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The Cost of Being a Hero

Recently on The Scuttlebutt we talked about Sergeant Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne being awarded the Medal of Honor for his part in a 2015 raid to free Iraqi hostages held by ISIS in northern Iraq. His story can be viewed HERE

Sgt. Maj. Payne entered a burning building and exposed himself to fire while freeing the hostages. Of the Medal of Honor, he said, “I don’t consider myself a recipient of this medal. I consider myself a guardian of this medal. What’s important for me is that my teammates’ legacies will live on with this medal of honor.” 

Patrick was referring to teammate, Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, who was killed in action during the “no fail” mission. “No fail,” meaning the mission was critical and failure was not an option.  

We tend to label the servicemen and women who receive the Medal of Honor, Service Crosses, or Silver Star as heroes but what we might miss is the cost associated with that honor. VBC Afghanistan veteran John Hawes said about his Silver Star, “You don’t want this. Nobody wants this. You get this because something really, really terrible happened.” 

Patrick and John are heroes but not simply because of their battlefield valor. What struck me most about Patrick was his answer when asked what the hardest thing he ever had to do in the military was. He said, “deploy as a father.” Over his 17 deployments in the last 18 years, Patrick has deployed as a single soldier, a married soldier, and now as a father of three. His wife Alison, a Blue Star wife, is just as much a hero as Patrick. When Patrick is deployed, Alison works, cares for the children, and the household. She emotionally and physically supports Patrick, who credits her with saving his career after he was injured in Afghanistan. “She got me on my feet, got my knee bending again,” he said. 

For every service member who goes to war, several more deploy in spirit. Blue Star families and Gold Star families deserve just as much recognition for their sacrifices as our service members. They watch as their husbands, mothers, uncles, or cousins leave the safety of their home to risk their lives entering burning buildings or leading dangerous patrols through foreign mountains.

We need to hear the stories of our service member’s families, too!

Join us this week as we discuss the potential closing of Parris Island and San Diego, the risks and benefits of joining the military, what is a gedunk, and how many Ripits is too many Ripits?