28 April 2010 was another very emotional day for me...and not because the Capitals lost in game seven at the Verizon Center.
I was able to reconnect with some very good friends on this date and relive some extraordinary times that I have had the pleasure as well as the honor of participating in...times that I will never forget...and that my friends will never let me forget.
Through the late 1990's and into the early 2000's I was fortunate to have worked with many great Americans...folks who gave selfishly and without fanfare, accolades or recognition in defense of our great Nation...but none of them finer then my friend...Scott Harvey.
Scott was a mainstay on many of the deployments I conducted to the former Soviet Union countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Russia. I have lost count of the number of times he and I...and the teams we led...travelled "across the pond" to visit these backwards areas conducting operations geared towards defeating the remaining Soviet Biological Weapons threat...suffice to say I don't think I ever depended on anyone more then I depended on Scott. He made sure we maintained focus and bearing while conducting these sensitive missions...all the while providing a modicum of levity and humor in a stress filled environment.
Scott was one of those guys that I had always considered a true professional. You only had to tell him one time what needed to be done...and he always found a way to get it done. No complaining...no remorse...no regrets. Scott was always about the mission...and the personnel... and making sure we never failed. He was adept...he was intelligent...he was a confidant...and more importantly...he was my friend.
I received several calls yesterday...another good friend Ben Mangina reached out and we chatted at great length. Ben had worked for me in Uzbekistan back in 2002. While the US Army was busy in Afghanistan engaged in Operation Anaconda, Ben, Scott, myself and approximately 100 of our "closest Uzbek friends" were carefully and without much fanfare recovering 200+ metric tons of live anthrax from an island in the Aral Sea. We did this at the behest of the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense so that members of Al Qaida could not use this material against the US in their perverted campaign of violence. Ben performed flawlessly during this critical operation and the relationship that developed between the three of us remains close to this day.
Ben had been trying to reach me for several weeks about opportunities overseas and although I wanted to chat with him, I still needed some time to break the news. Ben was notified on Tuesday evening and we finally discussed my condition yesterday. Ben has had heart issues in the past so the news, albeit hard to take, fell on compassionate shoulders. His next action was to call Scott who is currently deployed. Scott called a few minutes later. Suffice to say...it was an emotional time for both of us.
I have been fortunate enough to have met many great people during the course of my life...and even more so to have worked with some of them in defense of the United States. When I look back at what I have accomplished and what has been done to date some of the greatest and most rewarding experiences in my life have been with Scott by my side. These are the memories that I will never forget...and will forever hold close...as they mean so much to me...just like our friendship. It was one of those things that was never stated between the two of us...we just knew.
After talking about what has happened and the what will take place over the coming months I asked Scott a parting favor...to talk to my children after I go and let them know exactly what happened...when...and more importantly...why these critical events took place.
You see...Jake and Ian have always had some idea of my exploits based in part on passing conversation at the house...however folks like Scott...and Ben where there firsthand and can tell with riveting detail the truth from a vantage point few could ever take. It means so much to me to know that the boys will have that to look forward to...and I know Scott will not disappoint.
The true measure of a friend can not be defined simply by proximity...it is more then that. It is an emotional connection that transcends both time and place. Those of you reading this today understand this better then most...and Scott understands it fully.
Scott had discussed coming back to see me before things get bad...I told him no...there are few situations in this world that make me emotional...when Scott and I were finished with each operation and we went home...we did so with a mutual understanding that we would see each other on the next go around...the expectation of watching Scott walk away for a final time would be too much to endure...and so I live with the memory of the times, our exploits and the good we did for our country...and for me...that is enough.
Thank you my friend...for covering my "six" and being there in the end...like I said yesterday...I am forever...in your debt.