Friday, September 30, 2005

Honoring Comrades

A poignant piece on a family honoring buddies they saw killed in the Middle East – and never had time to mourn – appeared in the Denver Rocky Mountain News. Lance Cpl. Mike Ball was one of those who travelled to Colorado at the call from the parents of the late Lance Cp. Kyle Burns. Jo and Bob Burns asked those who last saw their son alive.

Kyle died in Fallujah on Veteran's Day, 2004, hit by a rocket-protelled grenade. At the cemetery, his comrades said they had not been able to assimilate it until now. Dustin Barker, Kyle's best friend in the platoon, said, "When you're over there, there's no time to grieve. You worry that if you do, you'll get someone killed.

Ball added, "I strted to let the tears come, but we had patrol in 10 minutes. You have to shut it off. We just got in the vehicles and started driving."

Note: I recommend reading the whole article, which is by Jim Sheeler. Be warned that it is moving.

The article concludes with:
When it was all over, the two tallest, toughest-looking Marines at the Burns' table stood and hugged Jo Burns, then each other.

Suddenly, Lance Cpl. Ball's face turned red, then exploded into tears. As he pressed his head into Barker's shoulder, the sobbing spread. Other Marines from the company grabbed hold of each other. They held tight for nearly a minute, holding nothing back.

Eventually, someone started to laugh, and they all laughed for a few seconds, then began to cry again, the tears darkening their deep blue uniforms. After regaining his breath several minutes later, Ball thumped Barker on the back.

"That stuff has been bottled up for so long," Ball said.

"It feels so good to get it out," he said, patting his buddy on the back. "Now we can mourn too."

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