Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day Tribute

After only four days into his first tour of duty in Iraq, on Valentine's Day 2005, young 1LT Daniel Burch Anton, an Army Ranger Platoon Leader, witnessed the death of his closest friend, SFC Dave Salie, a legendary Army Ranger. As Dave's Commanding Officer, it became incumbent upon Dan, who was, himself, only 24 years of age, to deliver Dave's eulogy before the 17, 18, and 19 year old kids of his command.

Operation Iraqi Freedom suddenly became a nightmarish reality, a war with heart-wrenching consequences. Baptized in Grief, all the boys of Bayonet 2-69 became men the day Dave Salie died. In that day; they became "Warriors."

Four months later, in June 2005, Dan was called upon to deliver another difficult eulogy. The day before Fathers Day, he had lost another of his closest friends, 23 years old 2LT Noah Harris, a Georgia "Bulldog," a scholar, All-State Wrestler and Football Player, whose achievements and accomplishments had him on the fast track to becoming, one day, Governor of the State of Georgia - perhaps beyond.

Both euolgies are reproduced here to honor these beautiful boys this Memorial Day—two of our Sons of America who marched so bravely, so trustingly, into the "Valley of the Shadow of Death."

Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

Eulogy for SFC David J. Salie
by 1LT Dan Anton, 22 Feb 05

SFC David J. Salie was killed by an IED, Improvised Explosive Device, Valentine's Day, February 14, 2005, Baqubah, Iraq.

"I’d like to read to you a quote by Samuel Johnson: 'It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.'

Anyone who has ever met Sergeant Salie could immediately tell what a great American and strong leader he was. His physical demeanor was only dwarfed by his Warrior spirit. When I first met Sergeant Salie I had no idea he was going to be my Platoon Sergeant. We were a brand new company at the time just trying to get off the ground. When the two of us were eventually paired up I only hoped that we could establish a solid, professional relationship. What I found, however, was more than just any platoon sergeant. He was a professional, a mentor, a confidante, and a friend.

The two of us would often talk in our office…or his office as he liked to point out to me. 'Platoon Leader’s don’t have offices, you’re just renting here.' he would say. It was during these talks that I realized Sergeant Salie’s heart was even bigger than he was. He spoke quite often of his wife and kids and it was very obvious what a great husband and loving father he was.

He also spoke of his experiences from prior deployments and there was no other choice but to admire him for the type of person he was. Sergeant Salie had the role of a family man and the spirit of a true patriot. He embodied what the Warrior Ethos truly means. Serving our great country is what he loved to do. If there was ever a mission where he had to stay back he would always try to find a way to come along.

It wasn’t long ago that Sergeant Salie kept asking me about being able to get out and do some combat patrols. He never liked it when he had to stay behind. On one of the patrols that only I was going on he said, 'If you can’t take me as a platoon sergeant what if I’m your RTO?' (Radio Telephone Operator)

Sergeant Salie loved being in the fight and there was no one better for the job. He was truly a soldier of God fighting the good fight.

Many things entered my mind after seeing what happened to Sergeant Salie on that fateful day, but one thought that stuck out was the thought of how I was going to fight this fight without him here by my side and how would his family get along without him? It wasn’t ‘till later that I realized I wouldn’t be fighting it without him because I know he’ll be watching over us just as he’ll be watching over his family.

I’m sure right now he’s getting tired of watching and he’s bugging God to let him come back here so he can get back in the fight which he loved so much.
God bless you Sergeant Salie and God Bless your family. We’re all going to miss you."

Eulogy for 2LT Noah Harris
By 1LT Daniel B. Anton, 25 June 05

2LT Noah Harris was killed by an RPG, Rocket Propelled Grenade, June 18, 2005, Baqubah, Iraq.

"Anyone who knew Lieutenant Harris would tell you that he had an addictive personality. He was the type of guy who could walk into a room not knowing anyone and come out being everyone’s friend. He was more than just a friendly guy, though. He was also dedicated in everything that he did. He was dedicated to his profession, the mission, his family and friends, and to his men.

I remember back to when Noah first came to 2-69. The other Lieutenants in the Company commented that it would be funny if he ended up coming to Bayonet so that he could give me some competition in the gym. They would kid with me about that constantly until I think I almost started to not like Noah before I even met him.

Eventually Noah did end up coming to Bayonet Company and we were lucky to have him. What I found in Noah was more than just a fellow Lieutenant or a gym partner. He was a true friend, whose ideals and morals were in line with my own. We bonded instantly and became close friends. We shared many good times together. I always remember being in a good mood when he was around. He seemed to have that effect on everyone around him.

Noah came from a very supportive and loving family, and I know that had a great influence on the man he was. He was the epitome of quiet professionalism; always being modest while possessing all the tools needed of a great leader. I know he conducted his personal life in the same way he did his professional life. He was always selfless and eager to help others. He was the first person who came to me after losing SFC David J. Salie and offered to be there if I ever wanted to talk. That was just the type of person Noah was.

When I first heard that Noah had passed I was overcome with anger. I couldn’t understand why someone with so much potential and youth was taken from us. I know he would have been great at whatever he wanted to do. His drive was limitless and his dedication was unmatched. That is why he was such a great Platoon Leader who always led from the front. He earned the respect of every single man in his platoon and they were willing to follow him anywhere.

I trust that in all things God has a plan, whether we understand that plan or not. I know that Noah Harris was doing something he truly believed in. He knew the risks of this profession and yet he remained intrepid in the face of danger.

It would be selfish of me to want Noah back here with us because I know he is in a better place. His spirit is still with us though, and he will be a guardian on our shoulders. Luckily, Lieutenant Harris will now have Sergeant Salie to keep him squared away.

Thank you Noah for being the great man that you were, and for being my friend. You will always be in my prayers. I will miss you Lieutenant Noah Harris, My Brother in Arms."

PrayFor Our Soldiers Still Fighting This War

Also, let us never forget the 50,000 Heroes whose names are carved upon The Wall in Washington, D.C. Please follow the link below:
50,000 Names Carved In The Wall