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As Long as We Remember...

March 8, 2006

An Oscar Tribute to the Maryland National Guard

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Like most Americans, I missed the Oscars Sunday night. I was too busy sorting my socks according to color.

Hollywood folks have never been my heroes. The real heroes in our lives are teachers, public works employees, soldiers, firefighters and police officers.

One can only be sure that to generalize most Hollywood folks as air brains with the intellectual consistency of instant potatoes might be shortsighted and unfair. Well, then again, maybe not.

Essentially none of the values that have made this country great are reflected in the current crop of movies that were oversold at the Oscars. Just where were the tributes to hard work, family, honesty, patriotism and love for country, persistence and perseverance, personal responsibility, sacrifice and dedication.

Although I have read the reviews, I’m proud to say that I have a 100 percent track record by failing to see one single movie honored at the Oscars and my life is much richer as a result.

Our heroes don’t live in Hollywood, writhe in excess, ride around in limousines, eat caviar and carry silly little dogs around. Ours are with the Maryland National Guard.

Heroes are local folks – like the men and woman of the 243rd Engineer Company based at the Melvin H. Cade Armory in West Baltimore. They deployed to Iraq for one year in June 2005. The unit has the dangerous responsibility of providing security and transporting supplies throughout Iraq.

Last October, according to Maj. Gen. Bruce F. Tuxill, adjutant general, Spc. Samuel M. Boswell, 20, of Elkridge; Spc. Bernard L. Ceo, 22, of Baltimore; and Sgt. Brian R. Conner, 36, of Gwynn Oak, have died near Baghdad. In a local newspaper account, General Tuxill sadly acknowledged: “They were the first Maryland National Guardsmen to die while deployed overseas since World War II…”

As we commemorate Memorial Day in late May, let’s keep them and their families in our prayers.

Recently Guard Maj. Charles S Kohler shared some news you won’t find in the mainstream media.

Bet you did not know that in 2005 the Maryland Guard mobilized more than 800 soldiers to support Operations Iraqi Freedom, Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.

“Whether we are called to combat duty in Iraq or a humanitarian mission in the Gulf coast states for hurricane relief, we have proven to be capable and accessible,” wrote Major Kohler in a recent e-mail.

My real Oscar winners for the outstanding performance of patriotic men and women in the defense of our country for 2005 are…

The envelope please:

In January 2005, Bravo Company, 115th Infantry from Olney was mobilized for 18 months to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two members of the unit have received the Purple Heart for injuries received in action.

The 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment was welcomed home by Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in January after serving 10 months in Kosovo. This unit was recognized by the National Guard Bureau for producing an outstanding publication, the “Guardian East.”

The Edgewood Armory was dedicated to Maj. Gen. Warren D. Hodges March 25, 2005. General Hodges had a distinguished career during three wars – World War II, Korea and Vietnam – and the state as Adjutant General.

Three Light Anti-Tank Companies from Elkton, Easton and Chestertown started the transformation process into infantry units in April 2005.

Also in April 2005, the 253rd Engineer Utilities Detachment returned home after a year in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit helped rebuild the war torn country with soldiers trained as electricians, plumbers and carpenters.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., welcomed home more than 80 soldiers from the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion for their service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo and Operation Noble Eagle, a homeland defense mission, in June 2005.

Company G 224th Aviation was mobilized and deployed in June 2005 and will support Operation Iraqi Freedom for one year.

The Montrose Chapel was dedicated to Fr. Eugene Patrick O’Grady on August 24. Father O’Grady was a member of the 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division and the only National Guard chaplain killed in Europe during World War II.

The Joint Force Headquarters was recognized by the National Guard Bureau for outstanding Community Relations for the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project for Phase I of a park in the City of Boonsboro, constructed by the 121st Engineer Battalion during their annual training period in August.

In early September, after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf coast states, members of the 115th Military Police Battalion, 29th Military Police Company, 1229th Transportation Company, and 175th Infantry Regiment responded in a call for volunteers.

Next chance you get, find the family of a member of the Maryland National Guard currently serving oversees and do something nice for them. Take them out to dinner or simply call or write and tell them how much their service is appreciated. They serve so we may enjoy our freedoms and safety at home.

By accident, I left the television on Sunday night and the local news recited a blow-by-blow account of the Oscars show. I promptly took personal responsibility for my life and turned it off.

In my final tribute to the Oscars, I put “I Want to be Sedated” by the “Ramones” on the stereo. Folklore has it that Joey Ramone wrote the song while in the hospital around 1978, after an accident with scalding water.

Then I headed to the kitchen to wash the dishes.

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated Nothing to do nowhere to go I wanna be sedated

Just get me to the airport and put me in a plane Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane I can’t control my fingers I can’t control my brain oh no oh no

Just put me in a wheelchair and get me to the show Hurry hurry hurry before I go loco I can’t control my fingers I can’t control my toes oh no oh no…

Ba-ba-baba, baba-ba-baba, I wanna be sedated…

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at:

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