Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memorial Ceremonies

There were memorial services on Thursday and Friday for my two friends, Terry Barnich and Maged Hussein, as well as Navy CDR Duane Wolfe.  All three of them were killed in Fallujah on Monday.  The services were exceptionally well attended.  My command held one in our DFAC on Thursday for CDR Wolfe, since he came under our Army Corps of Engineers umbrella organization.  It was a very moving ceremony, well done.  On Friday, the Embassy held a service for Maged and Terry.  They were expecting about 500 people, but my guess is about three or four times that many showed up.  In addition to Ambassador Hill, we had General Odierno, the Japanese Ambassador, the Iraqi ministers of water and electricity, and many many others.  I found the service to be exceptionally moving, particularly the tributes from my boss at the Embassy and her husband, who each talked about their friendship with Terry and Maged.  Their testimony and their personal pain was heart-wrenching to experience.

It was funny, too, as odd as it may seem.  Karen and John recounted a few stories of Maged and Terry's exploits, and since those two men were full of life, there were plenty of stories to choose from.  Because this was a very public tribute, John chose not to mention that crude story about Terry's speaking abilities that I described in my last post ... good choice, John.  But he did tell about the time that Terry got hit on the nose by a piece of spent shrapnel.  It only gave him a minor cut, but that brush with mortality caused him to refocus his attention on what was important.  Terry soon afterward announced his resolution to never drink bad wine again.  And to our knowledge, he didn't.

I came to my own epiphany during the ceremony.  In case anything ever happens to me, I do not want some guy with bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace".  No way.  If you gotta have a bagpipes, well, okay, but keep the "Amazing Grace" stuff off the playlist.  Instead, I want a brief ceremony, and then at the end, I want 'em to turn up the sound system and play "I Like To Move It Move It".  Who says you can't have fun at one of these things?


Bridget said...

I promise to make sure J heeds your wishes, but not for a very long time!!!! Be safe and I will see you in August.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 06/01/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Giannagirl said...

Dear Mister Rohde,

Thank you for posting these stories about Terry. In most ways, you speak his heart and this will bring comfort to all that really know those he served with in Iraq. At first, all of this is so crippling and heart wrenching that it seems like the pain will never go away. I guess that is the point...loss like this stays on you for life. Terry, Mister Hussein, and Commander Wolfe, they are great men who will never be forgotten not for the their committment to country, or for any of the kind and tender things they did for others. It all adds up to goodness and what we all strive for and that is to be generous of heart. I thank you kind Sir for your artist word, and for bringing me to that moment where Karen and John spoke of their memories. Terry loved you all very much and I know is with you and will be for eternity. Let's all make him proud. Most sincerely yours' in arms, Johnna

Eric Koglin said...

Hey Skip Thanks for the write-up. I wanted to be there. I'm devastated and, I guess, still in shock. I'm going to miss them. I only knew them for three months but it was enough to impart an lasting impression on me. If you get a chance, send me an email.

Eric K.

M K Nagi said...

Dear Mr. Rohde,
I have tried for days to get my thoughts together with little success. But I want to express my appreciation and I’m sure that of my family for your sentiments regarding Maged Hussein and Terry Barnich.
Maged was my cousin and he was exactly as you describe. He was humble and always thoughtful and one of the most thoroughly decent people I’ve known, which makes it at once not so surprising and unbearably senseless that he died where, how and why he did.
Our huge extended family is spread far and wide at any given moment. I hadn’t seen Maged (as well as many other family members) in far too long and not nearly often enough, but kept in touch with him through my parents. I thought of him frequently, as did we all and will continue to in memory. We worried as well. Ironically, I was less fearful for him lately. Our thoughts are with his wife and daughter and his sister who has now lost both brothers much too young, and of course with those of you who are still in Iraq. I’m very sorry about the loss of your friends.
Many thanks for taking the time to post your remembrances. Be safe and godspeed.

Erick said...

I've had the privilege of serving with CDR Wolfe since 1994 when I came back into the Navy in the Reserves after a 12 year hiatus from my active duty.
I knew the military man, but never the civilian until his memorial service at his home in Los Osos, CA this past Tuesday.
I can easily imagine your pain, and fully identify your first impulse to say "Screw it and this country!", I've felt the same many times over with each friend who's death notice comes thru our "Seabee network".
Right now I'm more or less fleshing out the details on what happened that day, which is how I came across your blog.
Condolences to you, and keep at it.