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One Bus, Two Families, And Pfc. Andrew Keller


“The first annual Andrew Keller Memorial Game at Southridge to remember Andrew Keller of SR and Damien Ficek of Beaverton; both outstanding kids that lost their lives serving their country.”

Even this close to the end of the line, baby boomers claim their heritage.

With the youngest of the group turning fifty, their kids still do what boomers did in their youth.

They join the military and serve their country, not always the first thing that comes up in boomer discussions.

It’s a generation’s heritage and there’s enough to go around.

You might be sixty six, or fifty, and the bonds still hold.

This is a post about those bonds.

But first, a little backstory:

I’ve always been a fan of the Pfc.

Private First Class.

Most Pfc. are First Class of anything for the first time. Depending on where they come from and the skill of the Drill Sergeant convincing them, Pfc. is the biggest event in their lives.

How huge is getting the Pfc. It means you’re an E-3 instead of an E-2, or E-1 Trainee. (The E stands for Enlisted rank the same as O for Officer.)

It also means you’re just one rank below the kitchen jerk who splatters food on you and your tray when he doesn’t have to. One more step up the ladder and it’ll be just two soldiers disagreeing, not a case of rank, when you kick his butt.

Andrew Keller was a Pfc. in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The soldier did his duty and put his life on the line.

He died there last year.

How do his parents learn to deal with a loss this hard? How do any parents?

Not long ago a bus carried American tourists down a Mexican road. A mom and dad on vacation with their kids sat in three rows, parents in a front seat, their son next to a man his dad’s age behind them, with another son with girlfriend in the third seat back.

When you travel, you do what everyone does. You ask questions, millions of questions. At least you have millions of questions, but you won’t ask them all. Where are you from? Where’ve you been? Where’re you going? Where should we stay away from?

The son in the middle seat, not yet a year out of high school, had signed up for delayed entry in the Navy. This was his last family vacation for a while.

As the family talked on the bus, the man joined in. Turns out they were all from the same state. They all live in the same area.

They talked about family and America. They talked about patriotism and doing the right thing.

The man said he was Andrew Keller’s dad. The young man sitting next to him said his name was Andrew.

Their conversation so far from home was the same one between fathers and sons since recorded time. Parents with their Andrew starting life in the military heard about faith and decency. Andrew Keller’s dad knew the right things to say on the bus.

He knew how they felt.

He knew his Andrew. His Andrew might be saying, “Way to go, Dad.”









About David Gillaspie
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