Saturday, September 6, 2008

A time of reflection. EJ Andino has been gone two years.

Many of you knew that I lost my only nephew in Iraq two years ago to an IED under his humvee. His encampment was taking mortar fire , and when the call came for volunteers to complete a tactical response, he eagerly responded.
EJ had completed his training in tank school, excelled, and landed himself a prime position in his detachment. He would be inside a tank, which we all breathed relief upon learning...because in the words of some former tank guys..."he was as safe as a baby in it's mother's arms" as long as he was inside the tank.
What we SHOULD have known, and accounted for..was EJ's personality. He was a go-getter. He went after things that interested him at 100 mph. I feel guilt, as does his grandfather (we were among the male role models in his life) that we bestowed some of that life and work ethic in him. He was raised by a gracious woman, and he was instilled with a selfless value by her. He was rebellious in his teen years, but who among us wasn't?

I saw EJ mature into a fine young man and I had a great amount of pride in him when he found his purpose at 22 years of age. I wandered in and out among different stations in life and never really settled down until the late age of 26.
So EJ was ahead of me in his quest for his life to have meaning. And have meaning it did.

EJ recieved the Army's Achievement Award by the time he'd been enlisted a year. He pulled ahead of countless others in Tank School. This duck had found his pond. It was a natural progression for him, and he walked it comfortably.

I miss him terribly, but I am so proud that he was one of the many who's self-sacrifice paved the way to freedom and democracy for people HE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW.

I ask that if you read this, you pray that God can lay his hand on EJ's mother and keep her thoughts on the great things that EJ achieved in a mere 23 years...that some men NEVER achieve even when they live to be 100.


G.Stone said...

EJ sounds like a solid young man.
You are right to be proud of his evolution from a rebellious young man to that of a patriot.

I will have nothing but good thoughts for both EJ and your family.

I am sorry for your loss and hope the memory of EJ's bravery lessens your families pain.

The Bulletproof Monk said...

I humbly thank you for your kind words, Greg. Today is the hardest day of the year for us, so we especially thank you for your prayers today.

LindaBudz said...

Very nice tribute, Monk. My thoughts and prayers are with your family today.

Edmund said...

...may He leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

A. Lincoln

Loudoun Watcher said...

My dear friend, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers today. You do not walk alone.

The Bulletproof Monk said...

Thank you all. From all of us. May God bless each of you, as well.

shelly said...

I know this is an old blog but I was looking up Captian Ed Freeman and reading about all of the awards he achieved serving our country...and it made me think of EJ. We rode the school bus together, went to school together, and even worked together. With Easter upon us and knowing Jesus' sacrifice for us it too makes me think of EJ. He sacrificed his life for us and our freedom. I want to thank you for being one of his male role models. He turned out to me a man for you all to be proud of.
Happy Easter. Shelly