I generally don't write a separate column when we learn that a member of the Armed Forces from my state dies in combat because the ultimate goal of my columns - besides needling politicians - is to inform and give readers a sample of my writing style. Thus I don't want to create the appearance of commercialism when we lose another warrior in the ongoing War on Terror.
But for three years now I have been teaming up with other bloggers in Connecticut - most notably radio talk show host Jim Vicevich who precedes Rush Limbaugh on WTIC-1080 at 9 a.m. weekdays - to convince readers to send care packages to the troops overseas. This year the date on which I intended to deliver my annual "Support the Troops" message coincided with the news that Connecticut has lost another soldier.
My fellow bloggers and I participate in the blog competition in conjunction with an annual Internet Troopathon run by Move America Forward, the nation's largest pro-troop organization. The Troopathon this year will be held on June 23 and our blogathon competition has been underway since last month.
Three years ago, our team - The Greyhawks, named after the call sign that was assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM)161 - came in second place against some stiff competition. I served in 161 in Vietnam, it was the first helicopter squadron to carry troops into battle in Korea, and it also served with distinction in the Gulf War and the ongoing War on Terror.
For more than 40 years HMM-161 flew CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, but last year the squadron transitioned to the new V-22 Ospreys which are half helicopter-half airplane and it's designation was changed to VMM-161. The HMM designation is now part of history.
Nonetheless, the Greyhawk tradition lives on here in Connecticut. Last year the Greyhawks won the blogathon competition and this year we are in the lead again. In addition to Jim http://radioviceonline.com/ and I, the CTWatchdog.com consumer website hosted by my former Hartford Courant colleague George Gombossy also is participating.
The blogathon is a means of encouraging people to visit the MAF website - all you have to do is click on the Remember Their Sacrifice link on our websites - where you can select a care package to send to troops serving in the Middle East. The options range from a package suited to one person, which costs $30, up to enough to serve a battalion. The choice is yours, but if you are so inclined please click on the link on my website, or Jim's or George's, and do something special for the people who are most impacted by the war.
None of us, not the Greyhawk bloggers, nor Move America Forward, gets so much as a cent out of this. We do it because we know that there are people defending us every single day and night from some of the most vicious terrorists the human race has ever faced. There is little we can do for them directly because the military provides all their material support.
But we can do this. Please help us.
And please pray for the family and friends of Army Private First Class Eric Daniel Soufrine, a Woodbridge, Connecticut native who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday. I offer his family, friends and loved ones my most sincere, deepest condolences.
There is little else I can offer in this time of tragedy except to say that his efforts on our behalf, and his sacrifices, as well as those of all who knew and cared for him, will never be forgotten.
Flags will fly at half-staff until he is brought home for burial, but long after they have returned to full-staff his memory will live with those of us who once walked in his shoes, and were fortunate to have returned.
As long as there are veterans of America's wars, as long as we have the capability to communicate, as long as there are days of remembrance, he will be remembered, along with all the others who also died in the service of our country.
It is our obligation to ensure that his memory, his deeds and his sacrifices will live on as long as there is a United States of America.
SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
"Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"
Thursday, June 16, 2011