This weekend was my first drill weekend with my new Guard unit. It was an overwhelming experience. This is not my first time transferring units. And yet, this experience felt unique.
My weekend was typical for a first drill. I spent my time getting tours of the facilities, introducing myself to new person after new person, and filling out mountains of paperwork. These mundane aspects of military service can really start to wear down on a member and its easy to become disillusioned.
But, then there are moments that remind you why you joined.
At the end of drill today, we had a memorial service for a recently fallen fellow Airman. He was one of ours and it seems that the unit has been taking it very hard. It was moving to watch everyone band together to have a special service for his family and friends so they could see the impact he had on his brothers and sisters in arms.
Many people spoke and it was a truly moving experience. I had never even met this Airman, but I got emotional hearing their words. There is an automatic camaraderie, an automatic fellowship that comes with being in the military. My heart ached for this young man and his loved ones.
Finally, as the ceremony came to a close, final roll call was done. If you’ve never seen this tradition, I hope you never have to. But it is a harrowing and emotional moment. A final roll call will be done with fellow Airmen. And when the fallen Airman’s name is called, he will be pronounced fallen and struck from roll call. And then taps will play. And when taps plays over a fallen comrade, you feel it in your heart, mind, body, and soul. You feel it in your bones.
It’s moments like these where we all come together to support one another that I remember why I joined. My brothers and sisters in arms are my family. There is no community quite like the military. And while it has its flaws, we have proven time and again, that when times get rough, you can count on us. And it’s humbling and reassuring to know that when times get tough for our own, that we can lean on one other.
We are one team, one fight. Always.