For those who may not know, the Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who distinguished themselves by acts of valor.
Last week I traveled out of town in order to serve as a volunteer at a meeting of about 40 of our Medal of Honor recipients. I found out about a year ago that they were planning a get together in Colorado. As luck would have it, I have relatives there that live close enough to the meeting place to allow me to stay and work there for a few days.
As an aside, I want to know why airplane seats are so tiny. I’m a small person, thank goodness, and even I’m squished trying to sit comfortably. Oh well, that’s a rant for another day.
During the week, security was very tight. I saw law enforcement professionals of all types…city police, bomb squad guys, men from the sheriffs office, private security companies and I even had a long chat at one of the events with a Department of Wildlife officer. Once we were officially checked in each morning, however, we could socialize freely with the Medal of Honor recipients and their families as long we were taking care of our duties. Since I originally started off on the Reservation Committee and that job was done when the meeting began, I didn’t have hard assignments but served as a floater helping out whenever I was needed. Typically, I walked around making sure the recipients, their wives, children and guests were having a good time. It was an easy job because they were all very pleasant and easy to please.
I can say, without reservation, that I had a fantastic time. It was a wonderful thing to be part of. The recipients had many events that were planned strictly for their entertainment but they also had quite a few community outreach opportunities that they took full advantage of. They made visits to local schools and made sure that members of the public who wanted to meet them (and who planned ahead) would have a chance to do so. As a group, they were gracious, energetic, kind, funny…and a we bit ornery. As one would expect, they had minds of their own and trying to get them from one place to another, even if it was just from a reception tent into the main building was like herding cats but that’s where my years of teaching came in handy. I’m pretty good at moving groups of people around.
I was so happy to see the outpouring of love from everyone for our Medal of Honor recipients. Everywhere they went last week, they were showered with appreciation, gifts, kind words and gratitude…exactly as they should be. I was delighted for them and their families but it also hardened my resolve. It made me even more committed to seeing that our veterans who don’t enjoy the same level of public acknowledgment, know they are appreciated too. I want every last one of them to have the spotlight of recognition shined upon them by the American public. I’m only one person but I’ve taken that as my mission. Every veteran in my sphere will hear at least one sincere, personal “thank you” from me and I’ll keep volunteering my services in the community for veteran’s causes.
I don’t have a lot of photos to share since I was supposed to be working and contributing, not standing around taking photos but I do have a few from one of the events where it was appropriate to have your picture taken with the recipients. Over the next little while, I’ll post some of those and relay how the recipient in the photo earned their Medal of Honor.
Brian Miles Thacker
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 92d Artillery. Place and date: Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 31 March 1971. Entered service at: Salt Lake City, Utah. Born: 25 April 1945, Columbus, Ohio.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Thacker, Field Artillery, Battery A, distinguished himself while serving as the team leader of an Integrated Observation System collocated with elements of two Army of the Republic of Vietnam units at Fire Base 6. A numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force launched a well-planned, dawn attack on the small, isolated, hilltop fire base. Employing rockets, grenades, flame-throwers, and automatic weapons, the enemy forces penetrated the perimeter defenses and engaged the defenders in hand-to-hand combat. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, 1st Lt. Thacker rallied and encouraged the U.S. and Republic of Vietnam soldiers in heroic efforts to repulse the enemy. He occupied a dangerously exposed observation position for a period of 4 hours while directing friendly air strikes and artillery fire against the assaulting enemy forces. His personal bravery and inspired leadership enabled the outnumbered friendly forces to inflict a maximum of casualties on the attacking enemy forces and prevented the base from being overrun. By late afternoon, the situation had become untenable. 1st Lt. Thacker organized and directed the withdrawal of the remaining friendly forces. With complete disregard for his personal safety, he remained inside the perimeter alone to provide covering fire with his M-16 rifle until all other friendly forces had escaped from the besieged fire base. Then, in an act of supreme courage, he called for friendly artillery fire on his own position to allow his comrades more time to withdraw safely from the area and, at the same time, inflict even greater casualties on the enemy forces. Although wounded and unable to escape from the area himself, he successfully eluded the enemy forces for 8 days until friendly forces regained control of the fire base. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by 1st Lt. Thacker were an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the military service.
When you’re active on the internet, whether it’s blogging or posting on social media sites, you never know where your photos or writing will turn up. People re-post things they find all the time so you have to be comfortable knowing your content will spread in interesting and unusual ways.
I got all excited last weekend because as I was playing around on my Ipad I saw that one of my images was in the tattoo gallery at a place called the Tattoo Hut. It was in a spot titled “List of Top Men Commando Tattoo Images.” Now, I have to admit something that I have kept to myself until now. I’ve always wanted to be a tattoo…or rather, I wanted someone to use one of my images as inspiration for a tattoo. That might sound strange but it happens all the time. People find ideas for new ink all over. My interest in that type of tattoo is simply an extension of my love for the pin up genre. True, the images people pick are often of celebrity women but there are lots of tattoos based on regular women too.
Some are cartoon-y, some are more realistic, some are funny…and I love them all! So I was looking forward to seeing what was in the tattoo gallery that had to do with a commando and me.
There were a total of 28 photos in the “List of Top Men Tattoo Images.” Under the title heading was the line, exactly as written, “Here is the top Men Commando images we have.” Because of the grammar on the site, I suspect it’s run by a non-native English speaker. I was number 13 in the gallery. The following are some of the other photos in the gallery with their captions.
Now for my photo – happy number 13 on the list.
Did you read the caption? Did you? That’s right. They weren’t sure if I was a actually a woman or a man going commando in sweatpants.
No! No! No, wish granters of the universe. It wasn’t supposed to be me going commando, looking like a man, in a tattoo gallery. It was supposed to be me as a tattoo on a “commando” (military/patriotic) man from America. The basic elements were right but they were all mixed up.
I learned a valuable lesson over the weekend and I’m passing my newfound wisdom on to you.
You better be very, very specific when you wish for things!
**This post is not intended to slight the Royal Marine commandos in any way. The very few Royal Marines I’ve had contact with were lovely but everybody knows I absolutely adore our American military men…
–Tune in tomorrow for the next installment in the Commando Man series —
Valentine’s Day is right over the horizon and I have a coin for you! Romantic love is a fun thing to celebrate but extending a bit of love and gratitude a little more widely is too.
Some of you may know that I keep challenge coins in my purse for those occasions when I run into a member of our military and want to have a little something to give them as a token of appreciation. The coins I have traditionally given are from a company called Grateful American Coin. They’re a perfect (and pretty) token of appreciation that any civilian can give our service members.
A while ago, I was given a challenge coin of my own. Naturally, I was THRILLED and that coin is one of my favorite treasures. It reminded me how meaningful those small things can be, if the spirit behind them is understood. Right then and there I decided to order more coins of my own to hand out since I only had a couple left.
Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I could create a personalized coin to give, which with my propensity to be a bit of a ham, appealed to me greatly. I did so and I really like the way it came out. It’s a combination of humor and a sincere “thank you.” The artwork on it was created by a wonderful graphic artist who used one of my military tribute photos on a bodybuilding site as inspiration for the adorable, curvy, patriotic, little lady that I used on the coin.
I know there are veterans and active duty folks who read this blog and I’d be delighted to be able to give you one of the coins. After all, if you put up with me on this blog, you’re likely to understand both the humor and sincerity inherent in the design. Your work in the military means so much to all of us civilians and I’d be delighted to be able to give you a small representation of that appreciation.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Give me a name, address and branch of service and I’ll pop the coin in the mail! Don’t worry, I value your privacy so once the coin is sent I’ll delete your info…it’s just that I have no other way to get the coin to you.
The coins are limited in number so please don’t wait too long to let me know you want one. I’ll send them until I run out….
If you’re active duty military or a veteran, It would truly make me happy for you to have one!
When I was a child, we used to drive by the rows and rows of white headstones that cover the landscape at the Golden Gate National Cemetery. Even when I was very young, the sight gave me pause. I don’t remember now, if I prayed for those buried there but I know I thought about them long after the headstones were tiny specks in the distance. I always wanted to visit, I wanted to walk up and down the rows and read the inscriptions on the stones. I asked to stop many times but my parents didn’t take my requests seriously and I never got the chance. I surmise they thought it would be upsetting to me but I never felt that way. I simply wanted to walk there, to feel the atmosphere, to think inside the quiet blanket that surrounded the place. In my own way, I wanted to “talk” to the men who were buried there.
These days I think a lot about those who served and who are currently serving. I think about our fallen and I pray for them and the families/friends they leave behind. I think about how to conduct myself to best honor their service, their sacrifice and to show my gratitude in a concrete way.
On March 2nd 2012, I wrote the following
“This very day, this very hour someone is engaged in a life or death struggle on your behalf. Do not forget to be grateful and by extension show that gratitude by living so that your life is worth the price paid to protect it.”
That’s what I try to do each and every day. I try to make good use of the time I have. That’s because each day I’m given to do my work here is a gift paid for by somebody else.
Enjoy your time, hug your friends, hold your family close…be kind to each other…