I got married after I left active duty in the Navy. I was an airdale, and saw what those deployments and long hours and mission scheduling did to relationships. A great many just can’t handle it.
Thing is, my wife just could never understand the love I had for my fellow airdales, my shipmates. She couldn’t understand how I could get a phone call late at night from someone I hadn’t spoken to in years, yet get dressed and go out to comfort him, or help him out, bail him from jail, whatever.
Long ago, in the faraway, we stood the watch together. We flew together. We had each others back, and knew that when something happened, we could depend on each other to be there. That kind of love is hard to fathom for someone who hasn’t experienced what we did.
When that “Dear John” letter showed up, or something happened back home, or the stresses got a bit much, there was always a brother to lean on, someone to listen. It was as strong as blood ties, and it will stand the test of time.
I keep going, writing what I write, and doing what I do, because those who we lost along the way would have wanted it. We owe them our today, because they sacrificed their tomorrow. As long as I and others remember them, they are alive.
Military service changes you, in ways you won’t understand at first. Only later, as you go along, do you realize the bonds of those shared experiences, the real love of one brother for another.
God Bless those gone before, and know that we greybeards still keep the watch.