Wrote the thread below a few years ago and the weekend being that of memorial day brought this memory back to me. 28 now and after 7 years of volunteering I put up my helmet to pursue a career with Boeing (for the time being ), I thought about this day and wondered where Eddie would have been at my age if he had lived.
Stay safe and have fun, but always remember what we are celebrating for. The values that we all believe in and the lives that were lost making those values a reality. - Stinkyrat
Just thought I would share my day with you all, I ended up going out on a call that I never would have expected getting up that morning.
I am 24 and a reservist with Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue, based right in the heart of the city of Ellensburg, Washington. We do both EMS and fire suppression out of the same station due to the fact that our city is fairly small (we do have 7 other volunteer companies in the county area that provide fire suppression assistance so I guess we are not that small... ) We run a bunch of transfer calls down to Yakima and west over to Harborview, and a transfer happened to be what I was paged to the station for.
When I walked in, one of the captains was duct taping a flag pole to the back of one of the engines. I thought he was just doing it to be patriotic but thought I would ask the reason behind his actions. He said "oh we have a funeral procession to go to, help me secure the flag and then get the medic unit and follow us." I did as ordered but had to ask who it was for and he said that it was for a soldier that passed away.
Well this soldier was one Ernest "Eddie" Martin, a 2nd LT from the 109th Infantry, 28 Div. for the United States Army. His story had made it onto national news however as being in a small town and I don’t watch CNN that often, I had not gotten word. He was not a casualty from Iraq or Afghanistan, rather a soldier who had fought and died during the battle for the Hurtgen forest in Germany, November 1944. A company contracted to dig up unexploded ordnance had found the grave by accident in 2000 and found Eddie - with his rifle and all in a shallow grave. After he was identified, Eddie was brought back under 24 hr guards by the military from Germany all the way over here to Ellensburg for his funeral. His father and sister were buried here and his surviving relatives live in Ellensburg as well so it only made sense that his funeral be held here.
I followed the guys in the medic unit by myself and we met up with a few police units that were going to participate in the procession. Outside the funeral home we all got together and figured out how we were going to line up and how the police escorts were going to block off traffic. When the hearse was ready and started moving, we pulled in front of it and started the procession over to the cemetery. And let me tell you, driving 10mph down the road all by yourself in a funeral procession, you get to think about a lot. I guess it was just weird, but looking in the rear view mirror and seeing the hearse driving behind me, Eddie was not an 80 year old Veteran that passed away getting to see life to its fullest extent. He was 24 years old when he was killed - my age. He had only seen life as far as I have seen it. He probably thought about the same things I did, what I’m going to do when I get home from this task, or just what to do with my life (I just got out of college so I’m definitely figuring out what the heck to do with myself!) yet he was cut short of knowing what laid in store for him. I guess it was just a different experience than I have ever had before and here I am, 64 years later and proud to help bring a fellow brother home for good from a battlefield in WWII.
After about 15 minutes or so we made it to the cemetery and I could not believe the amount of people that had shown up. Consider the fact that Eddie had not been seen since WWII, the funeral home procession lot was completely full; the cemetery had crowds of people, most of whom were either holding flags, military personnel in their dress uniforms for the ceremony or seniors coming to pay respects to one of their own. Cars lined all the way down the street. The procession made it right up to where Eddie would be buried, however as being fire and police personnel on duty, we could not stop and had to keep going back to the station and be ready for the next call. But looking back I could see they were preparing to remove the casket from the hearse, and the riflemen were already in position so they could fire the volley of rounds when it came time. We made it back out onto the street, turned off our lights and headed back to the station. Once we got the rigs back into service we all just looked at each other and said little. We thought that was a pretty neat experience to take part in - and then were sent to a call about 20 minutes later.
As Firefighters, police officers or soldiers, we all serve our country in one way or another. But some have given everything they had just to give us the chance to see what lies in store for us in life. Eddie was no different, I thank him, the many that have gone before and since him that I can sit here now and tell a little story about him. As for me figuring out what to do with myself, I think for tonight I’m going to go call dispatch and put myself on call......
Heres a link to his story: