I went for a run during lunch the other day where I passed by Johnson Field. A lot of the training grounds on Fort Benning are named after someone who was a Medal of Honor recipient. This particular one was named after PVT Elden H. Johnson. Other than his name, and the fact that he earned the Medal of Honor, I knew nothing about him. And it made a part of me really, really sad. Because this man is so much more than just a name. And of course I thought about my loved ones and how they are so much more than just names. So after I got back from my run, huffing and puffing, and horribly out of shape, I looked up PVT Johnson on the good ole world wide web. This is the citation for the Medal of Honor he was posthumously awarded:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Pvt. Johnson elected to sacrifice his life in order that his comrades might extricate themselves from an ambush. Braving the massed fire of about 60 riflemen, 3 machine guns, and 3 tanks from positions only 25 yards distant, he stood erect and signaled his patrol leader to withdraw. The whole area was brightly illuminated by enemy flares. Then, despite 20mm. machine guns, machine pistol, and rifle fire directed at him, Pvt. Johnson advanced beyond the enemy in a slow deliberate walk. Firing his automatic rifle from the hip, he succeeded in distracting the enemy and enabled his 12 comrades to escape. Advancing to within 5 yards of a machine gun, emptying his weapon, Pvt. Johnson killed its crew. Standing in full view of the enemy he reloaded and turned on the riflemen to the left, firing directly into their positions. He either killed or wounded 4 of them. A burst of machine gun fire tore into Pvt. Johnson and he dropped to his knees. Fighting to the very last, he steadied himself on his knees and sent a final burst of fire crashing into another German. With that he slumped forward dead. Pvt. Johnson had willingly given his life in order that his comrades might live. These acts on the part of Pvt. Johnson were an inspiration to the entire command and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces.
But before I looked him up I did a lot of thinking about how important it is to preserve our history and our people. I think the military in general does a pretty good job about this - seeing as though there are dedications and memorials scattered throughout every military installation.
Cale was cremated. He resides in this little urn in our bedroom.
We went this route (cremation) as Fort Benning (Columbus), GA is not home for us. I don't want my son buried here. I may not ever know where to bury him, so for now he will stay with his parents. But someday, maybe not until my day comes, I want him to have a spot where his name is displayed. Where someone can pass it and read "Cale Harrison Hidalgo" and know that he existed. But I want him to be more than a name. He was a son, a brother, nephew, grandson, and cousin. He is a part of me that I want to preserve for as long as I can.
Miles' parents recently launched a website to preserve Daren's memory. With Daren, there's almost 25 years of memories to celebrate, remember, and honor. Please take a few minutes and check it out. I especially want to share this video they had made which is also on the website, but can be viewed here:
It's an incredibly well done compilation of the memorials, funeral service and burial for Daren. I hope that many, many years from now we, Daren's family and friends, will have done a good enough job preserving his memory that others know about him and that when they see the name Daren Miguel Hidalgo, they know how much more he was than a name - a son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, friend & hero.