Those of you who have read my columns regularly know how I feel about our military. I am in awe of what they do. They are, as I have expressed before, “Freedoms Heroes.”
Today I want to pay a personal tribute to one such hero. Of course, the name I’ll use is a person that I have a special relationship with; however, you can substitute any name or names you wish to, for this is dedicated to all of our heroes who serve this country with pride, honor and a dignity that comes not from a boast but from a job so very well done.
Back in the day, Saturday Night Live did a very funny skit that was a take-off of the “Be All You Can Be” advertising campaign. It was a new slogan and ad campaign back then and it showed our military doing what they do best, what we expect, what we want in a parade, a newsreel or to hear on the subject of a loved one serving from any point on the globe. The parody by those comic clowns of the airwaves played the theme of the slogan but instead of the rousing and moving images of our heroes in full gear protecting America it showed other heroes engaged in what is generally considered less heroic work, like scraping paint, peeling an endless amount of potatoes and cleaning a line of toilets with seats at attention.
Tongue-in-cheek and not in any way disrespectful, the piece however inadvertently alerted us all to another aspect of the military, which is that not everyone in the military is on the front lines. No, there are those men and women who may or may not ever see combat. They are the men and women who we don’t see, who we don’t know about but who are still “Freedoms Heroes” dedicating their lives to our defense. So today, because it is my column, I get to mention one such hero – my brother, Colonel Jerrold N. Flyer, Air Force (nearly retired).
My brother grew up to become a doctor, a surgeon actually. (I was supposed to grow up and become a lawyer but I never quite grew up – but that is another column on another day). Today he is a decorated man, a Full Bird Colonel, a manager, a life saver, a diplomat… yes I could go on, but space is limited. He recently returned from Kyrgyzstan where everything he ever was came to an amazing conclusion of accomplishments, as he became not just a doctor and an administrator running the hospital for our troops (his co-heroes), but where he became a diplomat as well.
Now, every soldier is a diplomat, to be certain, but on top of being diplomatic he became a point man of diplomacy working with the local government (both sets of them — he was there for the coup). He showed this host country that houses the United States Transit Base named “Manas,” a key point for our efforts in Afghanistan, that this great country of ours is not a military force for power but rather a military force for good in the world. That men and women who come armed also come with arms full of hope and less esoterically, supplies, ideas and information. The photos he sent back of the people he worked with were amazing, and Jerry, I could not have been prouder. I know without survey that every American is just as proud as I am.
Jerry never saw combat, but he served nonetheless. Now after thirty years he faces mandatory retirement (anybody need a hospital run? – this is the guy to do it). He is humble about it, proud but private, so this column is going to embarrass him and I will no doubt receive a certain amount of… umm… let’s politely say… groaning for doing it. Well tough, Bro, I think you deserve a shout out – so live with it. Live with it because I am proud of our men and women in uniform, and that includes you.
So thank you, Jerry, and to all of you serving our country out there who don’t know from glamour or a reporter interviewing them but who everyday step up without hesitation to be the shield that protects us, the armor that stands up to the blows meant for all of us and whom are patriots of the highest order.
Lloyd E. Flyer is a freelance writer and may be contacted through “The Tolucan Times” or at Alternateangle@pacbell.net