It is Friday, 8/13, about noon. I was thinking about the Patriot Guard, other groups who see themselves as in a competition with the Patriot Guard and the unfolding Kandahar offensive that is about to ramp up. Wondered if I shouldn’t just take a break. Turned to National Review for diversion. At that very moment, David French posted to The Corner the following:
The workload for deployed soldiers redefines the term “punishing.” For troops on the line, they can sometimes spend months at a time under constant risk of enemy fire. Daily patrols — wearing upwards of 80 pounds of gear in 120-degree heat — are preceded and followed by extensive maintenance and briefings. And this doesn’t even consider the strain of actual combat. During my deployment, one of our units engaged in a 36-hour firefight. After it was over, many of those same soldiers had to content themselves with a short nap before going out there once again. You haven’t seen exhaustion until you’ve looked into the eyes of men in those circumstances.
For staff officers like me, the work is different. I wasn’t outside the wire every day (or most days), but I distinctly remember an eight month stretch where I never when to sleep earlier than 2:00 a.m. Not once. Even then, sleep wasn’t assured, as detainees came in during all hours of the night (and morning). Others worked 12-hour (and longer) days, alternating shifts every single day for 15 months. Every day. For 15 months. All while making decisions with lives on the line and frequently going outside the wire themselves.
I don’t even like to think about the burden carried by the Squadron Commander and the rest of the senior leadership. They went out most days and still worked until 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. Try that for a lifestyle: Risk your life on a five- or six-hour patrol, then come back to the “office” and command men in harm’s way for additional ten (or so) hours, until exhaustion overtakes you. Then get up and do it again — for almost 400 days.
Like an early-morning swim, that cleared my mind. I believe that the Patriot Guard should handle all funeral missions. That should never be a competition.
Members of the PGR, the ALR, the CMA, the WWR and the SOL all share a respect for those who wear a uniform. Indeed, they all share a single pool of members. It’s not the patch on your vest that matters. It’s what you do.
This is what I will do: Organizations that refer funeral missions to the PGR will be celebrated in these pages for their “welcome home” and “send-off” efforts. Organizations that compete for the grieving family’s patronage will not be named or linked-to.
8/18: I just spoke to Matt Charlier. He said he will “not turn down a (KIA) family’s request”. That is evidence that his organizational mission is not simply to celebrate the warriors, but to step in front of the Patriot Guard Riders.
Sunday, 8/15, a 20 year-old woman and a 28 year-old man were stoned to death in Dasht-e-Archi District, Kunduz Province, Afghanistan by the Taliban. Let’s remember who the real enemy is.
This policy has been discontinued.
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