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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Belated Mother's Day Post

The relationship between mothers and deployed servicemen and women can be.... difficult. I remember one of my midshipmen telling me how enthusiastic his mother was about his ambition to fly jets, until she watched an extremely realistic documentary about the inherent dangers of flying high performance jet fighters in the US Navy; she became much *less* enthusiastic after that, although I'm sure she was still supportive. I can only imagine the swirl of emotions surrounding someone in a front-line ground combat position. 1st Lt. Barrett's passing was only more poignant, coming as it did so close to Mother's Day.

That being said, as long as the profession of arms exists, those under arms will have to try to explain to those they leave behind why they are where they are. The explanations may or may not be adequate, depending on their circumstance, but the best example I've seen from any war is the following Letter by an Army Platoon Leader in Korea, COL (RET) David R. Hughes, who went on to become a 2004 Distinguished West Point Graduate. The letter is too good to be properly excerpted--it ranges from pride in one's professional competence to ruminations on the motivations of one's battlefield opponents to both the challenges and the rewards of small unit command.

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