Honoring two veterans on Memorial Day; add your special name, too.

Hey guys,

Since it’s Memorial Day, I wanted to honor two special people who gave their lives in service of our country.

The first one was a big reason I ended up joining the Marine Corps.

Bobby Fisher, who retired as a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps, was a man I looked up to as a young boy. He was probably the only Marine I really knew before joining, and I recognized and respected how different he was. He was a quiet man, who always stood tall and pulled his share of the load, while never boasting or talking big.

Gunnery Sergeant Fisher served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and while he survived the combat, he’d struggle with and eventually succumb to a blood disease related to Gulf War Syndrome. (Some may quibble and say he didn’t die in service or combat, but this man left Grainger County a strong man and upon his return, soon found himself struggling with an undiagnosed disease, losing weight and strength and unable to work or do anything physical. He’d die at the young age of 47, and believe me when I say his last years were miserable. I don’t care what anyone says, this man was killed by the war no differently than someone who took a bullet over there.)

The second man I’d like to honor is Lance Corporal Andre Foster, who I served with in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Lance Corporal Foster died in a dangerous stream crossing we were doing as part of our training at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa.

Lance Corporal Foster died on April 10, 1999, while Alpha Co., 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment conducted highly dangerous jungle training in Okinawa. Foster drowned while crossing a roaring stream in full combat gear.
Lance Corporal Foster died on April 10, 1999, while Alpha Co., 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment conducted highly dangerous jungle training in Okinawa. Foster drowned while crossing a roaring stream in full combat gear.

I’ll post a tribute one of his close friends wrote about him below. But just like with Gunnery Sergeant Fisher, I can say I knew Lance Corporal Foster and he was a great man.

Finally, I wanted to end by saying that one of the reasons I felt compelled to write this post is that a quick Google search barely turned up anything online for either of them. (In fact, I happened to search them both after thinking of them on this special day, which is what led to this last-minute, Memorial Day blogpost.) As such, I wanted to write this small tribute to them so that anyone who searches their name in the future will easily find information about their service and sacrifices.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that though there’s not much written about either of them, both died within the past couple of decades, when the internet was fully alive and should have captured more. But there are thousands and thousands who died in previous wars, whose names probably aren’t recognized or easy to find online.

Therefore, I wanted to offer everyone the opportunity to honor peopleLCPL Foster they knew who died in service to our country. Thanks to the support of so many, this site is ranked well with Google and all the other search engines. Thus, if you know someone who’s sacrifice may have been forgotten, or perhaps their information is online but difficult to find, you can post a comment with their name and branch, as well as rank if you know it. Also, feel free to talk about them some.

It’s not much, but this will help preserve their great sacrifices online, in a way that will benefit future relatives and friends.

I know that Gunnery Sergeant Fisher and Lance Corporal Foster are without question no different than the other nearly two million who have died defending our country, all of whom deserve our gratitude and respect. (Note: Please be respectful in the comments. Any inappropriate comments or political statements will be deleted, and you can be rest assured that I will continue to monitor this page for years to come as a small way of keeping a living memorial up for my two great friends, as well as any others honored in the comments below.)

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

“American Sniper,” the Movie

WARNING: SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS

Do not continue reading if you haven’t seen the movie…

Now, with those warnings out of the way, let’s begin. I’m really wanting to discuss this movie with some of you all, so let’s open the bar and have a good conversation…

I’m dying to know your all’s thoughts about the movie…

I finally saw it tonight and I’m really torn about how I feel about it.

On the one hand, it’s a good movie. Maybe even a great one, if you haven’t read the book first. (In fact, almost all of my problems result from me having read the book first, I think.)

But I left the movie pretty torn about it. And one of the things I was most frustrated about was how complete it was. What I mean is that the movie, while mostly based on truth, turns Chris Kyle’s four tours into more a test of endurance in search of this phantom, super-talented enemy sniper. On the one hand, using this device gives the movie some suspense and a thrill to it. You pull for Chris Kyle. You understand why he has to go back.

On the other, it’s not true, and war is never about such a test. (Or rarely, at best.) War at the individual ground level is about disappointment, boredom, sacrifice, pain, sweat, hurry-up-and-wait, and life-altering meaningless broken up by soul-exploding violence, which marks and scars you forever.

“American Sniper,” the movie, gets much of this right, but it sells Chris Kyle’s life short. The greater story is that, in reality, Chris Kyle went back for four tours without any of this fake meaning or suspense. It was nothing on Kyle’s part but pure sacrifice and service, over-and-over and over-and-over. Four times.

Granted, such a movie wouldn’t set box-office records, so perhaps I should just shut up. After all, the current version with its suspenseful angle is certainly telling his story in probably the largest (and broadest) way possible.

But in my mind, Chris Kyle’s story is far greater because I’m confident he learned the truth about war and its soul-ripping meaninglessness on his first tour, and he STILL went back three more times. Not to hunt some phantom sniper mentioned in only a single paragraph of the book, who Kyle never even shot, but to answer that bitch named “Duty.”

Chris Kyle knew the price of real war, and he paid it. In spades. He nearly sacrificed his marriage. He missed much of his kids’ early days. And he endured “three gunshot wounds, two helicopter crashes, six IED attacks, and numerous surgeries.”

He didn’t do that to kill some phantom sniper that was killing dozens of Marines and soldiers. He didn’t do that to set some sniper record for most kills.

He did it because he was one in ten million. Maybe one in one hundred million. And that’s the bigger story in my opinion.

Even more crazy is that the most lethal sniper in American history almost certainly would have served more tours if hadn’t departed the SEALs to save his marriage…

Chris Kyle was special, and his real life was much greater than even the incredible image portrayed in the movie.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What are your thoughts? Am I off-base and being too critical? What did you think of the movie?

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.