My Letter

July 31, 2018

I will never leave a fallen comrade

" I will never leave a fallen comrade", these are the words that can be found in the U.S. Army's Soldier's Creed. It is part of a larger statement that represents the Army Values. These words are so important to our values as a profession of arms that they are repeated in the Warrior Ethos and the Ranger Creed.

When a young man or woman raises their right hand to defend and support the constitution of the United States of America, they do so by putting their life on the line and knowing that they might have to pay the "ultimate sacrifice". It is only through preparation and training that we build the confidence necessary in equipment, leadership, and fellow Soldiers to overcome the fear and chaos associated with combat.

The mental toughness of a Soldier or any member of the military is based on rigorous training and a steadfast belief in the Army Values. It is the respect the we have in each other as comrades in arms during difficult circumstances and the trust that we have each other's back to the point of never leaving a fallen comrade.

The knowledge that we will return home either carrying our flag or being draped in our flag sustains our fight to win mentality.

The commitment necessary to leave your family to patriotically serve your country and in some way earn the family's respect as you go into war, or the sense of pride that a family has for its son's, daughter's, fathers and mothers is not forgotten or left on the battlefield. It is validated through the actions of all Americans to honor the fallen and carry forward the responsibility of freedom that was given to us to care for and maintain.

This could not have been more evident to me throughout my career then to have experienced this sentiment and way of life. Whether I visited my grandfather's grave in Arlington, saluted the American flag that waved beside a display of boots, helmet, dog tags, and weapon of a fallen Soldier in combat, or stood at attention to accept and honor the remains of a Soldier coming home, no Soldier is ever forgotten or left behind.

I don't look at the flag the way some do in our country, and it's meaning has become so much more than when I knew it as a young man. I see names and events when I hear Taps played on a trumpet.

When a member of our armed forces passes, we honor the selfless service and loyalty to fellow Soldiers, to mission, and to country by adorning their coffin with the flag and announcing their passage with the playing of Taps.

As an instituion, our military past and traditions demand our compliance to ensure that the next generation of Soldiers fully understands their responsibility to our future.

BG Richard J. Torres, Brigadier General, USAR

Richard Torres, Army General

This letter is part of the Death Letter Project - North Carolina, a means to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.


Michael Palko