Do Thank a Veteran Today



Every Saturday, rain or shine, our home becomes the target of a loud and violent assault. Whether we are indoors or out in the yard, we can count on the noisy arrival of one or more UH-1Y “Yankee Hueys” of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, MAG-49 DET A, based at Robins AFB.

The Marines fondly say “if it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’,” and we just happen to live smack dab in their flight path as they roar over the treetops (yes, even in the rain). Whop-whop-whop. It’s the sound of freedom. Oo-rah!

The other benefit of living due west of runway center at Robins is when the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds come into town (if never-ending budget cuts ever allow another airshow), I believe they mark our house on their kneeboard maps as their turning landmark to show center—we see every maneuver at 1000 feet and wave at the pilots.

Not everyone is reminded so often of the benefits our military has won, and continues to win, for us, as we are in Middle Georgia. Many of us have worked on base, served in the military, or at least know one or more in our families who are currently or formerly in the military. Veterans Day is more than just a day off work for those of us who are fortunate enough to have the holiday off. (Kudos to police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, restaurant and retail employees who never seem to enjoy holidays as vacation days.)

We should celebrate this day and show our gratitude to the people who serve day-in and day-out to protect our freedom. Being this close to the military is a blessing, as well as a curse: as “insiders” we’re privy to the dark underbelly of how the military actually works beneath the veneer of ceremonies, parades, and flags that are all many other communities see. Now, however, is the perfect time to draw back a bit and see the forest for the trees.

As we remember those who served in prior wars, we should also honor our currently serving soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines. Whether they fly aircraft, drive tanks, fire rifles, or serve food, they are part of the greatest military the world has ever known: a force capable of conquering the world but instead chooses to liberate it.

The closest-born Medal of Honor recipient to Houston County is from Macon. Rodney Maxwell Davis enlisted in the Marines on August 31, 1961 and deployed to Vietnam in August, 1967. Sergeant Davis joined Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division in Quang Nam Province, where he and his platoon were pinned by a large North Vietnamese force. Without embellishment, here is his citation.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the right guide of the Second Platoon, Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy forces in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, on September 6, 1967. Elements of the Second Platoon were pinned down by a numerically superior force of attacking North Vietnamese Army Regulars. Remnants of the platoon were located in a trench line where Sergeant Davis was directing the fire of his men in an attempt to repel the enemy attack. Disregarding the enemy hand grenades and high volume of small arms and mortar fire, Sergeant Davis moved from man to man shouting words of encouragement to each of them firing and throwing grenades at the onrushing enemy. When an enemy grenade landed in the trench in the midst of his men, Sergeant Davis, realizing the gravity of the situation, and in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing with his own body the full and terrific force of the explosion. Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, Sergeant Davis saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life, enabled his platoon to hold its vital position, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

When we thank our military veterans and active duty members, we should remember that it is for us that they are trained to run to the sound of gunfire. And it is for us that they are willing to risk their lives—and give their lives.

Happy Veterans Day.

(Published in the Houston Home Journal Nov. 11)