Staff Sergeant Mike Elledge and Sergeant Chris Simpson, Killed in Action March 17, 2008
I took these pictures the night we deployed to Iraq in November 2007. God bless these men.
March 17 was once known to me as St. Patrick’s Day just like it is known to most of the world. In 2004 it became known to me as the night of the Kosovo Riots. No big deal. In 2008, it became known as Mike and Chris Day. Big Deal. Really Big Deal. Words cannot describe it fully.
Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Mike and Chris. I still remember every second of that miserable day. How many times have I thought about what I could have done differently that would have made a difference? How many times have I wondered why the enemy chose them instead of me and Edwin? How many times have have I wondered if I am earning the continued life I was granted? How many times have I wondered if I am doing enough to honor Mike and Chris?
Mike, callsign Steel Six Golf, was a member of Blue Platoon for a time and was about to return when the enemy stole him forever. Mike was one of the men I was closest to in the whole company. We had so many good chats at the company S&A and under the date palms and camo netting of COP Ford. I hate that I was the patrol leader when Mike was killed.
Chris, callsign Steel Six Delta, was the company commander’s driver. He lived that role in a a larger than life way. He was so out going, so carefree, he was a staple of the company. Even those not in the headquarters section knew him better than most others. Chris’ loss left a hole that cannot be filled. I have never felt forgiveness for his loss.
I cannot write a decent eulogy for these great warriors, Mike and Chris. Just writing this much has left me in tears. There is a reason it took me over a decade to write that section of Strike Hard and Expect No Mercy.
March 17th, when the world puts on some green and parties, I will raise a beer in honor of Mike and Chris. It won’t be a party. It will be melancholy and reflective. I’ll say a prayer for them, their families, and our brothers still carrying the torch. Then I’ll raise another beer in honor of Mike and Chris. I’ll listen to Highland Cathedral and Amazing Grace. And I’ll fondly remember the time I got to spend with Mike and Chris.
They don’t know it, but the whole world is raising a beer, or an Irish whiskey, in honor of Mike and Chris Day.
For now, I’ll go find a box of tissues.