One thing you have no shortage of when you exit the military is “stuff.” Most people have it piled in duffel bags, boxes, piled high on shelves, or in the Goodwill pile. The contents of these bags and piles are compiled of uniforms, gloves, pouches, chem-lights, tourniquets, magazines, boots, coins, snivel gear (cold weather apparel), eyewear, and a bunch of stuff you don’t even remember when you were issued it. When I got out, I went through five very large duffel bags and consolidated everything I had down to two tubs. I had the mentality of I was so happy to exit the military I just wanted to get rid of everything, so I did.
Fast forward five years, and I rarely go through these tubs albeit when I need some snivel gear for a hunting trip. Recently, one of our new hires asked if he could decorate his work area with some of his military trinkets. He said he didn’t want to be the only one, so this weekend I decided to go through my stuff and gather the contents I cared about. I gathered the items I had buried in a box within my tub. All of which were memorials to the guys I cared about or learned about that didn’t make it home. I asked my wife to help me display the contents in a shadow box. No easy task considering most of the items look tattered, homely, and meaningless to anybody else. The contents consist of things like Jeremy’s blue book (Ranger Standards we carried on our self while in duty uniform), a pair of Jeremy’s favorite sunglasses I found in his truck after I purchased it, SGT Tanner Higgin’s SI card I found in the trash, the KIA bracelets I wore on deployment, and other similar items that memorialize all of my Airborne Rangers in the Sky.
Airborne Ranger in the Sky is a custom practiced within the 75th Ranger Regiment. New privates have a to pick out a fallen Ranger from their unit to remember everything about them. When you report, your chain of command can ask you questions about the individual, most of which they knew, to make sure you did your due diligence.
I realize as time goes on this is how these amazing men live on. I look forward to the day my son is sitting in my office and asks me about the shadow box of trivial items I have behind my desk. In return to his question, I get to tell him about SSG Jeremy A. Katzenberger, SGT Alessandro Plutino, SGT Tanner Higgins, and SGT Jonathan Peney “Doc.” I can explain to my son the values for which these men believed so strongly in they gave their life to protect our freedom.