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POSTED: August 12, 2009 1:00 a.m.

We join with those who mourn the loss of Captain Matthew Freeman, the Marine pilot killed Friday in Afghanistan, and our sympathies go out to his family and friends. We know full well there is nothing we can do to help ease their pain.

Yet it is important to note for history that Freeman, a 1998 graduate of Richmond Hill High School, was by every account a fine son and a good man who loved his family and his country. His death is yet another hard lesson in the simple fact that neither patriotic bumper stickers nor politicians’ longwinded platitudes fight wars. Brave men and women do.

Freeman’s death also reminds us that many others have lost their lives in this grinding war, including Marine Staff Sergeant Joel P. Dameron, a 1997 graduate of Bryan County High School who was killed Oct. 30, 2005 in Iraq when his humvee ran over an improvised explosive device. Staff Sgt. Dameron, who specialized in disarming bombs, left behind a family to mourn, and has a daughter he never got to see. And by every account he was a fine man, and a devoted father and son and husband. And like Capt. Freeman, he was also a Marine.

As former President Ronald Reagan once said: "Some people have to ask if they have made a difference in the world. The Marines don’t have that problem." We would say the same about those in all our armed services.

Yet is plain that Staff Sgt. Dameron and now Capt. Freeman, like many of their brothers and sisters in arms, died much too young. Capt. Freeman was 29. Staff Sgt. Dameron was 26.

But we believe they did not die in vain, because to believe that would be a disservice to the more than 5,000 servicemen and women who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since this fight began in 2001. That number includes men such as 3rd ID Army Major Sid Brookshire, a Missourian who lived in Richmond Hill while at Fort Stewart and Army First Sergeant Alan Gifford, who grew up in Florida but was a Richmond Hill resident while at Fort Stewart. Both men knew the dangers of going to Afghanistan and Iraq, and went anyway. And like so many of their comrades, they have made a difference.

As did Freeman, once a Wildcat at Richmond Hill High School, and Dameron, a Bryan County High School Redskin. These men graduated high school a year apart, then went their own way into the same long battle that began in 2001. Future generations should know their names and what they did, and how they lived. And how they died.

Bryan County News

 

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