Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Blue Star ~ A Gold Star.. And the family behind them..

War.  It never ends well.  No matter who wins.  No matter what side is right or wrong.  It never ends well.  

I don't want you to miss understand me.  I fully support our troops.  I stand behind them one hundred percent.  Mail packages around the world in support.  But to fully understand me.  What I mean by, It never ends well.  You'll have to sit for a while.  Hear me out.  Understand where I am coming from.  It is a long Blog, but the story is unforgettable

~ Blue Star ~


This is me.  This is my definition.  My standing in the Military Community.   The Blue Star.  Hung proudly in windows across America. Hanging proudly in my window, today.   Honor.  Courage.  Commitment.  Not only does the Soldier or Sailor serve, so does the family.  This Blue Star means, actively serving during war time. Once you are a Blue Star, you are always a Blue Star.  War or not. 

My son ~ James

Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.
- Rabindranath Tagore

I will always be a Blue Star Mother, even when my son is on longer serving actively.   When our troops all come home, I will still be a Blue Star Mother.  It is a symbol of Pride.  Warmth.   Hope.  Comfort.   Unconditional love and understanding, can be found where this Blue Star hangs.  A Friend for life.  My son made me a Blue Star Mother. 

~ Gold Star ~
A hero is someone
who has given his life
to something bigger than himself
or something other than himself.
- Joseph Campbell

This is me.  My family.  This is the Gold Star.  Can also be seen hung in windows all across America.  This Gold Star hangs in my window, today, right next to my Blue Star.  This star, is also know in the Military Community.  Known by every Mother or Father, Husband or Wife, who has or has had a love one serving in the Military.  Where this Gold Star hangs, you will find Understanding.  Comfort.  Hope.  Pain.  Love.  This Gold Star, is given to a love one, when their Soldier or Sailor gives his life while serving.  The Ultimate Sacrifice.  Laying down their life, for their brothers.  When you see The Gold Star, it means their love one will never return home.  Mine hangs for a family member... For Loss...  For Honor...  For Pride.  For my Uncle...

This is my uncle ~ Pfc. Carlos James Lozada

"Our lives are defined
not by the challenges we encounter, 
but by how we respond 
to those challenges."
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
"Pfc. Lozada, U.S. Army, distinguished himself at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in the battle of Dak To. 

While serving as a machine gunner with 1st platoon, Company A, Pfc. Lozada was part of a 4-man early warning outpost, located 35 meters from his company's lines. At 1400 hours a North Vietnamese Army company rapidly approached the outpost along a well defined trail. Pfc.Lozada alerted his comrades and commenced firing at the enemy who were within 10 meters of the outpost.  His heavy and accurate machine gun fire killed at least 20 North Vietnamese soldiers and completely disrupted their initial attack.

Pfc. Lozada remained in an exposed position and continued to pour deadly fire upon the enemy despite the urgent pleas of his comrades to withdraw. The enemy continued their assault, attempting to envelop the outpost.  At the same time enemy forces launched a heavy attack on the forward west flank of Company A with the intent to cut them off from their battalion. Company A was given the order to withdraw.  Pfc. Lozada apparently realized that if he abandoned his position there would be nothing to hold back the surging North Vietnamese soldiers and that the entire company withdrawal would be jeopardized.  He called for his comrades to move back and that he would stay and provide cover for them. He made this decision realizing that the enemy was converging on 3 sides of his position and only meters away, and a delay in withdrawal meant almost certain death.

Pfc. Lozada continued to deliver a heavy, accurate volume of suppressive fire against the enemy until he was mortally wounded and had to be carried during the withdrawal. His heroic deed served as an example and an inspiration to his comrades throughout the ensuing 4-day battle. Pfc. Lozada's actions are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army."
"A hero is an ordinary individual
who finds the strength to persevere
and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."
- Christopher Reeve

           It was through the actions of my uncle;  Pfc. Carlos James Lozada, that many of his 173d Sky Soldier Brothers were saved.  The Ultimate Sacrifice.  My Uncle saved others, by giving the only thing left to give, his life.  Remember the movie Saving Private Ryan?   I would replay the words spoken by Ryan in my head; "Am I A Good Man, Have I Led a Good Life?"  My uncle was 21 years old when he died.  I was almost 3.  I don't have memories of him bouncing me on his knees.  Playing stick ball with the family.   Changing my diapers as an infant.   When I was a little older, and learned about my Uncle, and what he had done for his fellow 173d brothers, what he had given up.  I often wondered about the men he saved.  If they knew about Carlos wife, My Auntie Linda.  If they knew Uncle Carlos had left behind a daughter.  A child he would never get to know.  A daughter who would never know her father.  So many times, I wanted to meet the men that my uncle called Brother.  The guys who shared coffee with him in the morning hours.  Heard him talk and shared stories with him.  I longed to be in there presents, feel what Uncle Carlos felt.  To capture a part of what was missing.  
Yvette Lozada-Canto and her girls ~ Carlos grand daughters

I got my wish....

To this day and even as I type, a lump forms that no matter how many times I swallow; just wont go down.  I light a candle, as an eternal flame.  There is a phrase I often look back to, and read over and over again..

If you are able,
save them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.

Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.

And in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam

I see things in a different light.  I make time to stop, and take a second glance.  For the little things in life, we so often don't notice at all.  And not just for my uncle Carlos.  But for every man or woman who gave their life, for their brothers.  
I learned, when I met the men who fought along side my uncle, they fought for their lives.  It wasn't until then that I fully understood.  It was no longer a War.  But, a fight to keep their lives.  For these men, Thanksgiving has another meaning.  For it was during this time, they was literally fighting to keep on breathing.  To see another day.  For many, there is no Thanksgiving Holidays... The thought of giving thanks when so many were lost is still, to this day, to strong to bear. 
A group of men, that I hold so dear to my heart.. and I can see clearly.. why my Uncle gave his life to them. 

Linda Lozada, Ed Perkins, and myself  {Joslinda}  June 2007
 When the phone rang in our hotel room, Ed Perkins was on the other end.  Emotional.  Crying.  He couldn't bring himself to come up to our room.  Auntie Linda and myself met him in the hotel lobby.  40 years later, and Ed lived that day like it was yesterday.    I remember him thanking Auntie Linda, and myself.... Through tears.  Unable to speak.  I can still see it, as if he is right in front of me now, hear his shaken words of thanks. This was the first, and last time I seen him.. I will never forget him... 

Wambi Cook

Wambi Cook... A gentle soul.  Who talked to me the days before the reunion.  Who reassured me.  Comforted me in my fears.  Shared stories of Dak To with me.  Fought along slide my uncle.  And fulled me with a pride, that was most overwhelming.  A smile, that said Welcome Home.  I could clearly see why my uncle called Wambi,  Brother. 

Joe Gray

Joe Gray... At times when he would look at us, a tear rolled from his eye.  A heart bigger then any other I have seen.  A compassionate man.  His laughter lifted my soul.  His presence, is a gift to all those who know him.  And those that don't, are missing out on a lot.  I felt his pain.  Drawn to his spirit.  I know i have found a friend for life.  I could clearly see why my uncle called Joe, Brother.

Gene Councilmen

Gene Councilman... He is light.  In the darkest of places, I could see the light reflect off of Gene.  His stories of Dak To, put me in a trance.  I felt drawn to Gene, like some inner force.  At the edge of my seat, hanging on every word.   I could see my uncles face in Gene.  And even looking at this picture, I still tear up.  Like a part of Uncle Carlos, is inside of Gene.  I can't explain it.  I just feel it.  Like, he to, takes the extra time to stop.  Taking that second glance. No matter the distance, I know Gene will always be a phone call away.  I can clearly see why my uncle called Gene, Brother.

Les and Billie Fuller
Les Fuller... {Seen here with his wife Billie} is life.  He reminds me of joy..  Just looking at him, is a reminder of ~ happiness.  The life of any gathering.  He is relaxation.  Calm.  I listened carefully when he spoke, as if the whole table stopped talking.  When he smiled, it was like the table smiled with him.  Les made it easy to feel, free.  I can clearly see why my uncle called Les, Brother.

Joes' Gonzales

From the second I met Jose', I knew why my uncle liked him.  I don't think Jose' hasn't met a friend.  He is the word, Party.  His laughter is contagious.  His eyes sparkle.  He makes you feel, as if anything is possible.  You want to get closer to him, learn about him.  He might be described as addicting, because I think it is possible.  I can clearly see why my uncle called Jose', Brother. 

The time we spent around these men, I understood fully, what my uncle saw in each and every one of them.  I was more then sure, the memory of my uncle ~ Pfc. Carlos James Lozada ~ would live on forever.  In their stories.  Their laughter.  Their tears.  Their joy.  And their Lives.  
If I were ever asked: "Are they Good Men, Have they Led a Good Life."  I would reply... 
"Each and everyone of them are living life to the fullest.  Taking with them what they have learned, and passing it on to another.  And through the stages of their lives, I know in my heart, they took my uncle with them.  Making sure to stop and take that second glance.. not only for Pfc. Lozada, but for each and every soldier lost on Hill 875, Dak To.  And each and every 173d Sky Soldier."

Jose', Gene, Les, Wambi, Joe, and John ~ 173d Sky Soldiers
I can not thank these men enough.. For not only giving me the chance to be apart of knowing them, but for letting me take that short walk in my uncles footsteps.  For letting me see, what my uncle saw in each and every one of them. 

There is another person, though I have not met him yet, I find him to be pure at heart.   He has been true to his word.  It is going to be a pleasure to meet him in May.  Thank you Paco, for all you have done, for all that you do, and all that your are.   I wish the picture was better, but Paco, is paying his respects to my uncle Carlos, at the Vietnam Wall.  Here's to you Paco, and again.. Thank you.

A Blue and Gold Star hang in my window for all the world to see.  A reminder.  Of War.   For My Child Serving.  For My Uncle Lost.  For Honor.  For Pride.  Although we go on every day, the battle continues at home and abroad.  Where yellow ribbons and prayers are sent for a safe return, and the memory of my uncle will never be forgotten.   

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