remembering our veterans

Since my friend who I consider an older brother is a combat veteran, I felt the need to post this. Four days ago, one of his fellow marines took his own life. I have never met his friend but somehow it hurts just as much. This shouldn’t happen to veterans yet it’s happening every day. I am re-posting a post that my big brother Danny wrote as a Facebook post.

4 years ago today, Echo Company, 2/7 lost three of its Marines to enemy action. While on a routine security patrol, Echo 3 Alpha (1st Squad, 3rd Platoon) was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) resulting in the death of Private First Class Toves. While en route to provide support, Echo 3 Bravo was also hit by an IED.

3 Bravo’s squad leader Corporal Mihalo and Lance Corporal Lopez-Castaneda made the ultimate sacrifice. They proved to me and to the Marines of Echo Company that love truly did exist on the battlefield, the love born from shared misery and tempered in common cause. Despite operating in the most dangerous area of Afghanistan, Corporal Mihalo thought nothing of his own safety and courageously led his squad through Afghanistan’s “IED Alley”.

I remember that day clearly. My squad was back at the Sangin District Center awaiting orders when we all heard the first explosion. At the time, we thought nothing of it (explosions and intermittent gun fire was common). Then no more than fifteen minutes later I heard the second explosion. By then, the Company Commander’s Personal Security Detail (PSD) was fully mobilized and already half way out of the gates.

I didn’t find out what had happened until 20 minutes later. By then, the PSD had already returned and Marines were already washing the blood out of the Med-Evac truck. It was then that I was told that my close friend Brian had been injured too. At first I hesitated to go see him. But then I couldn’t stop myself.. I had to go see him. When I got to the Medical Tent, the Company 1st Sergeant refused to let any Marines in except for me. Brian was asking for me, asking that I keep his wedding album safe and that I be the one to return it to his wife. The memory of that room continues to haunt me to this day.

In Afghanistan, we didn’t fight to bring peace to a country at war, we didn’t fight for patriotism or God. We fought to protect each other. We fought to bring each other home. Matthew Mendoza, Tony Mihalo, Jeremie Ross, Andrew Whitacre, Juan Lopez-Castaneda, and Jacob Toves… your fight is over now. You have earned your right to rest in peace. May Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest.

– Danny Kwan

Please keep Jeremie Ross in your thoughts. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I am sure he was a phenomenal marine and an even better human being. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

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