“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
General Douglas MacArthur
I’m off to Fort Stewart, Georgia, for a few days of mobilization activities. This is when the Army makes sure the paperwork is up-to-date, I have all my shots and my pay is squared away. This computer will go with me, so I will endeavor to continue my entries on a regular basis.
Today I attended the monthly drill for my Army Reserve unit, but it was not a usual day. This was also the occasion of the retirement ceremony for my old friend, Staff Sergeant Sal Cerniglia. (See this blog for last December 21, 2006 – “Purple Heart Medal for “Wounds” not “Injuries”. This entry tells Sal’s story from Iraq.)
Sal has done wonders as he has struggled to recover from the almost fatal wounds he suffered in August, 2004, in Sadr City, one of Baghdad’s most notorious neighborhoods. Today his friends and fellow soldiers honored him and his wife Grace in a formal ceremony in Orlando.
If you did it Sal’s way, he would still be on active duty in the middle of the fight, but eventually we all have to pack it in. After 35 total years of service as both an officer and a sergeant, Sal’s wounds brought him to his final day in uniform. It was a sad time in a lot of ways, but the room was filled with pride, courage and brotherhood.
At the end of the day, Sal will go home, take his uniform off for the last time and look once more at the medals, the plaques and the notes of good wishes given to him by his friends and fellow warriors. Then he will sit back and smile to himself.
He can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the next generation of American warriors will follow his example, pick up the banner, re-load the rifle and move into battle against the enemies of freedom.
After all, Staff Sergeant Cerniglia helped train, lead and inspire many of the very same soldiers that will follow in his footsteps.
No man could ask for a greater legacy.
SFC Chuck Grist