Inking up the blogosphere. And no, I don't glow in the dark. But thanks for asking.

September 16, 2009

A Healing Place, A Hero, and A Prisoner

As per my normal Monday routine, I have to spend some time clearing out the weekend fluffernutter in my head. After roundfiling most of it, what remains this morning are thoughts of three people.

First thought is of Billy Shelton. For those that don’t know of him, Soupbone is a remarkable man—a venerable US Army Special Operations and Vietnam veteran who has spent years dedicating himself to training young men in his community, preparing them mentally and physically for success. The most public of his prodigies are Marcus Luttrell and his brother Morgan, though I have no doubt that there are scores more young men whose life Mr. Shelton has impacted in great ways. Billy’s story has resonated with me since I heard about it, and he has two new projects that I think are important to mention. He has written a book, “Sergeant Shelton’s Black Book: Hard Won Lessons and Down Home Truths on Young Men and War”, to be launched in January of 2010. I’ll be waiting in line to buy it when it comes out. Billy’s second project is the founding of the 501 (c) non-profit Sergeant Shelton’s Wounded Warrior Ranch Retreat , the culmination of the principles by which he has lived his life. SSWWRR is a place where wounded warriors and their families can stay and heal. The amenities the Retreat will offer are too many to list here, save to say it sounds like a truly amazing place that will allow those recovering from their wounds ‘a little bit of heaven’ at no cost to them. SSWWRR is located 75 miles west of San Antonio, Texas, along the Frio River. Please join me in supporting this wonderful cause by donating and/or getting the word out about it, as well as purchasing “Sergeant Shelton’s Black Book”.

My second thought today turns to former SSgt. Darrell “Shifty” Powers, E Company, 2d Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Shifty was a surviving member of the famed Easy Company, portrayed in the book “Band of Brothers”. I recently found out that Mr. Powers passed away on June 17th, with little or no media coverage, which is to me deplorable. Today, I join everyone at the Warrior Legacy Foundation in virtually honoring Shifty Powers for his service and heroism. Men like Shifty and their stories should never be overlooked and forgotten. We lost another hero last month, and I hope that wherever Shifty is right now, he is getting the rest he earned…and hopefully hoisting a drink or two with his comrades in arms. Thank you, Mr. Powers.

The third person I am thinking about today is Pfc Bowe Bergdahl, whose name has been released as the US soldier being held captive by the Taliban. I can’t possibly imagine what this young man has gone through since his capture, nor the pain and worry of his family. My thoughts and prayers are with him, and I hope he knows that no one is giving up on him. I sincerely hope that Pfc Bergdahl takes comfort in the knowledge that we won’t stop looking for him; we don’t leave our men behind. I’ll end this thought with lines from the Code of Conduct:

  1. I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.  
  2. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender those under my command while they still have the means to resist.  
  3. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.  
  4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.  
  5. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.  
  6. I will never forget that I am an American, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.