Opinion

Sound off: In memory of a fallen Oak Harbor soldier

By Kimberly Goehl

US Air Force

Sometimes events happen in your life that serve as a stark reminder that life is short and put into focus that every moment you are here on this earth is a blessing. Unfortunately, I have had a few of those reminders in the last week, both directly and indirectly, and they have served to change my perspective on a few things and have made me even more grateful for the amazing family and friends that I have been blessed with. My path crossing with a critically injured soldier and another soldier missing half a leg last week was one of those life-changing events and something that I feel compelled to share.

Please keep the Oak Harbor family of Army Ranger Joel Clarkson in your prayers. He gave his life in service to his country, and left behind a wife and baby boy. As I sat on the C-17 waiting to fly to Germany at the beginning of my medical journey, Joel was on a ventilator and in a coma lying on the litter about six feet across from me. A Chaplain came and said a prayer for him and his family. Then a small bedside ceremony was performed to present him with a Purple Heart Medal. When we landed and soldiers were getting ready to unload us from the plane in Germany I said a prayer for him, the amazing medical team who had tried so hard to save his life, and his family that I knew would soon have to say goodbye. I may not have known Joel personally, but I will never forget his face or the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country.

On that same flight there was another Army Ranger who was a little closer to me. He was missing half a leg. He was barely conscious with all the medications he was on. I was afraid to stretch out my legs for fear my legs would hit any one of the many cords and IV’s plugged into him. He was directly in my line of sight and I would see him every once in awhile rub his face. I saw on his arm a medical bracelet but couldn’t see his name. I did notice his date of birth, which ironically was on the same month/day as mine. I couldn’t help but think how his life has changed so drastically and wondered if he has even had the chance to accept it yet. I wish I could have seen his name and maybe kept in touch with him.

Please remember that this war is not over and even if you don’t support the politics, support the troops because we are out there putting our asses on the line everyday!

Story about Joel:

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/wnt/news/88691557.html.

Remember. Life is short, people change, time moves forward without your consent, there is no pause or rewind. Sometimes death comes too soon leaving you no time for goodbyes. You will find regret, could haves, and I wish I would haves.... You will feel great pain, you will experience great joy, and you will have happy memories to carry you through it all. You will lose friends and you will lose loved ones. Remember them, and in their honor remember that you alone must choose how well you live, and how well you love, and how you will be remembered when you too have gone from this earth. There are no second chances; each day is a gift, and with each sunrise arrives a new chance to live better and love harder then you did yesterday.

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.

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