Dedicated to the memory of Master Sergeant Kenneth Mack USMC
Mack was a brand new SSgt when I was a reasonably salty Gunny. He was the hardest charging young Staff NCO that I was charged with training. Since he was, at that time, a Reservist we only saw each other on drill weekends unless someone was visiting the others town. But he often came around the reserve center to keep up on traffic and made sure his Marines were always locked on. Over the three years that I was on the Inspector-Instructor Staff, Ken matured into a fine example of what Marines require in thier Staff Noncommissioned Officers. He was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant just before I rotated back into the FMF. I was (and still am) definitely proud to have known him.
I got the word eight days ago that he was killed in action in An Anbar on 5/5/07. His funeral was the day after and there was no way I could get from here to there in time. I'd met his wife several times and his kids as well. I'm fairly ashamed to admit that I lost contact with them after we parted company.
I was really proud when my unit returned from Iraq in 03 with no casualties. Unfortunitly since then, several Marines who were either subordinates of mine, friends, or both have died in this war.
I lit another candle. And I drank one more time to his memory.
And then I sent this to as many members of Congress as I could and asked if they will please take off the gloves and let us win the damn war.
The initial paragraphs to this entry was originally posted at USMB and TalkAmerica, both have links on the home page of this blog.
I waited awhile before reposting this to let the initial shock of his death sink in. My civilian boss is a retired LtCol in the Army National Guard and he also is a good friend. He counseled me that God does work in mysterious ways and to take comfort that Ken's death wasn't in vain. I hope he's right.
The people in this country have done an admirable job of actually supporting the troops even if they don't support the mission. I've only met a couple of folks personally that say "oh well, they were volunteers, too bad for them" or words to that effect. Of course there is the "God hates fags" nutjobs, but they are easily dismissed at just that, nutjobs.
There is a guestbook where comments to the family can be left. I hope that as time passes the pain they are feeling will ebb slightly and the pride will remain.
As wars go, this one hasn't cost us much if you only look at numbers and the big picture. But, when you look at the individual cost, each death is a personal tragedy. It is a mission worth pursuing, but I am getting damn tired of political interference with simply getting it done and getting out.
As Memorial Day approaches next weekend, please remember to have a great time. Please remember to pause a moment and in your own way thank Mack and all the others. After all, one of the reasons they died is to make sure we all can simply enjoy Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Semper Fi Mack.