y Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s note. This is a sombre article on a sombre subject. I have chosen the deeply moving music “Swing low, sweet chariot” to set the mood. There are many fine versions of this well-known tune written by Wallis Willis in 1862.
I have chosen the one by Kevin Maynor. You will find it in any search engine. Listen to it without interruption of any kind. This powerful song deserves nothing less.
The Persian language is a language of poetry and culture. It is fluid, nuanced, and often extraordinarily beautiful. So evocative are its words that once bestowed on a person, place or thing, these matters, hum-drum anywhere else, are turned as if by magic, into words of lyric beauty.
Such a fortunate place is Badghis, a province in the northwest of the nation of Afghanistan. It is a place of winds, many bruising and destructive. Other places, like Chicago, the “windy city,” have been blunt about its disposition. Badjhis prefers a softer touch that makes the point, but does so without a candor that can be abrasive.
And so this place came to be called the land “where the winds arise” and it is where U.S. Marine Sergeant William J. Woitowicz fell never to rise again, cut down by small-arms fire and so released so early from the thrall of life.
Where he fell, how he fell, just what happened when,are the pedestrian details of an incident soon to be forgotten and without any significance to anyone but William J. Woitowicz. He expired in the full bloom of youth on an ordinary day, where the quotidian was mundane, banal, commonplace to a degree, and where absolutely nothing done that day was unusual or important… except this particular sergeant. For him that day was everything…
From a place far, far away.
Ever been to Groton, Massachusetts or its near neighbor Westford? If not, make plans to visit. The fall is best, since those autumnal days of colored leaves and crisp, clear skies showcase these typical New England towns best. These are places so scenic, your finger automatically takes the pictures you will share with friends along with your decided opinion on how nice these previously unknown places really are.
No one was more of these serene bedroom communities than William Woitowicz. He knew them down to his fingertips, and they knew the brawny athlete with the killer smile and winning ways. People just plain liked him… and he, without much wondering why, liked them in return. It was a formula for many of life’s happynesses. Make a note that when your next child or grandchild is born to ask the fairies to give unstintingly of charm and an inquisitive mind. Woitowicz was gifted with both and showed just how far they could take a likely laddie.
For such a boy, the world was his oyster; everything possible, the very best that could be had in the great Republic.
That is why his decision to join the Marines directly following high school graduation in 2007 came as a shock. It was not the career path of choice parents like Kevin and Rosemary Woitowicz could understand, approve or recommend.
But their son (remember that killer smile) soon showed his “devastated” parents why his decision made sense — for him. And, of course, in this situation, as so many others, parents, even strongly disapproving parents, could in the end only concur and offer heartfelt wishes. And so they did for Billy Woitowicz. He was now en route to his strange destiny.
He now had the kind of lifestyle that exults Marines and causes lesser folk, needing their comforts, to cringe. But Woitowicz, having made his choice, was determined to turn himself not merely into a superb Marine, but the most cheerful Marine ever; it was an unusual combination… and it did not go unnoticed. Billy, in the Marines as at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, was noticed; people kept their eyes on the man, he could be counted on. That means everything to Marines, for whom the word “buddy” constitutes a religion.
They needed him and all the other meritorious Marines everywhere there was America’s business to transact. But it could only send this particular Marine to one high priority place… and the place they needed him yesterday was Afghanistan, the basket case of nations, where people like Billy were gold, not least because the locals soon understood his smile was for them, too.
And, by the way, he volunteered for Afghanistan; he knew the “basket case” needed what he had in excess, and to spare: humanity.
June 7, 2011, a day like any day.
June 7 had “routine” written all over it. And so it started… Billy was deployed as part of the Second Marine Special Operations Battalion of the Marine Special Operations Regiment, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
No one expected anything to go wrong; everyone was prepared in case it did. And then, in an instant, it went terribly, terribly wrong for Billy Woitowicz; the gym-tailored body he had been so anxious to perfect, lay face down in the dust of one of the most miserable countries on earth his hair dappled with blood and blasted expectations.
No one, despite their sense and exhaustive training, could quite take it in: Billly Woitowicz had gone before… “Swing low, sweet chariot…” and he had his orders from the highest source:
“Well if you get there before I do, Coming for to carry me home. Tell all my friends I’m a coming too, Coming for to carry me home.”
The people of Groton and Westford did Bilie proud. Never in their long history of service, patriotism and support had these communities poured out their pride and gratitude, their grief and pain for any citizen as they did for this citizen.
The Marine Corps, more than a career, his vocation, advanced him to the rank of sergeant and the Purple Heart. From the Corps he loved and served unto death this meant everything.
The flags at half mast, the bunting, the remnants of the heartfelt ceremonies civil and religious are all apparent, And on another day of “war as usual” Billie abides in peace in the town he knew so well, amongst the citizens who liked and loved him. Here, in tranquility he graces the ages with his all-embraciing killer smile taken too soon from us in the land where the wind arises.
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About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding