Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Documentary Film,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

June 28, 2012

On Memorial Day, Buena Vista, Iwo Jima, Remembrance and BRAVO!

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Guest blogger Michael E. O’Hara, who served with Bravo Company at the Siege of Khe Sanh, muses about remembrance.

I recently was involved with our local Memorial Day ceremonies in which I involved my babies (granddaughters) to a very large degree. About a week before, we were attending a piano recital my oldest was giving at a local church along with many other children.

Michael E. O'Hara at Khe Sanh, 1968. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Daniel Horton

I was sitting there contemplating what I was going to say at the upcoming memorial services as we listened to all the other kids playing before Emma had her turn. There was a huge cross of colored glass embedded in the high wall of the sanctuary and I was sort of mesmerized by its beauty. It came to me as I was sitting there: The truth about what all men come to realize who have experienced the same kind of combat Bravo Company had to endure.

I knew I was going to talk about a young man named Stephen Kennedy. It was 1847 and he was fighting at the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War. He and the rest of the men from my county were called “Brown County Blues” because they had purchased new denims before going off to war. The battle was nearly over when young Kennedy saw his captain fall from a musket ball to his chest. (Kennedy would eventually marry his captain’s daughter and fight in the Civil War.) Kennedy charged across the fireswept terrain dodging a hail of gunfire and dragged his young captain to a place of safety. Captain Taggart’s dying words were these, “Tell my folks I’ll see them in the good world. Now be a good soldier, Kennedy, and return to your company.”

They buried Captain Taggart there in Mexico in a few days and then they were all off for home. On his way home, young Kennedy came to know these three simple truths, truths that all young men who go off to war soon learn:

1. The Lord had come to claim Captain Taggart’s soul on 23 February 1847. (By the way, that is the same day in 1945 the Marines raised the flag on Iwo Jima. Captain Taggart commanded “E” company. The Marines on Iwo who raised the flag were also “E” company.)

2. Within days young Kennedy would help the earth reclaim his captain’s bones.

3. Most importantly, on the long trek home while traveling up the Mississippi on a steamboat, young Kennedy realized that the duty, the awesome responsibility of carrying home the precious memory of his beloved captain fell to him and him alone. He carried out his duty well for it is duly recorded in many places.

Sound familiar? Is that not what we have all carried with us for so long…those precious memories? Is that not what Betty and Ken have done with BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR? I say so, and I say they both have done it well. Our men will live forever.

You can find details about the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima in an interview of flag-raising participant John Bradley here. For more infomation about the Brown County Blues, check out this link.

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