General John Shalikashvili and Seaman Aaron Ullom USN properly relieved.

Monday, July 25th, 2011

One lived a full life, a life of wondrous opportunity and hard-earned achievement (his father as a Polish noble fought both with the Poles against the Nazis and with the Nazis against the Russians – in the same war); the other lived a brief live punctuated by incredible courage and generous sacrifice. The general arrived in America at age 16 in 1952, a refugee of WWII. Fortunate circumstance and hard work propelled him to the highest rank our Army. The Medic rushed to save a wounded Marine amidst a gunfight in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. We miss Aaron Ullom because we well understand the depths of his capabilities.

A Navy Corpsman assigned to the Marines as a medic, most respectfully referred to as Doc within their USMC units, who risked and lost his life in a far, far away place so that another may have a chance to live. Seaman Ullom was awarded a Purple Heart and another medal for carrying on the fight against Global Terrorism. He is not heralded for exceptional valor in his moment of death because what he did is what corpsmen are supposed to do. His was not exceptional behavior as his purpose was to save the lives of the Marines in his care.

Men such as Aaron Ullom are compelled to the purpose of the moment, perpetuating the beliefs of our nation, so that men like John Shalikashvili may find a land of refuge with opportunities to fulfill their own destinies. I hope that this is why we’re still over there.

On that same page of the Raleigh News and Observer, Section 12A of Sunday July 24, 2011, with the Shalikashvili headline and the Ullom sideline, there are listed the names of seven other Soldiers and Marines who died in action in Afghanistan between July 9 and July 14. Their ages ranged from 20 to 39. ‘Twenty years old?!,’ I repeated to myself.