Because of you I will never look at the American flag the same way again. The Star Spangled Banner will never sound the same to me, nor will I ever again simply cast a casual glance toward a soldier in an airport, passing in a car or marching in formation, bearing the colors before a public event. I think I now know what it truly means to be an heir to the blessings of freedom, bestowed on us by soldiers like you.
Where I was, what I was doing and what went through my head that black October Monday when the horrible news came will forever be etched into my brain. But you were the kind of soldier who makes others proud to have served our country alongside you. Your reputation for courage, honor and duty had crossed the sea and become known to the Marines who brought the tragic words to your mother -- even those combat veterans, strangers to us until that day, were unable to restrain their tears as they spoke of your death in battle.
Although you were only a couple of months past your 22nd birthday, your 4 years' service was full of success and un-measurable value. Because you were in Afghanistan, 15 Marines are alive. Because you were at your post in Iraq, at least 3 other Marines will return home. Those are 18 lives that can be counted easily, no one knows the full extent of your heroism. You were one casualty that has broken the hearts of all of us in the family, but there are at least 18 other mothers and fathers who will not experience this hurt because you saved lives. You didn't care about the politics and the grand-standing, you told me the day that I drove you to the recruiter's office, in the days after 9-11, that we had to take the fight over there to keep the wicked ones away from our shores. And you were then young enough and unspoiled by the agendas and bolsterings of others to believe that you were a true patriot, serving the cause of freedom, even if it meant your death.
It did mean your death, John, our beloved Marine Corps Scout Sniper, the elite of the elite -- but your family is honored that we gave the best we had. And judging from the messages from around the world about your character, faith and willingness to give it all, no matter the mission, many others believe Corporal John Stalvey was one of the best.
And beyond my ability to describe it, with the thoughts and prayers that have been lifted up in our behalf, among all the pain and loss, I have witnessed and experienced just what is so amazing about grace.
Semper Fi, Patriot.
God Bless you and yours, A.P.
AP - I worked with a Staff Sergeant John Stalvey when I was a Marine Drill Instructor at Parris Island (1987-1989) - do you know if your friend was related? More importantly, thanks for posting your wonderful tribute. Having been in Saudia Arabia & Kuwait, I can certainly relate - and I feel the way you describe when I see the flag or hear the national anthem. God Bless America.
John was not in the Marines in 1989, he would have been only 6 years old then. He was my sister's son, and he lived with me in Conroe after his high school graduation. We got letters today from his former Captain and Gunnery Sgt who wrote of John saving other soldiers' lives in Afghanistan, in 2004, during combat operations, for which he was commended -- but typical to our young hero, we never heard of that incident. He never bragged or ran around showing off commendations, etc., although he could have deservedly done so.
Understand the loss that you are going thru at this time. I lost my nephew, Sgt. Brady Berry, in Iraq on Monday October 3, 2005. He was a Scout Sniper for his Army squad. His current job was searching for IED's on the roadside. On the Sunday prior to his death, he had sent an email to his family telling us that his squad had voluntered for another 6 months to assist another unit North of his because "they needed him and he was good at what he did and these people over here need help."
We got his body back on the following Sunday and held his funeral in Terrell on Tuesday October 11. The town turned out and lined the streets during his procession, holding flags and saluting or holding their hands over their hearts. It was quite moving.
There two web sites that I invite you to visit. The first is done by a solider in Brady's unit. www.boxcar7.com They have photos of the area and some videos done in the area.
Another site is www.75160.com which contains some information about the Terrell area and photos of support for my nephew and his family.
From the emails that my nephew had been sending home, I know that our young soliders in the thick of the battle believe in what they are doing.
Keep the faith brother;
G. W. Wofford
Your nephew and mine died on the same day. John was in Karabilah, Iraq, the first casualty of Operation Iron Fist. We had to wait a week before his body got home as well. And, the funeral was quite moving. Like one of the preachers said, "There's nobody protesting and marching on the White House or burning the President in effigy here, folks. We're here to honor this young man, who believed in what he was doing...".
God bless our troops.
I am very sorry for your family's loss. We will be praying for your family.
When Some refused
Some did not
When Some would not volunteer
Some Stepped forward
They march in
When others run backward
There will never be
enough of their kind to end
Thank God there are enough to hold it at bay.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours,
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