Remembering Jay on Memorial Day 2013

Every Memorial Day, I believe it is my duty to honor the sacrifice of my friend, Jay. As the world changes and the years fade, it is important that those who remain never forget. Jay exemplifies that long gray line of West Pointers who lived and died by the motto: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today is his day.

For the past two years, I have posted the following words about Jay. As always, the same words and sentiments still apply now.

I still miss you, buddy.

The cross-currents of individual lives can be interesting things. Through time we each follow our own paths. On occasion, these paths intersect unexpectedly with those of greater men and women.

During my life, my path crossed several times with one of my generation’s finest.

I met Jay in high school. He was a serious, quiet, and determined person. He was also one heck of an athlete, leading my high school soccer team to the State Championship as its all-star goalie.

Opting for a more serious life dedicated to service, Jay applied for and received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

After we graduated from high school, I never considered that my path might cross with Jay again during my military career.

But alas, the military community is a small one.

When Jay arrived at the National Training Center, I was happy to see him again.

Life has a funny way of timing things. Coincidentally, our daughters were born a day and one room apart in the same hospital ward.

During my last year of military service in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, I was thrilled to learn that Jay would command Echo Troop, Alpha Troop’s sister company, where I had served as an executive officer.

I knew the soldiers of Echo Troop well. At the National Training Center Alpha and Echo Troop served together every month as a Soviet-style Motorized Rifle Battalion. We ate together and we trained together.

Before leaving the high Mojave desert forever, I came to see Jay one last time to make sure he knew what great soldiers he would command.

It was the last time I would ever speak to him.

Twenty months later, while sitting in the comfort of a business school classroom in Massachusetts, I learned that Jay would not be returning home to his family.

Exemplifying the principle of leadership by example, Jay was personally inspecting a vehicle at a traffic control point in Iraq when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated.

He died on April 29, 2005.

Jay was a quiet and serious officer who cared deeply about his soldiers and his country. His integrity, loyalty and selfless service were impeccable. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live in freedom and for that we all owe him a great debt.

Jay, I still sorely miss you.

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
This entry was posted in California, Defense, Energy Security, Middle East, Terrorism, War and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Remembering Jay on Memorial Day 2013

  1. Moe says:

    Nice Sean. Very nice indeed.

  2. theodore hazlett says:

    Sean- excellant job- proud of you- dad

  3. lbwoodgate says:

    Honor him further Sean by doing all you can to make sure we don’t get dragged into the the Syrian civil war.

    • LB,

      I completely agree. Both sides are bad here. Many of the Syrian rebels are the same people US forces fought in Iraq, and the Assad regime speaks for itself. Both sides are bad. I completely disagree with McCain.

  4. middleagedhousewife says:

    Sean, I greatly respect your dedication to keeping the memory of your friend alive. It is so important for all of us to remember that those who gave all for us are not just mere statistics.They were vital people with vital lives who leave behind a huge empty space in the people who loved them. As the wife of an Iraqi War veteran, I often think of the families of those who didn’t return and give thanks every day, because “there but for the grace of God.”

    • I often wonder how Jay’s children are doing. I didn’t know his wife at all, so I only get updates indirectly from a fellow Blackhorse veteran, Kevin Remus (a contributor to this blog), who was really close to Jay at West Point.

      I couldn’t imagine growing up without a father.

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