What makes a person want to lay down his life for his nation? I can’t speak for others, only for myself. Long before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew I wanted to be in the military. I think I was probably 13 or 14 years old when I decided I should join the military. I was drawn to the Navy for no particular reason. I had such patriotic pride for this great nation we live in. I wanted to play a role. Where did that come from? Well, God I’m sure put it in my heart.
Nobody in my immediate family had ever fought in a war. But, my mom told me stories. My Aunt Kay, the youngest Sager daughter, lost 2 boyfriends in Vietnam. One was killed shortly after arriving in country. The other was killed shortly before his tour of duty ended. I remember marveling at their bravery and sacrifice. I had a strong fascination with Vietnam.
During my sophomore year of college, I discovered I could apply for an ROTC scholarship to cover the expenses of the last two years. Immediately, I applied. I didn’t want to be a financial burden to my mom anymore. I also really wanted to serve my country. The scholarship paid for my junior and senior years. All I had to do was serve in the military for 4 years in return. I ended up choosing the USAF.
What an amazing time I had. I ended up serving 5 years. I was stationed at Dover AFB for the first half of my service. I was stationed at Torrejon AB for the rest of my service. My first day of active duty service was 7/10/1986. Everything in the nation was peaceful when I began. I moved overseas at the end of 1988. I toured most of south Spain, visited Germany, and Turkey. It was a great time!
Then in the late summer of 1990, the shoe dropped. Saddam Husein attacked Kuwait in an act of war to gain their oil fields. Over night, we went from a state of peace to a state of war. It was surreal. Operation Dessert Shield began. One third of my base was sent to forward operating positions. Half of my hospital squadron went to Qatar to establish a field hospital. I never saw those people again. I would love to find them. I can’t even remember most of their names, but their faces are burned in my memory.
If I would not have been pregnant with Galen at the time, I have no doubt I would have volunteered to go with them. Instead, those of us who were left behind, were charged with setting up a staging facility for casualties. We put together a facility in one of the hangars. It held 1000 beds. It was fun to unpack equipment that had been sitting in storage for over 50 years. Supplies and equipment were wrapped up in newspaper from the 40s! After the unit was all set up, I remember standing in the back, looking out over a sea of empty patient beds, and praying they would not be filled. God answered my prayer that time as Operation Dessert Storm ended very quickly and with very few casualties.
This is one part of my life I would gladly do again and again. It’s funny though. Every Veterans Day, my Pastor has us stand up so the church can say thanks and pray for us. I always feel embarrassed because I did so little in the grand scheme of things. I always think, Don’t thank me, thank the ones who gave their lives so we could be free. But I guess, like the body of Christ, every little part counts. I played a very tiny role among a great, great group of men and women who over many years laid down their lives for a nation to be free. Let’s remember them today for their unbelievable sacrifices.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Happy Memorial Day!