Sitting here at the tail end of a 3 day weekend at Lake LBJ, I find myself struck by the fact that despite our nearly 7 year war in Iraq and Afghanistan, unless you have been directly impacted in some way, there are very few personal sacrifices we make for the tens of thousands of our fellow citizens that are currently in harms way. That being said, I've been waiting to write this story until an appropriate time but with today being Memorial Day, I figured the time had finally arrived.
A few months ago I had the fortune of attending a conference for private equity professionals here in Dallas, an event that was predictably dour. Thankfully however we had the pleasure of listening to David Feherty (the Irish voice on Tiger Woods Golf and Dallas resident), a man who despite ruffling everyone’s feathers in the room with his now infamous off-color humor, held the attention of the entire room for over an hour with stories from his travels in Iraq and through his philanthropic work with the Special Forces. Each story revealed examples of true heroism in the face of adversity, which was a message the 1000+ financial elites in the room needed to hear. This was my personal favorite:
John Wayne Walding
Back in April 2008, the Special Forces were tasked with a mission to take out a group of Taliban insurgents in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan, an area complicated by it’s high altitude (10,000 ft). It would later turn out that this was a Taliban compound with hundreds of Taliban forces pitted against relatively few coalition forces.
During the intense firefight, a 27 year old Waco native native John Wayne Walding (born on the 4th of July no less) was hit in the leg by a bullet, a wound that according to his own account, left his leg hanging by “two inches of meat.”
Pinned down by enemy fire at the time and therefore cutoff from the rest of the unit, he made a split second decision and pulled his severed leg up into his crotch and tied a tourniquet around his thigh and the dangling appendage to stop the bleeding so that he could move around.
Walding had just seconds prior to this been ordered to take some of the casualties off of the mountain, so once he had his leg secured, he began barking orders at the nearby US forces and Afghani fighters to help coordinate the effort. “He kept firing at the enemy as he moved down the mountain, hopping on his good leg, sometimes sliding on the ground and getting help from the Afghan commandos. It took Walding three hours to reach the landing zone.”
For this he was awarded the Silver Star.
Click here for the full article, and remember that this weekend is about more than just a good time and an extra day off of work. Something that I, despite having a father who is a retired Colonel in the Army Reserves, forget all too often.