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I Support The Troops!' Oh, Really? Exactly How Do You Do That?

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On this particular holiday I wanted to share a personal story about a man who fought to found this Republic, his fifth great grandson who gave his life to protect it, and how we as a society care for those who are willing to do such things.

Soldiers from Fort Sill wait at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, for their flights to arrive that will take them home for the Christmas holidays. A US Army spokesman from the Army Post in Lawton, Okla., said nearly 1,000 troops were shuttled to the airport. While waiting to board flights, the troops were treated to food and warm beverages at the YMCA Military Welcome Center at the airport. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)

Happy Independence Day!

As an American, today means more to me than fireworks, grilled meat, and large appliance sales. While I cannot deny on occasion in engaging in those activities on and around the date of this special anniversary, with John Phillips Sousa playing in the background, the date is quite personal. July Fourth always reminds me of Dial Peavy.

In her Daughters of the American Revolution genealogical research my mother discovered a land patent for Dial Peavy granting him 250 acres tax-free for 10 years. The 1784 document states that he won this land for honorably pulling triggers on British troops until there were none found in Georgia. Dial Peavy was the father of my great grandfather's great grandfather. He survived the War for Independence and went on to work his land have a family. Amongs others, his fourth great grandson would also fight to defend the Republic he fought to create.

1777: Bennington Flag

This past Memorial Day I wanted to particularly remember my father's first cousin, Dial Peavy's fourth great grandson, Sgt. Robert Thomas Peavy, a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, 8th Air Force, 303rd Bombardment Group, 427th Squadron. While all members of an aircrew are at significant risk during World War II - even when not being shot at - my cousin had a particularly dangerous job as the ball turret gunner on the B-17 aircraft 42-3131, known to the crew as Flak Wolf.

Combat mission 98 was a daylight raid targeting the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter assembly plant at Oschersleben, Germany, sortied on the Jan. 11, 1944. Flak Wolf took fire from German fighter interceptors and ground based anti-aircraft positions and crashed at Kloster Oesede just south of Osnabruck. The navigator, bombardier, and flight engineer survived the crash and were taken prisoner. The other seven members of Flak Wolf's crew, including Peavy in the ball turret, were killed in action. He was 20 years old.

In my research I was very fortunate to find on the 303rd's website where a friend of my cousin named Floyd G. Marcusson posted about him. He recounted some details of their friendship, particularly on their crossing the Atlantic on the troop transport in 1942. Apparently while standing upon the deck of the HMS Sythia Robert Peavy told his friend, "Marc, I know I'm never coming back."

While remembering all those who gave the last full measure of devotion for our country, we also offer our most sincere and heartfelt thanks and pay tribute to those still alive. To those burned, broken, who have lost arms, legs, or both, those who eat 1000 milligrams of Depakote every day just to function and around whom you cannot pop popcorn lest they dive for cover. To those who flinch at every loud noise. And of course to those who are in the 18 to 24 month process of getting a disability claim processed.

And we now must recognize those who find themselves upon secret waiting lists at Veterans Affairs. Those who cannot get the medical care that they need, that they deserve, and that they've EARNED.

Soldiers from Fort Sill wait at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, for their flights to arrive that will take them home for the Christmas holidays. A US Army spokesman from the Army Post in Lawton, Okla., said nearly 1,000 troops were shuttled to the airport. While waiting to board flights, the troops were treated to food and warm beverages at the YMCA Military Welcome Center at the airport. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel) Soldiers from Fort Sill wait at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, for their flights to arrive that will take them home for the Christmas holidays. A US Army spokesman from the Army Post in Lawton, Okla., said nearly 1,000 troops were shuttled to the airport. While waiting to board flights, the troops were treated to food and warm beverages at the YMCA Military Welcome Center at the airport. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)

To all of those I say thank you and I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't done more for you personally and I most sincerely apologize that We the People haven't done more to ensure that our government uses our military properly.

Now what does supports the troops mean? What can you do to actually support the troops? Over the years I have done many of these things and this is what I think supporting the troops means:

  • Buy a soldier lunch in an airport. For the uninitiated, look for stripes on the sleeve. The fewer the better. Generally bars and oak leaves on the collar don't need a free lunch.
  • Paying for an enlisted soldier's kid's Cub Scout or Girl Scout uniform. Check with your local troop, they'll let you know who needs a uniform.
  • Visit a military or veteran's hospital. I assure you that at this moment there is a soldier at Brooke Army Medical Center who could use your help turning the pages of a book.
  • Find the nearest military installation and drop off a few bags of groceries & boxes of diapers with the chaplain. They'll be distributed properly.
  • If you don't know a deployed soldier personally, I bet you have a friend or family member who does. Find out their army post office and mail them some AA batteries, socks, and a box of baby wipes. Maybe some cigars too.

There are many other ways to help, but please exercise some due diligence before donating any money. The most effective and meaningful support is always done individually and done face-to-face.

Another suggestion along these lines is to attenuate the unctuous public cry of, "thank you for your service." If you really want to thank someone in uniform, see the bulleted list above or get creative. I mention this as a suggestion after discussing the matter at length with many friends returning from overseas in the last few years that have worked in the military occupational specialty  11-bravo (or 11 bang-bang as they sometimes self-apply), 18-alpha, and 3-1 bravo. I also have chatted with a few U.S. Marines of the 0311 and 0321 persuasion. The general feeling from these men is "after the things I've seen and the things I've done to stay alive, being thanked for my service is obscene." Your author has paraphrased these sentiments, removed some colorful jargon, and a few four and 12 letter words.

Please understand that by merely applying an "I support the troops," ribbon or bumper sticker on the back of your vehicle you have NOT actually supported the troops in any meaningful way. In fact, the only thing that you have supported is the bumper sticker industry and the local Kwiky-Mart where you made the purchase. The sticker by itself merely constitutes an awareness campaign. To an E-2 stuck in an airport 12 hours from his or her next meal, it is a fairly worthless one at that.

On this day when we celebrate the birth of our Republic, please remember those who have fallen. Please do what you're able for those who are willing to preserve, protect and defend her.

Dave welcomes your questions and comments On twitter: @davepeavy Facebook: /i> Email: davepeavy@gmail.com

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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