A Veteran’s Day Message from Col (Ret). Jack Tobin, US Army SF, President, Special Forces Association.
To all of you on Veterans Day:
At the end of “Band of Brothers”, Major Dick Winters related a story.
The other day my Grandson asked “Grandpa are you a hero”
I said “No but I served with many of them”
I know what Dick Winters meant. Since I arrived at Ft Bragg in 1968, I have been surrounded by heroes, some recognized with medals, some with the quiet respect warriors pay each other. One of my favorite stories came from a man well known in SF circles when the subject of medals came up, “The SOB put me in for the Silver Star, so I decked him.” I personally know several men who went AWOL from hospitals to avoid a Purple Heart that would send them home, and men that extended their tours for they could not leave their friends or the troops.
Emerson (Ralph Waldo, not the Gunfighter) defined a hero “as one who was brave five minutes longer”.
In the A Shau, Duc Lap, the Iraqi Desert, Tora Bora, Helmand Province, from Central and South America to the Philippines, on mountains, in valleys, in small camps at the end of the world, the men of Special Forces have measured their five minutes in hours. They exemplify the principle that Courage is not the property of extraordinary men, but of average men doing extraordinary deeds. One might say that their deeds made them extraordinary men; they would say, “It was my job”.
Back in May, we quietly saluted our “absent friends.” Veteran’s Day is for those of us that remain to call old friends, gather and sing our songs around the campfires, “our deeds remembered in our flowing cups”. Call an old friend, remember years ago, when you called on whatever radio we had, he was there, and you were damned glad to hear his voice.
Gentlemen I believe that President Reagan addressed Veterans Day much better than I:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. This weekend we celebrate the American heroism that has allowed freedom to flourish in the United States of America.
I don’t know why you men allowed me to march with you, but I will die proudly knowing that you did.
Gentlemen, charge your glasses; the moment of silence for “absent friends” is over,
“To the United States of America, and to the brave men of the Special Forces Regiment, who have, are and will proudly serve her”
President, Special Forces Association