Friday, February 09, 2007

Day TWO...A riddle for you all...

Question: How long can the honor guard carry a coffin full of weights?

Answer: All damn day, if we have to.

Today was the first day of hands-on instruction, and we learned the 6-man casket detail. I tell ya...for those of you who don't know, the level of precision involved in doing military funeral honors is extremely high. It's difficult enough to get six soldiers to execute a facing movement at the exact same time. Now, imagine those six soldiers are holding a solid oak coffin, full of weight, and when they all turn, they have to release their outside hand and hold it in a very precise position so they are all identical.

Now they have to continue to STAND there while the instructors inspect and evaluate each one of us before we can proceed to the next step, which is coordinating our movement to turn the coffin EXACTLY 90 degrees using only 5 side-steps...this is still only holding with one hand.

NOW add the factor that ONE member of our team is 6'4", and one member of our team is 5'0", AND we are required to keep the coffin LEVEL.

Now...start doing that at 09:00, stop at noon for lunch, pick back up at 13:00 and stop again at 16:30.


Thank heavens I've done as many funerals as I have. When it became my turn to work the 'honcho' position...that's the guy who calls all the commands for the casket team, I recieved some serious praise on my performance. Granted, other members of my team recieved praise as well...but I'm not worried about THEIR grades...just mine.

I'm getting to know a couple of other members of my team. During lunch I sat with SGT Patera. I found her interesting because she's an MP in Nevada National Guard who had been to Iraq, and in her civilian world, she used to work security for one of the major casinos in Las Vegas. She gave it up to do Military Funeral Honors, cutting her pay in half. Turns out she does it for the same reason I's closure. Like me, she lost friends over there...friends she made in different units...and never really got to say goodbye.

I think it might be time for me to let go of working with kids...maybe not, but maybe so.

What I do is important...whether it's a 19-year-old KIA from Afghanistan or Iraq, or a 90-year-old man who never saw action, but who SERVED.

That's what it's all about, really. WE SERVE. Whether it's for 2 years or 40, we devote every day of our lives to being prepared to travel anywhere in the world, leave our families and friends behind, and give our lives if we have to.

Yeah, this might be the most important thing I've ever done.


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