What It’s Really All About
As a member of the military, Army National Guard, with a combat deployment to Iraq under by belt, there is no other day–other than the anniversary of my friend SSgt Jerry Lee Bonifacio’s death there–that really resonates more with me than Memorial Day.
Sure, Veterans Day is important and I’m glad and grateful for all the “Thanks for your service” comments I get that day. But it doesn’t come anywhere near the meaning and gravity of what this day means to me.
It’s been going on 7 years since the day in 2005, when I witnessed a good man’s life snuffed out like nothing by a sick individual acting out his warped interpretation of what he felt his religion told him to do. SSgt Bonafacio, or Bonnie, as we called him, was just doing his job at a checkpoint in Baghdad, when a car drove up in the military/VIP lane. He stopped the vehicle and had just started to question the driver, when the bomb went off and Bonnie was consumed by the orange fireball that ensued. I was up in the tower overlooking the checkpoint and was the closest American soldier and witnessed the whole thing. When the fire was contained, but before EOD had a chance to get out there, some of the other American soldiers at the checkpoint had rushed out to look for Bonnie. We found his crumpled and mangled remains about 25 yards from where he had last been seen standing. Half his leg had been blown off, his pants had been burned off his body, and his face was blown off his skull. Thankfully, for his sake, he died instantly.
Yes, the images still haunt my memories to this day.
There is a special reverence for those who’ve given their lives so that others may live, and I guess I will always carry that in my heart for Bonnie. Professionally and forever known by the name etched on his tombstone as SSgt Jerry Lee Bonafacio.
Love you, bro!
God bless all those who’ve given all they had to give, so that we can enjoy what we enjoy.