Thursday, June 9, 2011

Story of Buddy Glue

We flew as a crew on the Super Constellations shown below with the 7th Fleet as Early Warning Squadron during 1957 through 1960.

One only has to experience my topic today regarding Buddy Glue to understand what I mean.
I recently read a story in my March 2011 Readers Digest magazine entitled, “The Men He Left Behind” which was about a man named Carlos Santos-Silva and his Band of Brothers which he served with in Afghanistan. He was their Sergeant First Class and according to the article, he was a hands-on leader. Each platoon is led by an officer and he has a platoon sergeant who serves as his right-hand man in administration and logistics. Santos served as the platoon leader, and could have stayed behind at the outpost while his men patrolled, however he never did that. He truly led his men and was there with them in all they did. On that morning in March he occupied the front passenger seat in a hulking, mine-resistant truck driving down a dirt road which ran along a vineyard when they were about to cross a small bridge. It happened there! They hit a buried IED, improvised explosive device, which by now we know is the worst enemy of all of our brave warriors serving in the terrible war zone of the Middle East.
According to the article, the bomb was huge and it left the armored truck turned on its side with a scorched bottom and the rear tires blown completely away. Three miles away, another sergeant leading a foot patrol heard the explosion and indicated that “Our guys just hit an IED!” Sound according to the article takes about fifteen seconds to travel that far. The radio said “Four were responsive and one was unresponsive to the blast.” The next thing that happened was a group of soldiers weighted down with fifty pounds of armor, ammunition, radios and weapons running, without regard to their own safety, toward the blast location. Arriving panting, sweating with leg muscles and lungs on fire they looked at the deep crater in the dirt road. One of the men, Sergeant Dale Knollinger approached another man at the site and was told that Sergeant Santos was gone. He stood in the middle of the road and cried. That is Buddy Glue!
Great Friend, Jim Thomas, left, on Guam and in Hawaii over fifty years ago.

Having never experienced combat in my three plus years in the Navy, I had nothing to directly approach that same feeling, however I do know there is a Buddy Glue when you go from home into a military setting where other guys become your family. I still share e-mails and an occasional phone call with some men I served with over fifty years ago in the Navy. It is difficult to have that day to day companionship; however there will always be feelings and memories that will linger about that special part of our lives.
How strong was the glue of their friendship? One man had the opportunity to receive a promotion in grade and pay, but turned it down to stay with Sergeant Santos. It’s difficult to explain unless you have experienced it.
Please pray for our brave warriors.