26 May 2010

What's that day for? A day off work....

From the Soldier side: Memorial Day will be here soon. I’ve found that for most of my civilian friends and family this is another holiday they get off from work. Maybe a chance to head to the beach, have a bar-b-q and drink a few extra beers on the 3 day weekend. Yep, that’s what it used to always mean to me. Several years ago, I am not sure I even knew what the hell it was for.

In 2004 and 2005 that changed a little for me. Oh, it’s still a day to have a Bar-b-q and all that other stuff, but I remember two really good guys who died in Iraq and now I look at Memorial Day a little different.

I try not to get sad and depressed, and I try to think about the things I liked about these two guys…but I do think about them. And I think that they are two of the best soldiers I ever knew. I both cases, they did not have to go to Iraq . One came out of retirement to go (Mike) and the other switched his MOS (Army job) to go.

Both left families behind…and I wish I could tell them how much I thought of their husbands and dads.

In the 1990’s I was in an Army National Guard combat engineer company in my home town. On one of the State Active Duty missions to a flood, I worked with a Sergeant First Class Named Mike Ottline. He was a really good guy who took care of his troops.

When I was getting ready to deploy to Iraq in November 2004, when I read Mike had been killed.

In early 2005, as some of our teams in Baghdad were re-assigned, I met a young sergeant named Roberto. As we had a few conversations, it turned out that he and I had a few interest in common. I liked him a lot.

I late May 2005, my team and I were sent out on a mission outside of Baghdad. I remember trying to call back to base for a few days and not being able to get through. Then I got an e-mail from somebody back home asking if I knew who had been killed and wounded. (this is not the best way to find your friends have been killed or wounded).

I was finally able to get through on the phone and found out Roberto had been killed and the “gunner” on the Humvee (another friend of mine) was badly wounded.  Roberto's team leader was pulled off the misson that day, so when they asked Roberto to take the team out anyway, he did.  "Put me in Coach."

This information sucked. I can ‘t even describe how I felt. It sucked.
They Honored Roberto by putting his name on the Range

Army Sgt. Roberto Arizola, Jr.

31, of Laredo , Texas .

Arizola died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. He was assigned to the 297th Military Intelligence Battalion, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Gordon , Georgia . Died on June 8, 2005.


Army Staff Sgt. Michael C. Ottolini

45, of Sebastopol , California .

Ottolini died in Balad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his up-armored HMMWV. He was assigned to the Army National Guard's 579th Engineer Battalion, Petaluma , California . Died on November 10, 2004.

So this Memorial Day, when you’re enjoying that cold beer, glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage, please toast Mike and Roberto…and any other SIH (Soldiers In Heaven) you know.


Momma Fargo said...

Will do! I take my Memorial Day serious like you.

Coffeypot said...

Will do!

My honor to do so.

Anonymous said...

1. The Third Infantry Regiment and volunteers started placing flags at the gravestones in Washington National Cemetery on Wednesday.
2. About 250,000 flags will be laid.
3. Just the largest of a sizeable number of these places.
4. God bless and God speed them all.
5. RIP SSGT Ottolini and SGT Arizola.
6. Will hoist one in memory of them -and a few others.
V/R JWest

Saker said...


These guys don't deserve to be forgotten. Thanks for reminding us. I'll be honest, I didn't think about Memorial Day at all when I was still a civilian.

CI-Roller Dude said...

MF, thanks,

CP, I know you will.

Mr West, you know what I'm talking about

Always out front

Kristina Divine said...

I will gladly add your friends to my toast. It will be an honor.

It is also nice to find a fellow NorCal who is interesting (even if you have a 3 stooge kinda face. Ref Castra Preaetoria)