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Thank You 2009 Atlanta Braves Organization, Players, and Fans

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  • Thank You 2009 Atlanta Braves Organization, Players, and Fans

    I have tried to do this numerous times today, but just can't get it out. I am not sure if this attempt will succeed either. This is very vague, sorry about that, but it is probably a defense mechanism. The ghosts haunting my dreams last night have been mercilessly shadowing me all day, and just might continue to unless I can get this out. Maybe it will be easier as it goes. . .

    On Friday, 1 May 2009 at around 0500 local time in Afghanistan, a small outpost was overrun by vastly superior enemy numbers. Among the few US soldiers, couple interpreters that were also US citizens, and some fellow NATO troops that were killed that early morning were two from my platoon. We were with the Big Red One, the famous 1st Infantry Division, and we were close to 6 weeks out from coming home. One of those fine young soldiers lost that day was a proud Georgia boy. A baseball player, a husband, a son, and a huge Braves fan. He was also a good friend, to me and many in our small platoon. I don't want to say anything more about him, at this time anyway, out of respect to his family and their privacy. Suffice it to say, this is probably the hardest post I have ever made here, but I have always wanted to thank this classy organization and all of you who shared the love of Braves baseball with this young man.

    Getting beyond the worst part of the story, not anything fit for a family oriented baseball site, when we were over in Afghanistan preparing to honor our two fallen men and turn them over to our brothers and sisters Stateside, someone came up with an idea. I say "someone" because I honestly don't remember who it was. It may have been our CO or maybe one of the other soldiers or NCOs from our platoon -- either way it came from our company, which happened to be Bravo Company. It doesn't matter who it was, really, but the idea was to contact the Atlanta Braves organization and ask that if we provide a baseball could they get the team to autograph it so our comrade could be laid to rest with that souvenir. This is as far as I truly know -- everything else may or may not have happened. For me that isn't really important.

    A while later, after we had been back home at Fort Hood, Texas, I was told that the ball was sent to the Braves, and they had it autographed by all the players and sent to his final resting place in time, there somewhere in Georgia. I was so happy to hear that. When we were still overseas in that (censored) place, shocked by the losses just before pulling out, I really didn't know if we would be able to contact the right people in Atlanta or if the team was around to get it signed and shipped to the proper site for the funeral. As a former body escort NCO, I do know that it takes a while after a soldier is killed in action for the remains to get home, get prepared, and then escorted by one of us to the home site and laid to rest. But, I still didn't know if the Army and Atlanta Braves would have time to get something as simple as this done in time.

    I was told they did. That is good enough for me. That was the greatest sendoff we could hope to give him, not that anyone ever wants to have to give a sendoff to such a young person (he was in his very early 20s).

    I always wanted to contact the Braves and send them a thank you. Just can't seem to do it though. There is a lot more to the story that makes it very hard to deal with. I know the Braves (the organization, players who participated, and all you wonderful fans) may never find out how much we appreciated that simple act. It was an act of love that I will always remember, and will always appreciate. That is why I wanted to send a salute to the (2009) Braves, and everyone involved with the team that year. I even looked, and the Braves won that dark day, pulling their record to 11-11 by beating the Astros. By then, it was probably the next day for us, but it doesn't matter either. I know the spirit of a fine young man would be happy to know his squad won that day.

    Class act organization. Thank you. I salute you all.
    "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

  • #2
    Thanks for another awesome story, Herr. Even though they frustrate the hell out of me from time to time, I couldn't be more proud to be a fan of this classy organization.
    Rest in Peace Jose Fernandez (1992-2016)

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    • #3
      I was actually trying to send you a PM earlier today when I was working on a way of wording all of this. It was pretty detailed, very hard to discuss, and I was only just breaking into it all when my laptop froze up. No joke. I felt like I had written a chapter from a book about this guy and what happened before, during and after that damn day (even included a lot of information I wouldn't here on a public board), and it was all lost. I had to shut down the browser and open it up again, but when I went up to history to restore the previous session -- it dropped me off on the page before I started typing the PM.

      I figured if I couldn't find a way to tell anyone else here about this outstanding example of class shown by the 2009 Braves, I would at least be able to tell you about a fellow Georgia boy who loved playing baseball, the Braves, and died fighting in Afghanistan. I figured you could relate to this guy, and would enjoy hearing how your team rallied to show some love and support for his family back home in Georgia.
      "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Herr28 View Post
        I was actually trying to send you a PM earlier today when I was working on a way of wording all of this. It was pretty detailed, very hard to discuss, and I was only just breaking into it all when my laptop froze up. No joke. I felt like I had written a chapter from a book about this guy and what happened before, during and after that damn day (even included a lot of information I wouldn't here on a public board), and it was all lost. I had to shut down the browser and open it up again, but when I went up to history to restore the previous session -- it dropped me off on the page before I started typing the PM.

        I figured if I couldn't find a way to tell anyone else here about this outstanding example of class shown by the 2009 Braves, I would at least be able to tell you about a fellow Georgia boy who loved playing baseball, the Braves, and died fighting in Afghanistan. I figured you could relate to this guy, and would enjoy hearing how your team rallied to show some love and support for his family back home in Georgia.
        Truly amazing display of southern hospitality.
        Rest in Peace Jose Fernandez (1992-2016)

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        • #5
          Thanks for this, Herr28.


          Stories like this, about the role and meaning of baseball in people's lives, beat better-player and Hall-of-Fame arguments any day.

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          • #6
            You guys are awesome, not just for being Braves fans, but for being good people. I seriously felt a million times better after posting this, so in a way you all are now helping me like the team did for the family of my soldier. It is amazing how the game we love can do something seemingly so simple and small, but it can mean so much.
            "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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            • #7
              Awesome and touching story.

              Unfortunately, we often see how sports is a business, entertainment, and somewhat disconnected on an intimate, personal level from the fans that passionately support teams. But more times than not, as evidenced in Herr28's account, the true human connection and PEOPLE element shines from sports.

              Thanks for sharing it!
              2nd member of the Peter Moylan Fan Club

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pere View Post
                Stories like this, about the role and meaning of baseball in people's lives, beat better-player and Hall-of-Fame arguments any day.
                So very true.

                Thanks for sharing this, Herr.
                3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

                "All of which makes perfect sense on paper, unless you have actually at any time in your life watched baseball being played." - The Commissioner

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