Today is July 17, 2013, or 7-17, simply put.
Maybe this day means nothing to you. It’s just another day. It’s another day to live and breathe and move about. July 17th used to be that for me – not a significant day. None of my loved ones had a birthday (that I know of), nothing of distinction happened to me (that I remember).
But for twenty United States soldiers, this day is significant. July 17th is the anniversary of a miracle – where it seemed they had an appointment with doom, and the Grim Reaper had come to call.
It happened four years ago in the Watapur Valley of Afghanistan. Sixteen men went on a foot patrol, guns at the ready, and unbeknownst to them, they were being watched. Insurgents were hiding behind rocks and boulders above them, waiting patiently for them to enter the valley so they could close in around them. They wanted to capture at least one alive for God-knows-what, and the others would die swiftly. Young men, barely into their twenties, were walking into a death trap.
The first bullet was sent, and the barrage of deadly weapon fire began, quickly wounding three of the sixteen, one hit in the abdomen. Death was near.
The battle touched off the fate of four more men, older soldiers who had been working all night, gathering wounded from other areas in Afghanistan. These men were aboard a Medevac helicopter, and had the choice to intervene. At least one life depended on them, but they faced the reality they may have to give up their own.
July 17th, 2009, will live in the thoughts and minds of all twenty of these men. Though the chances were slim to none because of the circumstances, all twenty survived the battle. The men on the ground, the helicopter crew that flew in SIX times in the middle of unbelievable weapon fire, and the medic who dared to be hoisted down a thin cable into the fire to gather not three, but five men who could’ve perished in that valley.
That medic is wearing a beautiful navy blue Cavalry Stetson today in honor of the memory. If you see him, thank him.
There are many dates that mark the appearing of death: June 6, 1944. December 5, 1941. September 11, 2001. Many succumbed despite the efforts of the brave. But others did not because a brother or sister stepped in, overcoming fear with courage, and in heroic moments, laid it all on the line. They are living proof that from the battlefields from Afghanistan and Iraq to our cities and counties here in the States – there are courageous warriors who are willing to step up, step in, and live to commemorate dates like 7-17.
Note: This story is recounted in detail in Selfish Prayer, a book due to be released in August 2013 through Amazon.com.