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Grief…A Reality That Lives On


I am not sure how best to start this conversation, or better yet, this admission I have come to acknowledge. As humans, we are uniquely capable of carrying emotions deep within our being and not even know we are still carrying them.

Here is my most recent experience that is a testimony to this truism.


The other day my wife and I were talking about our past experiences. The topic came up about the experiences I had while serving in the Navy on the USS Midway aircraft carrier during the Vietnam war. Keep in mind these experiences took place over 50 years ago!


I told her that I had contact with the fighter pilots who carried out bombing missions over Vietnam. As a radioman with a top-secret clearance, I was assigned to the communication department on the ship. Almost daily, the fighter pilot Commander would come to our office to pick up classified communication information that related to his team’s missions, etc. These frequent and brief encounters with the Commander allowed for some small talk, which left an indelible memory that I have carried with me over the past 50 years. They have always left a warm spot in my heart…the remembrance of a war hero. Unfortunately, the day came when he did not come by to pick up his mail. He had been shot down and killed on one of his missions.


As I was sharing these memories of the Commander with my wife, out of nowhere, I became overwhelmed with sorrow…the sadness of his death. Tears welled up in my eyes and I started crying, almost uncontrollably. For 50 years, unbeknownst to me, I had carried these emotions about the Commander for all these years, yet never acknowledging them. They were buried deep within me, forgotten and never acknowledged. Hindsight would suggest this experience as a survival tactic.


Again, they come to the surface as I write this. I guess I can call these memories cathartic, and hopefully, healing.


Commander…you were, and still are a true hero…never to be forgotten. Thank you for your service and bravery.


RIP Commander.

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Jerry Jonnson 2019

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