Updated: Jun 24
On this somber day, we remember our fallen men and women who have served this greatest nation since our founding. For all of you who have served or today continue in service, there is no measure of thanks that is sufficient.
For every service member killed in action or during service, for each wounded, there is no adequate thank you.
What we can do and must do, is hold true to the foundation principles that our founders laid down for a new republic; Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Equality, and FREEDOM.
I remember my Uncle Sam, killed in action in June of 1943 on the Coast Guard Cutter, the USS Escanaba during convoy duty off Greenland. My grandmother, a Gold Star mother.
My Dad, who served in the Army Medical Corps in WWII and then in occupied Germany shortly after the war. He passed away in August of last year at 97 years old.
I remember, Sgt. Al Mampre and PFC Ed "Doc" Pepping of the 101st Airborne, 506th PIR Easy Company, Band of Brothers who became our ITOA friends and mentors over the past 15 years. We lost Al this past May and Ed the July Fourth 2018. Ed was born on July the Fourth. Al was 97 and Ed 96 years old. I am looking at their pictures as I write this.
My Dad and Uncle Sam, Al and Ed, these men were indeed the Greatest Generation.
Yesterday, Big Ed Mohn and I had a long talk with SGM Billy Waugh
who recently had his 90th birthday. We met Billy through the ITOA many years ago and we have become fast friends. Each time we talk we hear more about his incredible service as a Special Forces soldier in Viet Nam and after, his work for the clandestine services. Billy's book "Hunting the Jackal" is a must read. It is difficult to find a man who has served longer or done more for his country. Billy introduced us to Isaac Camacho, who is his SF brother who was captured by the enemy and ultimately escaped. Bill assisted Isaac in writing his story:
More recently, another book that highlights Billy was published,
We stay in touch with our good friend Rich Carmona, who also served as a Special Forces medic in Viet Nam. He told me that they all looked up to Billy as he was legendary for his skills in combat. Rich went on to become a Physician, a deputy sheriff, and was the co-founder of the NTOA Tactical Emergency Medical Support program for SWAT, TEMS. Rich served as Surgeon General of the United States under President G.W. Bush.
During our presenter dinner before our 2018 ITOA TEMS Conference, Rich sat with Al Mampre and told their stories. I sat in amazement as I heard the history they had lived. Two of our great American servicemen.
I think of MSGT Paul Howe, SGM Jimmy Byars and their team mates of the US Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D). I first met them in 1980 in a competition. We became friends and keep in contact, truly great men all. Paul became a regular presenter at our ITOA Conferences and then made the long journey back many times to conduct extended training for our police officers. We were with Paul this year at the end of January in Texas doing CQB rifle training at his CSAT facility. It was and is an honor to learn from one of the best. Jimmy's story is another amazing one, as he too went into continued gov. service after he retired from the military. Jimmy's son Dan followed his dad's footsteps and he too served most honorably.
I remember my first partner in law enforcement, Dave Shannon, who fought in the battle of Hue City. He was a door gunner on a helo that was hit by enemy fire on the first day of Tet. They were on the ground and he was able to bail out but had no weapon or gear. He joined up with the 3rd Marines and fought for the next month with them in some of the heaviest street fighting since WWII. He was awarded a beautiful commendation by the Marine Corps and cited for bravery and awarded the Bronze Star with the V device. Dave and I were close as brothers for over 40 years. This past year, Dave suffered a pulmonary embolism and was lost.
To those who have fought in the wars since 2001, The Global War on Terror, many serve in our police forces and we are grateful for their service and experience.
Some years ago while training with Henk Iverson, I met two young Marines, R.J Mehan and Victor Garcia. They were both combat veterans of the Iraqi war. When I asked what they wanted to do, each said to become a police officer. I was able to hire them for our police department and today both have moved to opportunities at other agencies and are fine police officers.
What a true honor to know, and have known so many great military men and women.
This is their Day.
A grateful nation salutes you.
Tony Blauer (Blauer Tactical Systems) sent his message today and he included the following from President Ronald Regan;
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” ― Ronald Reagan
Frank Sharpe sent his thoughts and included this story of WWII. (Click Image)
As we move through the current times, keep faith and stay strong.