« Halcyon Days | Main | $1 Flights for Vets - Go Jet Blue! »

May 05, 2009

A Few Good Men

The congregation all stood up and sang
the saddest song that she ever heard
Then they handed her a folded up flag
And she held on to all she had left of him
Oh, and what could have been
And then the guns rang one last shot
And it felt like a bullet in her heart

Dillinger said Wojciechowski was raised in a military household. His stepgrandfather served in the Marines and his mother served in the Army. Wojciechowski signed up for basic training the fall after he graduated. It was there that he really grew up, she said.

"It's one of those cases where he goes in a boy and comes out a man," Dillinger said. "After basic training, he aged emotionally 10 years. He was just a good man."

"I was proud".

The Armorer comments:

They're always so stark, the notifications.
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The following Marines died April 30 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq:

Sgt.. James R. McIlvaine, 26, of Olney, Md.
Staff Sgt. Mark A. Wojciechowski, 25, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sgt. McIlvaine was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Wojciechowski was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

What's missing is the context that goes with the names. The faces, the friends, the families. The dreams, the hopes, the fears. The fact that there's an empty seat at the table. Literally.

And it's someone you should know.

You may not remember me...but I wrote an email a while back asking about a quote from thucylides about the scholar and the warrior. I asked this because I had 4 Marine EOD "bubbas" living across the street from me at the time and me being of the educated sect and they being of the warrior sect we had some great discussions. My father in law was Force Recon so I was given a "briefing" before taking his daughter's hand.

The reason I write this letter is that one of them went up to Fiddler's Green from Al-Anbar on Thursday. His name was SSgt Tony Wojciechowski, he was 25 and was from Cincinatti. This kid could light up a room with his smile and personality. My kids absolutely adored him."Tony Baloney!" they would scream when ever they saw him.

My wife and I are heartbroken that we won't get to see that All-American smile ever again and watch him fall in love from afar and raise his children. As I told my wife tonight I am crushed that I will never get to see that face and smile again. He was a good man. He was squared away.

They are all good men, and too soon taken from us. We never had time to know them.

But we can remember.

Update: I was incredibly remiss the other day in not catching this:

Tyler Trahan, a 22-year-old Navy petty officer 2d class, was with two Marines when the three of them were killed [last Thursday], according to the Navy. Military officials would not provide further details, only saying the three were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, but Trahan's family has said that a roadside bomb exploded. It was not clear whether the device detonated on its own or was activated.

Trahan was a member of the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Twelve, based in Virginia, and was temporarily assigned to a Navy SEAL team in Iraq. He was deployed last month.

His family said yesterday that Trahan's goal when joining the Navy was to work in an elite ordnance disposal unit.

"It's something he always wanted to do and strongly believed in," his sister, Molly Trahan, said yesterday. He would always tell her, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do," she said.

Those are words to live by. Unsurprisingly:

Trahan comes from a family of servicemen. His father, Jean P., served in the Army during the Vietnam era. His grandfather, John J. O'Malley Jr., served in the Navy during World War II. And, his sister said last night he also admired a great-uncle, Colonel Donald Allain, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars and was a veteran of the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945.

Sounds as though toughness runs in the family. I wish I had the right words to express my gratitude.

Posted by Cassandra at May 5, 2009 08:11 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"But we can remember."...No, we must remember. It is our duty, our responsibilty that those whom have given all are never forgotten, never relegated to the dark dusty corners of our memory. This despite those many whom do not know, whom do not care, nor realize the importance of this the greatest sacrifice. Although I have never been a part of the military fraternity, I find it sad, sorrowful that there are those whom will not, perhaps can not, understand the enormity of such sacrifice and the importance.

Posted by: Edward Lunny at May 5, 2009 10:06 AM

It is our duty to remember - especially when pressured by others to 'put it behind us.'

Posted by: MAS1916 at May 5, 2009 10:47 AM

Cass, Thanks for the cry and the reminder. Just heartbreaking. God bless our 'warrior class'.

Posted by: Red at May 5, 2009 11:23 AM

Heh. The remembering. It may be what Castle Argghh! does best, sadly enow.

We can't memorialize them all, but we'll memorialize the ones we can.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at May 5, 2009 05:31 PM

"Whatcha thinkin' about Davy?"

"Not thinkin' of anything. Just remembering."



Posted by: Don Brouhaha at May 5, 2009 09:23 PM

*bows head*

Posted by: bthun at May 5, 2009 09:34 PM

I may not have been touched by losing someone I knew, as so many others have, and I know I - personally - can't keep track of them all, but try to do what I can. After attending 1LT Kile West's funeral in 2007, I've sort of "adopted" him, and I've come to know - however casually - his mother. Whenever I find myself in Killeen, I stop by the floral department at HEB, buy some purple carnations, and drive out to the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery to pay him a visit. His family didn't in the immediate area (and his mother is currently out of the country...), and the unit he was with when he was killed is back in Iraq, so I don't know how many there are that are able to stop by. Kile graduated high school in the small town of Hutto, just north of Austin, and the high school named their new field house after him. He had played football there. Recently, I also came to meet the parents of LCPL Nicholas Perez at an American Legion function. There is an elementary school here in Austin named for him, and his parents are active at the school, so he will not be forgotten. If each of us can do just a little to help one of our fallen warriors be remembered, together, we can make sure they are all remembered...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 5, 2009 11:24 PM

We may not always remember the faces or names, but the memories of what they have given never fade. It is the very fiber of who we are, what we are and what we stand for.

Semper Fidelis, Staff Sgt. Wojciechowski. You can stand easy. Others have the watch.

Petty Officer Trahan - Fair Winds and following seas. Rest your oars, sailor.

Those of us who remain will carry on the mission, ever mindful of your contributions and sacrifice.

I am reminded of a verse someone sent me long ago.....

"The memories of their valiant deeds
have dimmed as the years passed by
And those who forgot or never knew
won't notice the tear in his eye.

Now he was searching for a peaceful spot
that faced out towards the sea.
A place where he could rest his oars
in honored dignity.

He was found later on that day
his body cold and still
a smile still graced his weathered face
as he lay upon the hill.

Off to starboard the sea was calm
with barely a trace of foam
his mission was complete now
and his travels had brought him home.

Rest your oars, sailor
No more will you go to sea
Rest your oars, sailor
This is where you're supposed to be."

I have to go to VA for a couple of weeks (starting Saturday), and I will go to ANC. I always do, in tribute to friends and family who rest there. It is my honor to stand and remember them all, and I am always humbled to stand there.

I remember going with my Dad long ago; he always made it a point to dress for the occasion. I used to ask why he would put on his blues. He always said that it was to honor them; they would do it for him. He had many friends there, and now he is with them. So it is my turn....dress blues and salutes on saturday and maybe sunday.

And Miss Ladybug...I did not see you in Austin...but I was in Round Rock this week. Austin sure has changed since I enrolled at The University in..nineteen seventy mumble mumble...

kbob in katy

Posted by: Kbob in Katy at May 6, 2009 09:19 PM