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I didn't know , but he is my hero. He was a Navy SEAL and a man of great character, integrity, passion, and honor. Coming out of this past Memorial Day weekend, I want to pay tribute to the Connecticut native who paid the ultimate price for putting his country ahead of himself and protecting our freedom instead of worrying about his own. Bill was one of 30 Navy SEAL's on a mission in Afghanistan when the helicopter transporting them, was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade launched by the Taliban. Nobody survived the crash.
"It's Over Before You Know It"
Those were the first words that accompanied Brian Bill's senior picture in the yearbook of in 1997. At just 31, he left this world far too soon, but squeezed more out of his life than most people can only dream of. Bill was a mountaineer, pilot, triathlete, fluent in French, and hell-bent on becoming an astronaut. He never spoke to me and our paths never crossed, but Bill has taught me so much about courage, sacrifice, and the true meaning of Memorial Day.
"My loyalty to country and team is beyond reproach.
I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans
always ready to defend those who are unable to defend
themselves. I don't seek recognition for my actions."
As a Navy SEAL, Bill lived by that ethos. He was the best of the best and a leader of his special operations unit. Most of us say that we love our country, but how many of us would fight for it in a war on foreign soil knowing that we may never come back?
Bill went behind enemy lines under the cover of only darkness when most of us were sleeping in the comfort of our own homes. He didn't become a Navy SEAL for the glory or to get medals, but simply because he wanted to protect and serve our country. Bill is one of more than 6,000 men and woman who have died since 9/11 while fighting for our country, but he is anything but a war time statistic. Brian Bill, like all those lost their lives fighting for the United States, is a true hero and should never be forgotten.
"The Fun Only Stops When You Stop"
Brian Bill also included that phrase in his senior yearbook passage 15 years ago. If you look at the many pictures of Bill that flood the Internet, you'll see that Bill was a man people gravitated to and the heartbeat of every party. He was blessed with megawatt smile that showed the world he thoroughly enjoyed life. The world was his oyster and he was living it the way he wanted to live it. The fun stopped for Bill on August 6, 2011, but he died a true American hero. A patriot who sacrificed his life to help make our lives safer.
The pain of losing a loved one never goes away. Questions remain unanswered and the wounds don't ever fully heal. Today, tears will flow from the eyes of every family who lost someone fighting for our country.
Memorial Day may be behind us, but we can still pay tribute to Brian Bill and all those patriots from Connecticut and beyond who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Appreciate what they did and never, ever forget them.