While most of America enjoys this holiday with family and friends BBQ in the back yard there are an entire generation reflecting on our past and the friends that are no longer with us. I try and not get to somber on this day but celebrate the life that I have because they do not have that ability. I have a choice, to be upset and depressed of the enormous amount of loss our community has suffered or celebrate the men that they were and how important they were to me. I choose to remember them and draw strength from each of their characters.
For you to truly understand what Memorial Day is for the GWOT Veteran I would like you to watch this video and imagine that you knew 80% of the names on there. Most people will lose maybe one person in there life due to a tragic event. For our generation we have lost hundreds of our brothers in the span of 10 years. But, we pick ourselves up dust ourselves off and dive on using their knowledge, courage, and friendship to continue to fuel our fight to the finish line.
Here are some of my Heroes that I'll be reflected on today.
MSgt Eden "Moshpit" Pearl was the first Recon Marines name I had ever heard. It was 2003 and I was told by a SgtMaj to not be a pussy and Ge Recon! He then informed me to immediately get on Eden Pearls team. When I got to 2D Force I saw him for the first time and It was like seeing Conan The Barbarian in person. In 2008 I finally got to work for him for a brief period of time and his abilities and leadership were unmatched. His reputation and story will be a staple in our community for years to come. I am honored that I got to learn from him and walk in his shadow.
Cpl Dustin Lee Was a Dog Handler and was attached to my platoon in 2006 while we conducting operations in Iraq. He was young, funny, courageous, and the badass you want on your team when fighting in Iraq. Not to mention his dog Lex was a bad ass! Dustin came to our platoon and took well with my 5 man team so he spent the majority of time with us on patrol and when conducting long vehicle movements. For those of you that have gone on long mounted movements you know that the people in that truck get very close. Dustin was one of the most genuine, honorable, and hard working Marines I have ever met and I will think of him every day for the rest of my life.
Sgt Gary Johnston Had balls bigger than a texas steer! He was truly larger than life and when he entered a room everyone knew he was there because he immediately had everyone laughing hysterically. On missions he took his Texas grit and was tough as woodpecker lips. When I look at Gary's life I am amazed at how many people he touched and the enormous impact that he made on such a large group of people in such a short time.
SSgt David Day Is the epitome of a Recon Marine. He had proven himself to be one of the top performing Marines in the Marine Corps by achieving the title Reconnaissance Marine but that was not enough. After completing a successful deployment with what I consider a Recon team 10 years ahead of their time he decided he wanted another challenge and made a lateral move to become a Marine Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD). Upon completion he returned to 2D Marine Raider Bn and was right back on the team where he left off just more badass than the rest of us.
Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr. Was one of most compact, fiery, deadly badasses I've know. He quickly became one of the most proficient and knowledgeable Recon Marines at 3rd Reconnaissance Bn. I got the chance to work with Mike training the new platoons coming through our shooting and Close Quarter Battle courses. He pushed me to want to be better and everything I did while he also kept me rolling on a constant basis. There was truly only one Mike Ferschke, well and a little one. Mike's son lives in Okinawa Japan with his mother and they visit family often.
MSgt Aaron Torian What can you say about the man who can do it all? The fighter, father, husband, brother, construction worker, and I think he was even an eagle scout. If he wasn't he would have given them kids a run for their money. I am not sure there is another human being on this planet that could outwork "T". On the Forward Operating Base he was the first one up and the last one to go down. You would never see him without a hammer or some tool in his hand making shit happen. Not only did he make an impact overseas but he impacted an entire community, town, or wherever he went. His legacy has made ripples through our community and will do so for years to come.
These are just a few of the Heros that I will honor today and because of their sacrifice I will hug my daughters tighter and give them more of my love. Every day of life is a blessing and I cherish each and every one of them to my last.