3/3 RVN Ass’n Vol 1 Issue 1 09/01/2004 Page 5
Robert Schley Memorial Day 2004
It was an interesting ceremony Memorial Day 2004. It was the first time I have ever mc'd such a ceremony. You see, I never served in the military, and I have always considered myself unworthy to honor those who have, because I, in my youth, was not willing to do what so many brave men and women did in their youth. Yet there I was, standing before a group of about 100 people, talking about a man who willingly gave up his life for my freedom when I was still in diapers. It was surreal.
I will never forget Mr. Schley's face. I first met him several years ago, but I never really talked with him about Robert until about a year ago. That was a mind opening experience. He was still very angry at a lot of people, including his son, who enlisted without his parents' blessing. All this time, Mr. Schley has carried that with him. But that day, he came into personal contact with people who served with Robert. For the first time, after all these years, Mr. Schley was proud of his son's service in the Marine Corps.
The strangest thing for me was that I, Jay Allen -the guy who never served - somehow was in the middle of this transformation that was occurring. And I still do not feel like I belonged there. This
role belonged to someone who had put his life on the line for his country. Yet it was me...
As I spent some time with Doc Hardin, I began to see some of the deeper scars of war. Even though I will never know what it was really like out there, I have gained a new appreciation for what all those who wore this nation's uniform in combat have endured. I got to know, through Doc and Larry Jones, a little more about this man who has a statue in his honor in my little city of Fitchburg. I learned what it means to be awarded the Navy Cross, a decoration I didn't even know existed before a year ago. And I learned that war is hell, and a lot of people die and are
injured, and many take home scars in their minds that take a long, long time to heal.
I listened to the bugler play Taps, and somehow, those notes - each one of them - pierced my heart in a way I have never felt before in my life. It was as if I could see Robert running, injured, with ammunition, reloading, and firing, alone, until he slumped down, behind his gun and died. I wasn't there that day...yet I could see it like I was. The stories on TV always have happy endings. The hero never dies. But real life isn't like that. That day, on Hill 881, a whole lot of heroes died. Memorial Day 2004, one hero's father saw his son in a new light. And one guy who never served learned that heroes are heroes in their hearts.
To all of you who have served, I am forever indebted. I hope that I am able to honor you as you deserve. My wife tells me that it means a lot to you when people like me remember what you have done. My friends, I remember, and I pray that all of you who have scars will find the peace you need.
But please, keep telling us the stories. People like me don't know what it was like, since we were not there. Tell us so that we can tell our children. We need to know that freedom comes at a very high
price. The blood of people like you cannot be valued. And neither can the cause you fight for.
People like me love you, and we pray constantly that God will ever be by your sides.
Editor's note - Jay Allen has been an Alderman on the City Council of Fitchburg, Wisconsin a suburb of Madison for ten years. He graciously hosted Doc Rod Hardin during Doc's visit to honor Robert
James Schley who was lost during the Hill Battles of 1967 and who was awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery..
Over 3,500 individual Purple Hearts were awarded in 3/3 from May 11, 1965 through September 30, 1969.
3 Congressional Medals of Honor,
16 Navy Crosses, nearly 100 Silver Stars and hundreds of Bronze Stars were awarded our 3/3 Alumni.
I thought you might want to see these pictures. These are some of the guys that were with me in
Nam. The reunion, as your mom knows, was a real emotional time for me. These guys took care of me and I took care of them. Even today, I would give my life for any of these guys.
In all my years, I have never met more giving, loving, and loyal friends than these men. With them I knew that if ever anything happened to me (thank God it never did), that they would make sure that I would get back home.
The next reunion will be in 2006 in Colorado Springs. Maybe you will be able to come with me
and meet these guys. You might learn something about why I am the way I am.
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