I just returned from the celebration of life of Private First Class James Fleet McClamrock. Here I sit on my couch, I am out of my Class A uniform. My jacket lays on the couch and my pants are on the floor. I’m relaxing with the tv set to ESPN and some high school football game is on. I’ve already made plans to go drink some beers tonight with a friend.
My life keeps on ticking. PFC McClamrock stopped going forward last week. A broken mom and dad sat on the first row. A sister with not enough memories of her brother hugged their mom. A beautiful young wife, already a widow. A gold star wife sat at the end of next to mom. She sat closes to her husband, a brother, a son, a friend, a fallen soldier. The brass and big stripes came out in force to pay their respects.
A one star spoke very eloquently about the young hero who laid under the Stars and Stripes. You could hear the broken hearts as they silently cried. All the old timers on Harleys were outside. Patrolling the sidewalks and entrance to the place of celebration. They’ve been on many patrols before in the jungles of Vietnam, on the sands of the desert during the first Gulf War. Here they were patrolling the concrete jungle of Concord, NC.
I don’t know who PFC McClamrock was. I read the news bout the troops-in-contact last week. It stated that there were 2 KIA and 9 wounded. It broke my heart because I too stood on the same piece of ground before. I know what its like to hold my position and stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers. I don’t need to know McClamrock to feel the hurt that his lost means. We are brothers. All of us that have done our time across the pond are brothers and sisters and we hurt together.
I sat in the balcony of the church with the overflow of people who came to pay their respects. There were friends and family members there with me in the back of the church. We watched from a birds eye view as people spoke about James. I looked at the bracelet on my left hand with the name of my friend SPC Michael J. Crutchfield who died in Iraq and in my arms. The Lieutenant Colonel in the back row also had a bracelet with the name of the 4 soldiers that were KIA last year and he too looked at it and rubbed it. I attended one of the funerals for one of the 4 men he lost. We looked at our bracelets as we remembered those soldiers that we lost that were our friends. I couldn’t help but think that a mother, father, sister and wife were now going to have a bracelet of James. Countless others there will also very soon receive their very own bracelet with James name on it.
We are all members of a special and privileged club that no one dares dream about joining. We have in common that we’ve lost someone in combat. We’ve had the honor of knowing a true hero.
His dad said that there are two appointments that we as humans will never be late for. The appointment to being born and the the last appointment, our death. Private First Class James Fleet McClamrock. You have met both appointments that we can not be late for. The second appointment came sooner than it needed too. I do not know you nor will I have the privilege of knowing you. Sadly, your time with us has stopped. When I look at my braclet every day and rub it for comfort, I will think not only of my friend Crutch, but I will also think of you. The new local hometown hero. Sadly, you won’t be the last. None the less, your memory will live on forever. I’ll drink one in your honor tonight.
Rest In Peace my brother. Go easy.