Gold Star Dad

The thoughts of a father who has lost a son to war

Welcoming Pokey to the Frat.

Posted by fozzynok on 08/03/2009

Micheal had gone off to Ft Benning Georgia the same way that I had so many years ago. The Army is huge and within the Army there are various categories of jobs and there are combat arms jobs and support jobs. The bottom line for all of this is that the whole Army support the combat arms people, Combat arms is the “point of the spear”. Without the support the people in combat arms cannot do their job and that means basically that we lose wars. There are different classes or fraternities within the combat arms family. There is Armor, Infantry Artillery to mention a few.  These different groups or Klan’s are close knit as any family ever! They will fight the other clans tooth and nail and will take every opportunity available to scoff at and ridicule the other clans. But when there is a foe to face, these barriers disappear and they are all together to fight this enemy and to protect their own. I think everyone has heard of this “band of brothers” reference about the military. This is something that you have either experienced or you have not, it’s hard to describe but it is and always has been real. There are far too many who minimize this or in fact scoff at the mere idea of the brotherhood. Long ago, I served in the Army as an Infantryman. I have stayed in contact with a few of my brothers. I freely admit and I speak only for myself that we “cold war types” do not have the same bond as my son and other combat veterans past and present share with each other. These are far better men that we were.

I took the whole week off as vacation to go out and watch my son graduate from the Infantry Training School at Ft Benning Georgia. My buddy Don who served with me in Aschaffenburg, Germany with the 1st BN 4th INF of the Third Infantry Division so long ago came along as neither of us wanted to miss this and neither of us had been there since we were 18 years olds. We had looked forward to the road trip for the entire time Micheal was there. We arrived at Ft Benning and it’s almost eerie to see the place, smell the smells and hear the sounds of the infantry again after so long. We drove around the post for a couple of hours and just tried to find the things that we lived so long ago. We saw the formations drilling and many young troops walking in loose single file “route step” down the trails and roads of the base. We drove down through the ranges and heard the weapons and smelled the cordite in the air. We heard the far off thunder-like “whumps” of artillery or mortars. It was like being in a time machine. We found Don’s old barracks and Sand Hill, but the training areas and barracks that I had lived in had been bulldozed long ago. Just for the record.. Harmony Church was where I lived and trained, it’s no longer there. We visited a few of the shops like “Ranger Joes” and such outside the gates in Columbus, Georgia and then headed down the strip to find a hotel. All of the hotels in the area where packed! I was happy to see the people there to see their sons graduate. Three different groups where graduating that week. We were ready to greet my son and spend some time with him the next day during “Family Day”. We ended up staying in Alabama, just over the river.

We got up early and headed back on post to get to the parade ground to see the unit march smartly into view. The echo of cadence rang through the air, the staccato sound of boots on the ground sounded like thunder. The memories were so thick that it was really hard to sit still. The unit marched in and formed up and to be honest, I cannot even remember what the heck was being said or who was saying it. I found myself with a problem and one that I’m sure most everyone else there was having. There were a couple of hundred fine, fit, bronzed, practically bald young men wearing exactly the same thing finding Micheal in that crowd was not going to be easy. The announcer explained a little about the “turning blue” ceremony and what the blue infantry cord meant, and allowed the friends and family to go out and present and affix the blue cord to their soldier’s uniform. I scurried around like an idiot trying to find my kid for a few moments and finally heard Don hollering almost frantically for me who had found and was of course busy hugging the stuffing out of Micheal. I walked up and just stared at him for a moment. He was a very impressive sight there among his peers. We chatted for a second and he handed me his brand new infantry cord. It was a bit awkward, but I got the blue cord fixed up and my son was now officially “blue”. As all infantrymen before him and all infantrymen who are yet to be welcomed into the frat, will forever be included in the roles of one of the finest forces the world has ever known. It was a pretty emotional event for me and I hope for Micheal. All around the formation, families were greeting their new and improved sons. America should be proud of all these fine young men. I know that at that moment I was never so proud of my son. He was no longer just mine; he was his own man and belonged to the men who would forever be his closest friends.  He was one of America’s best products.

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One Response to “Welcoming Pokey to the Frat.”

  1. Dana said

    What a great post. You said it so well… Thanks Pokey… thanks a ton! And thank you Steven for raising such a fine young man!

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