Sunday, March 6, 2011

A military story

It is 0100 on Sunday morning.  I need to be up in 5 hours but I've not yet gone to sleep.  I've been on duty as Chaplain since shortly after lunch.  It has been an amazing day.

I cannot say how touched I am today to see how our local men and women in uniform take care of each other.  A sewrviceman at a nearby base was critically injured last night and life-flighted here.  Right now it is touch and go.  The family lives far away.

I went to the ICU expecting a very difficult afternoon.  However, as soon as I got off the elevator, I saw that most of the people in the large waiting area were in uniform.  A man came up to me and introduced himself as the base's Colonel, Another was a Commander and there were a Lieutenant and some Sergeants as well.

 The enlisted men and woman were shell-shocked but the officers took over.  They made sure the family was transported 3000 miles to Sacramento.  A hotel was arranged.  The injured man's Pastor was brought up from the Bay area.  The enlisted's were each assigned to an officer to talk quietly and to process what had happened to their friend.

As the Hospital Chaplain, I was there along with the local Pastor of this man's denomination.  There was little for us to do, othetr than just be there, as a spiritual presence and pray with those in the waiting room.  And of course to stand in awe at the caring and love we saw around us.

At midnight, the first family members were whisked in from the airport in an Air Force van.  They were escorted by an officer in dress blues.  Over at the hotel, their luggage was being unloaded and food were being laid out in the both the ICU waiting room and at the hotel..

I think I am blessed to have three siblings and a strong family.  But because of his service this young man has 50 siblings, sitting with him, taking care of his family and friends and forming a circle of love, support and prayer. 

I am not sure about the wars we fight today, but I have no doubt that our men and women in uniform have our backs and have each others' backs as well.   "Leave no man behind".   I saw this embodied tonight in a way I've never seen it before. 

It's still touch and go for this young Airman.  But the support I saw tonight will as much as anything else help lift he and his family through the next few days.

We are blessed to have our men and women in uniform.  We owe them nothing less than our gratitude and respect.

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