According to Sarge’s Authoritative Source,
“Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans — established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.”
Money Quote: “Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.” That's a pet peeve of mine.
So, I was curious to know how many people we should be honoring on Memorial day. My first search found a very rough estimate of 1,312,332 since the American Revolution. A more authoritarian source states the total military deaths from all causes between 1980 and 1993 at 27,070 while a different study showed the number from 1990-2011 to be 29,213.
Large numbers, too large for me to get my mind around, too large for me to properly pay my respects. So, I’d like to introduce you to some of my friends and neighbors.
Capt Robert S. Schneider II (USAF) aka “Rocket”. Dec 25, 1956 –Jan 24, 1990. One of the members of my Flight. Killed in a midair collision while flying an F-15.
|Rocket is 5th guy (in flight suit) from the |
Capt Alan J. Pryor (USAF) aka “Tex”. Oct 6, 1953-Oct 17, 1984. My best friend in College. Killed in a controlled flight into the ground accident while flying a night mission in an F-111. Contrary to the data at the link, he was born and raised in Midland TX. Regrettably I couldn't find a picture of him.
Capt Ross LaTorra, (USAF) Dec 1, 1958 – April 22, 1987. One of my students at LIFT as he was going through IP upgrade, and neighbor. Killed in a midair collision in the AT-38 along with two students.
|Capt Ross LaTorra|
LtCol Harry Murdock (USMC), Aug 13, 1951-Jan 10, 1995. One of my instructors while I was going through SAMS. We had to write two monographs while there, my second was on JFACC. Col Murdock was my advisor. Needless to say, we had some interesting discussions on the subject. Drowned in a flood while trying to rescue some trapped Marines.
|Lt Col Murdock|
Lt Col Marty Outland (US Army) May 2, 1958 – Mar 12-1998. A colleague on the Army Staff with whom I worked Counter Drug stuff while on the Joint Staff. Died of a Heart Attack at his desk in the Pentagon. Couldn't find a picture of him either.
Maj William Brian Downs (USAF) Jan 30, 1965-May 30, 2005. I’ve never met him, but I wear his commemorative bracelet. Killed in a crash while on a Special Ops Training mission in Iraq.
Capt Phil Neel (US Army) Nov 27-1979-Apr 8, 2007. Brother of 4 of my students and son of one of my employees. Killed in action leading his unit in Diyala Province Iraq.
|Capt Phil Neel|
SSG Chris Staats (US Army) –Oct 16, 2009. Husband of a teacher at the School where I work. Killed by IED in Afganistan.
|SSG Chris Staats|
Finally Chris Stevens Apr 18, 1960-Sep 11, 2012. Because, at this point, it makes a difference to ME!
Rest in Peace, All!