I couldn’t let today go by without paying my respects to a fellow high school classmate who was laid to rest this morning after giving the ultimate sacrifice of his life for our country. Sgt. Carlo Eugenio, assigned to the 756th Transportation Company, 224th Sustainment Brigade, California Army National Guard, Van Nuys, Cal., was the first California National Guardsman killed while serving in Afghanistan. He was one of 17 fatalities of which only 4 were Americans (if I read the correct reports) while his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber, in Kabul.
While reading the reports on such a tragedy, yet a reality we hear about too often, his death is not just a number to add to the list of fallen soldiers. He was a life…he was a brother….he was a son….he was an uncle….he was a friend….to me, a fellow high school classmate. Although we were not the closest of friends, we had many mutual friends and a class together here and there. The occasional “hello” while passing in the hallways, I recall his bright smile well.
Seeing his most recent photo out there brought to life the reality that this was a man we should all be grateful to have had any experience in knowing. Many of us who had the privilege of going to school with him, could not have had the foresight to realize the sacrifice he would go on to make for us, while we knew him back then. As the world beckoned all of our graduating class of 2000, had any of us any inclination of the honor he would serve us? It is a question I ponder as I solemnly reflect on this young life that is no longer, and the painful yet proud emotion that his family must be experiencing now. I find it hard not to get enveloped into questioning the bigger picture of what we are here on this earth to do, as something like this inevitably hits me hard regardless of how well I knew him. The fact is he was a true hero. He served his country, and he had to have been so brave. When he set out on that fateful day on October 29th, he may not have questioned if it would be his last, but there is no doubt that he was honorable in doing what he needed to do regardless of the risk it took.
As I came upon a lull earlier today, that I sometimes do amidst the endless amount of things I find myself needing to get done, I reminded myself that there are things bigger than me and my mundane self rants. Besides the fact there is a war going on, that I will admit I forget about in my day-to-day life, there are real men and women out there risking their lives each and everyday for us. I will not get into my opinions about any of the politics of what is going on… not my style…but I will say I feel so grateful to the soldiers who do put their lives on the line for us. The bottom line is most of us would not trade where we are at in our comfy lives today to go be in the shoes of a soldier out there in combat. It is just a fact. I shouldn’t speak for all, but honestly if we would, then we would be there now. That is why I need to lay my greatest gratitude, respect and regards down for Carlo and all the other fallen soldiers who have gone as well, because they truly are deserving of it. It takes something else to be out there doing what they do, something I will probably never truly understand. A bravery, a courage, a sacrifice that not many will ever know. I was honored to have known him in my youth, and forever owe him thanks for the tremendous service he gave us.
❤ May you rest in peace Carlo, and may the memory of your life and sacrifice never be forgotten ❤
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~Nelson Mandela
- Fallen But Not Forgotten – IED takes the life of Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, 41, Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman, 26, Sgt. James M. Darrough, 38 and Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio, 29 (stevenleesdouglas.wordpress.com)
- Carlo F. Eugenio (americanheroesmemorial.wordpress.com)