Michael Nevin Jr. - Contributor
Jr. is a 3rd generation California law enforcement officer
freelance writer. Mike's writing explores many topics
ranging from the War on Terror to issues facing America's police
officers. Mike is a contributing writer for several Internet
websites including ChronWatch, American Daily, Renew America.us,
and Men's News Daily. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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In Praise of Two American Soldiers...
[Michael Nevin Jr.] 6/2/04
First Lieutenant Jack Lummus was a rifle platoon leader attached
to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division.
The 29-year old Lummus was a defensive lineman with the New York
Giants and former All-American at Baylor University, before joining
the Marines one month after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
8, 1945, Lt. Lummus bravely led his men during the epic battle
Jima. Lummus single-handedly took out three
heavily fortified enemy positions before succumbing to an enemy
land mine that blew off both his legs. President Harry S. Truman
posthumously awarded him the nation’s highest honor—the
Congressional Medal of Honor. The citation reads: “Determined
to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally,
attacking foxholes and spider-traps with his carbine and systematically
reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine,
he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled
tactics and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming
odds, First Lieutenant Lummus had inspired his stouthearted Marines
to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing
materially to the success of his company's mission.”
before he died during treatment for his wounds, Lummus reportedly
quipped, “Doc, it looks like the New York Giants
have lost a damn good end.” He was still smiling as he
closed his eyes.
Pat Tillman was an undersized linebacker out of Arizona State
University drafted in the seventh-round by the Arizona Cardinals
in 1998. He quickly became a premier safety in the NFL, but all
that would change after the terrorist attack on September 11.
Pat Tillman, along with his brother Kevin, enlisted in the Army
several months following the attack.
meant that Pat Tillman would turn down a three-year, $3.6 million
from the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army
Rangers, at a salary of $18,000 a year. This should come as no
surprise to any trained observer who followed Tillman’s
football career. In 2001, he passed on a $9 million offer from
the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the team that drafted him.
Tillman, as we would later find out, understood loyalty as well
as any man could.
Specialist Pat Tillman, 27, was assigned to A Company, 2nd
75th Ranger Regiment. He was deployed in southeastern
Afghanistan hunting al Qaeda and Taliban forces. On April 22,
2004, Tillman led his elite unit to the rescue of other Rangers
caught in a “kill zone.” Tillman was shot and killed
during the attack. Tillman was posthumously awarded the Silver
Star and promoted from specialist to corporal.
“Through the firing Tillman’s voice was heard issuing
fire commands to take the fight to the enemy on the dominating
high ground,” the Army announced. “Only after his
team engaged the well-armed enemy did it appear their fires diminished.
As a result of his leadership and his team’s efforts, the
platoon trail section was able to maneuver through the ambush
to positions of safety without a single casualty,” according
to the Army announcement.
Jack Lummus and Pat Tillman would have made great friends.
Although these men were born generations apart, they were cut
from the same cloth. Each understood the importance of duty when
their nation faced crisis. As they did during their playing careers,
they chose a life away from the sidelines, a life with combat
units that guaranteed them action on the battlefield.
But there are stark differences between the times in which they
served. Lummus was one of many professional sports stars in his
day to trade in his jersey for a rifle. A total of 638 professional
football players served during World War II and 19 died for their
country. Tillman was an anomaly.
This may be because America has not completely come to grips
with the War on Terror. It is a new, asymmetrical war unlike
any other conflict in our history, as we are called to confront
a faceless enemy. Public opinion polls suggest that many Americans
suffer from a serious case of ambiguity. One can only pray that
we find a cure to this malady in the very near future.
Joseph Warren was an important figure during the American Revolution,
who put his medical practice on hold
to lead American forces into battle. And as President of the
Massachusetts Congress, Warren said to his fellow Americans, “Our
country is in danger, but not to be despaired of.... On you depend
the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions
upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet
unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”
Lummis and Corporal Tillman lived up to this admonition, and
because of men like these "Pigskin
Patriots" that Memorial Day is more than another excuse
to fire up the grill. It is a time for Americans to reflect and
give thanks to the valiant souls who gave their lives for our
country. Freedom isn’t free. Each generation must be willing
to defend it -- or all of us must become willing to live without
2004 Michael Nevin Jr.