Guardians Of Our Gates

The war drums reverberates through my mind as I try to put visuals to the stories I have heard from those who have served and protected the gates of our Nation and other Nations, the real Guardians, our Soldiers. Without their sacrifice our gates would have crumbled and men would not sleep peaceably because our Guardians have and still are bearing the cause. Yes, they are known as our Soldiers, but today I refer to them as our Guardians because they are our defenders, protectors and keepers of our freedoms and peace…

Valiant and strong, fearless and courageous were those who gave their all, the ultimate sacrifice in the field and on sea and they did so with pride so we could keep freedom and justice within our gates. There has always been war , something to fight about whether we agree or not and the inclination of these wars lie in the nature of us humans as we are born with selfish genes and we feel the need to compete and fight to survive. Today, we are a free Nation and all honor is due to God first and foremost then to our brave Guardians, our Champions who were devoted and we will always remember their gallantry. Those who lie in the soil of heroism , we still honor you! You are not forgotten and we thank you for your selfless service.

My dad, John R. Hardin Sr. 320th Airborne Field Artillery

The above photo is my dad and I am honored to tell you he loved God, family and his country with all he had. My father became qualified through Basic Combat Training to move forward into a more advanced Individual Training and U.S. Army Airborne School in order to become eligible for Special Forces Training, the Green Berets. My dad told me of the mental and physical duress he had to undergo during his time of training and today these guys refer to themselves as “the quiet professionals.”

He also told me many stories about being dropped from a perfectly good plane in the sky and I will share a couple of these stories. He was in San Angelo Texas with orders to jump. The wind was up to around 28 mph so the General called the Colonel, Colonel Lowry and asked him to abort the jump missions that day. In my father’s words; ” we were all staying in old warehouses and the wind was so strong it nearly blew the doors off the hinges. It literally became dangerous and we could not sleep for all the loud banging from the doors. The next morning we were sent up in a C47. We dropped our equipment first, but it was getting damaged because of the high winds. then we began our jumps.” I saw tears well up in his eyes as he continued; ” One of the guys jumped and he hit the ground so hard it shoved his rifle through his arm pit and killed him. When I hit the ground, the wind caught my chute and there was a pocket of air trying to lift my chute dragging me across the field over 100 yards. I remember some of the soldiers running to my aid, they grabbed the chute to stop the air flow from dragging me further.” Dad said it took 45 seconds from plane to ground and you had to know how to hit the ground and roll and that day his chute did not lose air.

I asked my dad what happened to Colonel Lowry who clearly disobeyed the General’s orders. He told me that Colonel Lowry never showed up at Ft. Benning Georgia where my dad was stationed because of threats the Colonel was receiving. In fact, he believed Col. Lowry either resigned or was demoted.

Another story, one that ultimately ended my dad’s training for the Green Beret and also his career in the Army completely. They were dropped in the Southeastern corner of Georgia in the Okefenokee Swamp (which is often referred to as “the trembling earth”) from a perfectly good plane in the sky with nothing but a large knife (unsure of the kind) and a few field rations (food packets). Their training mission was to endure the cold temperatures and the wildlife which consisted of bears, gators, water moccasins which in that area are very large and venomous. But when my dad jumped from the plane his landing wasn’t what he had prepared for. He landed on a big embankment and lost footing and fell backwards into dangerous, stubby terrain. Needless to say, he had to be airlifted from that area and into the hospital. For nine months he stayed under the care of highly qualified physicians during his stay in the hospital and my mother would drive my siblings, my older brother, sister and middle brother (my younger brother and myself were not yet born) to go see him and could only see him from outside the building. My father had developed serious kidney issues that made him deathly ill and no one could come visit him in person so my mother and siblings visited him weekly from outside in the parking area while my dad was placed by the window so he could wave at them.

Again, he told me with tears in his eyes that was the loneliest time in his life and it killed him to have to see his wife and children standing below waving to him above. It took a long time to recover his internal injuries thus causing him to receive an honorable discharge from the United States Army. These are just a couple of many stories my dad told me. I have also witnessed other military guys from long ago who sat with my dad and cry while telling stories they lived to tell about while fighting for our Country. I was very young when I heard some horrific details that have never left my mind that I still cry about to this day. Unless you listen to their stories, you have no idea the pain and suffering our men and women have endured while fighting for the cause. I have several members in my family today serving, being the Guardians for our gates. Many of you do as well. As we honor the fallen always, we also honor the active as they also are champions of the cause. Our Veterans who are living need to be appreciated as this is a day set aside to honor them. ALL our Veterans living and dead, we thank you and are profoundly grateful for your service and have much respect for the oath you took to go the distance. We live in Freedom and it is because of you serving our country and because of this freedom, I am free to express my gratitude and I am privileged that I can vote. Thank you, Veterans, our Guardians of our gates…

One Reply to “Guardians Of Our Gates”

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