However Friday got off to a rousing start when Kathi called (and texted and emailed and ...) that she had found the perfect boat-the one we (she) had been looking for. Big enough to stand up in, down below and hopefully the last one we'll buy. This is it. Gotta go look at it. But this story isn't really about the boat. She contacted the owner in the eastern part of KC at Lake Jacomo and it was set up to look it over on Saturday afternoon.
I had already planed to go to the funeral of an old friend, John Feldman Bradley, at 1 on Saturday where I was slated to sing (and lead music too I found out). We were then going to go over and look at the boat. No big deal. John was a good friend, had lived a long life, knew the Lord and had gone home to glory. Good deal.
It wasn't until I was sitting there waiting for the service to start that I overheard John's brother talking to the pastor It seemed he'd lost his notes and wouldn't be able to speak for John and, as he told John's story to the pastor, he was all broke up. One of the things he said was that John was a WWII Navy veteran. My ears perked up as all I saw was the urn with his ashes and a folded flag behind it. Could it be one of the greatest generation was passing and no one was going to recognize it? I asked what his rank was when he got out and his brother said "oh, not much. Seaman Second I think". After he left I told the pastor I'd like to do something for John in memory when I got done with the singing.
It seemed like a simple thing-I was going to march up to the altar, salute John and the flag, say a word or two in a nice firm loud voice for all to hear, and smartly do a left face and back to my seat. But as I started to say the words that John deserved recognition for his service, I broke up. I called on my buddies, retired veterans Mark Larson of the US Coast Guard and Richard Puglisi, to meet me at the altar. We fell in, I ordered "Present Arms" and we saluted old John. I was able to squeak out, "Seaman John Bradley, you are relieved from duty. Rest in peace" "Order Arms" and we all went back to our seats. I wanted to do it for John but felt miserable I had not been able to corral my emotions to do it well.
It was with those feeling still simmering that we went to look at the boat. It was old, made in 1970, but the right price and on the drive home we called the owner to tell him we'd take it. As we continued the drive we decided instead of naming it something funny or silly (which I generally do), we decided to try to find a hero to name it after. When we got home, we went to CMOHS.org, a listing of all the Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and looked one from 1970, the year the boat was made. Of course it put us in the Viet Nam era. I looked for all that were deceased and received the medal in 1970. As you can imagine they were all worthy of choosing but since the boat was originally built in England, we settled on the S/V (sailing vessel) Glenn English, Jr. after US Army S/Sgt Glenn English, Jr., Co E, 3rd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade from Altoona, PA. His bio is at the bottom.
Well, I thought the emotion was over but lo and behold, I came home from church and was looking at FB when I came across the obituary of my sister-in-law's dad who passed away in 2009. Her name is Barb Nicely and his name was Russell G. B. Anderson. Here's his obit. Russell-G.-B.-Anderson You should read it. Suffice it to say, he was a great man, flying 35 missions over Europe, receiving he DFC and many other honors and retiring as a Lt. Colonel. I wish I had realized his service when he was alive so I could have thanked him in person, like I was able to on the Wings of Freedom tour I've been writing about here.
The old emotions were right up there again as I wrote Barb a note then distributed it to all my family, friends, and SUVCW brothers so they too could read his story and remember. He will not soon be forgotten and rightly so.
So, the weekend is coming to a close. It's Sunday afternoon. We pick up the boat and will proudly put S/Sgt English's name on the stern. Come along, and sail on the Glenn E. But one thing you'll have to do before you come on board-salute the flag in honor of John, Russell, Glenn, and many others. You'll be sailing with a hero and it's not me.
S/Sgt Glenn English, Jr
S/Sgt. English was riding in the lead armored personnel carrier in a 4-vehicle column when an enemy mine exploded in front of his vehicle. As the vehicle swerved from the road, a concealed enemy force waiting in ambush opened fire with automatic weapons and anti-tank grenades, striking the vehicle several times and setting it on fire. S/Sgt. English escaped from the disabled vehicle and, without pausing to extinguish the flames on his clothing, rallied his stunned unit. He then led it in a vigorous assault, in the face of heavy enemy automatic weapons fire, on the entrenched enemy position. This prompt and courageous action routed the enemy and saved his unit from destruction. Following the assault, S/Sgt. English heard the cries of 3 men still trapped inside the vehicle. Paying no heed to warnings that the ammunition and fuel in the burning personnel carrier might explode at any moment, S/Sgt. English raced to the vehicle and climbed inside to rescue his wounded comrades. As he was lifting 1 of the men to safety, the vehicle exploded, mortally wounding him and the man he was attempting to save. By his extraordinary devotion to duty, indomitable courage, and utter disregard for his own safety, S/Sgt. English saved his unit from destruction and selflessly sacrificed his life in a brave attempt to save 3 comrades. S/Sgt. English's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the cost of his life were an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.