Celebrating Veterans Day

Well this is exciting! It’s my first blog post, and what better day to do it than Veterans Day?

This will be the first time I am celebrating Veterans Day as an actual veteran, having hung up my uniform just a few months ago. While November 11th is Veterans Day, November 10th is the Marine Corps birthday, so my Facebook feed has been filled with pictures of my buddies in their dress blues celebrating at Marine Corps Birthday Balls around the world.

TBS

…and looking sharp!

 

There was great camaraderie that came along with those celebrations; the Marine Corps is an institution where everyone in the room has a common link in the mental and physical tests he or she endured to earn the honor of wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor insignia. The Birthday Ball is a chance to unwind for a night and celebrate that which draws us together, and to remember those who came before us. In some respects, the ball is not dissimilar to a BU Law bar review on a Thursday night, where law students get to come together and laugh about the assignments or cold-call experiences that filled them with dread just a few days earlier. There is bonding in the challenges we face.

Of course, law school is a much different kind of challenge than the military, and I think the experience of active duty service has been helpful in keeping things in perspective as the semester spools up around finals period. Whenever I am feeling a bit stressed about the workload, it is helpful to remember that somewhere in the world, there is a soldier struggling to stay awake while keeping watch over his buddies at a Forward Operating Base. There is a sailor three months into a deployment at sea working a 16-hour day before he crawls into the cramped confines of his rack just to get up and do it all over again the next day. There is a kid barely out of high school stepping on the yellow footprints at Parris Island who is about to spend the next three months enduring seemingly insurmountable stress to become a Marine. There is a Coast Guardsman putting on a survival suit to risk his life for a fisherman in distress…

Suddenly, a little studying doesn’t sound so bad.

When I think about those things this Veterans Day, I recall how I was constantly impressed and humbled by the untiring work of the men and women around me during my time in the service. It is hard to believe the weight we put on the shoulders of those in an organization where the average age is just twenty-five.

One example of the sacrifice our service members make was brought into sharp focus last week, when Professor Hylton asked us to review a case for her contracts class, Prudential Insurance Co. v. Clark, 456 F.2d 932 (5th Cir. 1972.) The case involves a young Marine who was killed in Vietnam and a dispute about his life insurance policy. I am not sure why I decided to pull up Google and research the man the case was about.

williamclark

Corporal Bill Clark

 

Corporal William Stephen Clark was 21 years old when he died in Vietnam in 1968. He was a member of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463– “Pegasus”–my squadron when I was in the fleet. He flew the same helicopter, too; the CH-53 Sea Stallion. It was an odd feeling pulling up a picture of a Marine from nearly half a century back, wearing a government-issued bomber jacket identical to the one I keep in my closet, Pegasus patch and all. Suddenly, this name that was just a party in a contracts case was not just a name, and the tragedy of parents collecting life insurance for their lost son became very real. Just barely old enough to drink, Bill Clark had already earned twenty-one Air Medals in two deployments in Vietnam when his helicopter crashed into a field.

I wanted to mention Corporal Clark this Veterans Day, because I think it is important to remember the things we ask our young service members to do for us on a daily basis, and how they invariably rise to the task. I am not one to advocate the view that every person that puts on the uniform is a hero. Nor do I think that our troops are the only demographic that face hardship. But my goodness, you should see some of the unbelievable things these young service members accomplish– in the most trying of times and most austere environments– without a selfish thought. It is not an overstatement to say that I would not be sitting here today without many of the Marines and Sailors I had the privilege of serving with. I know they will continue to look out for each other and serve our country well. For that, I am grateful, and it’s why Veterans Day is worth celebrating.

For more on Corporal Clark and the crew of Aircraft Buno 153284, here are some links:

http://www.eaugallie64.com/memorial/williamclark.html

http://www.popasmoke.com/kia/incidents.php?incident_id=178

One Comment

RichW posted on November 12, 2015 at 11:27 am

Billy
Thank you for the wonderful Veterans’s Day article and your service.
Here’s to the memory of your grandfathers, Fred Lucinani and Bill Wilson who honorably served our country during WWII.
You’ve made them proud. …

RichW

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *