December 28; Who Delivers The News Of The Ultimate Sacrifice?
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

twitterlinkedin

28 December

For God so loved the world

that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish

but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Who Delivers The News Of The Ultimate Sacrifice?

Award

Back in the day of the horse cavalry, Your Business Professor was privileged to be a Survival Assistance Officer helping families who lost a service member. As a young Cavalry Officer, I commanded a number of burial details. The part that hurt and still moves in slow motion in my mind’s eye, is handing the tri-folded American flag to the widow.

I never cried at these funerals. I was too young. It was a task, a detail that had to be done.

But my job was easy compared to some assignments: Death Notifications. I never had to deliver the news of the lost son to the next of kin.

Lt Col George Goodson, USMC (Ret) tells the story of sacrifice,

MY FIRST NOTIFICATION

My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.

*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.

*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.

*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Copper of (address.)

The father looked at me-I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The storeowner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the storeowner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.

THE FUNERALS

Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation.” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

A trifolded flag is in a case in our living room. It is an award for service rendered.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

###

American Sailors and United States Marines at War and Peace: Navy Sea Stories and Marine Corps Legacies By Donald Johnson Burial at Sea by Lt Col George Goodson, USMC (Ret) courtesy of USNA At Large,

twitterlinkedinyoutube

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *