As a member of the Military I reflect on all my friends that didn't make it, the ones that are mentally scarred that could never come to terms with what they saw, the ones with injuries that serve as a constant reminder of the times they served, the ones that are serving a different kind of her Majesty's pleasure, but most of all the families of these men and women.
For them another date on the calendar, an empty seat at the dinner table and a missing presence at Christmas. The family that buying a poppy has extra significance, they are the unlucky ones...yet the one thing they all have in common is that their family member died doing what he enjoyed the most. When it comes down to it, the bond that Forces personnel have with their friends is deeper than you can imagine, and whilst its a factor that you could die, in reality its just another day eating crap food, having some good banter with your mates and doing a job. The fact the locals don't like you very much, only really enters your thoughts when they turn their rockets on you as you die for cover,and wait for the all clear.
I found out today one of the dambusters that I had met Sqn Ldr Tony Iveson had died today. He was an amazing gentleman and he inspired me on the two occasions I met him. The Bomber boys were a different class, they got into an aircraft everyday knowing full well it could be their last and that they were only expected to live for 9 missions. Some defied this destiny of course mostly down to the skill of their crew, the weather and in some cases luck. It doesnt detract from the fact that Bomber command were the largest loss of life for any unit of the war, and yet it was their efforts that really brought the war home to the enemy.
My last thoughts of today actually derive from my rememberance service from yesterday. I met a man yesterday and he wore his grandfathers German Iron cross, and for the first time you realise that we are remembering them too, at the end of the day they too were having just another day of crap food, good banter with their mates and doing a job.
I will close with the inscription from Headley Court:
" Its about the blokes,our men and women of the Armed forces. Its about Derek, a rugby player that has lost both of his legs. Its about Carl, whose jaw is wired up, so he has been drinking through a straw. Its about Richard who was handed a mobile phone as he lay on a stretcher so he could say goodbye to his wife. Its about Ben,Its about Steven and Andy and Mark. Its about them all.They are just blokes, but they are our blokes, they are our heroes and we want to help our heroes...."
But its also about the blokes that didnt come back....Rest in Peace