SOLDIER STORIES: Serendipity.

third-round-charm:

I was sitting in Fort Knox pharmacy today, waiting to have a prescription filled. I sat down by an old man and started reading a book, because the room was packed; I knew my order would take a while. It was a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte.

I’d barely gotten two paragraphs into my bookmarked spot when the old man tapped my knee and said, “Napoleon was a pussy and a fool, ya know that? But of course he was French, so you can’t expect much to begin with.”

I instantly liked the guy. I put my book down and started talking with him about random nonsense. Gas prices, politics, blah blah blah. It wasn’t for a good 30 minutes that we finally got around to introducing ourselves and talking about branches of service. Turns out this guy was none other than Charles Christensen. One of the 12 remaining survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack.

I was blown away. I asked him the questions I’m sure he’s been asked millions of times over by now, and he answered them like it was the first time he’d heard them. He was such an awesome guy, and the stories he told blew my mind. And the way he told them… it was amazing. We talked for a good two hours about everything. Not just the massacre at Pearl Harbor that he witnessed first hand, and fought in… but everything. Life, death, my own medical issues, weather…

By the time it came to part ways, I asked him for his autograph. He seemed shocked, and kind of stammered, “You… you want my autograph?” It’s easily the coolest thing I’ve gotten in a long time. I’m meeting him for lunch next week. I can’t wait to hear what else he has to say. He even wrote “Good luck”

Remembering the fallen.
Capt. Andy Stewart, 15th Wing commander’s action group, places an American flag and handmade lei at the top of a gravesite at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu. Stewart, and nine other volunteers placed 92 flags among the 34,000 gravesites on the grounds of the cemetery to honor the men who lost their lives at Hickam Field Dec. 7, 1941. Stewart cleaned debris from each of the gravesites he placed a marker and saluted each airman.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares, 2 DEC 2012.) High-res

Remembering the fallen.

Capt. Andy Stewart, 15th Wing commander’s action group, places an American flag and handmade lei at the top of a gravesite at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu. Stewart, and nine other volunteers placed 92 flags among the 34,000 gravesites on the grounds of the cemetery to honor the men who lost their lives at Hickam Field Dec. 7, 1941. Stewart cleaned debris from each of the gravesites he placed a marker and saluted each airman.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares, 2 DEC 2012.)

A day that will live in infamy.

Master Sgt. Kevin Taggerty, 735th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft maintenance unit non-commissioned officer in charge, and daughter Ryah, 14, searches for gravesites of those who were killed at Hickam Field, Dec. 7, 1941, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Ten volunteers used a roster to identify the locations at the cemetery and placed 92 flags.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares, 2 DEC 2012.)

Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Sterling R. Cale, 90-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor, takes a moment in the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial to honor the 1,177 service members who lost their lives during the attack on the USS Arizona Dec. 7, 1941. Cale along with active duty military and civilian leaders gathered at the USS Arizona Memorial for the 50th anniversary commemoration ceremony in Honolulu, Hawaii. The memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1962. Since its construction, the memorial has stood as a place to remember the tragedy, and honor the dead.
(Photo by Tech Sergeant Michael Holzworth, 27 May 2012 via DVIDS.) High-res

Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Sterling R. Cale, 90-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor, takes a moment in the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial to honor the 1,177 service members who lost their lives during the attack on the USS Arizona Dec. 7, 1941. Cale along with active duty military and civilian leaders gathered at the USS Arizona Memorial for the 50th anniversary commemoration ceremony in Honolulu, Hawaii. The memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1962. Since its construction, the memorial has stood as a place to remember the tragedy, and honor the dead.

(Photo by Tech Sergeant Michael Holzworth, 27 May 2012 via DVIDS.)

Listen to the past, and understand the future.
Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors aboard USS Pearl Harbor stand in formation during a 70th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
(Photo by Corporal Tommy Huynh, 7 December 2011.)
High-res

Listen to the past, and understand the future.

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors aboard USS Pearl Harbor stand in formation during a 70th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

(Photo by Corporal Tommy Huynh, 7 December 2011.)