|1LT Dustin Vincent, American hero|
I met Dustin in January of 2010 at Ft.Sill, Oklahoma. We were in the same platoon of thirty-some 2nd Lieutenants from the Army and Marine Corps that were going through the United States Army Field Artillery Basic Officer Course. For four months we endured death by PowerPoint and instructors that instilled in us an attention to detail that would make Steve Jobs look like a laid-back surfer dude. Upon graduation in April we went our separate ways: I went to Hawaii and Dustin, a Texas native, went to Ft. Riley, Kansas, to serve in the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, part of the 1st Infantry Division, also known as "The Big Red One."
Fast forward to November 2011. I was in the eighth-month of a one year deployment to Afghanistan and a unit from the 101st Airborne Division had just arrived in country and been attached to my battalion for operational purposes. One of the platoon leaders in this unit, Adam, had been in the same platoon as Dustin and myself back at Ft. Sill. It was in an e-mail conversation with Adam that I first learned that Dustin had been killed a few days earlier.
Its an odd-feeling to stand in formation with 3,000 other Soldiers during the brigade's deployment ceremony and know that not everybody standing there will be coming home. My brigade spent a year in one of the ugliest and most dangerous places in Eastern Afghanistan, right on the Pakistan border. My battalion suffered some wounded-in-action but thankfully everybody made it home safely. Our sister battalions were not so fortunate: twenty members of our ohana fell in battle. I did not know any of these men personally like I knew Dustin but they were all brothers-in-arms and their loss was no less significant.
On this Memorial Day whether you are currently in the service, retired, or a civilian, take the time to remember those who went to war for our country in foreign lands and did not come back home to their families and friends. Freedom is not free.