Special forces operators see themselves as quiet soldiers. They do some of the most dangerous work of our military in the most dangerous war zones around the planet and as a rule never discuss their work with outsiders, do not seek recognition or glory, but simply complete their assigned missions with deadly efficiency, often under the worst conditions imaginable. They volunteer to serve, then volunteer for the chance to go through hell in the highly competitive weeding out process that leaves the military with the best of the best.
These bravest of men, heroes by any rational definition of the term, sacrifice themselves and their families who share that sacrifice as they endure unimaginable hardships in both their training and missions, and willingly do their jobs in every dangerous corner of the world, all too often paying with their blood and lives for the freedom we enjoy in our happy homes oblivious to their service, their pain, their hardships and of the full measure of their sacrifice. They choose to serve without acknowledgment, without glory, and with very rare exception, without thanks.
Outsiders like me who can never understand the bonds and trust of these special fraternities, or the strength they draw from each other in the knowledge that no matter the cost, they will not leave one of their own behind, even when one has made the ultimate sacrifice.
I am privileged to have one of these quiet soldiers as a close family member and friend. He never speaks about his past work, and we, as a rule, never ask. The following sonnet is about a very rare and very brief comment that he made about a casualty in his unit some years back.
If you know a special operator, active of retired, you know the signature quiet grace that comes from their supreme confidence that is so very different from the stereotype portrayed in the movies. These individuals are not as a rule boisterous, loud, or violent–unless you give them good reason to be, of course. They are Alpha males so secure in their own skins that they do not need to strut about like their Hollywood fictional stereotypes. They are most likely to be polite, unflappable, invariably positive, driven, goal oriented men with absolutely nothing to prove to anyone other than themselves. God Bless them, every single one.
Death of a Quiet Soldier
Behind enemy lines you gave your life,
The risks you knew and embraced willingly,
Red, black and green berets fought by your side,
And brought your body back to family.
Later in a ritual of their own,
They would name a field airport in your name,
And honor you, your brothers, far from home,
Their memory now your eternal flame.
I do not know your rank, your name, your face,
I only know that I am in your debt,
Who for your family can take your place?
Our debt to them we must never forget.
The freedom I enjoy comes thanks to you,
And all who serve with honor, proud and true.