The Final Roll Call

memorial

When you hold the final roll call for the fallen, your unit stands in formation before a display consisting of an inverted rifle, a helmet mounted atop the buttstock, a set of dogtags hanging from the magazine well and a picture of the person being honored. The fallen’s name is called out three times, only to be met by silence.

Five years ago today, after they were killed by a pressure-plate IED, these names echoed against the walls of a cavernous hangar in Iraq:

Corporal Nelson … Corporal Nelson … Corporal Ricky Nelson …

Lance Corporal Opicka … Lance Corporal Opicka … Lance Corporal Dean Opicka …

They were the kinds of men you wanted your sons to grow up to become. The lives they touched were many. Their funeral services were standing room only, with people traveling from hours away to pay their respects.

Ricky, 23, was always singing and walked around with a smirk perched on his face like the cat that ate the canary. A devout Christian, he could debate about God with no losers – just winners. Ricky loved kids because he was a big one himself. He was killed a few days before his first wedding anniversary.

Dean, 29, had no enemies and was awesome at everything. He didn’t just letter in football and basketball – he had to be the quarterback and point guard. He didn’t just run for student office, he was elected president. Dean later became a teacher – “Mr. Opicka” – and served as a volunteer for mentally disabled adults. His fiancee was a fellow volunteer.

They were among the best people I’ve ever met.

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About Chairman Mao

I like fomenting socialist revolutions and purging my homeland of pseudo-intellectualism and capitalist dogma. I also like sports, dogs and food (although I wouldn't consider myself a foodie).
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2 Responses to The Final Roll Call

  1. Garrett says:

    I can be a little slow sometimes and would find myself trained to daydream when at the POA or parade rest, something left over from bootcamp dysfunctional coping mechanisms. Everytime we stood for the final roll call when they repeated the first name I would quickly come out of my fog and wonder sharply, “Why are they calling so and so’s name, they are…” and there is no similar earthly chill to compare a memory and the transition to taps.

  2. Tom says:

    Amen brother! In my faith we venerate saints and martyrs on the day that they fall asleep. They are surely martyrs for freedom and they are preparing the way for us. To Nelson and Opicka, the advance guard, Marines.

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