Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In Memory of Jason Redifer, USMC ... Semper Fi

"Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless
coward, and freedom will be defended."
-- President George W. Bush, 9/11/01

In Memory of

Lance Corporal Jason Redifer
First Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Alpha Company
from Augusta County, Virginia

Killed in Action in Iraq two years ago today
January 31, 2005

"If our country does not lead the cause for freedom
it will not be led."
-- President George W. Bush

Semper Fi.

An American Marine.... Jason Redifer was just 19 years old when he was killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom ... battling the terrorists there ... instead of here ... protecting the freedoms we all enjoy every day of our lives. His death occurred just one day after Iraq's successful free elections in January 2005.

He had grown up on Twin Springs Farm in Stuarts Draft and was a self-described cowboy who loved God, family, and America ... in that order. He rode horses; he worked the farm; he had many friends, and he loved his brothers: Sgt. Justin Redifer, 23, a military policeman in the Army scheduled to deploy to Iraq in March and a part of SWAC since the George Bush campaign in 2004; and the little guys Courtland, 10; and Carter, 8.

Jason graduated from Stuart Hall School in May 2003 and left for Marine boot camp three days later. His bunk mate was fellow Augusta County native Ben Rexrode who recently returned from Iraq.

Jason was chosen to be part of the elite White House Presidential Guard in Washington D.C. But he didn't feel right doing that ... and decided he would go to Iraq so a husband or father wouldn't have to leave a family behind.

In July 2004, Jason went to Iraq. He was impressed by the kindness of the Iraqi people who were grateful to the American Marines and invited them into their homes. He connected with the children. He kept pictures of his family in his camouflage helmet.

He survived six IED (improvised explosive device) explosions ... before the one that killed him nine days before he was scheduled to leave Iraq and return to the States. He had called and talked with his mother at 4:00 that morning ... just two hours before his death.

Jason's funeral had an overflow of family, young people, veterans, friends, and strangers at Calvary Methodist Church in Stuarts Draft on a balmy mid-winter day. His flag-draped casket at the front of the church was surrounded by the things that had made up Jason's life: his cowboy boots, a rocking chair with a fishing pole leaning against it and his black cowboy hat hanging on the back, Marine uniform, flak jacket, camouflage combat helmet, work boots....

He had chosen three songs "just in case" -- God Bless the USA, The Dance, and Go Rest High on That Mountain, the song by Vince Gill.

Jason's burial was at Arlington National Cemetery the next day. A poignant picture in the newspaper showed a Marine in dress blues handing the tri-fold American flag to his mother ... and she with her hand touching the Marine's face comforting him because, as she later said, his eyes reflected such deep sadness that she instinctively reached out to him.

In Stuarts Draft there's a flag pole dedicated to Jason. It stands on a small knoll with benches and plants surrounding it. It's a peaceful area where the wind almost always blows, where the view of the mountains and countryside is beautiful and serene. And overwhelming. The presence of Jason seems to be there.

Today, as you drive to work ... or watch your child skip through the front door at school ... or run errands around town, pause to utter thanks for young men like Jason who feel the call to serve our country and protect our freedoms. They have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. And pause to thank their families who also have made that sacrifice ... and for a strong leader like President Bush whose concern is the protection of the American people in this time of war.

Take a moment to thank that Marine ... soldier ... sailor ... and airman who passes you on the street ... that police officer, fireman, rescue worker who protects us on the home front. May God bless the U.S.A.

"We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail."
-- President George W. Bush

For those who have fought for it,
Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.


f mcdonald said...

Jason's family will be in my prayers today. He is a true hero.

cafe de emporia said...

Jason is a hero.