Thursday, December 02, 2004

Marine Makes Ultimate Sacrifice On Sunday, I linked to a Los Angeles Times story about the life of a Marine Lieutenant who had died in Fallujah, JP Blecksmith. I received this e-mail from JP's uncle: I am the uncle of JP Blecksmith, 2nd Lieutenant USMC, Third Battalion, Fifth Regiment, India Company, 3rd Platoon, who was killed on Veterans Day in Fallujah by a sniper's bullet. I heard that you spoke about him today on your radio show. We thank you for your kind thoughts and words. You would have been in awe to spend any time talking to JP--he truly was an outstanding and inspirational person. The news of JP's death hit our entire family hard--as I am certain similar news has impacted all of the other families of the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen who have died or been wounded in this war. Once the shock and denial is gone, you have to deal with the reality--that JP's human form will never touch you or talk to you again. Although his death instantly challenged me to rethink my position about the war in Iraq, and dozens of other "what ifs" which resulted in JP not dying, the reality actually made my resolve stronger than ever to support the effort of all of our brave men and women and to speak up when people suggest that it is "the wrong war" or that JP's death was a waste. To say the later is never to have known JP. However, unlike me, JP's mother (my sister) and his father did not hesitate--they did not question--they did not doubt--they knew and understood the meaning of JP's life and, consequently, his death was a logical extension of that life. I marveled at their strength, especially when the news crews came to their home and asked them about JP and Iraq, some possibly hoping the catch disgruntled and saddened parents off guard damning the war or the President. With lights blazing and the television cameras rolling, they proudly spoke of their son and his achievements, and most importantly, his devotion to God, duty, country, honor and freedom. One newscaster wrote my sister and brother-in-law a personal note after interviewing them, to apologize that the 80 second spot he had to cover the story was so inadequate to give true meaning to JP's life. JP chose the Naval Academy over other academic institutions because he believed that he had a duty to this wonderful country and he appreciated that the Naval Academy made real men and real leaders. He opted early on for the Marines and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant immediately following graduation in May 2003. We were so proud of him them, as we always have been and always will be. He volunteered for the infantry. He knew he was headed to Iraq as soon as he finished Officers Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training. He wanted to lead his men in the cause of freedom. He saw his role clearly. He never mentioned concerns for himself. He constantly tried to be a better leader. Some of his final words to me before he shipped out from Camp Pendleton early in the morning on September 10th was that he wanted to make certain that his men (never mentioning himself) returned home safely. Two weeks after arriving in Iraq and camping on the outskirts of Fallujah, JP celebrated his 24th birthday. JP emailed home to family and friend inviting them to attend his birthday party--the "Fiesta in Fallujah" as he called it. He volunteered free camel parking. JP had a great sense of humor. He entertained the family at Christmas time with skits and loved to sing Karaoke. He was the perfect son every mother and father wanted--and everyone who knew him claimed him as his or her best friend--because he was. You cannot say enough nice things about JP. That is probably why God called him when he did, a short but very fulfilled life. God promises that we will not stay on this earth one moment longer he has a reason for us to stay. JP's impact on this earth and his family and friends, and even on those who did not know him, has been fully felt. His mission was completed. During the battle for Fallujah, Greg Palkot of Fox News was embedded with JP's 3rd Platoon. Palkot's stories have provided great insights to the terror, the noise, the tension, the commotion, the smell, of the battle. Early in the battle, India Company discovered the horrific '"slaughter houses" in the Jablon area of Fallujah. It was fortunate during the first several days of the battle--no casualties--deaths or injuries. Then on Thursday, November 11th, Veterans Day, two Marines in JP's platoon were injured by small arms fire while clearing buildings of insurgents in the narrow, maze-like streets. And, JP, a 6'4", 220 pound target, leading his men, and making certain that the wounded were brought to safety, was shot from behind by a single sniper's bullet, barely missing his bullet-proof vest. Palkot described in one of his reports about seeing JP and 30 minutes later hearing that JP had been killed. JP knew that this was a battle of good versus evil. He knew good and, unfortunately, confronted evil for the first time eye-to-eye. He and his men prepared for this battle. They had the support of their God and their government. They had a mission. Nothing was going to keep them from completing it--except death. But JP's death, and the deaths of and injuries to the many others, did not deter our brave Marines and soldiers from ultimately accomplishing this mission. I have read the obituaries of the other Marines and soldiers who have died in recent weeks in Iraq. I mourn for each of their families and know first hand what that news feels like and the emptiness and sorrow. But I also know that we are all part of a larger, greater family, that we have had the privilege of knowing (albeit for a short time) our wonderful, outstanding young men who chose to serve their country and who willingly and courageously gave the ultimate sacrifice. As Alex Blecksmith, JP's brother, said in his eulogy, JP knew that we [the USA] "is the home of the free BECAUSE of the brave." So true. We miss JP ferociously, every minute we are awake, but he has left us a lifetime of great memories and his life, and those of his other Marines, has inspired us to make something good happen from all of this--to leave this place just a little bit better than when we arrived. P.S. JP's sister, who gave one of the eulogies, is a second year law student at Chapman--Christina Blecksmith. You might look her up. She has great stories about her little brother. James E. "Imo" McCormick III, Esq.

1 comment:

SharplyShiloh said...

God Bless JP. May God Bless his family. God Bless his unit. God Bless every man and woman over there. God Bless all those who stand by the window and wait. May God (especially) Bless The Marines. And God Bless America. Thank you for this post.