William settled against the tree trunk and pulled out a Lucky Strike. As he lit the cigarette that had come with his c-ration meal, he looked around, idly wondering why they had changed the Lucky Strike package from red to green. He had arrived in Europe four months before and was amazed at how much it looked like his native state of Michigan. He scanned the ground around him, paying careful attention to areas that might hide a German solder. As he continued to look, his thoughts turned to home and his son. William Junior was born on February 14th, and the letter announcing the arrival had only come two days before. His mind suddenly focused on movement at the crest of a ridge about 300 meters away. He saw the German solder looking down the road toward his unit and, tossing aside his smoke, raised his M-1 Garand to his shoulder. He never heard the shot from the sniper or felt the bullet that entered his brain.
November, 1968 Vietnam
The Sergeant's name was William Garrett Jr. He had arrived in Vietnam in February and was already a seasoned combat solder. He slumped against the berm of the rice paddy and pulled out a pack of Lucky Strikes that had come with his c-ration meal. The running joke was that the meals dated from both the Korean conflict and as early as world war II. The older the c-rat's, the more holes were in the cigarette papers. Some had so many holes, they said you had to be a flute player to smoke the cigarette. The Sergeant thought about home and began counting the days until his return to the States. He hoped the baby was born by then, and smiled when he remembered the name that had been picked out. His baby would be called William Garrett, III and he decided he would refer to him as "tree", a play on the III on his name. He lit the cigarette and, hearing his name called, looked to his left at his buddy and squad mate. Fernando Liam was a Filipino that had enlisted in the army to become a U.S. citizen. Called "Andy" by the guys in the squad, he was as solid as a rock in fire-fights. Andy called him again and pointed to a spot at the edge of the rice paddy. Bill strained his eyes to see what Andy had seen. Then he saw the enemy soldier at the edge of the rice paddy. Just as he made him out, the bullet hit, striking him inside of his left eye. Sergeant William Garrett Jr. slumped down. Dead, without ever seeing the son that woud follow in his footsteps.
June, 2000 Saudi Arabia
Captain William Garrett III felt the sun beat down on his back and shoulders. He looked through the binoculars at the reported enemy positions across the border in Kuwait. He hoped the Iraq solders would either just drop their weapons and surrender or "beat feet". As the Company Commander, he did not like the idea of losing one of his solders to a stray bullet. He also wondered if this would be "his day". He knew the history of his family and it seemed they were cursed to die before they saw their children. He had grown up with a great step-father that encouraged him to explore his family roots. He also knew his grandmother and his mother were worried about the curse. The Captain realized he had been lucky in one respect; he had joined the Army directly out of college and been made a Second Lieutenant at the age of 22. Now, ten years later, he had a great career and, he knew he was lucky to have a loving and supportive wife. But, this was his first time in real combat, and he had the normal fears and jitters of a first deployment.
Suddenly, there was movement at his front. He called the Company First Sargeant's attention to it. His three platoon Lieutenants knew what they had to do, and he had no doubts they could replace him if needed. He continued to watch the movement, then saw the white flag. He watched as more than 600 enemy solders came out from hiding, following the person carrying the white flag. He motioned for his Saudi counter-part, and quietly told him to call to them in Arabic. He was to tell them to "Stop!", and they were to remove all their clothing. They were then to come forward about 50 meters and spin around slowly. He ordered his men to scan the naked men for any weapons or explosives. If they saw anything suspicious, they were to shoot the solder with the item attached to his body.
The enemy solders complied with the orders they had been given. After about 100 had been safely cleared and passed through the line, there was a sudden shot followed by a large explosion. One of the Iraqi fanatics had attempted to bring an explosive device into the line, and the Captain had no doubt it would have taken several of his men out as well. He told his liason to inform the remaining solders via loudspeaker, that if there were any other suicide bombers in the group, he would order his men to machine gun the entire group. It was at this time that the surrendering soldiers rushed to restrain two more suicide-bombers in their group.
After the two bombers had been separated from the group, the prisoners were given fresh clothing, food and water. They informed their captors that they had had nothing to eat or drink for two days due to the supplies being destroyed before they had arrived. The Iraqis also began giving information on Iraqi troop movements and dispositions. When the coalition troops began their counter attack, this information proved to save many coalition lives.
Captain WIlliam Garret, III stood on the tarmac. His troops were going back to Ft. Riley, Kansas. He had proven himself in combat and so had his men. There had been casualties, but they were only wounded, none had been killed. He looked up as the Commanding General and his aides approached. Standing at attention, he saluted the General. Honours rendered, the General shook his hand and said: "You have no idea how proud I am right now. I have sent your name to Congress, asking you be added to the Major's list for promotion. I had the honour of being your fathers Company Commander when he died. I am very happy to see his name carried so proudly. I also know how your Grandfather died." The Captain gave a slight smile as he saluted again and followed his men onto the plane that was taking them home. He had a son soon to be born and thought he would name him William.