I was supposed to have a day off today. I mean, after getting pneumonia, and then busting ass for Annual Training, then drill over the weekend, my training NCO decided that I needed a day to myself.
The best laid plans of mice and men.......
Last week, a retired colonel died. Natural causes, from what I was told. Not expected, but not completely unexpected either. Anyways, due to the personnel that were on funeral detail duty (they switch out the duty between units every three months) the colonel's family was told that they would only have a two man detail for the funeral.
Now, I won't go in to what I think of the unit that currently is supposed to be doing the funeral details. I won't go in to how I think that unit needs to be disbanded as soon as possible. I won't go in to their parentage, or lack thereof, nor discuss what I think they do with barnyard animals.. But when a man has given decades of his life to the military, including going to war, not having a full funeral detail is an insult.
In any case, I received a phone call early this morning from my training NCO, who stated, "Dave, are your Greens ready? Because you need to be in them at 0930 at this location for funeral detail."
Now, I won't say that I was thrilled to do this on my day off, especially when I was woken up way to early in the morning. However, I was not about to let a soldier take his final journey without full honors. So, into my Greens I went. The put me on the firing squad today. The family did a double take when they saw us, since they only expected two troops. We managed to pull together a full funeral detail in less than a couple of hours, and we buried that colonel with full honors. It's the sort of thing that makes you proud to wear the uniform, and of the history and tradition behind it. And despite the joking that goes on between soldiers at a funeral (we do have a dark sense of humor at times) there is a solemnity that is inescapable.
If you have never been to a military funeral, then take my word for it: a twenty-one gun salute is the second most final sound you will ever hear in your life. A bugler playing Taps would be the first.
So I didn't get a day off. I think it was worth it.