I wrote a post about why I will march 12 miles on Memorial Day in 2014 to commemorate those who have fallen in battle for us. I wish to take some time to remember those who do not get to enjoy the freedoms I have today, the type of family I have, and reflect on my own life.
I wanted to mention two more men who will be on my mind today as I go on my 4-hour walk so they may never be forgotten and so they may inspire me to continue to live my own life to the fullest.
I served in 123rd Main Support Battalion the same time as David. He was polite and trustworthy. At the age of 32, his 5-ton truck was cut off by an Iraqi civilian causing David to serve off the road. The truck overturned, and killed David in his attempt to save the civilian. This happened in Mosul while I was in Baghdad.
1SG Garza from Robstown, Texas, was a part of 1/30 Infantry in 3rd Brigade, 3ID. I never had the honor to work for him directly, but I remember clearly a moment during our prep work in Fort Benning when he brought a group of soldiers into the clinic for their medical screenings. He had marched the in, shouted commands on who will go first in the screening process, and ordered the rest of the soldiers to take a seat. It was loud and disruptive, and all of his soldiers loved it. I could tell that he was one of those leaders that people would gladly follow into battle. He was sure of himself, decisive, and cared for his troops.
Joe Garza with his family during a promotion pinning ceremony. This image was captured from the Fallen Heroes website.
As the 3ID columns approached Baghdad, we would ditch the vinyl doors of our HMMWV’s (Humvees). This was a practice we picked up from the Special Forces units who provided close support for us as we arrived in the outskirts of Baghdad. It made sense. Vinyl wasn’t going to stop bullets, but a soldier facing out the door with an M-4 Carbine could stop the enemy combatant who was about to fire those bullets. So, those vinyl doors were ditched.
On April 28, 2003, that practice came to a halt when a driver made a U-turn over a highway island that knocked 1SG Garza out of his seat spilling him onto the highway. He was struck by oncoming traffic and killed. All his experience, knowledge, and life was snuffed out by an accident. While removing those doors and dangling out was a necessity of the invasion, it wasn’t as necessary for “peacekeeping”.