[RangerAgainstWar is back from holiday. We're just gaining our traction, kind of like Wile E. Coyote, so we will begin at the end, with one of our final visits in Georgia to Ranger's friend and associate, Col. Paul Longgrear (ret'd).]
Col. Longgrear's name has popped up throughout our travels. Ranger's cousin John mentioned a History Channel program he'd just viewed on Lang Vei, the action in which Paul earned his Silver Star. "I don't see how those guys survived", said Cousin John, a former Marine. Paul's name also surfaced organic to a recent post @ Milpub. Lisa has a mad crush on him (and holds his straight-shooting wife Patty in equally high regard; it is always a pleasure to meet a couple who hold each other in such high esteem), so it just seems appropriate.
Paul is a representative of his generation, as iconic as LT. Dick Winters in the film Band of Brothers. He was just that kind of soldier and leader, representing another generation that answered the call to arms. Paul is well-chosen as our symbolic representative.
We discussed how we've now passed into history, and how Vietnam is now become a "big thing". Paul shared that he had delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Lang Vei combat medic James Leslie Moreland earlier this month. (Moreland's remains were positively identified in Vietnam 43 years after the action in which Longgrear had commanded him.)
How to describe an era which still cannot be adequately summated? Ranger has known Vietnam Medal of Honor winners Bob Howard, drunk with Franklin "Doug" Miller and associated with Jon Caviani, and in his estimation, Paul walks as tall as any of those heroes.
Heroism is a trait which runs through the thread of a man, and Paul has demonstrated it repeatedly and characteristically throughout his life, both as a soldier and as a man of God. He is an inspiration. For all the men we as a nation have left behind in our forced march of life, it is a good thing that men like Paul have led the way.
Paul and his family will return to Vietnam after Christmas holidays to participate in a documentary which will cover the spiritual effects of that conflict upon those involved. Honorable soldiering, humanity and genuine humility -- these traits describe Paul Longgrear, and can even affect a cynical friend like Ranger.
The day we came through his neck of the woods he had just returned from celebrating his mother's 90th birthday with her. Ranger raises his cup to you, Paul, and wishes you many happy returns,
Not-a-snowball's-chance-in-hell Ranger Hall of Famer,