I got this from a friend in the Herd...
Michael Curry, Our Brother
Smitty, great introduction to the funeral. I, for one, would like to hear more detail and personal insight regarding the funeral if you feel like sharing. The little you wrote about the funeral had me totally glued…..
If you have the energy could you pick up from where you left off and describe the remainder of the service? If not, we understand. Man, this really reached out and grabbed me for some reason. I was right there with you. Maybe it's just me.....Thanks Lew, love you brother.
Rev. Mike McMillan/173d
You know, Mac, I awoke this morning around 3 a.m. thinking about what you said and thinking about Michael Curry, the young Sky Soldier killed in Afghanistan. I thought, yes, Mac’s right, someone should write something about the young man, but not me, I didn’t know him personally nor had I ever met him. I’m sure his buddies and members of his family have spoken and written all that could be recorded about him. So, why should I, what right do I have to even attempt to honor another one of ours who died at war? But, I understand it’s not a question of right or wrong; it’s that inner breath-taking hurt we all feel when we learn of the death of one of ours which moves us to try and express that hurt or hide it. Oddly, that hurt is not as great when the lost soul is from some other unit, yet the reality is no different, the pain and anguish felt by their family and friends are no different.
While there at the memorial service someone showed me a photo of the man. He was standing with his beautiful wife, a girl he met and married in Italy, holding her close; a friendly, smiling face of a young soldier so proud of his wife. Michael Curry looked like someone I would like to have known. Sometimes you can sense the goodness of a person by simply looking at their faces in a photo. I think Mike was a good man.
Since the first notice was circulated describing the circumstances of his death, and given the fact 1st Sergeant Michael Curry hailed from Dania Beach, FL, a few hours from where Bill Vose and I live, Bill hounded me almost daily to join him at the memorial service there. Bill knows I don’t like attending funerals or such services, yet he continued to urge me to go with him. Now, I’m glad I did.
Enroute to the address in Dania Beach I became lost. I shouldn’t have, I had lived over 25 years in Miami not far from there, but I was lost. My eldest son, Don the Wise, gave me directions by phone and I arrived the church about ˝ hour before the service was scheduled to begin. I recall thinking I’m old enough to be Mike’s father, he was the same age as my youngest son, Dan the Wild. I had anticipated a small group of family and friends and maybe a few soldier buddies of the fallen trooper would be there in attendance. It was a hot day, humid, the temperature hovering around 100 degrees.
Turning the corner to the church I immediately saw U.S. flags, maybe twenty or thirty flags lining one side of the street held by twenty or thirty Vietnam veterans, mostly biker dudes and their dudettes, wearing their leather jackets, riding boots and war patches, their Harley’s silently parked nearby. After parking I slowly walked up to these men and women, exchanging hellos with a few of them. One drill sergeant type was standing in the middle of the street barking orders to this squad to keep their spaces even, hold the flag upright, and other army type orders. I moved across the street where I could better take in this sight.
My first thought about the bikers was cynical. I thought what the hell are you people doing here. You didn’t serve with Mike, you’re not Sky Soldiers, is this just something to do to posture, show off your patches and bikes, I thought. You’re not even paratroopers. I then learned of another memorial service held in another city at another time to honor another vet killed in the Middle East where war protesters took that opportunity to display their anger about the war. It must have been extremely disturbing to the family members of that fallen soldier. And I learned these biker dudes in their biker regalia were on-guard, pulling duty as they had before in another lifetime, another war. No protesters this day would be allowed anywhere near this service, and pity those who tried. My first reaction to them now bothered me, I was so wrong to pre-judge these patriots, these brothers.
Standing across the street, shirt now soaked wet from the heat and humidity, I noticed one man about my age was wearing a 173d Airborne hat. I walked up to him with hand extended and asked him with which unit he had served. He told me he hadn’t but his son was now serving with the 173d’s first battalion in Afghanistan, Mike’s battalion. The man’s son had been a friend of Mike. We briefly chatted and I wished him and his son well, thinking he must be thinking, will he be one of the family members at some similar event in the future.
The start time of eleven a.m. came and went as I and the flag holders across the street stood quietly, quietly sweating. I thought of George Bush and his cronies and wondered if they were aware of today’s planned services. Had they even read Mike’s name on some daily report? I suspect they had not. Mike was a soldier, not a General, not a politician, simply doing his duty at the time his life was taken from him. I wondered if jets with the missing man would fly overhead…..of course, there were no jets, Mike was a soldier.
I had spoken with Bill by cell phone and he told me he’d be there soon, but the start time was near and there was no sign of my friend. It was then the drill sergeant yelled to everyone to take their flags and run around the corner to again line-up; we were standing in front of the wrong church. This maneuver was accomplished before the arrival of the black limousines carrying Mike’s family to this service. Police cars had by now blocked-off access to the street fronting the church where the memorial service would be held.
Vietnam vet buddy Jim Nantkes of the 3/503d walked-up to me wearing a suit and tie, clearly on the verge of heat exhaustion, like most of us. We shared some war stories and agreed it was indeed a sad day here. We spoke with an old, small, thin man wearing a VFW hat and shirt, a WWII vet, a sailor. It was good to talk with him and we thanked him for being part of our country’s Greatest Generation and for helping save the world. This friendly, meek old sailor just smiled. Fortunately for all of us one of the VN vets was there with a pickup truck loaded with ice water; his lady walking by giving water bottles to anyone in such need, which was all of us.
We were told Michael was or would be interred in Italy. We had heard this before and couldn’t quite figure out why Italy and not the U.S., until we learned his immediate family lived there. We spoke of the pain his wife and children must be experiencing at this very moment, like so many other family members who would soon be across this street, and those across this land.
There was still no sign of Bill and his son Jeff as a staff sergeant wearing a 173d combat patch marched the honor guard of paratroopers carrying M16’s into the street and in front of the church. There, facing the entrance to the church they came to attention, a bugler off to the side in anticipation of the arrival of Mike’s family. They stood there for the longest time until the sergeant put them at parade rest, sweat dripping off them as they made not a movement. It was then about six or seven VN vets from the local VFW wearing white hats and shirts took their position in front of Jim and me. The wait continued, the biker dudes and their dudettes lined-up down the street, on-guard; there was quiet all around.
Off to our right we then see black limos turn onto the street where the flags, honor guard and vets were waiting. Slowly, very slowly the cars moved towards us, the honor guard and all of us coming to attention. As the car doors opened an order was given to “present arms!” which we all did. We stood there at rigid attention, sweat running down our bodies, many of us trying hard to keep our salutes steady as Mike’s grieving family were escorted into the church. “Order arms!” finally came as the last of his family entered the building.
The Staff Sergeant in command marched his squad to a shaded area nearby as services in the church began. Later, one of the troopers walked past us and I stopped him to ask which parachute unit they were in, I didn’t recognize the patch. He said they were the 509th Airborne, my former unit in Germany; and I didn’t remember the patch.
The church was a small white building in this small community in Dania Beach, no doubt built to accommodate no more than 100 people, yet well over 100 people entered its’ doors. I saw Bill arrive and quickly move to the church where he joined those in attendance, Jim and I preferring to remain outside. The service, scheduled for one hour lasted nearly two hours.
Nearing the end of the service the front doors of the church were opened. We then heard the singing. Voices of every belief, age and gender joined one another as they sang together “God Bless America”. It was a moving rendition and spoke to something bigger, more meaningful than anyone of us alone. It spoke of unity and hope and sorrow.
Then we heard his voice from inside the church. A seemingly hard-as-nails First Sergeant with the 173d Airborne called out loudly, “Michael Curry?!!” (silence) “Michael Curry?!!” (silence) “1st Sgt. Michael S. Curry?!!” There was no reply as the honor guard fired their salutes and Taps began to play.
As the family departed we again saluted them and thought of Mike. I would like to have known him, for you see, he was and will forever remain our brother.
Airborne Mike! All the Way!
2/503d, 173d Airborne
“On July 25th, 2007 the Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
1st Sgt. Michael S. Curry Jr., 37, of Dania Beach, Fla., was killed July 23 in Sarobi District, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Curry was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.”