Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Pentagon Letter

Five years ago I sent this letter to the Pentagon. My dad is now 90 years old and very frail...

----- Original Message -----

To: <>

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2003 12:11 PM

Subject: General Air Force Information

To whom it may concern:

I wanted to send this letter to the Base Commander at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma - but I can't find a name or address so I am sending the letter to this address hoping someone will pass it along.

April 7, 2003

Commander Vance Air Force Base

Enid, OK.

Dear Sir,
I want to share with you a long over due word of gratitude for an occurrence at your front gate on January 11, 2002 and express a word of appreciation to an unknown Airman under your command who was on guard duty that afternoon.

My dad had been in failing health and was hospitalized in Alva, Oklahoma on Christmas morning 2001. He was 84 years old at the time. He stayed at the hospital five days and remained in frail health for a while after returning home.

My dad is a retired Marine . . . so they use the retirement benefits allotted to them, which includes the use of Vance Air Force Base Pharmacy, Commissary and BX in Enid, Oklahoma. My sister and I drove my folks to Enid for groceries and medicine on that Friday afternoon.

We arrived at the Vance AFB gate about 1 pm. The guard at the gate walked up to the car as I stopped. Dad was sitting on the far side of the backseat. I told the Airman that my father was retired military and passed him dad's military ID. The Airman took the ID . . . read it and raised a salute. Looking at my dad directly and intently he said, "United States Marine Corp (Hoo-Wah) Sir!" And the moment was over. No one in the car, not even my dad, had noticed anything except that we had been saluted onto the base. Which was the normal occurrence.

Here's what I saw: My frail and failing father in the backseat . . . and a young, strong and proudly patriotic Airman at the base gate. The I.D passed to this young Airman . . . he snapped to attention with a crisp salute . . . and in one moment he gave recognition to the meaning behind that I.D. and the years of service it represented: "United States Marine Corp!" and then slightly under his breath, respectfully but conspiratorially - a brother in arms, he gave the low guttural, "Hoo - Wah", then the louder, "Sir!" This Airman did not see a frail old man, he saw an old warrior and paid due respect. I was moved . . .

Dad is now 85 and doing better and has resumed some of his interests. But I don't think I will ever be the same. It has occurred to me since then that being from a military family I should have been more aware of what it cost my dad to be a Marine.

All of my life I have heard dad's "war stories" about Hawaii, the South Pacific and Korea. I never tire of the often-repeated stories - they are a part of the fabric of our family life. But now I have a renewed sense of what those stories represent - thanks to one lone Airman standing his post.

Patti _______

Alva, OK.


One day, 8 months later, I received this email from Vance Air Force Base:

Dec 4, 2003


I have finally got the chance to reply to you in regards to a letter that you sent some time ago to the pentagon. The letter you wrote not only touched my heart, it has touched many, many more. This letter came from the pentagon to the whole Air Force, then to my command, and finally to my base. I have received many emails of appreciation through out the world as far as England. I can only thank you finally for your words that symbolize the sacrifices that ALL US Soldiers and Airmen alike have contributed to make this nation free. I feel that I did not deserve such praise for doing my job on that day. But, your letter not only spoke to me, it made our entire command section tear up as well. I am extremely honored to have received such praise from your beautiful words, Thank you for sending your words, and it was an honor to meet your father. For my father was a United States Marine as well. SEMPER FI Ma'am, and my God Speed.

Thank you

MICHAEL _______

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