ORLANDO, Fla. - Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Bryan Ray, command chaplain for the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), writes a monthly column devoted to the mental and spiritual wellness of America's soldiers and their families. Ray accompanies many of his stories with videos to reinforce his motivational messages. See his work on the "ESC Today," the official online magazine for the 143rd ESC, at http://www.dvidshub.net/publication/101/esc-today
Quite often, the fast-pace of everyday life can seem overwhelming. Fulfilling the many obligations that we have at our civilian and military jobs, along with our family commitments, can at times seem daunting. During those times I feel a bit overwhelmed and need stories of encouragement and inspiration. In addition to turning to sacred scripture, I have found that recounting the bravery of those who have served before us can be a great catalyst to help us persevere in times of difficulty. I encourage you to take a moment to visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Society web site (www.cmohs.org). Therein you will find amazing accounts of bravery, courage, and selfless service that are truly inspiring.
A few years ago I had the privilege of meeting Hector Cafferata, a Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War. The occasion was his grandson’s commissioning ceremony, and I had the opportunity to share a meal with Cafferata. I was aware that he would be attending the ceremony, so I reviewed his Medal of Honor citation. The citation reads as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with Company F, in action against enemy aggressor forces. When all the other members of his fire team became casualties, creating a gap in the lines, during the initial phase of a vicious attack launched by a fanatical enemy of regimental strength against his company’s hill position, Pvt. Cafferata waged a lone battle with grenades and rifle fire as the attack gained momentum and the enemy threatened penetration through the gap and endangered the integrity of the entire defensive perimeter. Making a target of himself under the devastating fire from automatic weapons, rifles, grenades, and mortars, he maneuvered up and down the line and delivered accurate and effective fire against the onrushing force, killing 15, wounding many more, and forcing the others to withdraw so that reinforcements could move up and consolidate the position. Again fighting desperately against a renewed onslaught later that same morning when a hostile grenade landed in a shallow entrenchment occupied by wounded marines, Pvt. Cafferata rushed into the gully under heavy fire, seized the deadly missile in his right hand and hurled it free of his comrades before it detonated, severing part of one finger and seriously wounding him in the right hand and arm. Courageously ignoring the intense pain, he staunchly fought on until he was struck by a sniper’s bullet and forced to submit to evacuation for medical treatment Stouthearted and indomitable, Pvt. Cafferata, by his fortitude, great personal valor, and dauntless perseverance in the face of almost certain death, saved the lives of several of his fellow marines and contributed essentially to the success achieved by his company in maintaining its defensive position against tremendous odds. His extraordinary heroism throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”
Cafferata’s actions on that cold November day in Korea are truly amazing. There are many other citations you can review at the Medal of Honor web site I mentioned earlier. Taking a few moments each month to reflect on the heroic acts of these great Americans can serve as a source of strength for you and the important people in your life (e.g., spouse, children, co-workers, etc.). Let’s be honest. There are times in live when each of us feels like giving up on a goal, an endeavor, or worse yet - someone we love. When those feelings start to creep into your consciousness, hold fast to the following quote from General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, himself a Medal of Honor recipient: “Age wrinkles the skin. Quitting wrinkles the soul.”
Soldiers of the 143d ESC, remember our heroes, and let their example keep you going in times of difficulty and strife. These great Americans, our Medal of Honor recipients, are a national treasure! Their actions inspire us today . . . and will inspire Americans for generations to come. May God’s blessings be upon those of us in uniform as we carry on the tradition of courage and selfless service shown by our Medal of Honor recipients.
Sustaining Victory . . . Army Strong !
“Pro Deo et Patria . . . For God and Country!