his Eulogy and pack his belongings. I was 31...tougher than combat and I shed more than a few tears in private.

His photo and bio still sit on my mantle as a reminder that "freedom isn't free" and in the blink of an eye a valued life can be snuffed out.

God Bless America, and have a good Memorial Day.

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May 26, 2023·edited May 26, 2023

At some point, we understand it's a dangerous business. Naval Aviation has lot of hazards in it, but there's quite number of other items. I've got five names I post every year. One Marine, three Sailors, one Guardsman who I knew. Not one was in combat. Two were suicides, three traffic accidents.

In 2008, we heard about MM3 Gentile, who was killed in the rudder ram aboard NEBRASKA. Ships are dangerous places, and it does us well to remember that.

As for our friends, it is a shame. Same as it was in Saigon in 1975. I knew Army and Marine Corps veterans who were deeply unhappy upon seeing a documentary about the Fall of Saigon, as they felt it was the same as what they were seeing from where they served.

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This is the part of military life, especially military aviation, that nobody talks about. We talk about safety, try to practice it...but sometimes, good, competent men are lost simply because their luck ran out. Odin wanted him for Valhalla, and the Valkyries were authorized overtime to get him.

It's a thought best kept stuffed in the back of our minds...but sometimes it slips out.

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For all our complaints about the Navy? Far fewer Cruise Books have a Memoriam Page.

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Full Bore Indeed. Several ago I gave a Memorial Day speech at my church. Plenty of Vietnam and Korea elderly vets in the congregation. I started by telling of the time my Father took me to the Viet Nam Memorial Wall, and walked down the panels until he got to April 1967, and he would stop and touch a name, tell me how he died, where he was from, married or single, and any other memories he could. It was so painful to watch my DAD cry (kids know Dads never cry). By the time we reached his last month in command there were 8 folks following to listen to each name. And even the ones that died in non-combat activities were given the same degree of tearful remembrance. I told the congregation I didn't have a wall for those friends who died while I was in service. But 5 names in 22 years was way too many. I told the stories of how they lived, and flew, and died. 2 helicopter mishaps, 2 fixed wings mishaps, and 1 alcohol related death. All good guys, all left grieving families and shipmates and they were just as valuable - and valued- as those names on the Wall. Got photos of 4 on the office wall, frozen in time, eternally young and seemingly bound for the Naval greatness they deserved. But God had other painful plans. And I still miss them every day. "Freedom is paid for with the blood of Patriots". Amen.

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Excellent piece as always. Thought provoking and certainly brings back memories of many squadron mates who perished in A-6 Intruder accidents. Every squadron I served in lost aircrew during my time there. I went to too many memorial services and observed too many missing men flyovers. RIP shipmates.

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We Army Aviators used to have ghoulish discussions with ground types who like to whine about us earning our flight pay….we finally were able to silence them by declaring that we were all in it together playing “flight pay bingo”…each month on flight status, we received a nice chit in the grand game of life or death bingo…and each and every go ‘round, someone’s name was called…we would matter of factly explain it was tragic for the crew of an AH-1 or 64, or an OH-58….but when flying UH-1, UH-60 or CH-47, everyone along for the ride were unwitting players in the “game” of flight pay bingo…took them awhile to let that thought settle in….then BS’ing would stop. MIL flying was always a game of when, not if….

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May 27, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

The first 4 paragraphs of LT Dorn's obituary, written by his wife, made my eyes tear up.

My recollection of shipmates who died on duty: 2 motorcycle accidents, 3 car accidents, 1 suicide, 2 drug overdoses, 1 pulmonary embolism, 2 from a fall. R.I.P. to all.

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A number of years ago, when stationed at PHNSY, I had the opportunity to help lead a group of Boy Scouts in their Memorial Day work to place wreaths on graves at the national cemetery at Punch owl Crater. I took the opportunity to point out to them the very young ages of most of those buried there. I believe identified several who had probably been crew of landing craft in the Pacific Theater. It sobered up a number of them. Salute!

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My Dad is there. Section 65, Site 2293. BTGC WWII KOREA

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May 27, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

Very well said (written). Thank you for the reminder.

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Kabul was just Saigon done over, some in Government at the time were against going into Afghanistan stated "It will be another Vietnam" and those were the loyal opposition (D), and once Bush was gone they set about to make it another Vietnam, but they had to find someone feeble to take the Blame, Obama didn't want it said he lost the war he was trying to lose. So here comes old senile Joe.

Peacetime deaths happen, it is dangerous to be in the military war or peace.

It is dangerous to be a Veteran when war is done.

This memorial holiday we owe all those who died, were maimed, forever touched by war and simply vanished while protecting us or training to protect us.

In Iraq we lost a family member, My third cousin, 101st Airborne.

After a big fight which the Paratroopers won hands down coming back to base their vehicle over turned at high speed and injured and killed a lot of men.

Strange, people expect men and women will die in combat but to die after the battle, unwounded, by accident is still hard to grasp.

Memorial day, it is all we have to remember the best of us.

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Here is a name to remember a training death.

Pfc Jason Rother USMC, K 3/2 2d Mar Div FMF 1969-1988

Last known duty 29 Palms Training base California. Road Guide.

He was missing for 40 hours before anyone in the command reported it, and it was only when the armory turned up his weapon missing did a search began, but his Lt had forgotten where he left him.

Four months later a truck driver noticed and M-16 lying on the road. And Pfc Rother was finally found.

All it takes is a screw up and people die.

Here is to Jason, he tried, walked 17 miles without water in 24 hours and died only two miles from main side.

Semper Fidelis.

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Thanks for this focus on the caliber of men and women who answer the call in peacetime and give their lives not in war. My binoculars tend to focus on those USNA classes peopled with Mids born after I graduated who are now the flags like Gilday who are answering a different call leading the Navy into different battles. These differences make him and his fellow flags worthy on this Memorial Day of The Admiral Byng reward.

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That was good info! And what I read as well.

My Time at 29 Stumps was with a BLT training there in a Desex.

Posted much the same way as an LP at night and they were late to pick up all of the Patrols and LP's.

Didn't pick us up till way late in the afternoon almost evening.

Two Canteens of water went fast.

never did hear what the SNAFU was this was some 16 years before this incident.

The Base is huge. I am shocked more of this doesn't happen?

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