Jerry Webb was a violent crime and surveillance agent in the San Fransico Bay area for most of his career and is a veteran who served during the war in Vietnam. He and I are members of an on-line Listserve of about 3,500 retired agents, with a few active agents on there too. It's a great forum, kind of like a giant electronic agent's bay but with agents from service in the FBI spanning several decades. The "old school" tone of the comments posted are matched by the "old school" technology of a Listserve. Many of the agents end their Posts with quotes that inspire them or perceptively reflect their mood. Pretty cool!! Credit goes to a retired supervisory agent for conceiving the Listserve and managing it. Jerry posts on that Listserve occasionally. Some of us wish he posted more, a few of our colleagues wish it were less. Early in his posts, Jerry often reminds the "less" crowd on the List to just, "Hit Delete".
Last Memorial Day Jerry took the time to post something to our Listserve that I thought was very eloquent and powerful. The FBI has recently hired many combat vets as agents. Most returned from combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had a few assigned to me as probationary agents, and I evaluated dozens of them during their interviews to be hired as new agents. The bureau's future is bright because they have joined us. When I read Jerry's Memorial Day post, I immediately thought of them, as well as a few friends who now (as Jerry says) reside in those cemeteries.
I asked Jerry's permission to share his Post on this site. He graciously agreed. His agreement in no way acts as any kind of an endorsement for any of the other content on this site. It is simply a retired guy speaking to other agents. And, if you don't like the post, please, just STFU and hit delete!
I have been putting stuff on here for the last five or six years on Memorial Day. I know, a bunch of other times also. And this is
not directly FBI related. If it bothers you to see stuff like that I have a real easy and obvious solution. Don't read it.
This year I did the same thing I did last year, drug my grandson to a small ceremony they have in
Alameda. Even with the old Naval Air Station long since shut down the Coast Guard still has a base in Alameda and if there is anything close to a military town in the Bay Area it would be Alameda. They did a nice job, and they mentioned something they did last year, "let us not forget our first responders that have given their all." With everything that has happened in the last year, including the disgusting tragedy in my old hometown of Omaha last week (the murder of police officer Kerrie Orozco), I thought that was a nice touch.
The colors were presented by a contingent of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Those guys are starting to look sort of old. Why is that? I will check with the guy I see in the bathroom mirror when I go in to shave and see what he says.
I have talked about National Cemeteries before. A few years ago I mentioned attending a Memorial Day service at the Veteran's Cemetery of Northern California located just outside of Redding. It is a beautiful setting nestled into a little valley in the Trinity Mountain Range. Probably where I will move to sometime. I don't plan on that being anytime soon, so those who would like to see me off of here don't get too excited.
I also have visited the National Cemetery of Arizona located on North Cave Creek Road in Phoenix. Really a neat and peaceful setting. There really is something about the Arizona desert. Just don't visit in July. My mom and dad moved there. You can find some real touching memorials there including the actual flagpole that was on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Kind of an awesome feeling to put your hand on that thing. They also have a memorial to submariners lost in WW II and who are now on "eternal patrol." I have tried to read the plaque out loud several times. So far I have not succeeded.
Until two weeks ago I always thought the most beautiful setting for a National Cemetery to be at the Golden Gate National Cemetery located on the old Presidio in San Francisco in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. Now I am not so sure. I do still have the picture I took a few years ago and offered to anyone on here who wants it. Not that I am a great photographer, well my wife took it anyhow so I get zero credit, but it has several rows of those simple tombstones in the foreground, and the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge sticking up out of one of those only in San Francisco thick fog banks. It really is kind of a neat photo.
But I have now come to the conclusion the most scenically beautiful setting I have ever seen for a National Cemetery to be at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego. And yes, no question about it, the fact I was just there for a family funeral less than two weeks ago has got me wound up a little more than usual on Memorial Day this year. Read on at your own peril. Old Fort Rosecrans is on the Point Loma Peninsula and marks the point where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo made the first landing of any European expedition to set foot on the west coast of the United States. Just a little footnote. I will move on.
So Fort Rosecrans was later established on the high point of the ridge line of this peninsula with the National Cemetery now on both sides of the ridge. This means you can stand at the high point and see row after row of those simple Veteran's tombstones and on one side the Pacific Ocean and Tijuana and Mexico's Coronado Islands in the background. And the other side the view is of San Diego Harbor and Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island with the San Diego city skyline in the background. I give up. This is the most scenically beautiful setting I have ever come across.
So if you are ever in San Diego and want to pay your respects to some real American Heroes and have the view take your breath away at the same time, this would be the place to go. You can find a bunch of them there. You can find twenty-three of them who have been the recipients of the Medal of Honor. The earliest I noticed was awarded for action on September 30, 1877, at Bear Paw Mountain, Montana. The most recent was awarded for action on September 29, 2006, for action at Ramadi, Iraq. One was awarded for action on December 7, 1941. I don't need to mention where on that one. You can find all of those heroes with over one hundred and twenty thousand of their comrades. And I know one of the more recent ones to join his comrades would love to climb out and meet you if he could, and if that was possible he would have a pitcher of martinis in his hand, a smile on his face so bright it could light up the entire night sky and a booming belly laugh that could be heard from a mile away.
His name was Charles William (Bill) Webb. He spent the years 1943-1969 protecting us as a fighter pilot in our Navy. He was my uncle. And he was my childhood hero. A pretty neat way for a man to live his life.
And that is enough out of me.
"God and the soldier we adore. In
time of danger not before. The danger
passed and all things righted. God is
forgotten, and the soldier slighted."