Hellraisers Shoot Kill…Ready to Die but Never Will
Memorial Day of 2006, I was home from Madison, WI where I was spending the construction year in Verona, WI trimming massive slates of stone for the Epic Center working for Findorff. Newly divorced, wild, and free was how I rolled back then. I had decided to stop in the local taverino downtown Appleton, WI, at Emmet’s Bar and Grill who had tall frosty mugs cheap. The news flashed Freeman’s face. ABC announced he had fallen in Iraq and was instantly stunned into grief. We Hellraisers have a motto: “Hellraisers Shoot to Kill–Ready to Die, But Never Will…” We Hellraisers bleed. We never die. The toughest member of our unit was now gone and was my soul filled with despair.
Being a member of the Hellraisers 1st Battalion 19th Field Artillery Regiment with Delta Battery Third Platoon during Somalia was ruthless. We had a Basic Training Battery that consisted of 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry Divarty COHORT who were assembled as a deployed readiness force that consisted of back-alley hustlers all the way to crackheads from New York City, NY, all chomping at the bit to go kick some ass and give payback for dragging our 10th Mountain in the street. Bryan Freeman was one. You did not want to get caught in his crosshairs. He was our toughest and bravest. He had absolute ground zero ruggedness and was not afraid of anyone.
08 February 1994 was my reporting orders to Fort Sill, OK. I was ready to do whatever it took to tuck-and-roll off a UH 60 Delta Blackhawk if it meant getting the mission done. I met a squared away hard-charger they called “Robocop,” who was the toughest to crack being built like a brick-shithouse ready to fight.
Bryan Freeman and I instantly became friends one night on fire watch doing donkey kicks and mimicking Drill Sergeant Hunt and his “no’havin-none-of-that-bullshit-here” lectures.
We were not afraid of any extra physical training, kitchen duty, or grass drills. We had to eat as much as we could whenever we could. That was until “the Dying Cockroach” happened.
Fast-forward to 2006, after watching the Memorial Day revelation on the sports bar T.V. availed to me later my battle brother was killed in Iraq from a roadside bomb. I had no idea what to do. I was in shock as his grandfather was one of the first African American Rangers and knew he was combat certified.
Losing a family member is like a spear stabbing you in the side with dread. Losing someone you served in Basic Training felt like there was a piece of your lineage ripped off like a band-aid.
I dedicate my life to respectfully honoring all who ended up like Robocop did. I’m taking my sweet time nowadays with getting around being 10th Mountain tested and survived. I think we need to continue passing along the torch each year to commemorate all who have sacrificed their lives to make today belong to the people of America. Please honor our wounded and care for the Gold Star Families and our veteran Auxiliaries. God Bless the families of the fallen on this Memorial Day, especially the Freeman family