Where in the World?
As we read this account of Jeff’s whereabouts, he is either in flight towards the west coast of Africa and specifically the country of Nigeria, or he’s already there. This being a four-post stop, it will be a lengthy one. At least the beer will be flowing in Frankfurt when he gets there. Jeff will make stops in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria.
Check out the State Departments Web Sites for info on our role in Nigeria, Frankfurt and Moscow, his stops along the way.
Did you know that Nigeria was Africa’s most populous Country? Do you know how many countries there are in Africa? Check it out @: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African_countries_by_population
A Toast – To a fallen graduate
It is a sad and beautiful thing to watch news pass between graduates in sync or even before the news. In a world where we are all connected and yet apart, it gives us a space to grieve with others in a unique way. People take shots and post the pictures of empty glasses and the rest of us understand.
This week, August 25, 2015, a 2010 graduate from my school was killed in a Green on Blue attack in Afghanistan. Just typing that is shocking to myself. When you go to a military school or when you even just join the military, they always talk about the “ultimate sacrifice” but it always feels more like a myth for some of us than a reality. And it is true, we have far less deaths in war now than in past wars, and in the Air Force in particular we tend to be less directly in harm’s way than our Army/Marine brothers but it does not make it any less real when it does happen.
Too often I have seen my Facebook page littered with the status updates “a toast” – a way to honor the fallen. Whether it is from a training accident, a suicide, or combat, it is always shocking and saddening to me. I believe the last name placed on the USAFA Graduate Memorial Wall – a wall that contains names of all graduates killed as a result of hostile action during a state of military conflict – was Capt David Lyon, Class of ’08, killed near Kabul, Afghanistan by an IED in December 2013. I know our fellow West Point graduates have far more recent names than us.
I have yet to have anyone close to me pass in these manners but these names are not lost on me either. These are men and women I went to school with, a relatively small school, where even if you didn’t know someone, you probably knew of them – especially in the classes directly above and below you. I didn’t know Matthew, but I know many people who did. I feel for him and his family right now, as does everyone in the Long Blue Line.
One of the most memorable formations at the Academy was the one we had every year for the graduates that have passed that year. The next time they have this formation, among the names of the graduates dating all the way back to our first graduating class who have passed, they will call for Capt Matthew Roland. And they will respond “Absent, Sir.” I can only hope that each cadet will dwell just a second longer on that name, and what that means for each of them as they graduate.
I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this. In a way, I feel like I can humanize this for others. People may see articles “2 Killed in Afghanistan” and skim them, pass over them, or not really be affected by them. Maybe they will read this instead and pause for a moment instead and think of my fellow classmate.
LT Samantha Berthiaume – Davies is a 2012 graduate of the USAFA on active duty and a 01%’ER. She is also our traveler in Nigeria’s daughter and my granddaughter. – There is a good article over on Blogspot, my old home I might add. The Blog is by Sgt. Eric Williams, a Military blogger. Check out the following if interested. http://theonepercenters.blogspot.com/