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July Fourth: What I learned from a friend who runs toward the sound of guns

The freedom we celebrate today as Americans, of course, isn’t free. It’s a debt paid forward by brave men and women who, in times of danger, run toward the sound of guns. United States Marines are known for this gallantry, and my friend Rye Barcott, who served in the Marine Corps, is no exception.

Rye is one of a group of men I train with regularly. I’ve written of the Campos previously, of the guys who have changed my life. Rye is one of those guys.

A quick word of caution to any civilian thinking about exercising regularly with a Marine: it’s hard on the ego. They do pull-ups with maddening nonchalance, and can run for, as we say in the South, a month of Sundays. But they’ll make you run with the swift.

This is important to me because “Run with the Swift” is my family’s unofficial motto. It’s how I encourage my daughter in tennis matches, when she battles by playing up a level. I say it to my son for reassurance when he chooses a heavy course load in school. So it was kind of inevitable that I’d be drawn to someone like Rye.

Yes, he pushes me to train harder, that I might keep pace with him on distance runs. But that’s not what really matters. Rye pushes me to be a better man, that I might keep pace with him in the fine example he sets. I’ll get to that more important part below, but first you need to know a little more about my friend.

Rye is one of those guys who saw the larger picture very early on. The saying “youth is wasted on the young” is itself wasted on men like Rye. Since college, he’s been running to the sound of guns.

While an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – which he attended on a U.S. Marine Corps NROTC scholarship – Rye visited Kibera, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. He wanted a firsthand understanding of the ethnic violence that he’d face in uniform.

Rye didn’t just write a paper on what he saw. In 2001 he co-founded Carolina for Kibera. What started out as a youth center and medical clinic in a ten-by-ten foot shack is now a major non-governmental organization affiliated with his alma mater. Rye spoke proudly about it this past May in Chapel Hill, as UNC’s commencement speaker.

Mike Kerrigan op-ed photos

Rye Barcott speaking at UNC’s commencement  (Courtesy of the author)

After graduation Rye served five years on active duty, attaining a captain’s rank and leading Marines in Iraq, Bosnia and the Horn of Africa. In 2012 he reflected on his dual missions of fighting war while waging peace.

“It Happened on the Way to War – A Marine’s Path to Peace” is a first-rate piece of writing, but don’t take my word for it. Take Bono’s, or Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s, both of whom appear on the book’s jacket.

These days Rye hears the sound of guns not abroad but at home, in a country paralyzed by political polarization. In 2017 he co-founded With Honor, a super political action committee, with political commentator and fellow veteran David Gergen.

With Honor’s mission is simple: to increase the number of next-generation veterans in Congress, and fix America’s broken politics.

The candidates that With Honor supports pledge to put principles before politics, and carry themselves with the same civility, integrity, and courage that they brought to military service. They commit to monthly meetings with a member from another political party, and to co-sponsor bipartisan legislation at least annually.

In their current deployment, these veterans are once again called to put aside differences and come together — from many, one — for our country’s greater good. It might be just what America needs right now.

So back to those important lessons my friend Rye taught me, the ones beyond the fitness. Three morals stand out in importance.

First, you don’t have to be a Marine to run to the sound of guns. Yes, Rye did it as Marine, but he also did it before and after deployment, in Kibera and in Congress. Running to the sound of guns is not so much a battle tactic as the mindset of a mission-oriented life. The trick is to choose the right mission, one worthy of your life – perhaps your Faith, your Family or your Country.

Second, the sound of guns is heard not only on the battlefield. It is heard wherever hatred is sown, and we run to that sound whenever we answer it not with more hatred, but with love. The sound of guns, sadly, can be heard all around us these days. We just need to listen.

Third, the point of all of the physical training that anchors our friendship – the goal of being strong – is to protect the weak. Rye’s life is a testament to a beautiful sentiment Saint Francis de Sales put this way – nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength.

We all should have a friend like Rye, a happy warrior who makes you run with the swift. If you have one, be thankful. If you don’t, find one as soon as you can. And remember, someone else is looking up to you for that same kind of leadership.

That’s what I learned from Rye Barcott, my good buddy and a fine American. I’ll thank him here — fittingly on Independence Day — since I doubt I’ll ever catch him in a footrace.

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American sniper’s wife Taya Kyle: An open letter to the NFL

Editor’s note: The following column originally appeared  on Facebook on September 26. Since it was posted to Facebook it has received more than 6,000 shares and more than 1,000 comments. Taya Kyle is a Fox News contributor and the author of “American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal.” Visit Taya Kyle’s official Facebook page — Taya Kyle American Wife

Dear NFL,

You were doing your part to bring people together and heal the world. That’s really how healing works. We heal by loving each other and leading by example; showing people what is possible when we love each other just as we are and not only recognize our differences but celebrate them and look at how we can use them together to make us jointly better than our separate parts. You were doing your part celebrating each other based on skills, talent and a joint vision without regard to color and religion.

You were doing your part and we were doing ours. We showed up cheering and groaning together to as one. We talked in the concession lines and commiserated and celebrated our team together. Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you.

Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world — different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal — to do well, to win, TOGETHER.

Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world — different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal — to do well, to win, TOGETHER.

You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division. Will we stand with you? Will we stand with our flag? What does it mean? What does it mean if we buy a ticket or NFL gear? What does it mean if we don’t? It is the polar opposite of the easy togetherness we once loved in football.

It was simple – we loved you and you loved us – with all of our races, religions, different backgrounds and politics. Simplicity in a crazy world was pretty awesome.

You dear NFL, have taken that. You have lost me here.

If you ever want to get off your knees and get to work on building bridges, let me know. I have found screaming about the problems in service marriages or even standing in silence in front of them, hasn’t healed even one of them.

On the other hand, funding the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, building a team and rolling up my sleeves to get in the trenches during my “off time” — volunteering there outside of my paying jobs — has proven to make real change.

You have a lot of strong guys, I am sure in the off season a lot of them could build some pretty big bridges if they care enough to do the hard work. That would involve getting off their knees and getting to work though. If I can do it while I raise two kids as their only parent and work through the greatest pain of my life, let’s see if they can do it for the issues they say they care so much about.

Go Longhorns and Sic ‘Em …

Sincerely,

Taya

 

Taya Kyle is co-author of “American Wife: Love, War, Faith and Renewal” (William Morrow, May 2015) founded the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation in honor of her late husband Chris Kyle, legendary U.S. Navy SEAL and author of the bestsellers “American Sniper” and “American Gun.” The foundation is devoted to strengthening the marriages of veterans and first responders. An active public speaker, Taya Kyle makes frequent appearances at fund-raisers and other events, inspiring others to find strength and persevere through struggles. She and her two children live in Texas.

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Never Forget – “Freedom is Not FREE”.   Please read this article and HONOR those who have served, are serving and will serve their country.

Proud American

Memorial Day: Reflections of an Army widow

Bauguess family

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

 We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

—President Ronald Reagan

May is traditionally a month of delight and expectation. Summer is drawing near, the school year will end soon, pools begin to open, maybe a beach trip is planned. I look forward to all of that. But, for me and my family, an underlying twinge of pain, sadness and loss invades our hope and anticipation of an otherwise joyful month.

On May 14, 2007, my world flipped upside down. My husband, Army Major Larry Bauguess, was serving in his dream job, deployed to Afghanistan, as an operations officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. Larry was a warrior and a gentleman and, true to his roots, he was participating in a peace meeting in Pakistan.

By all accounts, the historic meeting was successful. The Afghani, Pakistani and U.S. leadership had reached an agreement. The leaders from all three sides shook hands, exchanged coins and posed for pictures. A short while later, a uniformed Pakistani Frontier Guardsman, who had the mission to provide security for our troops, instead raised his rifle, took aim and opened fire. Larry stood between the shooter and his men. On his feet, he protected his men and took the brunt of the assault.

Our tiny daughters Ryann and Ellie and I were in our home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when the notification team came to deliver the heartbreaking news. The sound of the doorbell startled me. I remember walking to the door on that beautiful May afternoon expecting to see a little one on our front porch wanting to play with my girls. When I looked through the peephole, I saw something entirely different.

Through the tiny glass tunnel, I saw a man dressed in army greens. As I pushed away from the door, blood rushed to my face and a cold chill raced up my spine. When you’ve been in and around the Army for as long as we have, you know what it means when a man dressed in an army-green suit with a chest full of ribbons comes to your house during a time of war.

Since that day, my daughters and I have had quite a journey of heartache and pain, but we have had joyful moments, too. We work very hard to strike a balance. We lean on our faith. We follow Larry’s example.

We miss him. Every. Single. Day. We feel his void in everything we do, even 10 years later. But, we have chosen to drive on in a manner that, we hope, has honored him. If we didn’t do that, if we had quit, if we had given up on life or felt sorry for ourselves even for a minute, Larry Bauguess would come down here and say, “I didn’t give my life so you could stop living yours.” He would tell us to drive on. He would say, “Live your life. The best way to honor me is to get back out there and continue to live.”

I know he would say that to me, and I would say the exact same thing to him. So, we drive on. We live our lives, and we live in a way that we hope brings honor to him.

So, this Memorial Day, enjoy the pool. Enjoy the beach trip. Relish in the fact that the school year is almost over and summer is right around the corner. But, please, remember those intrepid Americans who, for decades and decades, have given that last full measure of devotion. Remember those who have given their lives to provide the blanket of freedom that allows us to live free. Never forget their sacrifice. Pray for the families left behind. And always remember that, though it absolutely is worth fighting for, freedom isn’t free. 

Wesley Bauguess is an Army veteran and widow. Her book, God, Country, Golf: Reflections of an Army Widow, releases from Westbow Press on May 14, 2017, the 10th anniversary of her husband Larry’s courageous sacrifice in service.

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What to expect from Apple’s iPhone 7 event

With a major iPhone physical redesign expected in 2017, the iPhone 7 may feature just modest changes this year. Will that be enough to keep consumers interested? Read on.

The closer you get to an Apple event, the more accurate the rumors tend to get. We’re now a few days before the event and probably have a pretty good idea what to expect — barring a few surprises — according to reports and analysts.

Let’s go over the new stuff you’re most likely to see on the next-generation iPhone at the September 7 Apple event.

Physical design: The iPhone 7 will not be a major departure from the appearance of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s and 5.5-inch 6s Plus. The expected similarity is one of the reasons that the iPhone 7 is being referred to as another interim release, rather than the full redesign typically seen every two years.

Elimination of traditional headphone jack: This expected change has gained steam this week with an apparent leak revealing new Beats headphones due to be announced at the event. Rumors suggest that Apple will debut both new wireless headphones and Beats headphones that use Lightning connectors, according to MacRumors.

Water resistance: The elimination of the headphone jack is also expected to allow improved water resistance and is a key reason for its removal.

New dual-camera: A better camera has become a de rigueur upgrade for any smartphone. In the last few months, dual-sensor cameras (aka, dual cameras) are just beginning to come into vogue on high-end phones. The larger iPhone 7 model could use a dual-camera system similar to Huawei’s P9 smartphone. The dual-cameras produce photos with more detail and perform better in low-light conditions. The camera sensors combine the two images to yield a single, merged photograph, according to a Bloomberg report.

New home button: Apple may replace the current buttons — which must be pressed down into the phone — with a flush, pressure-sensitive button.

Faster processors: It is almost certain that Apple will come out with a new generation of faster processors, most likely called the A10 processor, as follow-on to the current A9 chip.

So far, analysts are not overly impressed by the expected changes to Apple’s flagship device.

“As much as the updates are solid moves forward they sound fairly mundane,” Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm Conlumino, told FoxNews.com. “That said, there will likely be more interest in the new phone if only because consumers with iPhone 5 or 5s models who feel it is time to trade up. However, this isn’t a replacement for the demand created by a phone which represents a real step forward.”

Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at market researcher IDC, agrees. “The minor changes and the major refresh expected in 2017 are partly the reason we forecast a decline for the iPhone in 2016,” Ubrani told Foxnews.com.

IDC published a forecast on Thursday that reinforced this outlook for Apple — though the report added: “IDC does expect a rebound in 2017 and beyond as iPhones reach nearly a quarter billion units in 2020.”

And what about the most-talked-about change, the elimination of the venerable headphone jack? “Apple’s rumored decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack will dramatically improve audio quality,” Rene Oehlerking, CMO at headphone maker Jaybird, told Foxnews.com. “Replacing the 50-year-old analog technology allows you to listen to digital music in its purest form and, along with the upcoming Bluetooth 5.0 release, paves the way for a massive leap in wireless adoption.”

Other expected announcements on September 7 include a new Apple Watch with GPS, a faster processor, and better health and fitness tracking. A new iOS 10 operating system is also expected, as is the latest operating system for Macs, called macOS Sierra.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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Thankful Nation

Thankful that ‘Semper Fidelis’ is more than a slogan, it’s a way of life

660-Marine-AP.jpg

Nov. 21, 2014: In this photo provided by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Marine Capt. Derek Herrera, center, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, salutes during his awards and retirement ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (AP Photo/U.S. Marines, Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

For what am I thankful? Herewith, in chronological order, that for which I am most grateful:

I’m thankful the Good Lord decided I would be born in the United States of America, a son of the Greatest Generation; in this place blessed with bounty beyond measure; a fruitful land with resources and opportunities too vast to quantify.

I’m grateful to live among the most diverse, prosperous and generous population on earth; in a country where We The People govern and where our Constitution protects God-given rights to worship as we please; speak as we want; come and go as we w

I’m thankful that for the first time since the American Revolution, everyone serving in a U.S. uniform during this long war is a volunteer – and that Freedom Alliance does so much to help those in uniform and their families who sacrifice so much in the cause of Liberty..

For my entire seventy-one years it has been my privilege to keep company with heroes – those who selflessly place themselves at risk for the benefit of others. I’m grateful for parents and mentors who led by example in teaching my siblings and me that we’re not here to simply endure the future in some desperately uneven contest but to persevere and use our God-given gifts and talents to change tomorrow for the good.

I’m glad to have learned from those with whom I grew up – and have reinforced by those with whom I associate today – that we’re not here to complain about the steepness of the climb but to reach out and help others from getting lost along the way.

I’m thankful that in 1961 I joined the United States Marines and learned that “Semper Fidelis” is more than a slogan. Rather, “Always Faithful” is a way of life.

I’m grateful for my cousin Kathy for introducing me in 1968 to the love of my life, my best friend, the mother of our four children and now the grandmother of 14 ½ grandchildren.

Every day I appreciate that my only “beat” for Fox News are the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Guardsmen and Marines who defend our nation – and that for 13 years I’ve had the opportunity to accompany the best and bravest of this generation in the difficult and dangerous places where they defeat evil enemies.

I’m thankful that for the first time since the American Revolution, everyone serving in a U.S. uniform during this long war is a volunteer – and that Freedom Alliance does so much to help those in uniform and their families who sacrifice so much in the cause of Liberty.

On Thanksgiving Day we will gather our growing tribe and a good number of neighbors and friends. We will thank our Lord and Savior for the young Americans serving in harm’s way on land, sea and in the air and ask for their protection. Hopefully our countrymen will do so as well.

Col. Oliver L. North (ret.) serves as host of the Fox News Channel documentary series “War Stories with Oliver North.” From 1983 to 1986, he served as the U.S. government’s counterterrorism coordinator on the National Security Council staff. North is the founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization providing college scholarships to the children of military personnel killed in the line of duty and author of the new nationwide bestseller, “Counterfeit Lies,” a novel about how Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. Click here for more information on Oliver North

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Ultimate Warrior’s ultimate message

Shock and a terrible sadness. That’s the only way to describe reaction to the sudden death of the Ultimate Warrior.

Professional wrestling is not for everyone, but you don’t have to be a fan to feel for the family, friends and loved ones who are grieving the loss of the man once known as Jim Hellwig.

Many – too many – professional wrestlers have been called home too young. But what makes Warrior’s passing especially surreal and painful is that he had returned to World Wrestling Entertainment – and taken his rightful place among other icons in the WWE Hall of Fame – just days ago.

Like so many others, as a child, I loved the Warrior. He was a superhero incarnate x 10.

He had had a chance to thank his legion of loyal fans after being in exile for 18 years because of a long-running dispute with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

Like so many others, as a child, I loved the Warrior. He was a superhero incarnate x 10.

Chiseled out of granite, his face masked in war paint and tassels hanging from his biceps, he was an unforgettable sight. Excitement was guaranteed whenever Warrior charged the ring  and shook the ropes on WWF Wrestling Challenge and WWF Superstars of Wrestling every Saturday morning. No one understood his manic promos, but it didn’t matter. Warrior was just awesome – it was as plain and simple as that.

We’re not going to recap his career here. If you’re reading this and are a person of a certain age, odds are you were a wrestling fan at some point and followed the life and times of the Ultimate Warrior. You know he was once the heir-apparent to Hulk Hogan, you know about his war with McMahon, an infamous WWE-produced DVD that trashed Warrior and the reconciliation over the past year.

And that truce appeared to bring peace to the aging, 54-year-old self-styled warrior. Last  Saturday, at his Hall of Fame ceremony at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, he appeared content as he soaked in the roars of his “legion of warriors.”

Gone was the long, wild brown hair, replaced by a buzz cut silver mane.  His signature neon-colored tassels and face paint were replaced by a peppered-ash goatee and a basic black-and-white tuxedo.

Ultimate Warrior hadn’t entertained in the ring for years and had reinvented himself as a motivational speaker. But on this night – and throughout the weekend in an appearances at WrestleMania 30 and then Monday night on WWE’s flagship program, RAW  – he seemed intent of “setting the record straight” about his career.

Warrior’s final public appearance on Monday will haunt his fans and loved ones for a long time.

His words seem eerily prophetic:

“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” he told the audience. “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something that’s larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers — by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him, and make the running the man did live forever. I am the Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior fans and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”

Ultimate Warrior seemed to live his life to its fullest and appreciate where he had been and where he was in his life.

Let’s rejoice in the fact that he was allowed to put an exclamation point on his career and thank his fans.

Less than a week ago, he was being inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame, writing the final chapter in his past life as a professional wrestler, and telling his young daughters that being their father was the best thing he’d ever do.

Less than a week later his family is in mourning. Just unreal.

Maybe Ultimate Warrior’s final message to us is this: Hug your loved ones.  Settle old, petty grudges. Tomorrow’s never guaranteed.

Rest well, Warrior. We hope you’re shaking those ring ropes at the pearly gates.

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May God Bless and Protect you and those “who walk the line” and “serve for their country”.  For all the Fathers and Mothers who son or daughter goes off to war — with respect and gratitude Steve Gerbsman

Author’s note: This account is not to suggest that my son is any more interesting or important than any of the other soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who’ve answered the call to serve their country in the Afghan war.  It is simply a father’s first-person account, nothing more.

It’s a beautiful blue-sky day in Eastern Kansas. Storms rolled through the previous night to wring the humidity out of the air.

I’m sitting with my oldest son at his favorite breakfast place, just outside Ft. Riley, home of the Big Red One–the 1st Infantry Division.

We’re drinking coffee and idly perusing the menu while we wait for his buddies to join us. I’m not even aware of the Bob Marley song playing on the overhead speakers until he says matter-of-factly, “I love reggae!  Makes me feel like I’m going to the beach today and not to war.”

 I ask point-blank how he’s feeling.  “I’m excited,” he answers.  “A little nervous, but mostly excited.”

I take a big swig of coffee.  Maybe it’ll wash down that lump I suddenly found in my throat.

His two buddies arrive; there’s laughter, joking.  They’ve both seen this day before; both have deployed, either to Iraq or Afghanistan. One is going back on the same flight as my son. But for 1st Lt. Joshua Scott, and for me, this is all brand-new: his first combat deployment.

I think about that time eight, maybe nine years ago when the memories of 9/11 still burned hot and the war in Iraq was young.

Josh announced that the only school he wanted to attend was West Point.

His mother wasn’t keen on the idea of her son becoming a warrior. I remember telling her, “Don’t worry.  Iraq will be over by the time he graduates.”

I was right.  But I never expected the war that began the month after 9/11 would still be roiling a dozen years later, that what seemed at first like the relatively low-intensity Afghan conflict would still pull U.S. forces into what has become America’s longest war.  Now my son, my soldier, is going over to help fight it.

We drive toward the baggage drop. Six years ago, it was a bright July day much like this one  when we dropped him off at West Point to begin training to become an Army officer.

Somehow that day was tougher for me; now I’m fishing around inside my head and my heart for the reason why.

Back then we were only delivering an 18-year-old to begin basic training at the nation’s oldest military academy; we knew we’d see him again in a matter of weeks. This deployment is scheduled to last nine months. Why was West Point’s R-Day so much tougher for me to take?

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen what a West Point education has done for him in those six years, what kind of man he’s become.

Back then, the father-son wrestling matches that occasionally broke out in our kitchen could usually end in a draw.

These days, after his four years on the Army’s Sprint Football team and participation in West Point’s P-T (physical training) regimen, he could easily whip his old man in any contest.

It’s more than his bulked-up physique, however. I see how he’s matured, how he handles the myriad of responsibilities of an officer, how calm and unfazed he seems in stressful situations. The critical thinking and leadership skills developed at West Point are on daily display. This isn’t the kid we dropped off six years ago.

We arrive at a parking lot where some unseen giant has plopped four truck-sized steel boxes, shipping containers, one for each company deploying today. The clothing and personal gear that will sustain these soldiers for the next nine months, so laboriously packed into duffels, now gets stacked into these colossal steel caves. Soon the giant will return to stuff them into the belly of an Air Force cargo plane bound, like the soldiers, for Afghanistan.

Now we’re driving again, heading toward the site of the sendoff ceremony.  I ask point-blank how he’s feeling.  “I’m excited,” he answers. “A little nervous, but mostly excited.”

We enter the cavernous helicopter hangar where the deployment ceremony will take place. Tables are piled high with food but nobody seems to be eating much.

My assessment is that two moods prevail here; the soldiers seem relaxed, maybe stoked–there are hearty hugs and high fives.

Nothing that I see among them resembles anything close to dread. But for the families, the mood seems somber, even sorrowful.  I see a few tears, long lingering kisses and hugs that have no end.

The soldiers with families squeeze in their final few pre-deployment minutes with spouses and children.  These are the scenes that truly make my heart ache.

The kids, most of them too young to truly comprehend what’s going on, spending precious seconds in the arms of Dad or Mom. It will be nine months, God willing, before they see each other again. For many of these kids that’s a lifetime or more.

The Army’s myriad rules and regulations bring some unintended levity to the day. At one point Josh reaches in his pocket and realizes he’s still carrying his multitool, complete with 3-inch blade.

He wonders whether he should take it on the plane.  “I think we’re not supposed to.  Then again, we’re going to be issued our weapons and we’re bringing them onboard…so what difference does it make?” He grins.

Sure enough, we make our way to a back room of the hangar where dutiful soldiers with clipboards and checklists stand ready to dole out a soldier’s most basic tool: his weapon.

My son’s face lights up when he sees his name taped on an M-4 automatic; until this moment, he wasn’t sure that’s what he’d be getting.

“They’re so much lighter than the M-16,” he says with relief.  It’s also far bigger and way more lethal than his multitool.  I hope he never has to use it.  If he has to use it, I hope it works.

Now we’re back in the main hangar. Some soldier hooked up her laptop to provide the music, an eclectic mix of country, acid rock and pop. At the moment, Miley Cyrus is gleefully squealing:
“…So I put my hands up, they’re playin’ my song, the butterflies fly away…”

No, Miley, the butterflies in my stomach haven’t gone anywhere.  I think  this entire cavernous hangar is filled with them.

A gentleman comes up, introduces himself, shakes my hand. His daughter is an Apache helicopter pilot who graduated West Point the year before my son. She’s going over and yes, this is her first deployment too.

He thanks me for mentioning my son’s story as I do from time to time on Fox News’ “Happening Now.”  “People need to remember,” he says, “we still have a war going on over there and this country’s kids are fighting it!”

Then the music breaks for an announcement: Ten minutes until the ceremony. Ten minutes to say your goodbyes.

I’ve anticipated this moment for days, weeks now. I’ve had all kinds of time to ponder the words I want to speak.  I want it to be something brilliant, meaningful, inspirational–Neil Armstrong meets George Patton. But words fail me.

I tell him all the things he already knows, that I love him, I’m proud of him, we’ll all be praying for him, stay safe. The last two seem so pointless.

He’s going to a war zone. Do I honestly think he’s not going to be doing everything he can every second of the day to do that? It’s not like he’ll hang one of those OSHA signs on the tent door, “Warning: Taliban outside! Remain alert!”  I almost wish I hadn’t been so trite.

The ceremony itself is mercifully brief. The soldiers gather in tight formation under a gigantic Stars and Stripes.  The chaplain offers a prayer; a commander says a few more words.

Then the order bellows throughout the hangar:  “RIGHT FACE!  FORWARD MARCH!”

Four hundred men and women step smartly toward the aircraft doors and off to a war they tell us is ending.  Dear God, bring each of them home!

Applause erupts from those left behind as they step into the July day.  The sun beams down on the soldiers while a father is beaming at his son.

Jon Scott serves as co-anchor for Fox News Channel’s “Happening Now.” Scott joined FOX News Network in October of 1996, two months prior to its launch.

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