Memorial Day — Still Missing Ricky

Ricky Collins
My friend, Ricky Collins when he was a Freshman in high school.

I still miss Ricky Collins.

They said he died in an accident while unloading a truck on training maneuvers. It happened not long after he was drafted during the Vietnam War.

He became one of the many people who sacrificed their lives serving their country that we don’t often think about.  He was one of many who die in service, but not in the same way as those who are given the Congressional Medal of Honor.

There are many ways that this happens: live fire training accidents, “friendly fire” incidents in which bombs or an artillery barrage fall on our troops instead of the enemy due to someone else’s mistake in the fog of war.

They die due to the sinking of Navy ships due to other circumstances than combat.

accident in Iraq
Accidents similar to this one reveal the other kinds of sacrifices that our service members make. Screenshot from

Sometimes, they die slow, agonizing deaths over many years because of unforeseen consequences like the use of “Agent Orange” defoliant during the Vietnam War.

Ricky liked to laugh, and seldom had anything negative to say about anyone. I was in the 7th or 8th grade when he was in high school. He attended my church youth group.

He wasn’t an athletic phenom or class valedictorian. But he was a very good, solid guy from a family of hard-working, earnest and honest people.

Ricky was engaged to marry one of the best-looking and coolest girls I ever met. We were jealous, of course. But we also thought that they deserved each other. We loved him that much.

Yes. On this Memorial Day I am remembering those amazing heroes who went to extraordinary lengths to serve their country and I support writers who honor them.

Fellow blogger, educator, and Marine Rob Miller has done a superb job with that on his post for today, and I highly recommend your going there to view it.

But before you do, remember that there are many more who have sacrificed in ways that are not easily made into an exciting war movie.

It is important for us, and even important to those who now go to serve our country in the military, to remember that not every kind of sacrifice in service will excite someone who is told about it at a party or family gathering.

But their sacrifice is real. Their pain is real. Their wounds are real. And their death is real.

That’s what I’m remembering on this Memorial Day.

And I still miss Ricky Collins.