In the USA today is Veterans Day.
Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day in commemoration of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I, is the anniversary of the ending of World War I. In the United States it is celebrated as a federal holiday on 11 November. World War I formally ended all major hostilities ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month with the German signing of Armistice. Armistice Day was first commemorated by President Wilson in 1919, and many states made it a legal holiday. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 inviting all Americans to observe the day, and made it a legal holiday nationwide in 1938. The holiday has been observed annually on November 11 since that date - first as Armistice Day, later as Veterans Day - except for a brief period when it was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October.
Following World War II, the name of the holiday was changed (enacted 1 June 1954) to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has since evolved to primarily be a time of honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially due to competition with Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead. Many nations within the British Commonwealth observe a similar occasion, Remembrance Day, on 11 November.
For those who do not know, I was in the US Army from 1989-1996. Today has always been a day of reflection for me and with the candy holiday today I had no idea how I was going to do. I have a story to tell today and its about a soldier who is no longer here.
His last name was Matthew, he was from Colorado, we called him Matt. To be honest I do not remember his first name. I met him in 1994 when I was in the Army. He was a young soldier who was part of the Field Artillery in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. To be honest I have no idea why I liked the kid but their was something about him that I found OK.
As alot of young soldiers, he was a good kid but he starting drinking under age and the I had to deal with with. One day I was in a hurry, and I just got a call to go to the Hospital to deal with some drunk fool. Matt was acting the fool and I stoped to talk to him. (Now realize something I'm 6'4, I had a gun on my side and I was wearing a Military Police patch) I yelled at Matt very loud so everybody could hear me, "You fuck up one more time I am dragging you dumb ass to the MP station and the shit will hit the fan! Do you understand me Private Matthew." I left and took care of the drunk at the hospital.
I did not see Matt for a few weeks, I found out later that my yelling at him forced him to take a good long look at himself and he decided that he was going to stop drinking, I was told by a Sgt. of his much later, that he believed me when I told him that I would arrest him for underage drinking.
I saw him a few weeks later and he talked to me and said that he was quitting drinking, I told him If I see it (the drinking) one more time, you are going down. I told him to get lost.
It was at this time that Matt met a local girl and he fell in love big time. I was watching them and I was happy for him, she loved him and he loved her and they were both happy together. A few weeks later I went and talked to him, I told him that he was doing good and I hoped that things were going good.
As an MP, I worked alot of shift work, Matt needed to borrow a car so when I was on midnight shift, I would loan him mine so he could pick her up and drive her home. She lived out in the country by the extreem back gate of Ft. Sill.
It went on for a few months and then one night he said that he wanted to talk to me. He said that he needed advice. So we talked for awhile, he told me that they were going to get married after she finished high school and we talked about her going to college and how he needed to work on his life insurance and alot of things like that. I gave her a hug and told her to take care of my boy.
I was engaged at the time myself and I was so happy for him, I was grateful, that she was in Korea and not here, because if she would have smelled any other womans perfume in the car I knew that I was in trouble and Matt's girl liked to wear alot and my car usually stunk of it for a few days. He was my friend so you just deal with it.
He borrowed my car one night, while I was on mid shift and I told him that this month I am on mids so he could borrow the car anytime he needed. He borrowed the car and he returned the keys to me. i told him remember I am on mids so if you need it just call me and you can borrow it, no need for you to walk or take a taxi ride. We talked and he went home. That was the last time I would ever see him.
I got busy and Matt didn't call to borrow the car so I didnt worry about it. A few days later I was told by somebody at the NCO club that Matt had died, so that night I went to work and I read the SIR (Serious Incident Report) and it was all about Matt. The desk Sgt looked at me and he realized that I was not in a good frame of mind. I told him that this was my friend and now he is dead, he was 19-20 years old. Now he was dead. It was a quiet night that night, I just drove around in a daze for most of the night and I had no idea what the hell happened. I was worried if this was not an accident some MF was fixin to die.
I knew all of the ER (Emergency Room) techs and drivers and that day they saw me upset, one lady asked me what was up, I told her about Matt and I was worried that I was going to take somebody out for killing my friend. She told me not to do that, she also told me that she was the one who handled the call, then she told me what happend.
Matt had decided this night not to call me to borrow my car and that he was going to walk to his G/F house, it was a good 10 mile walk. He was wearing dark clothes that night and he was walking home from her house when it happened. A driver was driving his truck and was doing the speed limit and all of a sudden he thought that he struck a deer (In this area, hitting a deer happend alot so he didnt think anything about it.) He stopped at the Love's Truck stop and called Oklahoma Highway Partol and told them that he hit a deer and that he would go back and try and find the deer, he was afraid that he had killed the deer) the lights suck in this area, last time I was their in 2001 they still suck.
The er tech then said, The driver went back to the scene and found what he thought was the deer, when he discovered that It was a man (Matt) he just lost it, he was loosing his mind and crying when the OHP arrived, they found Matt's ID card and they called the US Army hospital for help. The tech said that when they arrived it was too late, It was later determined that he died on inpact and that he did not suffer (I pray to God this is right). It was ruled an accident due to Matts dark clothes, bad lights and no intent, after reading the report I agreed with the decision and I forgot the man name who hit Matt ASAP. It was just one of those things that happen with no rhyme or reason.
Then I was faced with one of the hardest decision that I have ever made in my life, Do I tell his future wife how this whole thing went down. I was still dealing with and to this day deal with, why the fuck did he not call me so he could drive and see his g/f, I was on mids shift i didnt need the car that night. This has haunted me for 10 years now, I had no answer then and I still have no answer now.
I decided not to and to be honest, this is the first time I have told this story since the accident, I saw her from time to time and when I last say her in 1998 she still had not married and from what I was told still no b/f. I do hope that she is happy and that one day she can read this blog.
I tried to go see the body at the furneral home but the unit had not brought the clothes yet and he was leaving the next day so I never got to say good-bye to my friend. I was told that he was going to be burried in his home state of Colorado and I was unable to find the furneral notice online for "The Lawton Constitution"
Ever year since I have done a little service on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day, The African-American soldiers would pour out some booze for their friends who have died. I have done it every Memorial and Veteran Day. I did it today, I remembered Matt and I told him that today was the day I tell your story, that I have not forgotten you and I still think of you from time to time. I poured some out for other soldiers that I know that have died. Then I poured alot out for my fater and said, Dad, still thinking of you and still missing you, I hope that you are proud of me, I have always thought that you thought of me as a failure. I miss you and love you."
Just keep to myself for awhile then the candy started being passed aound the kids seemed to love it. I knew that I was typing this story tonight. A little sad but I know that my friend will always be apart of the blog, sorry we never took a photo together. So I can not post one.
I just wanted to post a Vet srory tonight, the sad thing is I am getting older, in my memory of Matt he has not aged one bit. I gave up asking why and I hope that when I get to heaven we can talk again.