Dear SSG Stan,
I will never forget that week we spent on that hilltop in Hungary. Your crazy ass thought it would be an awesome idea to park a “humvee” on top of a hill and live out of it for a week. We had barely any food, it was freezing cold, we lived out of a crappy truck, and had a radio going off 24/7…but somehow we had the time of our lives…
We were told one morning that we lost “comms” with our helicopters every time they flew to the other side of those damn hills. Without SATCOM (satellite radio capability) nobody could figure out what to do – except you. That’s when you had the brilliant idea to take me and park a truck on the top of the that hill miles away to relay radio calls. You saw a problem and quickly found a solution like you had done so many times before. Your plan was to relay the calls from the TOC (tactical operation center) to the helicopters as they flew to the other side of the hills but what you didn’t expect, was this wouldn’t be a single day mission. In fact, we stayed on that hilltop for over a week but you turned it into one of the best weeks of my life.
That first night when you cracked opened that box of cigars we talked for hours. We talked about the lives we left back home. We talked about what it meant being a soldier and we talked about the struggles we faced being away from our loved ones and the lives we envisioned for ourselves in the future.
The best part was, we turned a crappy situation into something awesome. What I have come to learn in this life is just how frequently we find ourselves under crappy circumstances. As I’m writing you this letter, the nation is fighting a pandemic and everyone is stuck at home. But because of you, I have mastered the art of finding the silver lining in things. That week we spent on the hilltop was full of crappy circumstances but you helped me turn it into a memory I will cherish forever.
Stan, you are my hero buddy. A few short weeks after we came home from Hungary, you passed away and I miss you like crazy. I miss our talks and I miss your guidance.
Just know that I will forever carry your legacy. You inspired me to change the world my friend and for that I owe you the world.
Keep you hand on my shoulder and guide me.
“Appreciate the little things and make an effort to turn shit into silver” – SSG Stanford
From: SGT Natale