Watching the Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House brought out my pride in the job that these young folks do for all us here in the US.
Speaking of heroes, I'll be attending the memorial service for a good friend, one whom I have previously mentioned, a Naval Aviator who spent time in a POW camp, the Hanoi Hilton.
It was his second internment since, as a child, he's been sent to the Manzanar relocation camp during WWII. He never was embittered and only infrequently mentioned the first or the second time he was held against his will.
Like the young US Marine Sergeant awarded the Medal of Honor my now departed friend was a hero, albeit a humble one, whose service I will honor tomorrow.
Navy jets will conduct a fly-by at 3:30pm PDT in his honor: the sounds of freedom will be heard all over the Monterey Bay.
A couple of years ago, I had the honor of sitting next to a living Medal of Honor winner on a flight. Michael Thornton was the last Navy Seal to win the Medal in Vietnam. He is the only MOH winner to earn his Medal for saving the life of a MOH winner (LT Thomas Norris). He was an incredably humble and earnest gentleman who really impressed me with his outstanding attitude.
Mr. Thornton was absolutely adament that HE was not a HERO. To him, todays heros are the young men and women, who knowing the responsibility and probable results of their action, STILL Volunteer for military service and place themselves in harms way for our freedoms.
Please accept my salute to your friend, and to all who have served, past and present, Thank You.
Over 300 gathered today at the Fort Ord Chapel to honor our good friend and fellow Officer. His three children made the memorial special, reading remembrances posted in his honor, recalling childhood memories, and retelling of heartfelt lessons learned from a great man. A letter from President Bush was read. We learned more about this Navy Officer who looked forward through two incarcerations as he led a wonderful life of 77 years.
He was the first Vietnam POW to be returned to flight status after being freed. While in Hanoi he invented a code so that fellow POW's could communicate with hand signals when in line of sight of each other. He also brought back the memory of a sentence scratched by a previous POW on the wall of his Hanoi Hilton cell:
"Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die for it, that the protected shall never know."
Two Navy F/A-18 fighters streaked across the blue skies of Monterey Bay this afternoon at exactly 1530 hours in tribute to a humble man, a true Patriot, and a great friend.