Remembering a friend on Memorial Day

Capt. Joshua Byers, US Army…  Josh… a very good friend of mine in high school. Remembering Josh brings back so many good memories of my youth. Fort Ord, Seattle, Drill meets, inspections, bad self made hair cuts, boot shining parties prior to a big military inspection. I can remember the many hours on the Drill field where his leadership shined even as an 18 year old. I was honored to be apart of the JROTC Navy drill team with arms, under his command. I learned to love the feel of the parade rifle smacking my shoulder, counting cadence in my head, the rocks in my palms as our platoon did push ups. The hot sun, clear air and the loud bark of commands bouncing off the high school wall returning a haunting reminder of the movements we already performed. The school year was ending… 1992, I had already signed the delayed entry program for the USMC. Myself a Junior, with all the excitement of following in his foot steps, following in his lead in the JROTC program as he left for West Point at the end of his senior year.

Newpaper, josh

Newspaper clipping…

Josh and his Father, Lloyd (Left). June 1992.
Josh and his Father, Lloyd (Left). June 1992.

I wrote him while he was attending West Point… now remember… a letter means a lot to anyone going through a military academy or boot camp, it brings a sense of connection back to you of your friends, the good times, high school and your home town. I would read his letter in my yearbook for inspiration, to laugh about the fun memories of the JROTC program (As I still do to this day), the good friend who made everything fun and to remember his mentoring ways.  Still looking to carry on a tradition that was passed down to me…as I completed my senior year as Cadet CMDR, and Drill team CMDR, I would read these lines… “The challenge ahead is one that you will never forget.. it is one that will not always be easy OR fun but one that will prepare you for Greatness…” he ends the same way I tell my friends… “I won’t say goodbye because I will see you again”. This small section of the  letter was written in a yearbook, something we all wanted to do was leave a great page of memories… of course this was always knowing that it was all a very short time before I too would go on to my own big adventure, with the idea that we would all return home for leave, visit old friends and even if the world made it possible see each other during our time and service in the military. I was out of the Marines in July of 1997… In the time that passed, life happened, I loss touch with many of my friends. And now that I was out of the Marine corps, i had my own things to take care of, I struggled with my own world, I moved to places that were new to me and started a new life… letters were never written, phone calls were never made. With a heavy heart, I never saw him again. I found out that he was killed by an IED in Iraq … a 29 year old Commanding officer of Fox Troop, an outstanding leader, a caring man, a brother, a son,  a great friend… gone… At the time of his death, July 2003, I was attending UNR obtaining my BSEE and was heavily into robotics… after hearing what happen to my friend I focused even more on robotics and designing sensors to help the military mitigate IEDs. I would think about how I would try and make a difference, I would think about my blessed life, and how I got to come home. I was going to live everyday to the fullest. And I do… Because “ I will see you again” is true… and I better have some damn good things to talk about and great stories to share with my good friend Josh. Until then, I remember Josh, along with all of my fallen friends, and all the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. Please take a few moments this Memorial day and every day to really think about how great a world we live in because of those who gave all. To Josh… “God Speed My Friend… Hu-ah!”    To the rest… Semper Fi!

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