From One Vet To Another: Roman’s Story
From One Veteran To Another: A Veterans Day Salute
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The hostilities of World War One grind to a halt as Armistice Day takes effect.
And the world is silent. The Great War- The War to End All Wars- has ripped a hole in the heart of humanity. No one knows where to turn. Where does one look when the sum total of their entire understanding of life is obliterated before their very eyes?
We Turn To Our Veterans.
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
President Woodrow Wilson. Champion of a day in which we stop & attempt to make sense of the horrors of war, & the toll it demands of us.
And the Veterans are our only connection- our only hope of understanding.
Home Surplus is honored to share the story of our very own Mr. Roman F., who embodies the discipline & ethics the military instills in its soldiers & passes on those lessons daily to his employees.
Drafted in 1969 during the Vietnam War era, young Roman completed his basic training & went on to excel as a Supply & Transportation Specialist for the famous 1st Infantry Division- the “Big Red One”. From Fort Dix, NJ and Fort Polk, LA, the 1st Infantry found a home in Fort Riley, Kansas.
Soon after his arrival, the weary 1st Infantry was pulled from active combat in Vietnam to be replaced by the 5th Army.
The 1st Infantry perfected the use of the helicopter in jungle combat. Photo: 1stid.org/historyindex.php
Roman relates how the Division was nearly wiped out after the troops ran into a tightly dug in force of Viet Cong during one amphibious landing. Friends fell that day. Brothers.
The Division suffered 20,770 casualties over the course of the war.
An excerpt from the Society of the 1st Division website reveals astounding testimony to the various strategic achievements of Big Red One during the war:
“For nearly five years, the First Infantry Division soldiers battled against an aggressive enemy who made expert use of the dense jungles and inaccessible countryside. During this conflict, the First Infantry Division had mastered the use of helicopters as one of the best means of countering the jungle and lack of roads; gained significant experience in resupply operations, medical evacuation and the tactics of air mobile assault; instituted numerous other tactical innovations; and provided extensive civic action support to the South Vietnamese people. Eleven Big Red One soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions.”
Following nearly five years of combat in Vietnam, the 1st Infantry Division returned to Fort Riley in April 1970 and assumed the NATO commitment.
Roman learned the intricacies of logistics in the context of the military, in one of history’s most celebrated US Army divisions. “The skills & experience I gained from my time as Supply Specialist for 1st Infantry laid the groundwork for my entire professional career.”
“Providing customers timely, thorough service is not much different than supplying soldiers in uniform, I find,” he observes. “I approach each job with an attention to detail & expert knowledge of the materials & process.” Any slight deviation could jeopardize the mission. Or a person’s entire kitchen.
The Cold War saw a fair share of saber-rattling from the world powers, & Roman’s division was transferred to Germany as part of the NATO War Games. When they arrived, Roman discovered that the US troops were being withheld certain critical rations from their foreign handlers, & decided to take action.
“That night, the guards at our camp were surprised by lines of trucks arriving unscheduled, laden with beef & other necessary supplies,” He remembers with glee. “These guys hadn’t seen stuff like this in weeks.”
At a time of bleak uncertainty amongst the troops & the world’s population of democracy, Roman managed against all odds to inject hope & raise the moral of his Division. His officers were grateful. Roman was rewarded a weeks leave to Denmark, fully paid.
Roman went on to complete his service with ranks, joining the reserves for 3 years in 812 MP Company stateside.
Resilience in the face of loss. Questioning the status quo. Taking action to change lives.
These are the lessons we learn from Roman, & from all Veterans on The 11th Day; Veterans Day.
We salute our veterans. We remember the fallen. And we pray for a lasting peace in the world.