April 22, 2010

With the Old Breed

This is Adam Brown. Adam is a Navy SEAL who was killed in combat on March 18, 2010. I didn't know Adam personally, but his life has touched mine on the fringes.

I was told of this tragic loss yesterday as I was reading the 6th of 15 books in the 15/15/15 challenge, With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge. It is Sledge's account of his time with the Marines on Peleliu and Okinawa in WWII. It is one of the most profoundly moving books that I have ever read.

Sledge addresses the big picture: the war, the battle, and the Marines. But he also manages to make his experience more personal. He brings us into the action with a personal side and human stories.

The personal bodily filth imposed upon the combat infantryman by living conditions on the battlefield was difficult for me to tolerate. It bothered almost everyone I knew....To be anything less than neat and sharp was considered a negative reflection on the Marine Corps and wasn't tolerated....In combat cleanliness for the infantryman was all but impossible....It has always puzzled me that this important factor in our daily lives has received so little attention.

I have been fortunate enough to have spent time on Guam and in The Philippines. We have built close personal relationships with men who fought there. My husband stood with them as they honored their fallen comrades on the crest of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. They are heroes whose name will never appear in any history book or on any television series.

Mr. Sledge brought the stories that I have heard them tell me to life. I understand now that when Ed was telling me a gruesome story of a friend of his who was killed on Iwo, he was leaving much out. He was sparing me the most bloody details. He wanted me to understand the war, but he did not want me to know the war.

Mr. Sledge brought me closer to the battle than I would ever want to be.

To me, artillery was an invention of hell. The onrushing whistle and scream of the big steel package of destruction was the pinnacle of violent fury and the embodiment of pent-up evil. It was the essence of violence and of man's inhumanity to man.

During prolonged shelling, I often had to restrain myself and fight back a wild, inexorable urge to scream, to sob, and to cry. As Peleliu dragged on, I feared that if I ever lost control of myself under shell fire my mind would be shattered. I hated shells as much for their damage to the mind as to the body.

I hope I will never know war. I hope I will never lose a husband or a son.

I hope that the lives of the men who died in battle in WWII or Korea or The Iraq War will never be forgotten.

I hope that Adam's wife and two young children will know that there are people out there who appreciate their sacrifice and his.

I hope you will take a moment to say a prayer for them.

War is brutish, inglorious and a terrible waste. Combat leaves an indelible mark on those who are forced to endure it. The only redeeming factors were my comrades' incredible bravery and their devotion to each other.

If you have the way or the means in these trying times, I hope you might consider Adam's family.

Adam Brown Memorial Fund
Navy Federal Credit Union
Body 200 Dam Neck
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23461


  1. Wow, what a moving post. Here in Minnesota, at our State Capitol there's a wonderful set of memorials to the various war veterans, and there's one that is simply a soldier with a plaque at the bottom. It's called the Memorial to the Living, and the plaque says only, "Why do you forget us?"

  2. OK, Inquirer, I commented before that we had some things in common. I lived on Guam for 2 years, from 72 to 74. I don't have that in common with many people.