We formally welcomed home our great good friend Ray Valles last night. He's been in Iraq for a year, and returned to us, safe and sound, last Sunday. His unit, by the grace of God, suffered no casualties or major combat-related injuries. We had a blowout party at The Monastery, an excellent bar here in Mesa, and a good time was had by all – most importantly, by Ray. We puffed some more of the excellent cigars provided by forum member 2400, and drank beer by the gallon (my lovely wife agreed to be our DD, bless her).
Reflecting a bit on the course of the last year, and my observations from last night's festivities, I have some thoughts.
Firstly, Ray is a changed man. They say that going to war changes everybody in some way, but in Ray's case it is pronounced – and good. He's far more confident and outgoing than he was before. Ray has always been friendly and charming, but he used to be somewhat shy and introverted. No more. The boy who left us has come back as a full-fledged man.
Secondly, there were some other guys from the Iraq mission there last night. Ryan Kyler and some others appeared. I wish I had the resources to celebrate the safe return of each and every one of them, but I guess I'm not responsible for anyone but Ray, since he is my great good friend. The interesting thing was to see how close they were to each other after enduring a year of danger and hardship together. I confess to being a little envious of their bonds.
Thirdly, I wonder how our nation can continue to produce men like this. Ray is a good man, and we live in a society that is desperately short on good men. I talked to his mom a little, and she's a sort of standard-issue mom, but she did something right. If we could bottle it, we'd be much better off as a culture. Ray has an almost intuitive understanding of family, duty, honor and courage that escapes most men his age (24), and it is very refreshing.
I was somewhat disappointed that a lot of our civilian friends, who claimed they would be there to say "thank you" and buy Ray a beer, somehow didn't make it. This annoys me, since these folks have been sitting on their couches for the last year, while guys like Ray and Ryan were going through things that people here in America can't really even imagine. A little appreciation is in order. I don't mean they needed to come out and fawn over Ray and grovel and kiss his hand like he's the Pope. But a simple pat on the back, a "hey, thanks for doing that for us," and a beer goes a long way with a young guy.
George Orwell said, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Yes, these men are often hard drinking, cursing, womanizing adventurers. They are also usually brave, honest, upright, and hardworking. Our society is becoming a group of effete, pampered couch potatoes who have done nothing with the lives of ease America has granted them. I hope we never forget how much we need men like Ray Valles, Ryan Kyler, Darryl Mesaros, and the rest of the rough-but-good men who are out there on the line tonight.
Welcome home, Ray and the rest of Delta Company, 1/180th SECFOR "Roughnecks." Rest easy for a while, guys. You've earned it. A job well done!
Last edited by Mike Barham; 08-28-2008 at 08:01 AM.
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It's good to know there are still people like him around.
Kudos to you and the mrs. for throwing a wonderful welcome home party to a true patriot. You’re absolutely correct about the majority of Americans these days not fully appreciating what these brave men and women go through so they can enjoy the freedoms we have and take for granted.
Do me a favor and pat Ray on back for me the next time you see him. Glad he made it back safe, you do the same.
I am very thankful for these brave men and women who serve our country in the military. Hope y'all had a good time, and I wish I could buy them all a beer and shake their hand. We are running low on men and women who have the makings of a ture hero and we are loosing the meaning of hero. Hero's today are the likes of brittany, tom cruise, and madonna.The real hero's are putting it all on the line. They are my hero's forever, and I will be always thankful for them.
+1 ... Be sure to give them a pat on the back from me and tell them thank you.
Originally Posted by Mike Barham at Galco
"bing bang boom! hair out...hamburger time" - William Murderface
Glad to hear you had a good "Welcome Home" party. Tell the guys THANK YOU and WELCOME HOME for me please.
Tell them thank you. And thank you as well for your service.
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