Remembering the Fallen

Today we are featuring the telling of a story by a man that I (Julie) worked with a few years ago. He served his country in the U.S. Air Force. Recently he posted this on Facebook and I found it both   touching and inspiring. I think so many of us forget many of the things our men and women in uniform go through. This story is a story of tragedy, remembrance and honoring. We must not forget the sacrifices they have made. Please say a little prayer tonight for the brave men of Yukla-27

Peace,

Julie

Yukla Memorial yukla memorial 3

 

We’re Going Down.’
The last three words spoken by Yukla-27’s Aircraft Commander Skip Rogers and the same three words that will haunt me forever.
Eighteen years ago today, September 22, 1995, the world lost 24 of the finest men to ever pull on a flight suit. They were friends, family, co-workers, and most of all…..they were professionals!
I had the honor to fly with each and every one of them and knew several both as friends and fellow airborne warriors. Ernie Parrish worked for me in the Area Specialist shop at the 381st and was a fast burner in the making. He always had a smile for everyone and his return from his first flight was a dousing that will live in infamy! Anyone who was at Elmendorf AFB that morning had to have been touched in a way that can never be forgotten…..I know I was. The horror, the smoke, the sounds of sirens coming from every direction, and knowing that there was not a miracle left in the world big enough to change the outcome of that crash. To lose so many, so quickly, brings back the tears that never go away. The pain of the loss the never seems to lessen.
Everyone did everything right in the aftermath of that horrible day….culminating with a Memorial Service that will never be forgotten. I have a tape of that service…..but it is one tape that I will never watch…..I don’t think I could handle it emotionally. Just writing this requires multiple stoppages to clear the tears and to take that long cleansing breath that never seems to cleanse.
Elmendorf AFB built a beautiful memorial to the crew and I have had the honor to visit that memorial site many times in the last eighteen years, including my latest visit this year. Each time it is just as beautiful and the trees are that much taller…..and the pain remains and the tears flow. Tears that mark the loss, and the sadness of the loss, of so many friends…..so many professionals. Elmendorf built the site by the Eagle House…..a place for rescued Bald Eagles who have been injured and can no longer fly. It is so fitting to have them there….for the YUKLA callsign (that means Eagle)…..and to have them watching over our loved ones who fell and who also can never fly again.
I look forward to every trip I make to Alaska to visit with my son and his wonderful family. But I also look forward to making the journey to the YUKLA-27 Memorial to share some special moments and many, many tears with my fallen comrades. My incredible wife Mary and I will be making that journey again next year and I will most certainly go to the memorial once again to honor those 24 airborne heroes with my pain, with my pride, and with my tears.
To the men and families of YUKLA-27; I salute you. God Speed!