Memorial day and the value of a photograph

 Good morning, today is Memorial Day 2017. This is where I usually put a read more so you will click into my blog but not today. This story is about one person who made that sacrifice. I know many other peers, former troops and friends who have been lost to their families but this story is one I have kept mostly to myself over the years and is about PFC Blandin. 

This is not a day for discounts on furniture or a day to start off your summer but a day of remembrance of those who have sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. As a veteran with over 20 years in the Army, there are people who I knew who have done this. As I get older I realize how much I would like to have the photographs I have lost over the years or any at all of each of them. You see, we forget as we age details of our lives. There are some of us who have served who have a harder time letting go of those memories but to many veterans losing those memories is just as difficult in some respects. 

Kayron Maurice Blandin Jr was not the greatest soldier in the world, he really was a challenging soldier. He was from Charleston, South Carolina and was not the easiest troop I ever had. A lot of effort was put on him to improve and adapt to the military to including given to the hard-assed, warm-hearted ex-Drill Sergeant, SSG Cockrell. Slowly Blandin was getting there. One day while training in Germany our Tank during a mock battle ended up going over what is best described as a cliff. We rolled over a couple times I think and when we finally settled, Blandin did not survive. Blandin died because of a mistake, an accident but somehow I keep thinking in my head it was my fault. I could of let him stay buttoned up, sitting on the loader's seat instead of telling him to get up, open the hatch and do his job. It was not long after that we had our accident. The LT tank commander took it hard, the driver much worse. I hope both of them have learned to cope with what happened, sometimes I know I have not. 

At Blandin's memorial, the unit comes together. We conducted a role call that our First Sergeant David Storey conducted. Every name called before his name brings tears to my eyes. Finally, his name is called. First Sergeant Storey calls his name, on the third time he says louder, PFC Kayron Maurice Blandin Jr.  SSG Cockrell stands and announces Blandon has died in the line of duty. Blandin was 20 years old when he died. You can read more about Blandin here, I just wish there were a picture there so I can see in my head his face so I can say I am sorry. 

The hardest detail for me to do was funeral detail the years after. The playing of Taps has always brought a deep sadness to my heart. Each time I passed on the flag to the family I would well up in tears and I don't think I ever finished all the words clearly. The only words spoken by the soldiers there to the family are these. 

"This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

To my fellow soldiers who made that ultimate sacrifice.  You are not forgotten, rest in peace, my brothers. I just wish I had more photographs of you so I will never forget your faces. 

I am Ed Devereaux, retired U.S. Army Tank Commander and this is my photography blog - Confessions of a failed professional photographer. A Sabot is a type of round on a tank. It is pronounced Sa-Bo and this blog is where I shoot-move and communicate - click click. 

Shots fired, collect the aftcaps. 

Check out more of my photos at www.eddevereaux.com

 

Tags: tank accident, , kayron maurice blandin, , memorial day,

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