I read this tonight and my first thought was I needed to share it with everyone I know. Why Operation One Voice? Now you will know, thank you Mr. Larremore.... Tom, Jr.
“Suffer in Silence”
By G. Larremore
“Don’t complain”, “Grin and bear it”, “Suck it up”. We have all heard one version or another. For me, I was introduced to the concept by a Marine Corps drill instructor. He knew when one of his recruits was suffering…he just didn’t need to hear about it. For many years, I thought I understood what it meant to “tough it out” when I was hurt or in a difficult situation, and to an extent, I did. Then, six years ago, I was introduced to some people who showed me what those sayings meant, on an entirely new level. A good friend of mine gave me the opportunity to get involved with Operation One Voice. OOV, as the organization is known, is a small non-profit group that raises money to support Special Operation Forces and their families. When one of these elite soldiers, sailors or Marines is injured or killed, it brings terrible hardship on the families and OOV does what it can to ease their burdens. Why have we focused on “Special Forces”? Because these are the people who do the extremely dangerous jobs no one ever hears about. Special Ops members are in harm’s way, war or no war. They accomplish amazing things under the most difficult circumstances and often receive no thanks or recognition. OOV strives to be the ‘911’ response when things go wrong on one of those missions.
Over the last six years, I have had the true honor of meeting some of America’s real unsung heroes. From the widows and suddenly fatherless children, to the severely injured troops, I have been humbled by the willing sacrifice and “guts” they have demonstrated. While many Americans enjoy the freedoms of life in the United States, complaining about the wait at a favorite restaurant or the latte that wasn’t made to their precise specifications…Special Ops families spend extended periods of time separated from their loved ones. The troops are confident in their ability to accomplish their missions and keep deadly threats away from the soundly sleeping population of the U.S. The families spend that time praying for the safety of their loved one, often knowing nothing about where they are or how long they will be there. Some never see their loved ones again.
Watching a young child clutching an American flag, or gazing with a child’s eyes at a marble marker with their father’s name engraved on it, tends to change the way you view your own difficulties. Talking with a soldier who has been seriously wounded, and who considers it his duty to recover and get back into the fight, brings new meaning to tenacity. Four of these elite warriors will forever stand as an inspiration to fight on, even under the most difficult circumstances. The first one is a former Green Beret, one of the original ones. He served in Korea and Vietnam, where he received eight purple hearts and was at one point stripped of his clothing and equipment by Chinese soldiers who thought he was dead. He recovered from his injuries and went on to be one of the United States preeminent terrorist hunters. At almost eighty years of age, he still maintains a humble demeanor and is occasionally called on to assist his former employers. The second, who I now consider a friend, is an Army Ranger who was shot in the leg while serving in Iraq. He recovered and returned to Iraq, where he was injured by an insurgent grenade attack. He saved his own life by applying a tourniquet to his mangled arm, while a teammate tried to stop the bleeding from his right leg…which he ultimately had amputated. This intrepid Ranger faced a long and difficult recovery, but returned to full combat jump status, with a prosthetic leg. He redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, leading a squad of Rangers and was injured by shrapnel during a firefight there. Not even out of his twenties, he has shown more dedication and courage than most people will over the course of a lifetime. The third is a Navy Seal who was shot twice in the arm and once in the face with a heavy machine gun during a battle in Afghanistan. He suffered disabling injuries to his arm and his face was virtually destroyed. He posted a sign on his hospital room door warning visitors not to pity him, because he didn’t pity himself. When I first met him, he had no nose and the rest of his face was marred by scars. He exuded such a positive attitude, I found it easy to forget he was disfigured. After many surgeries, he maintains his optimism and has started a small non-profit that also raises money for wounded warriors. The most recent hero to remind me of the true meaning of “Suffer in Silence” is a Recon Marine. This Marine was hit by an IED in Afghanistan. He lost his legs, a hand and was burned over 99% of his body…a two inch wide strip under his belt was the only uninjured area. After languishing in a coma for several months, with medical statistics and doctors predicting he would die, the Marine began responding to stimulus. Stunned, physicians determined his brain was not damaged and his mind was intact. He is currently undergoing intensive physical therapy and is considered the most severely wounded service member ever to survive his injuries.
During the 6th Special Operations Forces run in early November, I had the honor of meeting and getting to know one of the Recon Marine’s teammates. I listened to the tall, quiet Recon Marine veteran as he talked about his friend and brother in arms. As he talked, describing the bonds forged during the many dangerous missions they completed, tears ran down his cheeks. He tried his best not to break down as he described the suffering endured by his fellow Marine, but ultimately had to pause, unable to speak. When he spoke again, he made a statement that struck a chord in my heart and committed me to involvement in OOV for as long as it is needed. To paraphrase; He said that although Special Ops may go into harm’s way, out of sight and mind of the American public, those soldiers, sailors and Marines go willingly into danger knowing there are police officers and firefighters keeping their families safe at home. He said he and his fellow Special Operations Forces soldiers take comfort in knowing that they and their families will be cared for if the worst ever occurs. I believe it is the responsibility of all of us living in relative comfort at home to support those who serve and suffer in silence, whether or not we agree with the reason for the fight…but I’m a little biased.