LTC Lombardo calls for the 173rd, 2-503 Bravo Bulls to form up.
As the men stand in parade rest LTC Lombardo asks that we remember all of those who have gone before us - not only in combat but in their later years in life. He mentions those who have passed away in the last few weeks and tells us about their many accomplishments in civilan life. At times he would pause to collect himself and his thoughts. Another poignant moment.
As I stood there listening to LTC Lombardo I remembered a phone call I made to his home during this past winter. His lovely wife, Carol, answered the phone. We exchanged greetings and I asked if I might speak to Roy. I commented that I knew he had been a little under the weather lately and if he wasn't up to taking a phone call I understood - I was just calling to check on him. Carol replied, "Oh he's just fine. As a matter of fact he just climbed through an upstairs window and out onto the roof to clean the snow out of the satellite dish so we can get better reception." I didn't know whether to laugh or admonish him. I laughed. What a man! God Bless him.
LTC Roy Lombardo reminding us to keep those who have gone before us in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.
LTC Roy Lombardo making remarks as the men from Bravo Company, 2-503 (Vietnam 65-66) listen
LTC Roy Lombardo
When LTC Lombardo called for the playing of TAPS after his remarks one of the men stepped forward and played it from his phone as the others stood in salute to the fallen Airborne Heroes.
The 173rd Memorial marker at the Airborne Walk, Fort Benning, GA and the Memorial wreath laid by the Bravo Bulls. Maybe other groups came later in the day but when we were there around 10:30 this was the only wreath.
Carol and Roy Lombardo
After the wreath laying ceremony concluded a number of the men and their wives posed for a group photo and individual photos in front of the airplane. I missed the opportunity to take the group photo and regret that.
I had to run to my car to retrieve an item after the ceremony. As I was walking back from the parking lot a van stopped and the gentleman driving rolled down his window to ask where the Officer's Club was. I had no idea BUT....he was wearing a 173rd cap. I motioned for LTC Lombardo to come over not knowing if he could assist the gentleman with directions (duh! of course he could) but figuring that they may know each other. As it turned out the gentleman in the van (whose name I forgot to write down) was one of the Paratroopers that the Bravo Bulls had lost touch with over the years. Talk about timing, coincidence and being in the right place at the right time! Such a bonus. LTC Lombardo invited him to the dinner later that afternoon at the Infantry Museum.
Two great Americans, Paratroopers, Commanders and Army Rangers for whom I have the utmost respect - LTC Roy Lombardo (Ret) and COL Bill Ostlund. There is no question my life is better for knowing these men, not only because of what they and so many others who have served have done to keep our nation safe, but also because of their dignity and honor. And their great senses of humor!
I reminded myself that I was fortunate for the opportunity to be with these men, their wives and family members to share this special moment. I am so grateful.